Monday, October 4, 2010

Portland's 59th Annual Greek Festival

First: an apology to my readers.  It's been a while since I've had a chance to post.  I know it's cliche, but I've been super-busy, and unfortunately not only with cooking and eating alone.  We do have some catching up to do.....I need to tell you about:

  • Tamales & Fish Tacos at Por Que No?
  • My new food processor and resulting rustic fruit pies
  • Brunch at Bar Carlo on Foster
BUT......since Greek Festival was this past weekend, I feel it's important to get this out so that you'll feel compelled to set a calendar reminder for yourself for fall of 2011.  (Our friend Matt was chuckling about this sign - I thought some of you might get a kick out of it...)

Portland's 59th annual Greek Festival took place October 1, 2 and 3 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on NE Glisan and 31st(ish).  Luckily, on Saturday morning Matt & Juanita told/reminded us that it was going on.  We'd been there two years ago, but it sort of fell off my radar.  We arrived just in time to witness a traditional Greek dance/celebration.  We then made our way over to buy some talents to trade in for the divine-smelling delicacies.

Our strategy at the festival was to try as many different things as possible, sharing everything with the kids.  Below is a rundown of what we tasted.

1. Souvlaki
Souvlaki, sometimes referred to as "the hamburger of Greece" consists of spiced, marinated meat on a stick grilled over an open flame.  The most common type of meat used for Souvlaki is lamb, though both chicken and pork are used as well.  I believe the one I tasted at the Greek festival yesterday was chicken and it was perfectly spiced and a bit lemony (which I LOVE), but was unfortunately a bit cold and dry by the time I got to it.  Sadly, I was not heartbroken that we'd only gotten one.

2. Greek Sausage
The Greek sausage, on the other hand, was juicy beyond belief.  It was so flavorful, that it reminded me of the Argentine sausages that are served up on French rolls out of food carts all over Buenos Aires.  The similarity was in the flavor and saltiness - the difference was that the Greek sausage seemed to contain a hint of nutmeg that added a layer of calculated complexity.

3. Pastitsio
Let me start off by saying that my kids adored the pastitisio.  To them, it was a cross between lasagna and "mac n' cheese."  Macaroni, spiced beef, creamy bechamel and cheese come together to create a scrumptious yet exotic Greek comfort food.  The exoticness (at least in my opinion) comes from flavors like cinnamon and allspice thrown into a context that is so unexpected (unless you are Greek of course).

4. Gyro
This is always a favorite.  I have had gyros all over the U.S. good and bad.  The gyros served at the Greek festival were delicious and authentic.  The pita was soft and warm.  The tzatziki sauce was neither too thick nor too thin.  The meat was tender and juicy.  The chopped tomatoes and onions offered the perfect fresh balance.  My son devoured an entire one and was begging for more.  Rob ended up going back for another one so we could share it.

5. Loukoumades
Now this is the sweet stuff.  Juanita recommended these on Saturday morning and then mentioned them again Sunday evening when we ran into her at the festival.  Of course we sought them out.  Loukoumades are like tiny little doughnuts, drenched in aromatic honey and dusted with cinnamon.  They absolutely melt in your mouth.  When you pop one in your mouth that has soaked up more of honey than others, you feel like God is smiling at you.  As I learned last night with leftovers, however, these are best enjoyed hot.

1 comment:

  1. Yumsies!! Should have invited your lil' sis! Nico had a high fever that day now that I think of it. Oh well, reading about it will have to do!