>> Niujorko Lietuvių Festivalis (New York Lithuanian Festival) | Eat the World NYC

21 September 2013

Niujorko Lietuvių Festivalis (New York Lithuanian Festival)


Hosted by the New York Lithuanian Athletic Club in a vacant lot near the Church of the Annunciation in Williamsburg, this annual event was just getting started when we arrived. A large Lithuanian flag on the fence told us we were in the right place, and the one and only food tent seemed to be buzzing with preparation activities.

"The food will be ready in 15 minutes," said the man who sold me my entry ticket (bracelet) for $5. He also told me to cheer for the Lithuanian national basketball team, who would be playing France for the European championship the next day.

With the food not quite ready, we scanned the lot and found the bright sun being reflected off of shiny Lithuanian beer bottles near the back, calling us from afar. For $5, a half liter bottle of Švyturys, a malty lager, was poured into a plastic party cup for me.

The grounds also had several crafts vendors, as well as a purveyor of šakotis cakes, meaning "tree with many branches." I had never seen such a thing and asked the man if it was meant to have toppings or how it might be prepared, and was met with a stern "Just for eating." Fair enough.

We sat down at a table, held our table cloth down as the wind picked up, and eventually a woman came around announcing that the food was ready for purchase. The menu at this modest event was quite limited, but we were only two people so it turned out perfect for trying everything, except the dešrelę, which was a hot dog for the kids.

First we tried the šaltibarščiai ($3, below), a cold beet soup full of other boiled vegetables as well and served in a coffee cup. It was a good start and had a pleasant richness to it.

You could buy plates of kugelis (a baked potato pudding) and koldūnai (meat dumplings) separately for $8 per plate, or combine two half portions for the same price. We decided to do that, and the mains are put on a plate with a glob of bacon, carrots, and salad.

The kugelis is thick and dense, also filled with bacon, milk, onions, and eggs. The cube goes well when accompanied by any of the other ingredients on the plate, as well as with sour cream, which is of course offered with every purchase.

The koldūnai are small versions of a pierogi or varenyky and accept the sour cream and bacon just as well. We ended up getting another plate of these alone after finishing off the first combo because we loved them so much.


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