October 04

An Appreciation: Edward Galland Zelinsky
Gridlock, Ferries & Peter Grenell
Amtrak to Portland
Tiburon a town of Grace and Fun
Sprawl Is All Around
SF Taste of Greece Festival All About Choices
Bay Crossings Cuisine
Bay Area Tollpayers Race Clock To Take Advantage of FasTrakTM Discount
Drinkin’ in Dogpatch and dancin’ on the Third Rail
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park Debuts
Fall into Jack’s New Tapas
Port of San Francisco First West Coast Seaport to Install Radiation
Bay Round Up
Barrel of Fun
San Francisco Welcomes the US Navy
Boating Calendar
Berkeley Ferry Service
Community Calendar
Best Alternative for Bay Bridge Replacement Is Awarding Current Bid



SF Taste of Greece Festival All About Choices
A dancer at the Taste of Greece festival.

By Paul Redman

It’s no secret. After the 2004 Summer Olympics were held in Athens, the world rediscovered Greece as one of the cradles of modern culture. One Greek influence that is less prevalent today, though, is cooking. For most of us, to eat something Greek means to break our usual dining pattern. To have more than just a Gyros sandwich requires even further effort. At the Taste of Greece festival this year, eating more than a Gyros sandwich meant breaking my usual festival dining pattern, which calls for eating early and often, from as many booths as possible.

Right inside the festival entrance we were greeted by, surprise, a Gyros stand. Two of my companions fell for it immediately. I, somehow, steeled myself, knowing like an epic hero that greater rewards awaited my palate. They uttered no regrets, though, since they were treated to a wonderful example. There were crisp onions, tomatoes, and yogurt sauce draped over the sliced meat, served on warm and slightly oily pita bread.

As we pushed further, past the open stage where music was played for a troupe of child dancers in traditional garb, stopping only for a glass of red wine from one booth and a portion of the flaming cheese known as Saganaki from another, we discovered the hidden jewel of the festival. It was a school gymnasium-cum-Greek food court tucked neatly inside the church compound. The selection and format of the dishes offered were truly unique.

An entire wall of the gymnasium is painted with a mural of the Acropolis. The azure sky surrounding it filled the entire room with a warm hue.

There were island food booths dotting the gym floor, which was otherwise filled with round tables and chairs for guests. One booth offered Greek pastry and dessert items, another bottles of Greek wine. There were even tasting flights for the curious. The piece de resistance, the two-lane buffet line, snaked along a sidewall of the gym.

It takes a village, even at Taste of Greece.

Like so many things in this election year, choosing from the exceptional selection of Greek dishes was all about making educated decisions. There was Moussaka, for example, the traditional ground beef and eggplant pie, or its sister dish, Pastitsio, distinct for the long round macaroni noodles that stand in for the eggplant. They were both topped with a golden brown custardlike crust, almost like a firm soufflé. This unique topping was in and of itself exotic to the average American palate.

There were small deli containers of feta, tomato, cucumber and black olive salad, dressed in vinaigrette and seasoned with oregano, presumably the Greek variety that blankets many of the hillsides there.
There were long skewers of grilled pork, peppers and onions (Souvlakia); the tiny stuffed grape leaves known as Dolmathe; and even freshly cooked lamb chops that were a hungry person’s for the taking.
When my guests and I returned to our table in the crowded room, arms full of our little Greek treasures, we ate and savored passionately, as people streamed around us and stopped to stare at other’s plates, or to greet an old friend. Many of the fest-goers were part of the local Greek community, but that didn’t prevent them from stopping to talk to my niece, fifteen months old, who was testing out her walking shoes in the vicinity of our table.

Overall, it was an indulgent festival, a great way to spend a weekend afternoon during the best weather of the year. It was also a window into another culture.

So next year, when the Taste of Greece festival rolls around, make a point to visit it. You may not be able to afford a trip to Greece anytime soon, but anybody would do well to pay the festival’s $5 entrance fee and the cost of a plate of food— it’s worth its weight in gold, if nothing else, for the memories.

*The Taste of Greece festival is held annually at the Annunciation Cathedral, located at 245 Valencia Street in San Francisco.