chicago is a huge center of greek diaspora. (according to wikipedia so are new hampshire and florida, who knew?) i'm 1/4 greek, so it's a little bit unacceptable that i've lived here for eight months and haven't been over to greektown to visit my people.
instead, because the end of the quarter was looming and i had papers due left and right, (and because you can only cook tacos so many tuesdays in a row before it gets really boring) i decided to throw a GREEKSTRAVAGANZA! on monday.
before you can throw a greek dinner party you need greek ingredients, some of which are basically impossible to find in your average run-of-the-mill grocery store. aleck (a fellow greek and chicago native) was kind enough to poll his relatives about their preferred food shopping location, and the overwhelming consensus was:
fresh farms market! way out in the northwest suburbs of chicago. lucky for me, taylor was as excited about the prospect of a grocery-related field trip as i was, so on saturday we embarked on a mini road trip to niles, IL to get all of the goodies on my list.
so, fresh farms market is my new favorite place. i'll spare you a detailed description of our time there, because odds are we will be going back and it will get its own post. despite my giddiness throughout the shopping experience somehow i managed to exhibit a tremendous amount of restraint and only left with things on my list.
by the time guests began to arrive on monday, i was greeksuited up and in the last stages of cooking.
there was a veritable smorgasbord of all my favorite foods to cook and eat: dolmas, moussaka, tsatziki, greek salad, lemon chicken, spanakopita, shaareya and tabbouleh, the last two of which are actually egyptian but shhhhh.
side note: smorgasbord is a swedish word for a buffet type food situation. unfortunately, extensive google searching (and mother phone calling) has failed to turn up a greek equivalent.
the most exciting food item by far was the saganaki. saganaki is a hunk of kefalotyri cheese that's been floured, egg washed, floured again, pan fried, soaked in booze, then lit on fire. that's right - cheese on fire. saganaki isn't actually traditonally greek, but originated in a restaurant right here in chicago's greektown.
a lovely little greek lady at fresh farms market told us to use sherry, but after several failed attempts to light the cheese we resorted to vodka. even so, the cheese was not as on fire as i had hoped it would be.
also notable, although probably to nobody but me, my first truly successful baklava making attempt. it turns out the secret is to use a loooooot of butter. i won't tell you how much.
we wore laurels and togas, we listened to greek music, we wined and dined. we GREEKSTRAVAGANZA!d, that truly is the only word for it.
once the guests had gone i promptly passed out on the couch.
the next day, because it was tuesday and there was a downright disgusting amount of leftover food, (and because i was in the midst of far less fun than GREEKSTRAVAGANZA! excessive procrastination induced paperwritingstravaganza) i had greek tacos for dinner.
one of these days i will make it to actual greektown. in the meantime, i am up to my ears in enough leftover dolmas and tsatziki to keep me fed through the remainder of paperwritingstravaganza.