“The wait is finally over.”
Jason Chacko, chairman of the International Greek Food Festival, is just as excited as you are about this year’s menu, especially the new items that attendees will soon fall in love with.
How can we be so sure? We got our hands on the dishes before the fest, and we’re smitten.
Much of the menu is the usual lineup — the gyros, the kabobs, the pastitsio — along with last year’s returning all-stars, saganaki (flaming cheese), loukoumathes (Greek doughnut holes) and Mediterranean chicken wraps.
But the new kids on the baklava are ready to roll and claim a fan base of their own. Meet the 2016 additions: the lamb burger, the Greek fries and the braised lamb shank.
This insanely tender dish covers the unspoken rule in the best way that a festival must include a meat offering on a bone. Served with a side of rice and green beans, this bone-in cut of lamb is slow braised to perfection in a tomato wine sauce.
No sliders here, folks. A 1/3-lb. lamb meat patty is seasoned with Greek spices and topped with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese and lettuce on an Arkansas Fresh gourmet bun. You never had a chance.
It’s like a curly fry, but way better. These sidewinder-cut potato wedges are covered in feta and Mediterranean herbs and topped with a dash of lemon juice.
As always, each dish is hefty and packed with flavor, handmade by one of the festival’s many volunteers. Admission and parking are free, and the fest is continuing its partnership with Chef Shuttle this year for all of you who can’t make it out (or want seconds and thirds on your couch).
But if you’re joining one of the thousands who will wander through the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church grounds May 20-22, you’ll get your choice of everything, including live entertainment, kids activities, church tours and an old world market.
For the full menu, a list of benefitting charities and more details, visit the International Greek Food Festival website, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.