Greek flavors really do exist in Central PA
You might not know much more about Greek cuisine than gyros and anything mentioned in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Remember the crack about moussaka and the shots of Ouzo? Opa! But during Greek Fest in Camp Hill, May 18-20, you can discover the flavors of Greece right in your backyard.
Hosted annually by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Greek Fest is a celebration of Hellenic heritage, and food is the best part. Eat there while enjoying the music, dancing and Byzantine atmosphere of the cathedral, or take it to go. You'll find classics like chicken oreganato, moussaka, spanakopita (spinach pie), pastitsio, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), and of course, gyros. And homemade pastries such as baklava will satisfy your sweet tooth.
But the feasting isn't over once the festival closes. That's because there's a new Greek place in Mechanicsburg, Hellenic Kouzina, and its authentic flavors will keep you coming back. Heck, I've been there twice just within the past week!
Definitely take advantage of the outdoor seating as a soothing backdrop for your meal. With the restaurant surrounded by columns, it's practically like dining near the Pantheon.
Whet your appetite with one of the spreads, particularly the hummus and tirokafteri (spicy feta cheese dip). The tirokafteri was a first for me, but it was love at first dip.
For the main course, you can't go wrong with the traditional (lamb and beef), signature (pork) or chicken gyros — all the meat is marinated and grilled perfectly. Want something heartier? The oven-baked lamb shank is so tender that the meat falls right off the bone. I'd also venture to say the moussaka could very well be the Greek definition of comfort food. And I don't know what was in the Greek-seasoned fries, but they were amazing.
End your meal with a robust ellinikos (Greek coffee) and some of yia-yia's (grandma's) baklava cheesecake. Yes, you heard me right, I said baklava cheesecake.
Is Hellenic Kouzina a bit of a hike for you? Not to worry, here are some other Greek-inspired places in Central Pennsylvania. Kali orexi! (Eat heartily!)
• Gus's Keystone Family Restaurant, Mount Joy
• Gyro Express, East York
• Niko's Pizza & Grill, Lancaster
• Shab's Pita Stroller, Harrisburg
• Spyro Gyros & Salads, Lancaster
• Yorgos Restaurant & Lounge, Lancaster
What's your favorite Greek dish?
Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Publications Inc., parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal. She moonlights as a foodie and wino, and many people also know her as founder and organizer of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that doubles as a fundraiser for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.