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Valley Greek Festival

June 10, 2011

 Highlights: Fast food lines.  Free parking, free attendance.  Loukoumathes & lamb chops. Touring the beautiful church.

Opa! This was the first year I attended a Greek festival and it was such a positive experience. For the past 38 years each memorial day weekend, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church holds their annual Valley Greek Festival, and there are many other Greek festivals throughout California.  I found free parking easily (or can pay for closer parking) so I can spend more money on food.

donuts after

It's so fluffy!!

Food.  It’s usually the first to run out. We started with a grilled lamb chop($6) and fried calamari($6). Usually, I’m not too fond of lamb, but I am always willing to try.  It came with 2 slices of baguettes soaked in its juices. Oh, the lamb was juicy, tender,  and not gamy.  I tasted the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and other Greek seasonings which probably removed the gamy taste.  Thirty minutes after we bought the lamb, they sold out, so I’m glad we went here first.  The calamari breading was seasoned and coated evenly, tender and fried perfectly. After picking up my calamari, I was quickly searching for any sauces to compliment it.  It was hard to resist Tabasco, but if the cook gave me a basket of calamari with lemons, then that is how I’m going to eat it.  Next was the Loucanico ($5 or $6), Greek sausages sautéed with lemon slices and was served with feta cheese, olives, and bread.  The flavors from the lemon and the pickled olive resulted in a tangy taste, but the feta cheese and bread created the perfect balance.  The next food were the Greek donuts, Loukoumathes ($6).  Ohhhh these were amazing! We get overly excited every time fried doughnut is featured in a festival.  The bite sized donut was covered with warm honey (with a hint of jasmine) and cinnamon sprinkled on top. It was fresh off the fryer, so the donuts just melted in my mouth. BUT, once it cooled for a couple of minutes, the honey begins to harden and ohhh myyyyy, it was a candied donut!  To wash everything down, the festival  served Greek beers and ouzo, which I wished I tried.  Ouzo is a Greek alcoholic drink which is like drinking sake or a shot of tequila.  We ended our day with pork souvlaki on kebabs.  It was tender, juicy,  and the seasonings was similar to what was in the lamb chops.  There was a variety of other foods to try, but not enough stomach space to fit it all in.

Traditional folk dancers

Cultural experience:  We strolled through the marketplace which had booths that displayed/sold Greek art, food products, clothing, and artifacts.  Another side resembled a carnival,  filled with games, painting pottery, and the bounce houses for the children.  Throughout the event, the sounds of live Greek music can be heard.  Guests got together to line dance and children shook their hips in their cute Grecian coin skirts.  Children clothed in the traditional garments performed the traditional folk dances.  We took a tour of the church, and saw the beautiful architecture and interior decor.  The floor entryway is cushioned with carpet were people can literally stand for long periods. The walls were filled with mosaic portraits and golden chandeliers hung  from the ceiling.  We sat in the church to listen to the Greek Orthodox history and the history of the church. On our way out of the church, we lit two candles and whispered a small prayer and went home, satisfied.

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