If you happen to have a little extra time to spare tomorrow afternoon, run – don’t walk to St. John Chrysostom Church on Cleveland Avenue near E. Dublin-Granville Rd. at around 3:30pm. Every First Friday of the month (except for when those Fridays fall on holiday weekends – this month being an exception because they’re trying something new) the ladies of the church cook up all manner of Polish specialties to sell to the public to raise money for the church.
I’ve known about First Fridays for ages, but it took reading Jim’s blog post about his visit for me to remember it before Friday rather than after. Once you see the sign, turn into the parking lot and follow it to the building in back – just look for the line or where people are coming in and out of – it is the building to the left side rather than the right side. If all else fails, just follow the scent of cooked cabbage. Your sense of smell will never lead you astray when it comes to good food. We got there pretty early – at about 3:30, which ended up being a good thing; people started lining up at the door not too long after that. Luckily, we saw what was happening and quickly got in line – this meant that we were second behind a long time visitor. We spent the time discussing old Columbus restaurants – neat how many food memories have at places that no longer exist.
Finally, the doors open and the mad stampede begins. Well, not mad, exactly – more like an organized stampede but people were definitely there with a purpose.
The selection of foods available in a particular month is completely left to the discretion of the good ladies who do all the cooking, so not all items are available every month. Here is a list of some of the possible items and their prices:
They are all laid along tables on a path to the window – there are 4 different types of pierogi to choose from, with each segregated to its own box and marked as to what they are. I can honestly say that we’ve had the savory ones so far, and they’re quite good – they brown up beautifully and made a wonderful meal paired with some sausages and fried onions. They are sold frozen, just thaw before you fry them – no boiling needed first since they’ve already been boiled before freezing.
I absolutely love their halushka (browned buttered cabbage with noodles), it’s something we make here as well with the leftover bits of cabbage when we make cabbage rolls. Their version is probably the best I’ve had. Sold refrigerated, all you need to do is heat it up before serving in the handy microwave container they pack it in.
We passed on many of the sweet items, but here’s what we saw this particular time round:
Khrusty, which I believe were described to me as fried dough covered in powdered sugar.
Chocolate fudge, which seemed to be a traditional recipe.
Fried apple kolach, which I believe are a danish of some sort.
And just a couple of pies available for purchase.
My favorite, though, has to be their cabbage rolls – they are served hot (ask for them at the window), and at $8 for 6 of them, are a steal considering how time-consuming they are to make and the price that is charged for them elsewhere in town for similarly sized rolls. If nothing else, we’ll be back every month just for these. We couldn’t even wait until we got home, and started chowing down in the car in the parking lot.
It’s great food, a great cause, and something definitely worth checking out. I’ll be there tomorrow, how about you?
If you’d like to go: First Fridays at St. John Chrysostom, 5858 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, OH (North Side).