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brighton beach eats questions

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We had some terrific fresh large bread-type things filled with our choice of cherry, cherry and cheese, and apple during our visit to Brighton Beach. They were sold warm in front of a supermarket for 50 cents each. What are they called? Also, any recommendations for best places for fruits, breads, pierogi? Finally, is the condensed milk w/coffee that we've seen in cans worth the shlep home? Thanks.

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  1. I believe those are called pontchiks (sp?) and they also come in meat and cabbage versions (I happen to like the cabbage best). Sort of like large, filled zeppoli. They are or were sold out of a store called white acacia, originally on the sidewalk and more recently through a window in the front of the store.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      ponchiki are kind of like doughnuts—when I ate them in Russia they didn't have any fillings but it sounds as though that's what they are. as for the coffee condensed milk—it's very sweet, you'll probably like it if you like hot chocolate. see our earlier discussion on brighton beach and things russian.

      1. re: tamara

        Thank you--seems it's 50/50 on the coffee thing. (Enjoyed the transliteration.)

    2. j
      James Prince

      I lived in Moscow from 1994-1999, and think I can clarify the Slavic pie question. "Ponchiki" are indeed Russian doughnuts, deep fried and sugar-dusted. Greasy but usually delicious. What you describe sound more like "pirozhki", small Russian yeast-dough pastries with fillings that are either baked or fried. They are usually savory (i.e. cabbage, meat or potato filled), but I've also seen fruit-filled versions. The street vendor offerings tend to be fried, whereas home-made versions are usually baked.

      The main Ukrainian contribution to dumplingdom are "vareniki", which use noodle dough and resemble dumplings (the Polish version of vareniki are called "pierogi", which confusingly is the plural of the RUSSIAN "pirog", a single large "pirozhok", which is the singular for "pirozhki"). Vareniki are more commonly fruit- or dairy-filled than pirozhki, at least in Moscow. They can be either boiled or fried. The Jewish version (formed from a crepe rolled around filling and sauteed in butter) is called a "blintz".

      Other similar items from that part of the world to look out for are "pelmeni" (Siberian meat-filled dumplings resembling tortellini), "manti" (larger Uzbek steamed lamb dumplings), "chebureki" (flatter Tartar fried lamb pies) and "beliashi" (similar, but made of yeast dough and open at the top). The ne plus ultra of Slavic pie-dom is represented by the "kulebiaka" (a large pie filled with fish, mushrooms, hb eggs etc. and made with puff pastry in its most refined incarnation).

      4 Replies
      1. re: James Prince
        r
        rebeccahodgson

        I can vouch that the man is correct on all counts! And just in case you didn't quite get it from his explanation: Ukrainians and Russians do not eat "pierogis" (this is the polish word). Ukrainians and Russians eat "vareniki". And the Russian "piroshki" or "pirogh" which sound like "pierogi" are actually these delish bread pies y'all have been talking about!

        1. re: rebeccahodgson

          all the above descriptions sound on the money - but the items for sale in BB are CALLED ponchiks by the seller. Go figure. Maybe they morphed in the USA or maybe they are a regional variation. Whatever, they are delicious.

        2. re: James Prince

          IF ANYBODY IS INTERESTED. THE BEST RESTURANT IN BRIGHTON BEACH IS CALLED THE ESPRESSO CAFE. ITS ON BRIGHTON BEACH AVE JUST EAST OF CONY ISLAND AVE.

          1. re: jason carey
            r
            rebeccahodgson

            If that is the one just east of the old movie theater I absolutely agree with you. Not just the food but the servoce as well. Plus they are very kind to my dog when we bring him with us - they give him water and bits of food! Got to be good people! Plus they have the infamous russian music videos going on the television!

            Not to be confused with the Cappucino Cafe, also in Brighton and not as good.