Opa! Craig and I are doing it Greek style at the Surrey Greek Food Festival. Wait a minute, did that come out wrong? Nah.. never mind, on with the festivities!
The Greek Food Festival in Surrey is put on once a year by the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church (corner of 96th and 132nd) as a fundraiser. The money raised will help with community initiatives like providing food for the homeless and those in need, as well as their traditional Greek dance school. We got to witness firsthand the talented crop of performers this school turns out and the shows are quite impressive.
It’s great to see how they are preserving culture through dance and food along with their religious traditions. Like polar bear diving for crosses. And this is the Orthodox Church? I can only imagine what the Greek Unorthodox Church gets up to; I’m guessing it’s one heck of a party!
Be sure to check out the merch booth to stock your kitchen with Greek essentials, and the bake sale next door (not pictured) for $1 cookies. Yup, just a buck, and you guessed it, they’re traditional too! Save room though…lots of room…
…Cuz these guys are slangin’ kilos of lamb! $38 a key, $20 will get you half a brick. Now I asked around the streets of Whalley and word is these are good prices. Heck, you can even get a WHOLE LAMB for $350! The Surrey Greek Food Festival is projecting that they will go through 140 of these beasts so you know it’s legit product.
The Greek Food Fest has plenty of Greek beverages on hand to quench that summer thirst, so Craig opted for an unpronounceable orange pop ($3) which was comparable to a half-sweet Orange Crush. Thirst quenched! I grabbed a glass of white Lafazanis wine (not pictured, $6). I found it crisp, refreshing, and a welcome accompaniment to the rich flavours of the Greek food at the festival. They’re also stocked up with local beer from Central City Brewpub.
In the ‘old country’, pork is the most commonly used meat for souvlaki, but here in North America we are more used to chicken souvlaki ($16), so that’s what we ordered (the Greek Food Festival has both). Served hot and bursting at the seams with smokey grill flavour, we both agreed that we picked a winner.
The side of potatoes tasted of herbs and lemon, the rice pilaf beneath was flavoured with chicken broth and flecked with green and yellow peppers and the Greek salad was, well… Greek salad. You probably know what to expect. A solo salad can be had for $5.
The tzatziki was decent containing lots of cuke and dill (and garlic! Bring your breathmints), and came with a piece of bread for dipping. I was kinda bummed that it was some type of baguette and not the usual pita, but it scooped up the tzatziki as well as anything. In my opinion the tzatziki should be the star of the show anyway, the bread is just a prop.
The Greek Fries ($5) were rather light on the toppings—a Hellenic poutine this ain’t, but the fries were satisfyingly crispy and battered up like a mojo. I feel like these would be better served with their own side of tzatziki for dipping.
Loukoumades ($5) are little balls of dough deep fried to a golden brown and smothered in honey, dashed with cinnamon, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. I was expecting something along the lines of gulab jamun, those little Indian balls of dough that put me one giant step closer to diabetes every time they cross my plate, but to my surprise loukoumades reminded me more of an apple fritter minus the apple. By the way the portion is BIG, and could easily feed two or three people, and a pro-tip for those who like sesame seeds: check the bottom of the cup, it’s chock full of ’em.
So the food is amazing and you should definitely check out the Surrey Greek Food Festival for the food alone, but what’s food without people to share it with? The folks at the Fest are a great bunch who generously welcomed us into their midst despite our prying cameras and interview requests. So there’s definitely a positive, fun atmosphere in the air and I imagine things get pretty lit as the night wears on; we were there mid-afternoon and there was already a rowdy chorus of “OPA!”s in full effect. Thanks again guys, it was an absolute pleasure.
Surrey Greek Food Festival runs June 7th-16th 2019 and admission is absolutely FREE! Hours are 4:00-10:00 PM Mon-Fri and 12:00-10:00 PM Sat and Sun. Come enjoy the wonderful Bouzouki of Yannis Sahamis Saturday night starting at 7:00. See ya there!