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Ahh … Greek out! The foodie’s guide to Paniyiri Greek Festival

By George Hadgelias
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of plates smashing, hands clapping and tender morsels sizzling – yep, Paniriyi Greek Festival is back from May 20–21! As much as we appreciate the cultural aspects of this hotly anticipated yearly event (which is actually celebrating its 47th year), we would be lying if we said we haven’t been dreaming of all of the delicious Greek eats we will soon be scoffing. Honey puffs and haloumi, here we come! While the classics are popular for a reason, real gourmands know that there is a whole other world of authentic culinary eats at Paniyiri that are well worth your attention. Keen to try something new? Take our foodie’s guide to Paniyiri for a spin (and BYO stretchy pants).
Sheftalia: To kick things off in our foodie’s guide to Paniyiri, let’s talk sausage. We’re not referring to your typical Bunnings snag. Oh no, friendo – these bangers are way more legit. This Cypriot sausage is made from a mixture of lamb and pork, which is then wrapped in caul fat and cooked over a blazing fire. Just follow the sizzling sound and you’ll be sure to find some.Koupes: Cyprus is represented again in the food stakes with this hugely popular street dish. Koupes are delectable baked clusters of bulgur wheat, flour, oil, salt and egg that has been stuffed to bursting point with ground meat, onions and spices.Souvla: No, we’re not misspelling souvlaki – souvla is its own beast, one that deserves to be respected. This is Greek barbecue at its purest – picture hunks of meat skewered on a spit and cooked to perfection over a charcoal barbecue. Any self-respecting carnivore shouldn’t think twice when spying these beauties from across the festival.

Tiropita: If you’ve got a passing familiarity with Greek cuisine, you’ve probably tried spanakopita. Well, let us introduce you to its cheesy cousin! If you like your pastries buttery (don’t we all?), then you’ll have a hard time passing by this multi-layered filo, cheese and egg-stuffed snack. Don’t be scared of going back for seconds – everyone else is.

Galatoboureko: If you’re a lover of sweet treats and hold baklava close to your heart then you’re almost certain to love galatoboureko (try saying that five times quickly), also known as Greek custard pie. This traditional dessert is made with a creamy set-custard filling that’s encased in a crunchy pastry shell, which is bathed in syrup. Honestly, it’s heaven on earth.

Kataifi: As tasty as they are appealing to the eye, kataifi is a traditional pastry made with a nut filling and soaked in a honey syrup. The melt-in-your-mouth dessert is made with a special pastry dough that consists of delicate, thin strands crafted from shredded filo. The result is a birds-nest-esque creation that must be devoured to be believed.

Pastitsio: Did you know that there is such a thing as Greek lasagne? Well, now you do! Pastitsio is a beloved Greek dinner recipe made from layers of pasta, beef ragu, bechamel sauce and kefalotyri cheese to top it off. With the cooler weather rolling in, this is the perfect soul-warming meal to fill your belly with at this year’s festival.

Keftedes: When one thinks of meatballs, the mind wanders to a certain boot-shaped country, but Greek meatballs are very much a thing, pals! Known as keftedes, these meaty morsels are usually made from ground beef or lamb and flavoured with onion, herbs and spices. You’ll most likely find these bad boys on a mezze platter, surrounded by creamy dips and pita breads.

Ouzo Espresso Martini: If My Big Fat Greek Wedding has taught us anything, it’s that Greeks do it best. The Coffee Club has joined forces with The Greek Club, delivering a brilliantly blended sip of the globally loved Espresso Martini and the aniseed bite of Ouzo liquor, exclusively bringing you – the Ouzo Espresso Martini. A bit of liquid luck will have you trying your hand at the Zorba in no time!

Special mentions: PSA hot chippie lovers – we’ve heard whispers that Greek chips will be aplenty at this year’s festival. Served with tzatziki, crushed fetta and oregano, these carby creations will be at the top of our eating list, closely followed by the very decadent Nutella yiros. Yes, you read that right. NUTELLA YIROS. Get in our bellies, stat. Plus of course you’ll find all of your favourites – traditional yiros, souvlakia, honey puffs, haloumi, calamari and chargrilled octopus will all be on the menu.

Has this list got your mouth watering? Go on – splash out and try something different this year! You can sample these delights (plus all of your favourites) when Paniyiri Greek Festival returns to Musgrave Park on Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21. Opa!

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