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Friday, June 5, 2015

Tastes of the Greek Food Fair

The Greek Food Fair, at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George on the northwest corner of 35th and Cottage Grove, takes place this weekend: tonight from 5:30 to 9 p.m., tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Going strong now for 37 years, the event predates most of the culinary and cultural festivals that now populate the Metro.

Starting off humbly with a sit-down gathering inside the church over a meal of souvlaki, vegetable, salad and drink, the Fair has expanded to include carry-out meals; and outside tents featuring dancing, music, a menagerie of ala carte pastries and appetizers; a taverna featuring beverages caffeinated, alcoholic, and soft; and the most Americanized, and popular, of Greek cuisine, the gyro. Tonight offers a limited menu including saganaki and appetizer plates.

This year, the Fair includes a booth on Saturday and Sunday offering Ethiopian, Eritrean and Serbian sample plates. A full listing of the Fair's offerings can be found on the church's website at stgeorge.ia.goarch.org.

Dolmades, left, are grape leaves stuffed with either beef and rice or just rice, served with an egg/lemon sauce. I love its briny flavor. Loukaniko, right, is a wonderful pork sausage, seasoned with orange peel, fennel seed, and assorted Greek spices which perk up on the tongue with each bite.

Pastitsio, left, features layered ground beef and macaroni, baked with a creamy, almost custardy B├ęchamel on top. A touch of nutmeg elivens. Loukoumathes, right, are yeast-risen dough puffs, deep-fried, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with cinnamon and chopped walnuts. A sticky delight; get'em while they're hot!

Everyone's favorite Greek dessert is baklava, left, made with layers of buttered phyllo, nuts, cinnamon, and a honey syrup. Greek coffee ice cream, right, is a special treat made exclusively for the Greek Food Fair. Enjoy it as a sundae with crushed baklava!

The most popular item at the Fair by far is the souvlaki, kebabs of pork or chicken with onion and green pepper.

A personal favorite, spanakopita, left, offers spinach and feta cheese between layers of crispy, buttered phyllo. A close cousin of pastitsio, moussaka, right, trades in eggplant for macaroni.

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