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Tastemakers: Grandma‘s Perogies/ Tyskie Gronie

Rick Coates - December 20th, 2010
Grandma’s Perogies
Petoskey’s Marcie Newton had built quite a reputation for herself as the “Perogie Queen of Ohio.” Residing just outside of Cleveland, she began making this traditional Polish style dumpling (pastry) for coworkers and patrons at the tavern where she was a popular bartender. Her perogies became so popular that before she knew it she was getting orders for hundreds each week. With a business partner she launched Grandma’s Perogies and started producing over 100 dozen orders a day to keep up with demand.
Newton returned to Petoskey 10 years ago to care for her mother and left behind her successful perogie operation to become the manager of the Goodwill Inn retail store. As her mother needed more care, Newton quit her job, but needing an income, she re-launched Grandma’s Perogies in Petoskey. Leasing a commercial kitchen, Newton is now reclaiming her reputation as the Perogie Queen, but this time in her hometown.
The secret to a great perogie is the dough and Newton’s pastry recipe was handed down to her by her grandmother Jill Malec who grew up in Warsaw before settling in Petoskey. “She never used a measuring cup and did everything by feel and this is the softest perogie dough anywhere,” said Newton. “I remember my first batch after bragging to people how great they were and I had never made them before, well they started coming apart when I boiled them and I started crying. I called my Grandmother and she told me to ‘add a little of this and take a little of this out.’ I did and I have never turned back.”
Newton is currently producing 100 plus dozen perogies a day offering 14 different varieties from the basic potato & cheese and sauerkraut with mushroom to the “Grandma’s Gone Wild” lineup, featuring three wild game varieties, including buffalo, elk and venison. Next week she will launch her new “Mexican Perogie” and by St. Patrick’s Day she will have a “Reuben Perogie” available.
Word is spreading quickly (she just started a few months ago) around Northern Michigan. Grandma’s Perogies are currently available at Tom and Dick’s Grocery in Petoskey, Wilderness Meat & Deli in Alanson, and on the menu at the Mountainside Grille in Boyne Falls. Newton also sells her perogies online at her Facebook page (search Grandma’s Perogies) or by phone 231-881-3565. ---Rick Coates

Tyskie Gronie
As 2010 wraps up I start my annual reflection of the year by reviewing the many events, concerts and festivals I attended. Near the top of my list of favorites was the Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival taking place right smack in the center of downtown Grand Rapids. There were so many cool aspects of this festival -- it was free to get in, they partnered with the Grand Rapids Museum (it was right in front of the museum, which offered free admission). There were lots of local Polish food purveyors with reasonable prices, and it was an all ages event with cooking demonstrations plus lots of great polka bands.
I married into a family rooted in Polish traditions. Each year we make a few hundred perogies at Christmas and throughout the year we make a variety of Polish meals. Despite my marital connection, I still would have enjoyed this festival. In Northern Michigan we have some great Polish events -- the Boyne Falls Polish Festival and the Polka Festival in Cedar -- but I want more and not just Polish festivals, but other ethnic events.
At the festival I reacquainted myself with Polish beers, including Tyskie Gronie. Part of the SAB Miller collection of breweries, Tyskie has about 20% of the Polish beer market in Poland and is now distributed worldwide. Brewed since 1629, this beer while having a mild hop aroma, is much more flavorful than typical macrobrews. There is nothing fancy about this beer but sometimes a simple beer is all that is needed. Sure, heavily hopped microbrews have their place, but sometimes I want my beer to be more like a side dish, especially when I am enjoying Polish cuisine.
My first Polish beer was 25 years ago when I went to visit my wife’s grandparents for the first time in Detroit. Trying to impress her grandmother (everyone called her Babu) I bought a six pack of Polish beer. She smiled and said, “we usually drink Stroh’s.” For the next 25 years we shared a few beers, cooked together, and she shared many Polish traditions with me. I felt she was my “third” grandmother. So this Christmas I raise a bottle of Tyskie in your honor Babu (she passed away earlier this year just shy of 95) Na zdrowie!. ---Rick Coates
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