“I want to say those are better pierogi than my grandmother’s!” he says. ‘Don’t say that!’, she replies, half laughing, half in mock horror.
Good customer feedback to get on your second day open, no? From someone who grew up with the things, rather than some arsehole blogger with his Influential Opinions. Still, who doesn’t love a dumpling? No one, that’s who, or at least no one you’d want to know. Presumably there are some, but then there are also people who buy Diana commemorative plates from the Franklin Mint or wear those daffodil hats in public. Or believe Jacob Rees Mogg.
Whether your tastes run to gyoza or ravioli, manti or momo, from tortellini to the many varieties of Chinese bao and gao, there’s something hugely comforting about a glutinous wrapper loaded with good things. Which brings us to small ‘p’ pierogi, which aren’t easy to come by in Cardiff, and the Market’s Pierogi, which is here to solve that problem.
Upstairs, or the balcony level if you’re feeling fancy, this brand new stall is a simple thing. Polish owned, Polish run- their other business, bakery Kreme of Cardiff, is downstairs- they are serious about what they do. You can have anything you like, as long as it’s pierogi.
Elvis sees all, from his vantage point in the corner near Kelly’s record stall. While you can only wonder at what he would have chosen for his filling, you won’t want to return these to sender, so don’t have a suspicious mind and you won’t be able to help falling in love. Oh, the drollery. Nothing escapes him, like the eyes of Gatsby’s Dr T. J. Eckleburg, since I’m doing a discount on literary allusions this week.
He sees the double window where you can watch them being made by hand, watch the fillings portioned into little balls, watch the delicate work of tapping and folding and moulding and crimping, all so deftly done. Then into the pot, where they simmer for just long enough to blip to the surface, then… ready. And I have to tell you, if your Market memory isn’t that long, that the idea of someone making your lunch, from scratch, in front of you, is a step up. Yes, we are doing first floor puns now.
£7.80 gets you seven of the duck. They are substantial- not stodgy, but in a well-built, that’ll sort me out for lunch sort of way- and the finely-minced, well-seasoned filling makes these a very encouraging introduction. That tangy-sweet sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic and plum jam) cuts through nicely, too.
It’s the only meat filling, so there’s something here for everyone on the small menu.. Buckwheat groats with mushroom are satisfying too, but here the winning detail is the forest mushroom sauce (£7.40). Can I use the word ‘bosky’ here..? I think I can. I’d have liked more of this, but then I always do.
On my second visit they’re out of the cottage cheese and potato filling, which serves me right for not getting in early, so the spinach and garlic will have to do. And it does, the fried onion making even more sense here. Third time round I rectify that schoolboy error, with the bacon you can omit if you really have to. It’s pretty much elite comfort food for colder climates. Its that meeting of a silky filling with the smoke salt and sweetness.
The Market continues to be a peculiarly Cardiffian proposition. Its indefinable scuffed glamour appeals to me, and while its days are numbered it will be missed when the revamp begins. Until then, you’ll find good things at Pierogi, so get there early and grab a seat and treat yourself to one of life’s little pleasures. We could all do with more of those. Besides, it’s what Elvis would have wanted.
Pierogi, Balcony Level, Cardiff Market: 11am – 330pm, Tuesday to Saturday
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.