By Sean Barron
Those who attend a longtime festival likely will enjoy a slew of ethnic foods and entertainment, but their dollars will do more than buy a plate of homemade pastitsio or moussaka: They will assist a church’s efforts to assist those in need.
“As Christians, we know that our first mission is to serve others,” Irene Mallias explained Saturday.
Mallias was referring to a main thrust behind this weekend’s annual Greek Food Festival at Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, 401 12th St.
The event, which kicked off Friday, continues from noon to 10 p.m. today and Monday at the church.
Proceeds from the fest, which is dedicated to promoting and celebrating Greek culture, customs and traditions, will go toward the church, including its programs such as the Archangel Michael Mission Outreach. AMMO takes part in various charity efforts and has helped build homes in Mexico as well as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, noted Mallias and Christine Gaetano, event co-chairwomen.
The Ladies Guild, another outreach project, reaches out to people in need. In addition, the church works to assist with philanthropic and humanitarian aid efforts worldwide while promoting all things Greek locally, Gaetano continued.
“They keep up with traditions and Greek culture in Campbell,” she added. “We’re so proud of the traditions we keep.”
Many attendees seemed quite proud of the ethnic meals readily available Saturday, including pastitsio, a type of lasagna made with thick noodles and ground meat topped with tomato or white-cream sauce, along with moussaka, which is eggplant commonly filled with potatoes, cheese and meat sauce. Other favorites are lamb sandwiches, smelts and gyros.
The main menu also features tiropita and spanakopita (triangular turnovers wrapped in phyllo dough, and phyllo dough layered with chopped spinach, feta cheese, onions and parsley, respectively), rice pilaf and oven-roasted Greek chicken and lamb.
Desserts and pastries also were at a premium. They include kourabiedes (butter cookies topped with powdered sugar) for $1 each; ravani (thick, coconut-topped treats) for $2 apiece; and $7 loaves of tsoureki (a sweet, egg-enriched bread).
A rather new addition is a wine fest that features six varieties of Greek wine and a type of champagne.
“It’s got a sweet, honey flavor to it,” Karen Paradise said, referring to Samos, a sweet wine.
Paradise and Celeste Tomich, both church parishioners, were selling bottles of red and white Brousko, which is quite dry, and Emeros, a “middle-of-the-road” variety that is semidry and sweet, Paradise explained.
Those whose tastes favored Greek coffee over wine didn’t have to look far. Next to Paradise’s booth was Kelly Trikilis, a 15-year church member, who was preparing and selling frappe, a Greek foam-covered hot or iced coffee.
“It kind of rises up like a volcano,” said Trikilis, who explained that frappe often requires adding the coffee to boiling water on a small burner, then removing it from and placing it back on the burner several times as it boils so as to get the right consistency.
Helping to sell a variety of handmade jewelry such as pendants, brightly colored bracelets, crosses and rings on another set of tables was Evelyn Klimis, a lifelong church member.
Interspersed with the jewelry were half-painted sea urchins decorated with shells that have Greek icons in the middle, for $10 each.
Other unique items are pieces of jewelry that were made in Greek monasteries, along with incense burners on which are pictures of St. Sava, a prince from the Island of Kalymnos, Klimis noted.
Many people also enjoyed Saturday afternoon’s entertainment, part of which came from 10 members of the church’s Nisiotika Padia (children of the islands) Dancers.
Gaetano, an event co-chairwoman, added she’s pleased that the four-day fest also has attracted a wider interest.
“This is a community effort,” she said. “A lot of young people are part of the festival now.”