St. Michael Mediterranean Festival offers grand culinary tour

St. Michael Mediterranean Festival offers grand culinary tour

If you are tired of your same dinner routine or worn out on warming up leftovers, here’s a perfect chance for you to discover the great foods of the Mediterranean by attending the 10th annual St. Michael Mediterranean Festival on Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church (690 N. 15th St) in Beaumont.

Med Fest will feature delicious authentic food including savory gyros, pastichio, spanakopita, tiropita, Greek salad, Greek and Middle-Eastern grape leaves, awaamat served with a simple sugar syrup, falafel, tabouli, and beef and chicken kabobs.

Before you get confused, we are here to explain what some of this delicious food really is.

Event organizer Georgia Vasilakis, who is a first-generation Greek-American, said some of her personal favorites are pastichio, gyros, spanakopita, tiropita, and kabobs.

Pastichio, which is sometimes called “Greek lasagna,” is baked pasta dish that includes ground beef and topped with thick béchamel sauce.

Spanakopita is a very popular savory comfort food that has been cooked within the Greek cuisine for a very long time. If you want a perfect snack, this is it — fillo dough filled with spinach and cheese.

Sandwich time? Try a falafel sandwich, which is a great veggie dish. Warm pita bread, stuffed with crispy hot falafel balls with some diced tomatoes, diced onions and a few other things. Falafel is a deep-fried patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans. Delish!

Everyone should already know what gyros and kaboobs are, so make sure you save room.

Med Fest will also be offering a variety of vegetarian dishes such as hummus, tabouli, dolmades (grape leaves) and Greek salad. Tabouli is one of, if not, the most popular salad in the Mediterranean. It’s a healthy, light salad made with bulgur wheat, ripe tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh mint, green onions and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.

Those with a big appetite can visit the church hall and enjoy a traditional St. Michael’s dinner, also known as the Mediterranean Plate that was first served to Beaumont in 1909. The dinner is kibbee (extra lean beef and cracked wheat stuffed with sautéed meat, onions and pine nuts), cabbage rolls (meat, rice and spices rolled in cabbage leaves and cooked with lemon), green beans and a slice of pita bread.

Craving sweets? Don’t worry. There are plenty of good treats around such as tiropita and awaamat. Tiropita is a “Greek cheese pie” with layers of fillo dough that are filled with a cheese and egg mixture. Another personal favorite is awaamat, basically donut holes that are served with simple sugar syrup.

Other Mediterranean goodies available are Greek baklava, melomacarona (honey-dipped cookies), kourambiedes (shortbread cookies), amygdalota (Greek almond paste cookies) and Athenian mud pie. The traditional baklava ice cream will also be sold outside.

If that’s not enough of a sugar rush for you, head inside the church hall to the Pastry Shop. Maintained by the Ladies Altar Society, choose from an arrangement of pastries including baklawa (fillo dough filled with nuts and sweetened with attar syrup) gribee (butter cookies), koulourakia (Greek cookies, great for dipping in coffee) and maamoul cookies (made with dates, pistachios or nuts).

A must try, if not sold out by the time your ready for sweets, is the melomacarono honey spice cookie. These little Greek masterpieces are one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the Christmas holidays and can now be enjoyed during the festival.

Join the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new culinary narrative — #EATBMT. Take a photo of your food with your cell phone, upload it to Instagram and/or Facebook, check-in where you are dining, and then tag it with #EATBMT.

After you fill your belly, the Al-Juthoor Dabke Group along with Kolna Wahad will lead “Teach me How to Dabke” dance.

“First timers should come early for lunch, enjoy the live music and dances and try the remaining items or bring a friend to share one of everything,” said Vasilakis. “Or you can always take some to go.”

Every year, St. Michael’s supports a non-profit organization in the community. In the past, they have supported Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Anayat House, Gift of Life, CASA of Southeast Texas, as well as Family Services Women’s and Children Shelter.

This year, a donation will be made from the proceeds to benefit The Arc of Greater Beaumont, an organization serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities as they grow, develop and live in communities across the nation.

Admission to the festival is free and will take place rain or shine. For more information, view stmichaelmedfestbmt.com or call (409) 767-2685.

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