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Head to Sunabe Gyros for an authentic Greek experience February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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CHATAN, Okinawa > This island is a cornucopia of great eats, there’s plenty of authentic Okinawan, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and just about any other cuisine to be found.

And if it’s not authentic, like, say, Okinawa’s famous “taco rice”, it can have a weird island twist. But for a Long Island lad who grew up in the shadow of New York City, there was always something missing in his Asian subtropical paradise: good Greek food. Until now, that is.

Welcome to Sunabe Gyros. That’s pronounced “gear-roes,” as in those tasty meat and veggie Greek sandwiches guaranteed to drip yummy yogurt sauce down the front of your shirt. It’s the original Greek fast food. Sunabe Gyros opened in August and since then, according to co-owner Howard Harford, it’s been doing a brisk business with Americans longing, for something different.

It’s a small, no-nonsense shop about a block from the Sunabe Seawall near the main gate to Kadena Air Base. There’s seating for only 16 people, but gyros are basically a take-out food anyway. Grab a pita wrapped around slices of beef or chicken with tomato, onion, lettuce and the out-of-this-world tzatziki yogurt sauce, and glide on down to the nearby seaway to watch surfers and divers, or just catch some rays.

Or you could try the falafel, a chickpea-and-herb-based substitute for meat. Basically, it’s a veggie gyros, and very tasty. The only real complaint about Sunabe’s is the lack of lamb, my favorite gyros meat. According to Harford, the cost of getting lamb to the island is prohibitive. Harford said he and his partner, Keith Ehman, spent quite a bit of time looking for just the right place to open an authentic gyro shop.

“Gyros is probably the most popular fast food in the world, and we missed that here on Okinawa,” Harford said.

The prices are more than reasonable, five bucks for the authentic chicken and beef gyros and the same for the slightly different tuna pita or BLT pita sandwiches. For an extra buck you get more meat, but our gyros were already jam-packed with goodies and threatening to slide out of the pita bread and onto our laps. Combo meals cost $6.50 and include your choice of a gyros or pita sandwich, chips and a soft drink. Kirin beer is also available.

The decor is fun, with pictures of Greece on the walls and an empty bottle of Ouzo on the counter to give a hint of authenticity.

Sunabe Gyros > Fast, Greek food.
English Menu: Yes. Dress: Extremely casual.
Clientele: The beach crowd and Americans from nearby Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster.
Location: Chatan near the Sunabe Seawall. From Highway 58, turn west, toward the water, one stop light south of Kadena’s Gate 1. Sunabe Gyros is about a block from the Sunabe Seawall, on the right.

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Muesli with Greek yoghurt February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >
2 1/2 cups good-quality muesli
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
Honey and seasonal fruits, to serve

Method >
Place 2 1/2 cups good-quality muesli in a large bowl or airtight container. Stir in 1 cup thick Greek natural yoghurt, 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream. Cover over and put it in the fridge overnight.
Divide muesli among serving bowls. Drizzle with honey and serve immediately with seasonal fruits.
This muesli is also delicious served with stewed rhubarb, apples or pears. Serves 6.

It’ll be all Greek to festivalgoers February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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If the thought of homemade pastitsio, dolmathes and spanakopita puts your taste buds in a frenzy, save room this weekend for A Taste of Greece at Tempe Beach Park.

Even if you don’t know the names of those Greek foods, it’s a way to get familiar with the cuisine and culture. Food and pastry booths, folk dancers, a band and wine tastings all will be Greek at the festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. About 150 members of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Chandler work to put on the festival.

Foods will include Greek salad, shish kabob, lamb shank, chicken in lemon and garlic, pastitsio (layered pasta and lamb, similar to lasagna), dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach and feta in phyllo dough) and an array of pastries, most of which contain phyllo dough and honey. Food ranges from $1.50 for a dolmathe to $9 for the lamb dinner with rice pilaf and pita bread. A whole lamb will be cooked on a spit to sell by the pound.

The festival started in 1982 at a rented hall before the church had its own building. Later, it was held at the church, and when it outgrew that site, it moved to downtown Chandler. Last year was the first in Tempe, and it changed names from the Greek Festival to A Taste of Greece. In the past, the church usually held the festival on Presidents Day weekend, but it changed this year because a regional folk dancing competition that is always on that weekend.

Wilder, who teaches the Mikra Pethakia (“The Little Ones”) troupe, said there will be a dance group on stage every hour starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday. 

Also, the gates open earlier this year, 11 a.m. Friday instead of 5 p.m., to try to attract downtown Tempe workers for lunch. Admission is free until 5 p.m. that day. Funds from the festival are donated to several charitable programs, including the Chandler Christian Community Center, and to Kyrene Elementary District special-education teachers who go to Greece to teach and train developmentally disabled children and their caregivers at an orphanage. They also plan to start a summer camp for children with cancer, Chrisagis said.

A Taste of Greece
Where: Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway.
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $2, free for age 11 and under; free to all 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.
Information: (480) 899-3330 or www.st-katherine.org.

Celebrate carnival at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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The Outreach Committee of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 93 Locust St., Dover, invites you to a Carnival (Apokreatiko) Party on Saturday, February 10, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Church Hall.

The celebration will feature their annual Tables of Plenty, with a buffet of appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes and desserts from cuisines around the world, such as Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Ireland, India, Spain, Russia, the Dominican Republic, and others. There will be music and dancing, provided by DJ Meleti.

Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for students. For information and directions, call the Church Office at 742-7667. The funds raised will be used by the Outreach Committee to help the needy of the community this winter, especially with fuel assistance.

A Greek Nite to visit February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church will hold a Greek Nite on Saturday, February 17, from 4-8 p.m.

The menu will include baked lamb or Greek-style chicken, green beans, rice, salad, roll, coffee and tea. Tickets for the lamb dinner are $13, and $9 for the chicken dinner. For more information, call 889-4000.

The church is at 500 W. Hollis St., Nashua, NH.

Mr. Gyros > Greek diner earns customer loyalty February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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The Jovaras family has been serving Greek food, such as the gyro sandwich and small Greek salad, at Mr. Gyros since 1982.

It was a late-night confession, whispered in a smoky bar, his voice husky from the glass of wine in one hand, a smoldering cigarette in the other. I didn’t say a word, just listened as this noted local foodie secretly, guiltily, spoke of the food he ate at Mr. Gyros. He loved their food, he said, and stopped in whenever his work took him to southern Johnson County.

Mr. Gyros (pronounced “YEE-roh-s” in Greek) is a family-run restaurant owned by Ted and Soula Jovaras and their son, Chris, and his wife, DeeDee. At Mr. Gyros, homemade Greek fare draws a loyal clientele. Even though it was after 1 p.m., the parking lot was full, and a line of diners was waiting to place orders. Color photos of some dishes headlined the menu board.

Through the pass-through window into the kitchen, I spied five spits of meat, one chicken and four beef and lamb blend each shaped like a cyclone and slowly twirling on its axis. A pastry case held rows and rows of shiny, layered sweets, many made with delicate sheets of phyllo dough. I recognized the baklava and pecan blossoms. The others were exotic and hard to pronounce: galaktoboureko (custard baked and layered in strudel), flogeres (phyllo dough stuffed with nuts and honey) and kourabiedes (buttery cookies).

I ordered the daily lunch special: a gyro sandwich with a small Greek salad. By definition, a gyro is made of spiced, minced lamb, shaved off a spit, and piled onto a grilled pita with onions and tzatziki. But, bowing to American tastes, Mr. Gyros serves several variations, including chicken, KC Strip and vegetarian.

I wanted authenticity, though, and ordered the standard version. Ribbons of almost paper-thin meat were laid accordion-style on warm pita bread like old-fashioned, hard Christmas candy. Ringlets of white onion and slices of tomato were tucked into the sandwich. A tiny paper cup of tzatziki was part of the meal deal.

The tzatziki was as thick as good-quality sour cream, flecked with dill and chunky with tiny cucumber and garlic bits. I smeared the sauce, rich and robust in flavor, all over the meat, which was terrific, with slightly crunchy edges and the dusky, sweet taste of good lamb.

The salad, a mix of several kinds of lettuce, cucumber slices, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, Greek olives and feta cheese, was dressed with a house-made herbed vinaigrette. The dry feta was crumbled into tiny flecks and nuggets, and the cucumbers were as crunchy as potato chips.

I took home a side of moussaka, an earthy eggplant and ground beef casserole richly seasoned with nutmeg and topped with a traditional creamy béchamel topping that had the consistency of mashed potatoes. I also took my sweets to go, including the baklava, galaktoboureko and flogeres. The desserts are made by Soula using recipes from her family.

After my visit, Chris Jovaras explained his family got into the restaurant business in 1968, serving American-style food. In 1982 they opened Mr. Gyros. They spent 14 years in a building across the street from their present location. In 1996, they moved to their current location. In a few weeks, the family will be opening a second Mr. Gyros at 135th and Antioch. Although it will be slightly bigger, with 125 seats, the food and the hours will be the same.

Mr. Gyros Greek Food and Pastry: 8234 Metcalf, (913) 381-4218. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Raspberry and watermelon tarts with Greek yoghurt February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >
750g watermelon flesh
40g cornflour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
60g caster sugar
2 tbs rosewater (available from gourmet food stores)
8 pre-baked sweet tart shells
Fresh raspberries, to serve
Icing sugar, to dust
Thick Greek yoghurt, to serve

Method >
Place watermelon flesh in a food processor and process until smooth (makes about 450ml of puree). Pass through a sieve, discard any solids.
Mix a little of the watermelon puree with the cornflour, stirring until smooth, then place in a saucepan with the remaining puree, cream of tartar and sugar. Stir over very low heat for about 5-6 minutes or until thickened. Add the rosewater, remove from heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is cool, spread into the pre-baked tart shells and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.
To serve, carefully place a tart on each serving plate, add some fresh raspberries and dust with icing sugar. Serve with Greek yoghurt. Makes 8.