Those Who Are Late Do Not Get Holubtsi

The moral of the story is: we know better now.

This is the story – last Saturday, we made a gameday decision to go to the Ukrainian Festival being held at St Stephen’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toms River. The plan was simple: spend the early afternoon doing something together as a family (which turned out to be Lisa taking a nap, Julian watching a video, and some reading for me), then go to the festival for dinner. The festival was running until 7PM, so we planned to get there around 5PM or so.

Well, when we got to the church, we could see that there had been, at one time, a lot of people in attendance. Some cars were still parked along the street, in the parking lot and on the grass around the parking lot…but there were plenty of spaces now available. We got out of the car and had this view of the festival:


Clearly, we had hit the tail end of the event.

OK…no problem, so long as there’s still some food left.

After letting Julian bounce around in one of those blow-up rides (because you always have to let him if such a ride is available), we headed inside the church to sample the food. Passing a table of exquisitely painted eggs, we entered the main multi-purpose room, bombarded by the sound of traditional music played by a live band with their amps cranked. There was dancing, laughter…and a bar? Yep, a bar serving Ukrainian beer. In big bottles, no less.

OK…no problem, so long as there’s still some food left.

We get on line for the food, and the line starts moving. Quickly. And folks are leaving the line…without food. Not a good sign. Soon enough, we’re at the counter and Lisa asks,”What do you have left?”

“Pierogies.”

No borsch, no kovbasa and sauerkraut, no holubtsi (stuffed cabbage)…just pierogies.


Stifling our disappointment, we got our plate of pierogies and sat outside to eat. Thankfully, our disappointment was tempered by the fact that the pierogies turned out to be very good. Clearly homemade and cooked heavily in butter, these potato pierogies were a nice little plate of love. And no, I was not about to grab an industrial-sized Ukie brew with only a couple of pierogies in my stomach. That would have to wait for another day.

Despite our disappointment, we could tell that the festival had been a fun and enjoyable day for many people. Billed as the first Ukrainian festival in Ocean County, I hope that the event was successful enough that it will become a regular annual event. And, if so, we will know to get there a little bit earlier. The thought of a nice plate of sausage and sauerkraut, pierogies and stuffed cabbage with a beer alongside sounds oh so good.

Please read the write-up of the festival from the Asbury Park Press here.

For fans of the many cuisines of Asia, here are a couple of recent news items:

A Filipino festival is being held in Jackson on Sept 20th.

Pennsauken will soon be home to Saigon Plaza, which will include the Vietnamese pho restaurant Pho 38 and an Asian supermarket.

And lastly, a local burger legend in Millville passed away yesterday. Reading the article, it makes me wish that we had eaten there. Sounds like it would have been memorable.

– John

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2 thoughts on “Those Who Are Late Do Not Get Holubtsi

  1. The rev. at the church is a cool kat. He gave me chalupkis and keilbasi at the T.R. founder’s day last year. Can you believe they build that church on peirogies? Mark you calendar for the St. Barb’s greek fest. It’s the bomb and they don’t run out of food. Get a plate from inside and go outside to watch the kids dance. Make sure you go to the priest’s guided tour of the church. His explanations of the icons is very interesting.

  2. I drive past the Saigon Plaza on my way to work each day. i am looking forward to the opening. It’s really been a remarkable transformation.I need a review of the Ukrainian beer. What brad? How was it?

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