August 16, 2007

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Festival weekend
Five area festivals mean two days of foodie bliss
By Lisa Brown lbrown@hippopress.com

The next two weeks will be heaven for ethnic-food-lovers in the Merrimack Valley.

The coming weekend will offer authentic foods from Latin America (the Latino Festival in Manchester), Southeast Asia (the Southeast Asian Water Festival in Lowell), Lebanon (the Middle Eastern Festival in Manchester) and Greece (Greekfest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Manchester.

And then there’s the chili (Henniker).

And save room; next weekend is the African Caribbean Festival in Manchester.

Don’t want to cook for the next week? Come early, bring cash and load up.

Baklava & spanakopeta
Assumption Greek Orthodox Church dishes out the good stuff

There could be a Greek festival every weekend in Manchester, and there would still be people who hadn’t had enough baklava.

When it comes to the flaky, sticky and totally scrumptious Greek pastry, one piece is not enough. Thank goodness the women at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church have made more than 1,800 pieces. Start the diet on Monday; indulge yourself this weekend. Greek Festival 2007, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church’s annual food festival, takes place this Saturday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 19, at the church grounds, 111 Island Pond Road in Manchester. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

All the food is traditional Greek food and made by some of the members of the parish, who begin some of the preparation as much as a month in advance. In the days leading up to the festival the church kitchen buzzes with activity as volunteers begin the final sprint to the end. While there are several Greek festivals held in Manchester each year, each one is a little different and always unique to its parish. Each cook brings generational secrets about how to make baklava or pita that are harder to crack than the DaVinci Code. Artemis Lazos, one of the volunteer cooks, has her own notebook brimming with recipes, all written in Greek. Last week Lucie Skouteris was in charge of the kataifi (kah-dee-EE-fee), which is very much like baklava but made with shredded filo.

“It’s what I call shredded wheat and filled with walnuts and cinnamon and butter, of course, and once it is cooled down we will pour the syrup,” Skouteris said.

Organizers say they plan the amount of food to cook based on the attendance from previous years

“We make about 60 to 65 pita [spanakopita] trays, 16 trays of baklava, 24 pounds of kataifi, 3,000 grape leaves,” Skouteris said. “We have made about 3,000 koulourakis [twisted butter cookies], and I think we have used about 40 pounds of butter to make the kourambiethes [buttery cookies with powdered sugar].... ”

One of the new items on the menu will be baklava sundaes. Skouteris says there will be plenty of food and plenty of choices including some of the crowd favorites.

“The most popular food? I would say the pitas [spanakopita], the baklava goes well, of course, the lamb, the pastitsio [Greek macaroni pie] the meatballs and the grape leaves, definitely the grape leaves and they are delicious this year,” Skouteris said.

While the food may be a bit caloric, weight watchers can work it off. In addition to food, the festival will have a live band each night playing traditional Greek music for dancing. The festival also features Greek imports, fine jewelry, a penny sale, raffles and crafts.

While the Greek festival is primarily about food and serves as the major fundraiser for the parish each year, organizers say the event is more about celebrating traditions, Greek culture and local community.

“It’s just fun to see everyone here all together enjoying themselves,” said Mariana Gasis, one of the cooks. “You see people from different parts of the community, not just the church community, but the local community of Manchester that helps us out and supports us every year.”

The festival has been taking place longer than most parishioners can remember. It first was held at Pine Island Park, an old amusement park off Goffes Falls Road.

“In the 1930s when they first started having it, it was just called the annual picnic,” said Janet Malin, secretary at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. “They changed the name over the years and now we call it Greek Fest.”

“In the older days, it used to be much more symbolic,” said Father Athanasios Nenes, pastor of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. “They used to dance [in a circle] around the church to show what is at the center of the whole event, the church.”

Today the festival honors The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (on Aug. 15), for whom the church is named.

“We are celebrating our big feast and it has been a big tradition for our parish so people are free to celebrate,” Nenes said. “We show our love for everyone and everyone is accepted. It is our filoxenia, our hospitality.”

Nenes says filoxenia is a Greek word that means friends of foreigners.

“The main purpose of our tradition and religion is to be united in the Body of Christ and we are experiencing this thing by showing love and hospitality to people.”

For more information about Greek Fest 2007, call 623-2045 or 623-2941.

Greek Eats
Stuffed Grape Leaves
(Dolmades)
Many of the women of the Philoptochos Society at the Assumption Church have their own Dolmades recipes. This recipe, which is used for the Greekfest, was adapted from all of them.
1 jar grape leaves (1 pint)
1½ lb ground beef
2½ teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely grated
1 cup long-grain rice
Juice of 1½ lemons
½ cup parsley
¼ cup dill
¼ cup melted butter
2 cups beef or chicken broth
4 to 8 tablespoons lemon juice Rinse leaves in cold water. Let stand.
Combine ground beef with next 8 ingredients, adding enough water to make a soft, loose mixture. Place 1 teaspoon of ground beef filling in center of a grape leaf and shape into a narrow roll. May be frozen at this point.
Arrange dolmades in layers in a deep baking pan. Add butter, broth and lemon juice. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

Egg-Lemon Sauce
(Avgolemono)
3 eggs, well-beaten
¼ cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
Beat eggs, water and lemon juice. Gradually add hot liquid of Dolmades, a little at a time, until eggs are lukewarm, beating constantly. Pour egg sauce slowly over Dolmades. Serve at once.

Empanadas & frijoles
Manchester’s Latino festival just keeps getting bigger

Veterans Park in Manchester is about to burst with the sights, sounds and exotic flavors of Latin America.

The annual Latino Festival of New Hampshire takes place on Saturday, Aug. 18, from noon to 8:30 p.m. in Veterans Park in Manchester. More than 7,000 people are expected to attend the event, which continues to grow every year.

“The purpose of the festival is not only to promote our culture and to promote leadership during all the activities, but it is also to provide scholarships to Latinos in New Hampshire,” said Sonia Parra, president of Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire, the organization overseeing the festival. All money raised from the event will go toward the scholarship program.

The day kicks off with a parade down Elm Street beginning at 11 a.m.

“We are lining up at 10:30 a.m. at the parking lot in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Chestnut Street and from there we will go down Concord Street to Elm Street and then to Veterans Park,” Parra said.

This year’s grand marshal for the parade is Lillie Ramos Spooner, known locally for her work with the Greater Manchester AIDS project. Spooner serves on the Governor’s Commission on Latino Affairs. Marching in the parade for the first time this year will be four groups of soccer players who participated in the first Latino Soccer Tournament held recently in Manchester.

“We just finished doing our first Latino Festival Soccer Tournament and the four teams are going to be there with their big trophies,” Parra said. “It happened to be an international soccer game where we had players from Brazil, Colombia, the Congo, Somalia and other African nations.”

Parra said the Latino Festival is a celebration of all cultures.

“This festival ... promotes an awareness that the community is growing and we are a community moving the economy,” Parra said.

An eclectic mix of musicians will perform throughout the day, representing the sounds of a variety of Latin American countries. Look for colorful costumes, ethnic dancing, lots of pageantry and an amazing assortment of food representing Cuba, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Honduras and other Central American countries. Local restaurants cooking it up for the festival include Rincon Colombiano of Nashua, Don Quijote Restaurant in Manchester and El Rancho El Salvado in Manchester.

Expect to find plenty of foods to choose from including traditional rice & beans, arroz con gandules, empanadas, tacos & burritos, plato paisa, roast pork, Spanish rice and sweet plantains.

Latino Festival Entertainment
12:45 p.m. Inkawasi (Peru) traditional group
1:35 p.m. Grupo Caribeño (Dominican Republic)
1:55 p.m. Grupo Diamante (Mexico)
2:45 p.m. Bajacul (Colombia)
3 p.m. Bolivian’s Forkloric Fraternity of Rhode Island
3:45 p.m. Telemundo 60 (Latino Festival official television channel)
3:55 p.m. Tropical Sound (salsa)
4:40 p.m. Power 800 (Latino Festival official radio station)
4:50 p.m. Taller Borinqueño
5:05 p.m. Kontroversy (hip-hop)
5:20 p.m. Defenix (reggaeton)
6:10 p.m. Veronica (Mexico)
7 p.m. Fuerza Tropical (El Salvador)
7:55 p.m. Banda X (merengue).



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8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki — a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch