Yesterday, my friend and I decided to take advantage of the local Greek festival. I am a huge fan of Greek food, so I was delighted when my friend confessed to never having tried many of the amazing Greek dishes available. We chose to taste a variety of what the festival had to offer, and that inspired me to write a quick introduction to the many delights we tried, in case any of you might be wanting to explore this new food but are not sure what you might be getting yourself into. Just so you can appreciate the sheer amount of food we conquered, here is a picture of our buffet:

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I also want to provide you with the menu for the festival, as it offers many great mini descriptions of the items:

Roasted Chicken
Grecian Style roasted chicken with rice pilaf and green beans.
$10.00 Boneless Leg of Lamb
Boneless, tender pieces of lamb with rice pilaf and green beans.
$11.00
Plaki (Baked Fish)
Succulent cod smothered with our special tomato sauce, made with vegetables and herbs, served with rice pilaf and green beans.
$10.00 Lamb Stew
Tender pieces of lamb stewed in our special tomato sauce, made with vegetables and herbs, over rice pilaf.
$10.00
Loukaniko (Sausage)
Two pieces of Grecian style sausage in a special tomato sauce served with rice.
$7.00 Souzoukakia (Meatballs)
Three delicious meatballs seasoned with special herbs in a Grecian style sauce served over rice.
$6.00
Menu - A la Carte
Gyro Sandwich
Tender slices of gyro (spiced beef, lamb, and veal) served in pita bread, topped with onions, tomatoes, and cucumber sauce.
$6.00 Moussaka
Layers of grilled eggplant and meat filling topped with a bechamel sauce.
$5.00
Pastitsio
Layers of macaroni, grated cheese and sauteed ground beef topped with a rich cream sauce and baked to a firm consistency.
$5.00 Loukaniko or Souzoukakia Sandwich
Sausage or meatballs in a special tomato sauce.
$4.50
Spanakopita
Baked layers of filla dough filled with spinach, an egg mixture, feta, cottage, and grated cheeses.
$2.50 Dolmades
Lemon scented grape leaves stuffed with a seasoned mixture of rice, meat, and herbs.
$1.00
Greek Salad
$2.50 Green Beans
Fresh green beans stewed in our special tomato sauce.
$2.00
Rice Pilaf
Rice steamed in butter and chicken broth.
$2.00
Menu - Pastries
15 Piece Baklava Variety Tray
$20.00 Almond Cookies
12 for $5.50
Koulourakia
A buttery twisted shortbread cookie.
12 for $5.00 Soula’s Baklava Sundae
$3.00
Hot Loukoumades
Honey drenched fried puffs of dough.
6 for $3.00 Baklava
Layers of buttered fillo, walnuts, and cinnamon baked to a golden brown with honey syrup.
$2.00
Galatobouriko
Greek custard between layers of buttered fillo topped with syrup.
$2.00 Kataifi
Shredded fillo stuffed with a walnut mix and topped with syrup.
$2.00
Apidakia
Moist, pear-shaped cinnamon cookie stuffed with nuts, dipped in syrup and sprinkled with ground walnuts.
$2.00 Diples
Delicate deep-fried pastry dipped in honey syrup and laced with cinnamon and nuts.
$2.00
Raisin Cookies
$1.50 Finikia
Honey-dipped cookies sprinkled with walnuts.
$1.50
Kourambiedes
Delicate buttered cookies rolled in powdered sugar.
$1.00 Chocolate Koulourakia
A buttery twisted shortbread cookie with chocolate drizzle.
50¢

We ordered (and I tried):

The lamb stew: WOW! What an absolute treat. For $10 we got a portion large enough for both of us to enjoy for two days. This was a very, very thick dish including lamb and vegetables in a tomato base. The flavors simply exploded in my mouth. The lamb was tender and flavorful-I could cut it with a spoon. The stew included large chunks of potato, celery, and carrots, and was served over a very large portion of rice. This was absolutely the best thing that we ordered.

Gyro: Now, many of these dishes I cannot even come remotely close to pronouncing. I’m not Greek and I’m not here to pretend that I’m some kind of Greek expert. But I have to say, it makes me cringe when I hear people referring to this as a “JI-RO.” I’m sure I don’t have the Greek inflection when I say it, but a much closer pronunciation of this dish is “YEE-RO.” I even looked this up to double check, and one suggestion was to think of “hero” with a longer e. OK, after that slight rant, this is a delicious meat-filled pita. This is probably one of the most common Greek foods you see-available at many fairs and even the Pita Pit. The meat is delicious in this-the ones we got at the festival even managed to avoid the typical grease that runs down your arm when eating the fair-obtained version. Besides the meat, my favorite part of this dish is the cucumber sauce, called tzatziki. This is a delicious, refreshing cream sauce.

Moussaka: I will have to admit this was the first time I had eaten this dish. I was excited to try this eggplant-based dish. I have to say, this dish fell flat for me. It wasn’t bad, it’s just that the flavors didn’t necessarily excite me.

Spanakopita: This is a cheese and spinach dish utilizing filo dough (a staple in Greek dishes). The dough is thin and flaky. Again, this dish was not my favorite. The ingredients were fine, again, the flavors were simply uninspired.

Dolmades: These are also called “grape leaves.” I have to say, these were never my favorite. BUT, the sample I had from the Greek festival changed my mind. The leaves burst into fragrant flavors that permeated my senses. Stuffed in the leaves was a mix of meat and rice that was so subtle and light. The flavors were refreshing and not at all heavy. I could see enjoying these on a hot summer day. I highly recommend trying this delicious treat.

Greek Salad: OK, I have to admit something here. I order Greek salads for two things: the Greek dressing and feta cheese. I pick out most of the other ingredients, including the olives and onions. But I love the dressing and feta cheese enough to make this a staple in my Greek diet.

Baklava: This is layers of filo dough, honey, and nuts. This isn’t my favorite dessert, I think because I don’t like the texture of the dough in these and the treat gets stuck to my teeth. But I have to admit,  the baklava at this festival was absolutely, melt in your mouth delicious.

Koulourakia: These are a Greek version of a shortbread cookie. These were EXTREMELY dry-they also hurt my teeth when I tried to eat them. I recommend having some coffee or tea on standby if you decide to try these.

Hot Loukoumades: These definitely taste better hot than cold. I had to stick them in the microwave to warm them up, and they were pretty tasty after I did that.

So, those in the Steubenville, OH area, I recommend taking the trip out to this festival before it is gone (http://www.holytrinitygreekfest.com/). The festival will continue through June 15. If you go, get the lamb stew and grape leaves. Trust me.

Until next time, bon appetit!

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