Day 69 – National Pierogi Day

Today was two holidays that deserved celebrating and I started the day by celebrating the one that is a New England classic: National Fluffernutter Day.  If you don’t know what a Fluffernutter is, then go back to Russia you commie bastard!  Just kidding.  Apparently there are people outside of New England that do not know about this sandwich which takes peanut butter and combines it with Marshmallow Fluff (which is a spreadable (kinda) sort of marshmallow cream).  It’s messy, gooey, super sweet, but oh so good.  Plus it has one of the best names for a sandwich ever created.

I worked at a bar/restaurant for a few years and it featured the Fluffernutter on the menu as a sandwich (available at Market Price – they were funny guys (shout out to Side Street Grille)).  It wasn’t ordered very often, but when it was, it was the hardest sandwich to make because it was so messy.  You had to be gentle with it while you spread out the Fluff otherwise it would tear the bread, so that would slow you down.  Then it would get everything messy.  Your hands, your station, your knife.  You had to take an extra few minutes to clean everything before you proceeded.  It was never fun to make.  And they’re still not.  They’re still messy.  The payoff however is in the flavor.

We usually always have Fluff in our pantry mostly because I use it to make fudge. (Yep, that’s the secret.  The recipe’s right on the jar.)  But every once in a while, Lola will bust out the Fluff to make herself  a Fluffernutter as a late night snack.  To the hungry insomniac, a Fluffernutter will never let you down.  Today we were supposed to go watch my nephew Ben’s soccer game at 8 am, so I made myself a Fluffernutter sandwich to take to the game.  I thought that as long as I was out in the elements in the early morning, I might as well bring along a fun snack.  Unfortunately, both Ben and Lola were not feeling great today, so our game plans were cancelled and I was left holding the sandwich, so I decided to eat it for breakfast.

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I actually don’t know if I have ever eaten a whole Fluffernutter before.  I’ve taken bites, but I’ve never gone for the whole sandwich.  It’s a belly-filler.  We are a Skippy Peanut Butter house (creamy) so I had used that along with some Clement’s white bread that I had on hand from my Apple Betty recipe (I like to think Betty would like this sandwich too).  Not that you’d be shocked, but it was a really good little sandwich.  It’s super sweet and my head was spinning afterwards, but definitely a nice treat.  I can see why this is a New England favorite – it probably tastes better with a fresh snow on the ground and a chill in the air.  It was definitely worth celebrating.

The other holiday today was National Pierogi Day.  A pierogi is a dough dumpling stuffed with a filling such as potato or cheese, typically served with onions or sour cream.  It’s a favorite in Eastern Europe and the Slavic regions (Pierogi is a Polish word for filled dumplings).  I’ve had a pierogi here and there throughout the years.  Lola has made them on a rare occasion picking up the frozen kind from the supermarket and browning them up at home.  They’re good.  How can they not be – they’re dumplings?  In any case, to celebrate, we headed out to a place in Fall River called Patti’s Pierogis.  Lola was still not feeling well and although she wanted to help celebrate Pierogi Day, she wasn’t too keen on going out for it.  She was thinking we could just grab some frozen ones from the store and eat them at home.  But I pushed her on going out and my main argument was that there is a pierogi restaurant just 15 minutes away.  Who has a pierogi restaurant nearby that they can to go to?  She agreed eventually and somewhat begrudgingly, we headed out around 6 pm. 

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It says it all on the sign.  “Bardzo, Bardzo Dobry” means Very, Very Good.  

When Lola’s mom was sick, there were a few times when she was hospitalized and she would be at St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River.  On our trips to see her, we would drive up and down Main Street and we would always pass by this restaurant.  We never stopped in but we both thought that it was an unusual place and it must be pretty good.  How many restaurants do you see specializing in Polish food and pierogis?  I imagined that Lola’s Dad must have known about this place because he would never pass up the opportunity for good local unusual food.  He probably drove his motorcycle here, had a few pierogis then went on his way.  It turns out that Patti’s is kind of a famous spot.   It’s been featured on both The Phantom Gourmet and on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  It was definitely where we needed to celebrate.

The place is small.  It almost looks like a one level house from the outside or some kind of small social club.  When you walk in, the bar is immediately in front of you stretching out in both directions and it’s the first thing you see. Once you get situated, you see that the dining areas on either end of the bar.  The staff greeted us and told us to sit wherever we wanted.  We found a nice little corner table which was decorated with a checkered tablecloth and sat down.  It was homey inside and comfortable and everyone inside seemed to be having fun.  That’s a good sign.  They took our drink order – Lola went with a Polish sangria and I went for a Polish beer (I don’t know what the brand name was, just that it was Polish).  They came back with our drinks in a few minutes (my beer was served in a giant beer stein which made it fun, especially with polka music playing in the background).   They also brought us two complimentary potato and cheese pierogis because it was National Pierogi Day.  Lola and I both looked at each other and smiled.  We told the server that this is why we are here and the she seemed a little but surprised.  We explained our quest to her and she seemed to like the idea of the whole thing.  It’s always great to start your meal when you make a quick connection with your server – makes for a happy meal.

They have over 30 types of savory pierogis to choose from on the menu so our hardest part was trying to figure out what to order.  We decided to do a tray of 12.  We made our selections (two of each): BBQ pulled pork, spicy buffalo chicken, bacon cheeseburger, mac and cheese, chourico potato & cheese and garlic and onion.  If that wasn’t enough, we also ordered an order of Pierogi a la Scampi which was 4 potato cheese pierogis in garlic butter (Lola’s a bit of a garlic fanatic and we couldn’t pass this up).  Before the server walked away, she asked if we wanted any kielbasa or golabki.  That’s a question you don’t get every day, and in the spirit of adventure, we ordered a golabki (cabbage stuffed with meat and rice and topped in a tomato sauce).

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They were all good.  Very, very good.  We dove into this plate as if we were food critics for the New York Times.  We’d cut each pierogi open, look inside, take a nibble, and discuss.  Then we cleansed our palate with a swig of beer and proceed to the next one.  The standouts were the Buffalo chicken, the pulled pork and the straight up original potato and cheese.  Really our favorite was the scampi ones because they smelled like heaven and they were so plump with filling which melded well with the garlic butter.  The golabki was good too.  Lola’s not a huge fan of cabbage, but if you got past that, the stuffing was delicious (I myself like cabbage, so I really liked it).  It was so much fun just working our way through all these different flavors.  It was our own little tasting menu and we were savoring every moment and taste.  That’s how it should be at any restaurant.

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We filled up pretty fast and struggled to make it through (we brought home some leftovers which will taste great during the football games on Sunday).  But we did have a whole menu of dessert pierogis to consider too.  We almost skipped it, but one of their offerings was the Fluffernutter Pierogi and we had to get it.  That falls under the prime directive of our quest.  We ordered it up and this did not disappoint either.  The pierogi was stuffed with peanut butter.  I’m not sure what kind of peanut butter they use, but it was nice and sweet and had a grainy texture that when warmed up was delightful.  They were topped with Fluff, but not too much so it didn’t overwhelm the dish.  It was really the perfect balance and a fantastic ending to the meal.

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This may have been one of my favorite celebrations.  It was a fun night out with Lola.  It was a whole new menu and experience.  It was a local hidden jewel.  It was a celebration filled with beer, potatoes, cheese, peanut butter, fluff and smiles.  It’s all you could want in a holiday.  We’ll be back to Patti’s soon – there are more flavors for us to try.  But I did learn a valuable lesson today: if you ever see a place that looks good and unusual, give it a try.  There are adventures for us everywhere and they just might lead us to a happy and memorable night (and a happy belly).

Next Up: National Moldy Cheese Day 

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