There are a few things that excite us at Foodies of Birmingham more than the whisper of the Russian Food Festival, as it is by far our favorite food festival in or around The Magic City. After attending for the past two years, we decided it was time to write about our experience. The official title of the event is the 35th Annual St. Nicholas Slavic/Russian Food Festival, which takes place at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Brookside, AL. This small town is about a 25 minute drive from downtown Birmingham, but the short trip is totally worth the effort. Hundreds of Birminghamians flock to this small church each November to experience the food and culture this hidden gem has to offer.
The church is divided between two buildings: the chapel and the parish hall. Both are open during the food festival, but the food is served in the parish hall. When we arrived around noon on Saturday, November 4, the line was already coming out of the building and down the stairs.
After waiting for a little while, we made it inside where tables were lined up and were filled with dozens of hungry patrons.
About halfway through the line, we were amused by a large picture of Jesus, pointing in the direction of the food line. We can only imagine that his sign reads “Piroshki this way!”
After perusing the menu while we waited, we knew what we were ordering: The Imperial Platter, which included a sample of almost everything.
Here’s the menu:
Hot Russian tea was offered, but the temperature in the room was rather warm. It was interesting to see that they served the hot tea with jelly instead of sugar or honey.
After waiting for what seemed like only a few minutes, we received our food. The Imperial Platter has a stuffed cabbage (holupki), kolbasa and kraut, baked meat pie (piroshki), a potato dumpling with cheese (pirohy), a stuffed dumpling (halushki) and a cheese potato bread (pigschi), with a cucumber salad.
Every single thing on the plate is absolutely delicious. The sausage served with Kraut is the tastiest sausage I’ve ever had. The stuffed cabbage is amazing, far beyond anything similar I’ve ever had in a home or restaurant.
Here’s a closer look at the boiled pirohy, which can be described as a potato dumpling, onion and cheese casserole.
The piroshky has a wonderful flavor and a flaky crust.
The stuffed cabbages are filled with ground beef, rice, onion, bell pepper and spices and are topped with a delicious tomato sauce. Here’s a peek inside:
And here’s a closer look at the kolbasa and kraut:
My dining partner also spring for a bowl of borsch and a blini.
The Borsch is a beat vegan soup and it is topped with the recommended sour cream in this picture.
The Blini is a rolled pancake with meat filling. The meat reminded me of a roast beef, and the pancake was very buttery. It was oddly satisfying.
After finishing our favorite meal of the year, we made our way back outside and then downstairs to the bakery, where dozens of Russian confections lined the tables.
More Blini were being sold outside by a lovely group of ladies in traditional Russian attire.
If you missed out on the event today, they will be open tomorrow (Sunday, November 5th) from 12-5. More information is available on the church’s website: Russian food festival