Without a doubt, the thing I was most excited to eat in Saskatchewan was homemade perogies. I would have gladly eaten them each night for dinner, and WOULD have if it hadn’t made for such terribly repetitive posts. We did manage to get to two places for perogies in Regina – Peg’s Kitchen and The Russian-Style Café.
Perogies (pierogi, pyrohy, etc) and other Eastern European foods arrived on the prairies with the Slavic immigrants; at their most basic, they’re dumplings made with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and/or cheese, pocketed in half-moons of a simple dough. They’re hearty and comforting, peasant food from the land. I found this charming article about their culinary place in Saskatchewan, which described the way in which perogies have not only historically served as nourishment, but also as a way to bring communities together, through fundraising events such as ‘perogy bees.’
Comparing factory and hand-made perogies is like comparing advent calendar chocolates to the Mast Brothers – they are simply different things. The first time I tasted real perogies, I knew I’d found a lifelong comfort food. While you have to seek them out in B.C. (Ukrainian churches and community centres are a good place to start), they’re much easier to find once you head east - there’s even a 6000-pound GIANT perogy statue in Glendon, Alberta.
We first ate at Peg’s Kitchen, a business that started out as a hobby. Grain farmers Vern and Peg Leippi first started smoking turkey legs, then eventually began selling them on a larger scale. Eventually they expanded to kobasa, meat cabbage rolls, and perogies, they began catering and opened the shop front where we had lunch.
We each ordered the classic perogy meal: six perogies, sausage, and a cabbage roll, then finished it off with a cinnamon bun, simply because it was covered in caramel icing and we couldn’t resist. It was a miserable, rainy day, and the food couldn’t have been more comforting.
Our next perogy stop was The Russian-Style Café - they offer many different flavours and styles, and we ordered the mushroom perogies and pork pelemeni (a Siberian style of dumplings).
They were both phenomenal (the mushroom perogies especially), and came with a bowl of thick sour cream.
They also offer fruit perogies such as blueberry and cherry, making it possible to have a meal composed entirely of dumplings – not for those with a carb-phobia.
While perogies are certainly a traditional food in Regina, there are also restaurants offering a more modern take on foods from the area.
One evening we ate dinner at The Willow on Wascana, a popular local restaurant on Wascana Lake. We ate pemmican sliders, apple sage pressed pork belly, chamomile citrus brined duck breast, and various other bites stolen from my parents’ and brother’s plates. All of it was lovely.
The Willow is also very much about the vino, and so created The Willow Wine Club. Its purpose is to bring wines to Regina that might otherwise not be accessible to locals, with a membership ranging from sommeliers to casual wine lovers and everything in between.
From cheddar and potato perogies to brined duck breast, we had it all in Regina.
Because I couldn't find a perogy love ballad, we get to listen to this instead, by Regina band Library Voices: