Greek festivals are a bevy of delights, full of food and entertainment and culture. Even though a panegyri—an outdoor festival—is typically associated with a church, such celebrations are light on religion and heavy on culinary riches, allowing everyone to be Greek for a weekend.
The San Francisco Greek Festival, coming to the Annunciation Cathedral on Valencia Street this weekend, will be no different. Use the opportunity to venture beyond the usuals –spanakopita, Greek salad and souvlakia–and try something new. (But don’t worry, those favorites will be on hand.)
Read on for The Standard’s five must-try eats. You can thank us with an order of loukoumades, extra honey. Opa!
This warm, comforting soup means egg-lemon in Greek, and those are its two principal ingredients. Typically studded with floating orzo, this is the kind of soup your yiayia (grandma) would make for you when you’re sick. Zesty and light from the citrus but with body from the egg, it’s a marvelous balance of flavors.
This green bean dish—chock full of tomatoes and dill—is a hearty side that can eat like a meal for a vegetarian when you pair it with rice or pita bread. The zesty red sauce and fresh herbs offer a new take on a vegetable that you typically find swimming in garlic or butter.
Sometimes called “Greek lasagna,” pastitsio layers ground beef, pasta and béchamel sauce in a casserole that is hearty and unique. Spiced with cinnamon and cocoa, the meat layer of this dish is like nothing you’ve had before and marries beautifully with the béchamel and the pasta. Prepare for a flavor bomb.
You’ve had baklava, but have you tried galaktoboureko? This dessert trades the nuts for custard—“gala” means milk in Greek—for a filling-yet-airy delight of phyllo dough. The pie is served warm with honey syrup.
The longest lines at Greek festivals? They’re at the loukoumades booth. It’s for good reason, since these deep-fried puffs of dough coated in nuts, cinnamon and honey are simply irresistible. We dare you to eat just one.
📍Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia St.
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Julie Zigoris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org