Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sophie's Gourmet Pierogi

Pierogi's. Is there any food more perfect than a pocket of pasta filled with mashed potato and sour cream? Then to saute it in butter and add caramelized onions? I will answer that question for you my friends - no, no, no!

To this carbohydrate lover, that is the sum of all things good in life. But wait! There's more! This combination of awesomeness is then topped with delights such as local Italian sausage cooked with onions & peppers (oh, just like at the fair!) sprinkled with asiago cheese and a dollop of lemon basil butter. Or better yet, top it with Yuengling braised pork belly (a deconstructed golabki, ie cabbage roll) finished with a grain mustard & tarragon compound butter. I'm pretty sure I swooned. To a pierogi lover, it seemed we might just have reached nirvana!

Who creates these gastronomic powerhouses? That would be Steve Redzinak, better known as "Sophie's Gourmet Pierogi". Steve and his wife Angie can be found in their food truck that bears the name of his beloved grandmother, Sophie. And just like his grandmother, Steve makes his pierogi by hand. He begins with mounds of flour, makes a well and pours in the ingredients that make the pasta perfection. He then mixes the dough by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well and mixing it all til he has created pasta dough just like he watched Sophie do. This is the basis for his pierogi. How could these not be incredible?

We found Sophie's at The Campus Pitt Stop at Kenny and Lane. This is their most consistent location. However they are also at Columbus Commons on Thursdays, and other locations as arranged.
I love the menu board at Sophie's. Steve said he searched for something authentic to post his menu on. When he saw this door, he knew he'd found his vision. The menu presentation is just downright cool. Steve's pretty proud of it, too.

So back to the main attraction. The tender pasta dough is filled with fluffy mashed potatoes with just the right amount of sour cream added to give it the rich, silky mouth feel that literally makes you groan as you eat it. You think you like pierogi because you can whip up a batch of Mrs. T's? Well I tell you, I speet on Mrs. T's! (okay, I don't really. I like them. On a good day I could probably polish off half a box myself!) But Sophie's are in Gastrogi. And as Steve will tell you:
Gastronomy is the art or science of good eating.
Pierogi is Polish for filled dumpling-a small dough envelope filled with "gastronomy".

Meet the "Vintage". This is for the pierogi purist. It is "classic, crispy pierogi filled with potatoes and sour cream; caramelized onions, side of sour cream and compound butter". I will comment briefly on this version...OH.MY. This is the beginning of all things wonderful.

This is the "Italian". This one happens to be Angie's favorite. With good reason why! Steve starts with his pierogi, then adds local Italian sausage, peppers & onions, confit of tomato, asiago cheese and lemon basil compound butter. Oh yeah. It is every bit as good as it looks. The sausage has the right amount of spice and the onions & peppers are sauteed just the way they should be. The sprinkle of asiago perks it all up and brings it to a whole new level. I thought I had found my favorite.

But then the heavens opened and I swear I heard angels singing as the "Soph" was set down before me. Let me first say that cabbage rolls are one of my all time favorite foods. And I love to serve them alongside, what else but pierogi? The "Soph" is a deconstructed golabki, or Polish stuffed cabbage. I lost all power of speech. Steve was talking and I couldn't stop eating! The Yuengling braised pork belly was low on the fat pockets that I usually find unappetizing about pork belly. The meat was flavorful and succulent. The cabbage was sauced and cooked until tender. I tell you, my mouth is salivating even as i write this three days later! The "Soph" had won my heart for all time :-)

The one other offering from Sophie's is once again from Grandma Sophie's recipe box. Listen closely here...whatever flavor Italian Ice that is being offered...SNATCH IT UP!!! This is Italian Ice as it should be; authentic. We had watermelon lemon, on a day that was 90 degrees in the shade. Sheer perfection.

Call me crazy, because we all know that I am but that's beside the point. I tell you true that Sophie's is a MUST for anyone who is a pierogi lover. And even for those that aren't! I guarantee it. If you don't like it ... well, bring me your leftovers and I'll eat them! Deal?

Sophie's Gourmet Pierogi
Stephen Redzinak


Bogey couldn't take it anymore. All this talk about Sophie's and there was none for him. He threw himself across the keyboard, demanding a "Soph" of his own!