Monday, May 19, 2008

Blondie and Brownie World Tour: Stop #5, Ukraine!

I spied the listing for the 32nd Annual Ukrainian Festival in Zach Brooks' post about Weekend Eats in NYC and I was immediately intrigued. When I saw it was sponsored by St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church (first made known to me as the home of Dumplings for the Lord), I knew that it was time for a Ukrainian mission...

32nd Annual Ukrainian Festival

At the 32nd Annual Ukrainian Festival

Unfortunately Blondie was too exhausted from her own weekend travels, but neither rain nor cold nor lack of sleep from a red eye flight back from the land of Sprinkles, could keep me from trying the famous varenyky, handmade by the ladies of St. George Church. So camera and umbrella in hand, I set off in pursuit of potato dumplings.

The crowd at the St. George Church booth

When I arrived at 2nd Ave and 7th Street it wasn't what you would call crowded, but considering the rain, there were more folks out than I expected. I did a quick perusal of the booths on the street and quickly spotted my target, the St. George's food booth. I got in line behind several people and eagerly awaited my turn. Eavesdropping on the person in front of me, I learned that they were already out of their borscht and the stuffed cabbage. Note to self, even if it's raining they will sell out of borscht, arrive earlier next time. So I decided to order 4 varenyky and a side of sauerkraut. I watched the Church ladies ladle out the sauerkraut then the varenyky and its buttery onion sauce into the little paper tray. The whole order totaled $2.50. Yes, $2.50! (That's 50 cents per varenyky and 50 cents for the sauerkraut). I almost felt guilty paying so little, but I was very hungry and getting wet, so I sought shelter in an empty tent near the church before my varenyky got cold.

Waiting for varenyky

The pot of varenyky with buttered onion sauce

Dishing up the varenyky

My dish of varenyky and sauerkraut

Biting into varenykys' handmade seams where the outer edges are joined I found they were pleasantly toothsome on the outside and smooth and buttery on the inside. A delicious value. The sauerkraut made for a nice and salty accompaniment.

Inside the varenyky

Before I left the festival I purchased a piece of Apple Cake ($1) for the road (and to share with Lawman). That night on the subway we dug into it. It was delicately spiced, a little crumbly, and filled with a touch of apple, but generally a nice slice of coffee cake. Not the best apple cake I've ever had, and it was a small slice, but considering the money went to the Church, I couldn't really complain. $3.50 for a homemade meal is still a great deal.

Ukrainian Apple Cake

St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church
30 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

St. George Lunch Canteen described is this NYT article, is open on Fridays and apparently quite hard to find. Hopefully Blondie and I can make a trip together soon, and when we do, we'll follow this blog's directions.
For more photos, check out our flickr.


Anonymous said...

That street Festival started back in 1976. I came to the parish 4 years later and was there every year until was trnsfered overseas. Where many other street festivals have closed due to the time, effort and expence plus al of the red tape that has to be waded through to realize this, the St.inian Street Festival still continues to this very day. And, rain or shine people still cone. Their secret? The faith and devotion of the parishoners and the parish priests staff and schools. Without their timeand devotion it would not be the wonderful event that all look forward to from year to year. LG

Brownie said...

One of the things that most impressed me about the festival was the palpable sense of community and tradition. I look forward to attending next year!