Renata Luniewski has fond memories as a young girl in Suwalki, Poland, making pierogis with members of her family for Christmas Eve supper. She, along with her mom, grandma and cousins, would gather round and work together in making this traditional Polish treat for the whole family.
â€œTheyâ€™re so popular in Poland, especially now before Christmasâ€”itâ€™s a tradition to make pierogis for supper,â€ she said. â€œSo that was the beginning.â€
Now, at Holidazzle here in downtown Minneapolis, sheâ€™s beginning a new holiday tradition to enjoy with her husband and daughter that again revolve around pierogis.
[Related Post: CLICK HERE to watch Renata discuss pierogis on WCCO-TV. Photo at right.]
Renata and her husband, Robert, run the Pierogis Wonderland by Polish Bistro at Holidazzle. Theyâ€™ve got pierogis made both with meat and with cheese and potatoes on hand, and they also have blintzes available to round out your meal. The pierogis are available with our without bacon bits and sour cream as toppings, and the blintzes have powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
Itâ€™s a tradition that followed both of them from their native country to America, where they are helping celebrate the holiday season together in a very familiar way. When they were growing up, itâ€™s hard to imagine that theyâ€™d be sharing this experience together so far away from home.
The two have known each other since elementary schoolâ€”Renata was a close friend of Robertâ€™s sister growing up. When Robert took part in an exchange program and came to the University of Minnesota in the mid-1990s, Renata came to visit and see the U.S. She soon followed him to America and took part in the same program at the U of M, and when they were both were here as students they began dating.
Theyâ€™ve lived in Minnesota ever since. Today, they have an 11-year-old daughter that helps them with their pierogis here at Holidazzle and has become the next generation of their family to enjoy the experience.
It was six years ago when the couple began making their pierogis as part of the Polish Festival along the Mississippi River during the summer, and that has turned into something that the whole family can do as a bonding exercise.
â€œWe love it, we really do,â€ Renata said. â€œMinnesota feels like home. Itâ€™s wonderful people, same weather as Poland, and we have many Polish friends here. Itâ€™s been great.â€
Their experience with the Polish Festival has always been fun because it allows them to connect with other people of Polish descent here in the Twin Cities. The Holidazzle experience has been equally rewarding, but for a different reason. With their customers being almost exclusively American-born, they get the thrill of either introducing people to pierogis for the first time, or hearing about how many people do know the Polish treat from past experiences.
â€œItâ€™s so much fun to meet the people,â€ she said. â€œSo many people know pierogis, itâ€™s unbelievable. So many people come with a story that they remember their grandma or great grandma making it. So thatâ€™s really fun to hear people tell their stories and to talk to them.â€
Part of the fun is that the process has never changed. Itâ€™s still the same ingredients, the same recipes and the same steps that she used as a young girl back in Poland. All ingredients are natural, and no preservatives are used.
And here at Holidazzle, itâ€™s the blending of a time-honored Polish cuisine tradition with an annual Minneapolis holiday get-together. Robert and Renata both have enjoyed the Holidazzle over the years, and theyâ€™re thrilled to be part of it in 2015.
â€œItâ€™s such a fun time, it really is,â€ she said. â€œAll the events, the choir music and the bonfire behind our tent, thatâ€™s really great.â€