Our Feast of Seven Fishes has been a tradition since TasteBudA and I have been together. Even though neither of us are Catholic where this tradition stems, on Christmas Eve we gather and enjoy our version of a Feast of Seven Fishes, but we do it in one pot – a Cioppino.
So, after 4 years of making it, it’s time to document the recipe. In 2013, this resulted in the best recipe because we made the broth, then went to a candlelight Christmas Eve mass. Upon returning from mass, heated the broth to boil and added the fish. The more time your broth has to simmer, then sit, the better the flavor develops.
As I searched the Pittsburgh TasteBuds blog history today for the recipe that I used for our traditional “Feast of Seven Fishes” Cioppino that TasteBudA and I have adopted as our Christmas Eve tradition. The only remnant was The Making of a Christmas Eve Dinner Tradition. I’m puzzled. I have taken pictures of our Cioppino each and every year. Have I been slacking that much? Apparently, yes.
Each year I think I’ve gone through the same motions: Find recipe. CHECK! Select 7 fishes. CHECK! Combine and cook. CHECK! Take a photo. CHECK! Post about it. Oops.
This year will mark the 4th year that we will have made our Cioppino, but apparently we never really blogged about our experience making it. As I go back through the timewarp that is my photos folder, I share with you what little I found today.
The city of Pittsburgh is rich in Polish heritage. So much, that pierogies are viewed as a city icon. The Pittsburgh Pirates even have four pierogi mascots that run around PNC Park as in-game entertainment. Though the Pirates have fun with their pierogies, some serious locals scoff when restaurants have fun with them on their menu.
My answer is yes, it is a pierogi. Here’s why.
After some of my own personal research, here are some key differences between pierogies (of Polish decent) and raviolis (of Italian decent).
Pierogies are filled pasta circles that are folded and pinched closed into half moon shapes.
Ravioli are square pillows that are sealed the entire perimeter of the square.
The Inside “Stuffing”
Pierogies are traditionally filled with potatoes, onion or cheese, sometimes in combination.
Ravioli are traditionally filled with meats and cheeses.
The Outside “Dough”
Pierogi dough is just flour and water.
Raviolis are made using an egg pasta.
Pierogies are boiled and/or pan fried in butter and onions. Served pan to plate without a sauce.
Ravioli are only boiled and served in a sauce.
I admire a chef that likes to be creative and make creative leaps with their food as long as the integrity of the dish remains in tact. Though most traditional yinzers (term for a local Pittsburgh native) may say that putting short ribs in a piegori is a sin, I think it is creative genius.
So now you have to decide, is it the shape, stuffing, dough or preparation that would cause you to sway one way or the other?
Let’s begin by pointing out – for those reading this outside of the Pittsburgh area – that “Dahntahn” is Pittsburghese for “downtown.” I work dahntahn and after a team meeting decided to gather a couple co-workers for lunch. We all were up for trying something new, so I suggested the Taste of Dahntahn. This new restaurant has a large colorful sign which hangs over the sidewalk of Liberty Avenue near Fifth Avenue Place. The entire restaurant is themed toward historical Pittsburgh – the tabletops are even covered with black and white photography which probably dates back into the early 1900s (or earlier). The menu is very kitschy, infusing many Pittsburghese-like words into the selections and their descriptions.
For my lunch, I decided to order from the BURGERS N’ AT section and get the “Bees Knees Sirloin” – Half pahn burger with bacon, American, cheddar, dahntahn’s 58 mayo, shredded iceberg, tuhmaytuh & red onion. $9. with fries add $3.
The highlight was the $3 add-on fries. The fact that they were shoestring fries wasn’t something I even noticed on the menu, but it was a nice surprise because you can’t get them many places. The Burger was cooked as ordered. I ordered my burger medium-well, and it was delivered hot and to the correct temp.
Sadly, those are it for my highlights. The burger was just okay – nothing special, but overpriced. Plus, I still don’t know what dahntahn’s 58 mayo is. Did they add something to Heinz 57 to turn it white and call it mayo? (I’m joking.)
What I find most disturbing isn’t the fact that I wasn’t impressed with the food, because every town has run-of-the-mill lunch spots which are able to have a neat theme. The problem I had was that due to its name and its location, I could picture travelers to come to Taste of Dahntahn, be as unimpressed as I was, and think that all of Pittsburgh dining is like this. In fact, I don’t think the menu is a good representation of how great Pittsburgh dining is. I hope travelers see it for its theme and don’t judge the rest of the city’s dining scene based on a single visit here.
If given the opportunity, I may try it one more time and try to get something else. But I’d like to see them upgrade the menu with some regional flair. I mean, can you really represent the taste of downtown Pittsburgh without a Pierogi on your menu?