Monday, September 11, 2006

Greek Festival 2006 Report

Every time I look for information about the Greek Festival, I get frustrated that they don't have a website for me to look at, and to refer people to. That said, I apologize to anyone that may have tried to meet me in the food line at 10:30am. Apparently, they didn't even open until 11:00am, so there was no food line at 10:30. I spent that half hour walking around the farmers market a block away, and then Tony Caputos Deli on the way back. All I'm going to say about those two places now is, I'm going to go back and do a review in a couple of weeks.

My wife did not feel like doing a lot of walking, seeing as she's carrying enough already, what with the baby and all. So she opted to stand in line to get into the Greek Festival while Scott and I walked around. Apparently she saw some crazy Greek lady walking around and complaining that she didn't know where her no-good husband was. He finally showed up, and she complained to him about how no-good he was, and he eventually wandered off again. Can't say I blame him. This gave her the opportunity to complain about his unknown whereabouts again, and say that he was just going to have to find her inside, because she wasn't waiting for him. My wife also got to chat with the women behind her, who had obviously been in a marathon that morning. She looked like she was maybe in her mid-30's, so I was surprised to learn later that she was closer to 50, which made it even more surprising to me when I found out she apparently took 3rd place. That's awesome.

When we finally made it into the festival, the food line was almost non-existant. See what showing up early does for you? There was a bit of a wait, so we ended up talking to a large, friendly Greek guy behind us, who's mom apparently used to run a Greek restaurant in Salt Lake called Anna's or something, and another place in Denver. He wasn't really there for the food, like we were. He had better at home. He was there because he was Greek.

He may have thought the food was just okay, but I thought it was stellar. I piled about half the menu onto my plate, knowing that I wouldn't be able to finish even half of it. I had a cooler waiting in the car to take care of the rest of it. I walked out of there $26 poorer, but with enough food to last me a while. In fact, I'm eating some of the pilafi and souvlaki for breakfast right now, and have a gyro waiting in the fridge for lunchtime. It's the type of thing I live for.

When we wandered out to the tables, we found our buddy from the line, who let us sit at his table. Scott talked to him a lot, and I talked to him a little. His camera, a Nikon N80, made me more than just a little jealous. My dad and his girlfriend showed up and ate with us as well. It was good for my wife to have somebody to talk to about non-geek stuff. I stole some of her calamari at some point, and it was pretty good, though I thought the tubes were a little rubbery. The tentacles were crispy and flavorful, though. I was also the only person who got stew, which is a mystery to me. That stuff is awesome. I did wish the hunks of beef were a little smaller, and easier to fit on my spoon. The dolmades were pretty okay, but nothing special. The meatballs were better than I'd ever had them. They're usually pretty minty, but this time the seasonings were extremely well balanced. The soulvaki wasn't as good as usual, and pretty tough when I reheated it this morning. It went really well with the pilafi though, which was excellent as always. I'm not sure offhand what the thing was that looked but did not taste like cornbread, which was filled with ground beef and had a base of macaroni, but I didn't much care for it.

We finished our food and began walking around the courtyard. I was the only person in our party to not order any sweets. Let's face it, I'm not paying $3.50 for a slice of baklava when I could make an entire batch myself at home for little more than twice that. My wife got a baklava sundae which looked pretty stellar, though.

As we continued to walk around, we saw Ted and Basil's Excellent Lamb Adventure, featuring whole lambs roasted on spits. A lamb dinner was only $12, and one of these days, I intend to order one and see what it's like. Vegetarians, look away.

Doesn't that look tasty? One day I will know for sure. One day when I think to bring more cash with me to the greek festival. Instead, I knew I needed to save my remaining cash reserves for the bazaar inside the Greek Cultural Center. Last year, it was packed. This year it was pretty darn empty inside. It seemed saddeningly devoid of vendors and customers alike. They still had a Greek market inside, where I bought a large bottle of my beloved Greek olive oil. They weren't able to tell me where to buy this stuff during the rest of the year, so I'm going to have to buy some online. We bought a small hunk of feta cheese for only $0.60, for our vegetarians friends who couldn't make it. I would have bought more, but I still have a good half pound of feta at home, which is good but likely inferior compared to this stuff. I finished up with a large jar of Greek Oregano, a pack of Kalamata figs and couple of cans of these Greek chocolate wafer stick things. There's a French version in most markets out here that is so completely inferior in comparison that I won't even mention the name. My mind is completely blanked on the name of the Greek stuff, so if you're interested, watch the comments. I'll post it in there later.

We finished with a tour of the Greek Orthodox cathedral next door. We would have visited the Helenic Cultural Museum in the basement, but it didn't open until 1:00pm, and we all had places to be. In particular, I had a pengiun cake at home to work on. All in all, it was a good time. Next year, I'm going to try and keep the entire day open, so that I can spend more time there. We'll have a wee one with us, so hopefully that works out. Maybe we can coerce either my parents or hers to help keep track of the little one then.

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