It's been 21 years (since I moved from upstate New York) since I've had the chance to attend an ethnic food festival, but this weeked I took a trip to "The Greek Bite of Montlake." The St. Demetrios Greek Festival, which was held Friday through Sunday, has been an annual event in Seattle since 1960. It funds their church and community programs.
After a successful attempt at finding a parking spot in this small residential area, I followed the signs to a large tent stretched across the church's entire parking lot. As I approached, I couldn't help but notice two rotisseries turning slowly over a bed of charcoal. In front of it, there was a long line for slow-roasted lamb served on a baguette bread that soaked up the juices. Another sign ahead said "Tokens," so I headed for it. I had found my Greek Arcade.
The food choices were endless. My buddy and church volunteer, John Katsandres, was quick to inform me that they had just sold out of calamari, which had a consistent 15-minute wait throughout the day. John had been sweating over the deep-fryer most of the afternoon, but quickly took a break to check the score of the Seahawks game when they switched him over from calamari to Greek fries. I made a point to skip over the traditional gyros, souvlaki, and Greek salad for some lesser knowns. My first choice: avgolemono soupa, a creamy, lemony soup made with eggs and rice. Delicious. I also tried pasticho—penne pasta with ground beef and bechamel sauce cooked like a Greek style mac 'n cheese—for the first time. The meatballs and yellow rice with tomato sauce were . . . exactly that. The slow-roasted lamb was as tender as prime rib and my favorite dish of the day.
The dessert selection was equally overwhelming. The loukoumades station had the longest line. These bite-sized, airy puffs of dough covered in a warm honey sauce and sprinkled with cinnamon were out of this world. The Krispy Kreme folks should have been there taking notes.
Besides great food, the St. Demetrios Greek Festival entertained people with folk dancing, a live Greek band, and even a flat-screen television near the beer garden so no one would have to miss their weekend football games. Truly something for everyone.