Power to the Piroshki

| December 21, 2009 | 0 Comments
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Opening of Golden Orb Piroshki Shop
Opening of Golden Orb Piroshki Shop

I first stumbled across Golden Orb as I was routinely stalking Arizmendi Bakery, trying to figure out when their San Rafael location is finally going to open. Ah yes, disappointed yet again (it’s been so long). But yesterday morning, my disappointment waned when I discovered a new red and gold sign had popped up further down the street. I parked, did some exploring, and found the smiling faces of managers and adept piroshki purveyors, Ashley De Rutte and her fiancé Breeze Kinsey bustling about the Golden Orb. Ashley’s father, David Daunell, is the owner–you may remember his name from Moosetta’s up in Sonoma, the popular piroshki shop that his mother Caroline ran with her husband, Chef Marvin Joyce until the late 1990s.

Shop Managers Breeze Kinsey and Ashley de Rutte
Shop Managers Breeze Kinsey and Ashley de Rutte

Now if you’re new to piroshki, they’re not a light food. However, they’re perfect for this time of year when the rains and gray winter days are looming. Their origin is actually difficult to trace, with Poles, Russians, Latvians, and Czechs all claiming them as their own. Regardless, the piroshki’s you’ll try at Golden Orb are a traditional Russian hand pie stuffed with a variety of savory fillings. While the beef or the cabbage vermicelli are certainly the most traditional, they’ve added more contemporary flavors such as chicken potpie and spinach parmesan–all for less than the price of a grande latte. Ashley and Breeze also offer a few salads and a small but lovely selection of baked goods, fair trade coffee beverages, and teas.

Menu Offerings at Golden Orb
Menu Offerings at Golden Orb

I tried the two biggest sellers, according to Breeze: the beef, onion, and dill along with the cabbage, vermicelli, carrot and caraway seed. They were each placed in little bags, warm, and perfectly golden on top. The dough was much chewier than I’d expected and much less greasy. After everything I’d heard about piroshki, I was expecting a major gut bomb. And don’t get me wrong: they’re certainly filling, but not in a ‘I need a nap’ sort of way, but more in a ‘wow, I just had a satisfying meal all contained in a little bread pocket’ kind of way. The filling-to-dough ratio was perfect, and I obviously couldn’t finish both in one setting so I reheated half of the beef piroshki later in the day and it was just as good the second time around.

Piroshki breakfast and lunch
Piroshki breakfast…and lunch

I wasn’t planning on writing about piroshki for this week’s post. But after eating at Golden Orb and talking to Breeze and Ashley, I couldn’t stop thinking about the quaint and inviting space or those warm savory pies. And I’m not sure that’s because they were so delicious (although they were) or because they were a new-to-me food. Even if piroshki aren’t part of your cultural tradition, there’s something about them that feels familiar–something you can’t quite stop thinking about. At Golden Orb, Caroline’s granddaughter is keeping the family legacy alive in a small but tangible way, something we should all celebrate in this season of mass consumption and big box stores.

I’ve vowed not to step into a mall for any of my holiday shopping this year (so far, so good), and over the past few days I’ve made another vow: more piroshki. Many more piroshki.

Golden Orb
811 4th Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 454-8692
Hours: 8am–6pm

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Category: baking and bakeries, local food businesses, reviews

About the Author ()

Megan Gordon is originally from Eureka, CA although she's lived in numerous college towns around the country (another story altogether). A freelance food and travel writer, Megan has written for publications like Ready Made Magazine, The San Francisco Examiner, Edible SF and Edible Marin & Wine Country, Olive Oil Times and The San Francisco Bay Guardian. She writes regularly for Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn and maintains her own local food blog, A Sweet Spoonful. Yes, Megan even tweets @meganjanesf. In addition to writing and photographing food, Megan is the founder (and head baker) of Marge, a Bay Area baking company specializing in classic American pies and nostalgic desserts.