If you’re located within an hour’s drive of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Wormleysburg, you’re likely to begin seeing banners popping up announcing Greekfest right about now.
This year’s event runs from May 19-21, and once again it feature’s an array of Greek specialties so numerous that one might be overwhelmed and wondering where to begin.
That’s where I come in. I’ve attended the event at least a dozen times over the years, so this week’s column will address my personal favorites.
One of the first sights you’re likely to see upon arrival is the long line at the gyro and souvlaki stand. People don’t seem to mind standing in line as they chat with their neighbors and await their turn.
The most popular order seems to be the lamb/beef combo, otherwise known as a gyro. The Greek sandwich topped with tomatoes, onions and cucumber/garlic sauce (tzatziki) nestled snugly into a fluffy pita is a perennial handheld favorite.
Others stand in line for the souvlaki, comprised of pork, or chicken chunks, marinated in lemon, olive oil and oregano, and served either on a skewer, or in a pita, and sporting the same toppings as the gyro.
The tempting aromas of fresh-grilled meats fill the air, drawing many to the stand, but not I. I save my appetite for that which lies beyond the doors of the building located just a few feet from the gyro stand.
My first destination is a trip inside the main building to the table where dinner tickets are sold. Then I’m off to the line where dedicated volunteers dish up delectable, melt-in-your mouth lamb shanks topped with a special red sauce. The green beans and rice served alongside are mere minor players, in my humble opinion.
Next stop is the Gourmet Greek Grocery Stand located on the opposite side of the dining area. There I lay claim to a tray of frozen, unbaked moussaka to savor later. I liken the dish to a Greek lasagna, with layers that include sliced eggplant, tomatoes, ground beef and a creamy covering of béchamel sauce that brings it all together to make it one of the tastiest dishes at the festival.
I’ve made it at home before and it can be quite labor intensive, so I’m always happy to allow someone else to do the work. Those who would like to give it a whirl without committing to a whole pan can purchase a single serving, piping hot and ready to go at the dinner stand.
If dessert is your priority, you won’t be disappointed with the many tantalizing options from ethereal fried dough puffs dripping with honey called loukoumades, to the ever-popular baklava, to walnut spice cake and various types of cookies—there’s a little something to tempt the “sweet tooth” of just about everyone.
My once-a-year indulgence is the Kataifi me Crema. These little nests of shredded wheat pastry topped with rich, creamy custard and a layer of whipped cream makes the indulgence worth every calorie — trust me on this one.
Before I leave, I generally pick up a Greek salad and perhaps a square of spinach pie to round out the meal (and me out too, come to think of it).
These are my top food recommendations for those attending the Greek festival, but there is so much more from which to choose, from Greek meatballs called keftedes, which are my husband’s favorite, to a macaroni dish with béchamel called pastitsio, to chicken dinners, rich Baklava sundaes, flaming Greek cheese called Saganaki and more.
It’s an event that every foodie in the area looks forward to each and every year, and if you’ve yet to experience it, you might want to mark your calendars accordingly. And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there!
Next Up: Dinner at Cassell’s Grill in Mount Holly Springs.