OK, so I’ve never actually seen the movie where the pun to my title came from yet per se, but I did go to the Pasadena Greek Fest 2011 this last Friday night!
Opa!: La Culebra Greca?
This last weekend marked the 53rd annual celebration of the Pasadena Greek Fest fundraiser at Santa Anita Park. The event kicked off its OPAAA!!-intensive festivities Friday night and went on till’ Sunday night. Naah! Who am I? A legit reporter all of a sudden! Haha.
No but seriously, the event was pretty sweet. It attracted over ten thousand visitors last year, and then I saw why when I was there. Well, it probably doesn’t hurt that It only costs $5 to get in and most of the food once inside was affordable too.
Greeks love lamb: Marinated and grilled baby lamb chops with crispy fries.
Saganaki: Greek aged brandy tastes all the better when flamed with a chunk of cheese!
My favorite of the night was–without a doubt–the Octapodi, plate. Octopus is chopped and marinated in the famed Greek Anise liquor,Ouzo, then seared until crispy in a pan. It’s served with olive bread and marinated olives.
Joining me this evening in my gluttonous debauchery was the young, food-writing blood brother, Garrett Snyder of the Los Angelicious Times foodblog and L.A. Magazine hood. Professional hedonism warrants an almost-insatiable thirst, we were pretty damn thirsty and were treated to a couple of Greek brew-skies.
A couple of nice n’ frosty Hillas for ya’ boys?
Being modeled here by the beer booth’s attendant, April Kamar. The beer was a solid lager. The main flavor profile is toastiness, similar to any other international good lager. It was very easy-to-drink and hella refreshing, perfect to wash down the rich Greek offerings of the night.
The Greek dinner plate
Of the many food booths there, the dinner plate was the one with the longest line. The styrofoam box order came generously packed with just about everything, including my favorite Greek creation of all time, the flaky spinach pie known as Spanakopita! The bulging plate also came with some Pastitsio (kinda like the Greek version of Lasagna with ground beef, pasta and bechamel sauce, the eggplant version of that dish, Mousakka, some tomato sauce braised green beans, a beef shish kebob, long-grain rice pilaf, another little cheese flaky pastry, a nice Greek Salad and some Dolmathes, the Greek version of grape-leaves that are served warm instead of cold. Mmmm.
There is ALWAYS room for dessert
As if my buddy and I weren’t about to burst already, we were quickly escorted to the pastry section of the event and schooled in the bad ass, buttery, delicate world of Greek pastries. My favorite was the Floyer, basically a big fat baklava blunt. The Pasta Flora was bomb too, a shortbread with a thin layer of apricot paste.
And to wash down all the butter and sugar?
Nothing other than a traditional Greek Frappé!
These is the authentic precursor to the modern day capitalistic–and oversweetened as hell–Starbucks “Frappuccino” according to my Greek friend Ted, it dates back to the post war late 1950’s. It’s basically a tablespoon of Nescafe instant coffee in water whipped up with a hand blender with some a little condensed milk, a tablespoon or two of sugar and ice thrown in after for flavor. The thing is literally like drinking coffee flavored air, by the third sip you have drank all the liquid and just sucking the foam. I loved it but then again everyone in Mexico drinks Nescafe too! haha.
A big thank you to Ted Tarazi for inviting me out and treating Garrett and I to everything that evening man! Ted is a master preparer of Greek lamb himself and grew up in the church in which the event was fund raising for, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena.
Thanks Ted, I owe you a six pack next time man!
This is an annual event and I am already looking forward to next year’s…opa cabron!