Highlights from 11th Annual L.A. Greek Fest

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Greek Church Los Angeles

Living statues, Zorba-style dance circles and the Shake Ya Groove Thang DJs were just three highlights from opening night at L.A. Greek Fest, but of course I attended Saint Sophia Cathedral to gorge on home-style Greek food. There was plenty of it, and the food compared favorably with L.A.’s better casual Greek restaurants.

“Celebrating a taste of Greece” required so much food that festival organizers had to assign four distinct areas: Taverna, Sports Bar, Food Court and Parish Center Hall. A central courtyard was decked out in the colors of the Greek flag: blue and white, and revelers filled almost every table.

Greek Food Los Angeles
It was worth waiting in a 20 minute Food Court line to picked up a stuffed tomato ($4) filled with sweet rice, currants and pine nuts. The tomato was oven-baked to a sweet sun-dried consistency.

Greek Food Los Angeles
The flaky phyllo-wrapped spanakopita ($4) was another winner, filled with spinach and molten Feta.

Greek Food Los Angeles
In the Parish Center Hall, we scored a Roast Lamb dinner ($14), which included rice pilaf, dolmathes, an inconsequential iceberg salad, a square of feta, Kalamata olives and a roll. We were hoping for fresh pita, but I guess Zeus wasn’t smiling down on us. I can see why L.A. Greek Fest burned through 9000 pounds of lamb. It was well seasoned and lean yet still fairly juicy. The pilaf was a highlight, interspersed with nutty wild rice.

Greek Food Los Angeles
Earlier in the week, festival food supervisor Ann Pappas gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the pastry production. In the back of the dining hall, a small army of Greek women were baking tens of thousands of pastries, including 1500 white wedding cookies (kourambithes), 2000 honey cookies (melomakurana) and 2000 pieces of Georgia Vasila’s supple, honey-soaked baklava.

Greek Food Los Angeles
This year, L.A. Greek Fest even introduced two new pastries: a walnut cake known as Karadopita and Greek-style biscotti studded with dried apricots and plums.

Greek Food Los Angeles
At L.A. Greek Fest, we finished with a small cardboard boat of Koukoumathes ($4), aka “honey balls,” donut holes fried in oil, rolled in honey and dusted with walnuts and cinnamon. Too bad this specialty is normally reserved for festivals.

Greek Beer Los Angeles
There was even a Beer Garden with rarely seen Greek beers: Hillas and Mythos. Unfortunately, the Hillas wasn’t much better than Budweiser, but it was fun to be able to try a bottle.

This was my second time at L.A. Greek Fest, and next year, I plan to work my way through the rest of the eating options. Gyro village, here I come.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Ooooh I remember those koukoumathes fondly… and galactoboureko too.

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