But back to the festival...
The festival took place on the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church. I must say, we haven't attended the festival in the past because we weren't sure what it would be like, but I'm very glad that we did this past weekend. First off, this church is absolutely magnificent in structure. I remember when they first started to build it and we both knew immediately it would be Greek Orthodox because of the dome, but really, it turned out to be quite a beautiful building. I'm not quite sure if the inside is complete - we walked in for a brief second just so I could see it and was suprised to see folding chairs and pavement floors - but quite beautiful from the outside for sure.
We reviewed our map of events and happily noticed that there was a lot of food to be eaten. So, we began with an order of calamari and saganaki.
The saganaki, which is Greek for "flaming cheese" is just that. It is grilled Kasseri cheese, which is soft textured cheese, very stringy, especially when flambeed like saganaki is. They had huge slices of this cheese, ready to be set on fire...I couldn't wait. A squirt of lemon and pita bread make this one of my favorite Greek dishes for sure.
The whole time we were munching, we couldn't help to notice that we didn't have a beer or wine. When in Greece, we drank so much great wine and beer that this was just not acceptable to have an empty hand. We were excited to see what was offered, but alas, the only beer available was Keo. The lager is similar to a pilsner in taste - tastes simply like any other Greek beer that we remembered (we had preference to Mythos when we were there.) We were more about the wines during the honeymoon and the festival definitely had a variety for you to choose from. But really, I wasn't about to pay what they wanted for the taste that I would get. So we both settled in with our Keo and made way for the gyros.
During our munching, we watched some of the grade school children perform traditional Greek dances - here is one of them (and yes, they do say Opa!)
I wanted to try some of the meze (which is Greek for hors d'oeuvres), but more specifically, the "Herculean Platter" which featured Spanikopita, Tiropita, Hummus, Greek meatballs, feta cheese dip, olives and traditional Greek salad - but we knew that would be too much. Instead, we headed over to the pastry tent (because you know THAT wouldn't be too much, right?!) There was a pretty long queue, but we waited patiently and told ourselves that we would only get the traditional baklava. This is one of my favorite treats - walnuts, sugar and spice between phyllo dough drenched in honey. Did we only get the baklava? Well...not really...(and trust me, we were good compared to everyone else!):
What you see in there (starting on left, moving clockwise) is baklava, diple (rolled dough with nuts and cinnamon, smothered in honey syrup,) chocolate almond roll (a wrapped phyllo tube filled with walnuts and chocolate,) pecan blossoms (phyllo basket with pecans, walnuts and covered in honey syrup) and Galatoboureko (custard filled phyllo with citrusy flavors.) After you pointed at the grocery cases full of treats, they boxed them up and gave you this wonderful little tote. It was a nice surprise and much better than carrying a bakers box around. If you like phyllo and honey syrup with a variety of nuts, you would have loved everything in this box. Of course, it was all too sweet for me, so I had to take a bite here, a bite there. I'm still biting my halves...but I think I may have to finish it off today.
On our way out (because we weren't eating any of the fantastic treats in our new grocery tote,) we opted for some Loukoumades - aka, Honey Puffs. These little dough packets are deep fried to a golden brown, and then dipped in a honey syrup. Sprinkled with cinnamon (my fave spice, tied with red pepper flakes of course) I knew it would be a treat. What I didn't expect when popping the treat into my mouth was the explosion of hot honey! I was not a fan of the explosion of sweet syrup, but hubs enjoyed the sweet treat. Luckily for me, you could tell which ones were heavy with the honey. Hubs at his way through those while I ate the remainder of the small fried yeast dough treats sprinkled with heaven.
It was a great festival with a variety of food and drinks (well, wine) to try. Volunteers were friendly, but it was definitely a church festival, but with flair. We would go again, but buy our tickets in advance to save a bit so we could get more food.
Were you able to attend any festivals over the weekend, or did you try any great ethnic food?