Baklava is OVERRATED – KW Greekfest

10 Jun

Baklava is overrated. It’s a dessert that I often obsessed about as a young gourmand: phyllo pastry soaked in honey and sprinkled with pistachio bits. Delicious, right? WRONG. I have never actually enjoyed the experience. It’s always TOO SWEET. Mr. HoM says it’s because often the pastry is made with simple syrup and not honey. The result: aching rather than satisfied sweet tooth!

This weekend, my culinary adventure was braving the huge crowds at the 33rd annual Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) Greekfest. It’s not an enormous event  – held on the grounds of the KW Greek Community Center – but it’s extremely well attended. When we arrived, cars were precariously perched on hills and jammed tightly by the curb of the facility! Entrance was $2 or a donation to the food bank.

Community food festivals can be tricky. The music is always too loud. The food can be mediocre. There might not be enough seating. BUT, I am a fan of barbecued meats and the plethora of superior Greek desserts that no one ever seems to talk about!

We arrived at around 7:30pm, faced with two gigantic slow moving lines that both led to tents that seemed to serve food. After consulting the menu, we purchased tickets in monetary denominations that would be used in place of cash. I LOVED this idea. The thought of the elderly or families with nine screaming kids fumbling with change would have driven me mad not to mention slowed the movement of the line to a standstill. As it was, we waited in line for close to an hour before we could place our order. Thank goodness for good company and sensible shoes! I’m told that the event is even busier in the afternoon! Another way to win over this grumpy gourmand: the food was very reasonably priced. There’s nothing I love more than deliciousness than a good deal. A combination platter, for example, (pork souvlaki, gyros,dolmathakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs) as well as a salad) was only $15! Any of the souvlaki on a pita was $7ish. Spanakopita/ Tiropita was priced at $1. Desserts ranged in price from $1-5. Mr. HoM and I were fully satiated for $25! 

After finding an empty table, in one of the three tents with seating, right next to the speakers blaring the loudest of authentic Greek music, we dug in! Ever notice how, festivals always have the loudest speakers with the least sound clarity? Your ears are ringing BUT you can’t make out a word anyone says?!

Verdict:

The pork souvlaki was flavourful and tender. The gyros (which I don’t normally get because it tends to smell up the whole house) had a bit of kick to it and melted in your mouth! There was no shortage of onions in the pita or salad. Kiss, anyone?

We ordered the Spanakopita (spinich & feta in phyllo) AND the Tiropita (feta in phyllo). Feta is my religion and and these two tarts were exploding with generous helpings of its crumbly savoury goodness.

Desserts: I was in search of Loukoumades (fried dough covered in honey and sesame seeds) but we made a rookie mistake and waited until after our meals to get sweets to go! They were almost all sold out of the most popular treats. Except: BAKALAVA! So, instead, we picked up some Kourabiethes (shortbread under what seemed like a centimeter of confectioner’s sugar piled on top) and Diples (folded sheets of fried dough drizzled with honey and walnuts). The cookies were packed with subtle sweetness and hint of citrus perfume! It was hard to distinguish between the sugar and shortbread in my mouth as both dissolved in my mouth. The Diples were not crunchy as expected because they had been saturated with the honey. It felt like eating fried wontons that have sat in the glowing red sauce for a little bit too long. Delectable because the honey was so light in its sweetness. So, even though I didn’t get my first choice of treat, the alternatives proved more than satisfactory! And, I didn’t have to fall back on Baklava.

Lovely: An army of smiling volunteers hauling in giant trays of hot food and taking our orders! The same families with children that would have annoyed me in the queue were freaking adorable with their dancing and playful screeching. The band brought in to entertain everyone were just a bunch of loveable old coots. They didn’t even stand during the last set of the night – opting instead to slouch in chairs. The guitarist was byfar the coolest with his mane of silver hair, a face weathered by many Greekfests before, and a sly cigarette dangling from his lips.

Note: Cherry, you will be please to know that since Mr. HoM and I split everything, I did not overindulge … like I normally do on date night!

(Note from Cherry to Clementine: I’m sorry I poked your stomach last time I saw you!! You’re beautiful! … even if Mr. HoM is Hanzeling-and-Gretle-ing you!)

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