greek food festival in san francisco....it's all greek to me!
The Greek Food Festival is an annual event that has been going on for 66 years! I've been in this city for 20 of those, but yet, never made it around to try it. It's one of those things that always seemed to be on the peripheral of my radar of "I should go to that." But then I forget about it until I see stuff about after the fact. This year was different, as the listing passed by my eyeballs online before it happened and I was able to pin down the SO for it.
It lasts pretty much all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday with food and music, which means there really was no reason for ever missing it since I had ample opportunity. Sunday is a day we both have off and I figured it wouldn't be as crowded since folks had already had 2 full days to get their Greek on. After rousting ourselves out of bed, we sauntered our way over to Annunciation Cathedral on Valencia to chow down.
The place was jumping when we arrived mid-afternoon, but not too bad. They had a live band playing Greek music and several tables set up selling Greek food. It was divided between sweets, gyros and grilled/casserole stuff. I've had gyros so wanted to go all in on the other savory choices available. They had those set up cafeteria style and me and the SO just went down the line and got one of everything except the rice and chicken. While I'm sure it was tasty, it was also just rice and chicken--I can get that anywhere. The rest, not so much.
Since this is a special event that is a fundraiser for the cathedral, this post isn't so much a review of the food as it is an overview of what we ate. I mean come on, like I'm gonna seriously critique some Greek grandmas cooking? I think not.
Here we have some fassolakia--stewed green beans, tomatoes and herbs. Souvlakia--marinated pork grilled with onions and green peppers. Tiropita--triangle filled with blend of crumbled cheeses and egg in flaky phyllo dough. Spanakopita--spinach, egg, feta cheese and dill in flaky phyllo dough. I'd not had the green bean thing before but really liked it. The pork was also tender and tasty and probably the SO's fave. I've always been a big fan of the these type of phyllo dough turnovers. These were huge with lots of cheese, spinach and buttery flavor. Like a flaky better tasting Hot Pocket. We were both very pleased with this plate. Of course, it didn't stop us from getting another.
Moussaka--layered eggplant, meat, potatoes and cheese topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. Yemistes--green peppers stuffed with rice, ground beef and a special herb blend. Pastitso--meat, sauce, cheese and pasta topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. This is what you call very filling food. The kind you eat and then want to take a nap after. I love a good moussaka and had a version of it many times when I was in Turkey. All these items used ground beef as a base and tasting closely, the herbs are seem to be all the same and include things like cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, garlic, black pepper and probably some other things grandma only knows. I couldn't eat these all the time, but it is nice to splurge every now and then.
We did try to lighten things up with some raw veggies in the form of a Greek salad. Tomatoes, cucumbers and onions mixed with olive oil and herbs. Chilled and refreshing on a hot Sunday. They also had the standard Greek dessert collection like baklava and loukoumades--deep fried dough balls covered in honey, cinnamon and walnuts. After all we had eaten, those seemed a little to heavy so we opted for the rizogalo--creamy Greek rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon. I'm not the biggest rice pudding fan, at least not the ones without raisins like this one. But the SO was all over this like white on rice! Ha! Get it?! Anyway, it was definitely creamy and who-boy, it had more than just a sprinkle of cinnamon. Seems it was also mixed through and through. I kind of prefer my cinnamon in a bun covered in cream cheese icing. You may like yours like this. To each his/her own.
And lest you not believe someone's mother or grandmother cooked the food, they were also serving it up to the masses. They were very cheery considering the crowds and the lovely ladies in my line lit up with a smile when I said I'd take one of everything. I've always wanted to say that and this situation seemed the perfect opportunity. In the end it worked out for all of us. Me and the SO got a heaping filling of some tasty Greek food and they got some of our money for their charity. All in all, I think we both made out pretty well. Next year, just remember to put it on your calendar.