Thursday, October 14, 2010

OPA! Greek festival marks 40th year in Reading, PA

READING — "Be Greek For A Day" is the theme of the 40th annual Greek Food Bazaar scheduled for Oct. 15-16-17 at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the largest ethnic food festival in Berks County to enjoy Greek food and pastry, wine, dancing, arts and crafts and live music.

All the food is prepared and cooked on the premises by parishioners using traditional Greek recipes.

The most popular dish is Athenian-style chicken, which comes in a platter with a side of rice pilaf or pastitsio (layered Greek pasta, seasoned with chopped beef topped with béchamel) and Greek-style string beans cooked with tomatoes and seasonings, a Greek salad featuring feta cheese, and roll and butter for $10.

You can substitute Plaki (fresh fish fillet baked with vegetables, herbs and wine) for the platter meal.

There are also a la carte items such Gyro (marinated beef and lamb slices) and Souvlaki (pork shis-ke-bob) sandwiches; Calamari (squid) cooked in tomatoes and wine; Moussaka (eggplant casserole); and Arni Psito (roast lamb) with Greek spices.

All food items are available to eat-in or take-out.

A variety of imported Greek wines and the popular Ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur, are also available. Beer and soda is also on sale for less adventurous visitors.

While enjoying a meal in the main dining hall, visitors will be treated to Greek and American music by Stavros & Maria, a brother-sister act who are also church members.

The church's youth dance group, Kefi, will perform traditional Greek dances wearing colorful costumes throughout the weekend.

After a hearty meal, there's plenty to see and do on the church grounds.

An Agora (Greek market) offers packaged Greek foods and prepared dishes to go.

The Kafenio (Greek coffee house) features fresh-brewed Greek-style coffee, rice pudding and pastries in a relaxed atmosphere.

Visitors can also shop for original artwork, gold jewelry and items imported from Greece in the figt rooms.

Festival-goers can also view one of the largest collections of Byzantine iconography in the United States. Free guided tours of the church interior are provided on the hour.

A popular stop for all visitors is the pastry room, where you can pick between popular treats like Baklava (almonds, butter, and honey layered in flaky pastry), Teelikta (walnuts, butter and honey rolled in flaky pastry); Kourabiethes (butter cookies topped with powdered sugar), Koulourakia (Greek twisted butter cookie) and Galaktobouriko (a filo pastry filled with custard and moistened with honey syrup).

Another Greek delicacy is Loukoumathes (puffed honey balls), a warm dough pastry topped with honey, cinnamon and chopped nuts.

Also try the Baklava Sundae for a unique taste treat.

Bazaar hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission and parking are free in the church lot. Additional parking is available at the adjacent Holy Name High School. The event is held rain or shine.

The church is located at 1001 E. Wyomissing Blvd., about one mile from Business Route 222 South (Lancaster Avenue), just turn onto Hancock Boulevard at the car dealership and follow the road to the church.

For more information, call the church office at 610-374-7511 or visit the church's web site,

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