Ahh … Greek out! The foodie’s guide to Paniyiri Greek Festival
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of plates smashing, hands clapping, tender morsels sizzling and grapes being stomped on – yep, Paniriyi Greek Festival is back! As much as we appreciate the cultural aspects of this hotly anticipated yearly event, we would be lying if we said we haven’t been dreaming of all of the delicious Greek eats we will soon be scoffing. Oh, how we’ve missed our dear honey puffs and haloumi! 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.
Greek yum cha: You may associate yum cha with dim-sum and dumplings, but this year it’s getting a Greek-style makeover. In a Brisbane first, Nostimo’s chef-in-residence David Tsirekas will be putting on a spread of bite-sized morsels made for snackin’ – think pork belly baklava, Greek-style prawn dumplings, saganaki and dolmades.
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.
Ekmek: Just because this is a dessert dish doesn’t mean your eating is coming to an end – sometimes it’s nice to break up the savoury with a little somethin’ somethin’ once in a while. Getting down to brass tacks, ekmek is kataifi dough that is baked until golden and crispy, dipped in lemon syrup and capped with creamy custard, whipped cream, cinnamon and nuts. Enough said.
Greek frappe: Yes, even the coffee nuts are represented at Paniyiri this year. If you want a jolt of energy to see you through the final few meals (because you’ll be eating more than once, let’s be honest), grab a Greek frappe made from blended Nescafé coffee, served with or without milk and your choice of sweetness. This year you can also try the freddospresso, which is made with espresso coffee and cold water.
Yemista: If someone in your group asks you for a recommendation on what to try next, tell them to get stuffed – or rather, get a yemista. This dish (which translates to ‘stuffed’ or ‘filled with’) consists of juicy tomatoes stuffed with rice and ground beef. You’ll want to eat so many you’ll be calling yourself a yemista before too long.
Bougatsa: Now is the time to go all out on the sweets. At this juncture we suggest seeking out some bougatsa, which is made from filo dough and filled with semolina custard filling before being baked until extra crispy. These treats then get the ‘salt bae’ treatment with a decent sprinkling of icing sugar.
Trigona panoramatos: Try saying this mouthful five times quickly! It doesn’t matter if you can’t pronounce it, just as long as you eat it. Returning hot and fresh from a Paniyiri debut last year, trigona panoramatos are made from golden pastry triangles, which have been soaked in syrup and filled with creamy custard. Now it’s time to sit down – we’re too full to Zorba.
The Plateia: Due to its immense popularity the past two years, Paniyiri Greek Festival is bringing back The Plateia – an homage to a traditional Greek village complete with Cycladic architecture and all. Among narrow paved streets, vine-covered pergolas and whitewashed walls sit several market stalls hawking all sorts of Greek delights. Mosey on through and sip on Greek coffees, sweets, fresh seafood, oysters, Greek wines, ouzo mojitos, and fourno, otherwise known as crispy traditional Greek pies. These bad boys are filled with the likes of spanakopita and are a must-try.
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 and The Greek Club on Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19. Opa!
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.