One hundred and fifty pounds of feta. Thousands of pastries, countless shanks of lamb and rows of grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. Throw in rich, thick coffee brewed Herculean strength, and the Greek Food Festival at Portland’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is no myth.
Now in its 35th year, this grazer’s dream runs Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is where you need to be noshing now.
Sure there is dancing to opa-opa bands under the tent, but the largest fundraiser for the church is all about eating like an Athenian. So bring your appetite.
“It advertises our culture and our food,” said Varipatis, a humble parishioner, one of a hundred volunteers working around the clock to assure this fest is a success year after tasty year. “We want to make people happy so they learn about our good food.”
So what’s tantalizing under the tent?
Roasted chicken, lamb souvlaki, Mediterranean mezethes plates loaded with feta, olives, keftethes, hummus and pita chips. There’s moussaka, grilled gyros and spanakopita the way these dishes were meant to taste before American chefs got hold of them. Plus this authentic spread is a frugal feed. Prices don’t creep higher than $15, most items are around $8.
Hold out for the pasties, whatever you do. Baklava, karidoptia, finikia and other sugary and honeyed delights you can’t pronounce on an empty stomach await.
“It’s a huge endeavor that’s highly organized,” said Helen Blewett, a volunteer overseeing the pastry department. “Our expenses are high, but we get donations of meat and time.”
Donate a little of your meal time here this weekend and consider yourself blessed.
“People like Greek pastry and Greek food. It brings the church community together,” said Blewett.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 133 Pleasant St, Portland. Festival runs June 22, 23 and 24 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.