There is no neat English translation for “piroshky,” the Eastern European hand pie stuffed with savory (and sometimes sweet) fillings.
All over Europe, there are linguistic and culinary variations, including the Polish pierogi, the Greek piroska and Cornish pasties.
Piroshky Piroshky, which opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1992, makes traditional piroshkys with Pacific Northwest ingredients — the smoked salmon piroshky is one of its most popular — and it’s been anointed as an American culinary treasure by no less than Anthony Bourdain (who featured it on “No Reservations”), Andrew Zimmern (who included it on “The Zimmern List”) and Smithsonian magazine (who called it one of the 20 most iconic food destinations in America).
Owner Olga Sagan said the pop-ups started as a way to survive the pandemic. The bakery began doing home deliveries and small events, bringing pies to surrounding cities, including Bellingham and Vancouver. One day, during a particularly stressful haul during a snowstorm on the way to Spokane, she had a realization.
“I’m driving over the passes, with chains on the tires, trying to think positive because it’s been a hard year,” she said. “And then it hit me. I’m driving right now for five hours. It got me on the good road of positive thinking: if we can drive three, four, five or six hours, there’s no reason why we can’t fly. So that’s how we started flying to California, Nevada and Arizona. Now, we go everywhere. I think the only place we haven’t been is Hawaii.”
This year, for its 30th anniversary, the bakery is doing a pop-up tour of the country, including two stops in Utah. On June 22, it will visit the Elk’s Lodge in Provo (1000 S. University Ave) from 5 to 7 p.m.; and on June 23, from 4 to 6 p.m., it’ll roll through SaltFire Brewing Company (2199 S. West Temple, South Salt Lake). Pies must be pre-ordered online, with a $50 minimum. They’re made to order, and you pick them up the day of the pop-up.
Sagan said they now hold about 24 events a month — favoring places like bookstores and breweries, where people can be social.
“People like to connect — half of our customers have a connection to Seattle, or they have relatives, so there’s that community aspect to it,” Sagan said. “But when people go into breweries, I always see customers connecting with each other, just kind of making an event out of it for themselves.”
Sagan said that, in addition to the smoked salmon, the beef-and-cheese and breakfast piroshkys were some of the most popular. A recent event in Berkeley, Calif., she said, the pre-orders filled up in a single day. Initially they planned to make about 150, but had to expand that to 400. She added that events often sell out a few weeks before the physical pop-up event. The last Utah event didn’t sell out, though, but she’s guessing this one may, so people shouldn’t wait until the last minute to place an order.
“The last time we were there, it was over a year ago and it was very limited,” Sagan said.
“But we had so many requests to come. So I’m excited to go back. We’re just excited to meet our community there, and kind of bring a piece of Seattle.”