Kravitz, Plaza Donuts create Polish delicacies for Fat Tuesday

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A bright spot amid unpleasant business news for the Mahoning Valley can be found at Kravitz Deli’s Fat Tuesday celebration.

For the sixth annual Paczki, Polkas and Piwo party hosted alongside Polish Youngstown, Kravitz owner Jack Kravitz is getting the iconic pastry from down the street.

He usually sources paczki – Polish-style doughnuts – from Cleveland.

This year, Plaza Donuts is responsible for the hefty order.

“With Lordstown closing and Northside [Regional Medical Center] closing, we wanted to keep the money local,” Kravitz said.

The Polish tradition of making paczki before Ash Wednesday stems from the push to get rid of sweets before the start of Lent, explained Polish Youngstown director Aundrea Cika Heschmeyer.

“They clear the cupboards before Lent. [Paczki] are heavy and full of eggs, because traditionally, eggs were not consumed during Lent,” said Cika Heschmeyer.

The decadent pastry is made with a rich dough, filled with jam or custard and dusted with powdered sugar.

Plaza Donuts’ paczki are the result of a month of trials and research, which began with a recipe from Cika Heschmeyer’s mother.

“You have to take the tradition and blend it with modern technology and commercial technology,” said Kravitz.

The group has visited doughnut shops in Northeast Ohio to taste paczki and even received a lesson from Kravitz’s previous supplier, Kiedrowski’s in Cleveland.

“I swear we’ve gained a couple pounds just from tweaking,” said Cika Heschmeyer.

The most challenging aspect of taking on the project was finding rosehip jam, a classic paczki filling, but Kiedrowski’s generously shared his homemade supply.

“He is from Northeast Ohio. He gets it. There is a solidarity there,” said Cika Heschmeyer.

After countless batches and recipe adjustments, Plaza Donuts owner Amy Spencer said, “I feel confident that these are authentic in taste and design.”

However, the paczki are only available at Kravitz and not at Plaza Donuts locations.

In fact, the paczki will be delivered to Kravitz at 6 a.m. today by police escort.

Cika Heschmeyer and Kravitz ordered 225 dozen paczki and aims to not sell out.

“Last year, we made it to 1 p.m. This year, our goal is that people who come for dinner can enjoy paczki,” said Cika Heschmeyer.

Kravitz’s Paczki, Polkas and Piwo [beer] party runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and features Polish favorites such as kielbasa and sauerkraut, potato pancakes, pierogis and Polish beer.

The deli will even sell paczki sliders – kielbasa sandwiches on plain paczki. There will also be live music.

“When you participate in this here, you’re helping the community. You’re also helping preserve what everyone loves about Youngstown – ethnic heritage,” said Cika Heschmeyer.

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