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Pierogi making, when it is done right, is both a craft and an art. It takes patience, precision, and practice.
We may be overstating the case a bit when it comes to precision, although it helps to be reasonably precise when crimping the edges. Still, you get the point: pierogi can be tricky, and the better you are at making them, the better they are likely to turn out.
Which brings us to the pierogi cook-off last Sunday at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival. A number of professional pierogistas vied for the highly coveted title of Best Pierogi in the World (or at least at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival which, for our money, amounts to the same thing).
Though the competition was keen and unusually close, a champion eventually emerged from the pack. This year's winner of the Prince of Pierogi platter (literally, it's a handsome silver-ish plate reading "Prince of Pierogi") was Stanley's Market, a North Toledo mainstay for 80 years.
Stanley's has been at the festival for each of the festival's 29 years, selling a variety of Polish foods including, of course, pierogi. Owner Joe Zychowicz said, "we make 'em all year long" and in an assortment of flavors, including some seasonal ones.
The winning variety at the festival was potato and bacon, which the market only reintroduced recently after an absence of about 15 years, he said.
Mr. Zychowicz would not reveal any of his secrets to making great pierogi other than to say that they begin with a simple noodle dough of flour and water, and then add sour cream to it. No wonder they're so good.
Stanley's Market -- it's at 3302 Stickney Ave. -- will not rest on its laurels, he said. They're always trying out new ideas for fillings.
"Some companies call it research and development," he said. "We call it lunch."
Wine 'n' food
Spend enough time around Georgio's Cafe International and you are likely to find that the owners like good wine and they like good food. Which is why it is so utterly unshocking to learn that on Thursday they will bring together these two passions with a dinner pairing wines to different courses.
We don't know what the food will be, other than it will be selected and cooked by George Kamilaris, one of the restaurant's co-owners. What we do know is that the wines will all be from Chile and Argentina. Both countries have great mountainside growing conditions for grapes, and both are blessed with better-than-average terroir. Although their popularity has surged in recent years (remember the Malbec craze of 2009?), wines from these South American countries are still reasonably priced.
The ubiquitous Kevin Boehm of Heidelberg Distributing Co. will comment on the wines, which will include a Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, a Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, an Amado Sur Torrontes, a Marques De Casa Concha Cabernet, a Don Melchor Cabernet, and a Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
A reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., with dinner starting at 7 p.m. The cost is $75, which includes everything, and seating is limited. For reservations or more information, call 419-242-2424.
Georgio's is at 426 N. Superior St.
Root, Root, Root!
There is no truth to the rumor that the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" originally had different lyrics. It is completely untrue that the original lyrics "Buy me some brewskis and Cracker Jack" had to be changed after Prohibition was passed in 1919.
We know this for certain because we just now made up those original lyrics. But nevertheless, beer is part of baseball. It goes with the game like the National Anthem or yelling at the ump.
And so to celebrate the opening of Fifth Third Field's new PUB 315, the ballpark will have an artisanal beer tasting and endless buffet on Aug. 2 from 6-8 p.m.
Jon Koester, brewmaster at Maumee Bay Brewing Co., will discuss the beers being sampled and answer questions. Perhaps he will even explain where the 315 comes from in PUB 315, because we can't figure it out.
Admission is $40, and it includes the sampling of beers (20 two-ounce samples), an all-you-can-eat buffet (grilled chicken breast, grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut, red-skinned potatoes, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, soft drinks, and lemonade), and a seat to the 7 p.m. game between our beloved Mud Hens and the hated Red Wings from Rochester. If you don't like beer, $30 will get you the buffet (but only for 90 minutes, not the full two hours) and a seat to the game.
Anyone participating in the beer tasting must be 21 or older, of course.
Admission is limited. For tickets or more information, call 419-725-4367.
One last thing
Mary Lou Valentine called to ask if anyone has a recipe for zucchini pickles, especially the one that ran in The Blade several years ago. Our computer system does not go back that far, and we're just too tired right now to go through all the archives and search for it. So if any of you kind and helpful readers happen to have that recipe, Mrs. Valentine would be most appreciative of it. Simply send it to the address listed below, and we will make sure she gets it.
Items for Morsels should be submitted at least two weeks before an event to email@example.com.