Helios was smiling brightly on South Brisbane on Saturday for the Brisbane Greek community’s annual celebration, Paniyiri!
Now in its fourth decade, Paniyiri is undoubtedly a celebration of all things Greek. While the historic steps of the Acropolis may be some 15,000 km from the grassy flats of Brisbane’s Musgrave Park, all sights, sounds, characters and culture from the country which produced Homer, Socrates, Plato and the famous Zorba are celebrated in true style over the course of the two day festival.
But enough of that. Let’s get down to the real reason why you are reading this..THE FOOD. I attended Paniyiri this year with a great foodie friend of mine and we had our minds set to try only the most scrumptious looking treats on offer. This was somewhat hard when every single stall was selling a bounty of classic Greek delights. Trust me, we were very indecisive and for a good reason. It was nearly impossible to choose. Enticing aromas of smokey char-grilled meats, sizzling cheese and honey puffs being in front of your eyes was enough to make you salivate.
We initially deiced to start off with savoury, beginning with one of my favourite foods of all time, pan-fried Haloumi cheese, while my friend opted for a serve of baby octopus, grilled and served with a refreshing tomato, onion and parsley salsa lemon. Delish! Next up, we tried Spanikopita, a filo pastry parcel filled with creamy feta and spinach mixture and baked until crisp and then went back for even more Haloumi. I can’t get enough of it and at Paniyiri it reigns supreme. As for the sweet stuff, Greeks just do everything right. A decadent chocolate and citrus vanilla cannoli was on the menu, where a luscious custard-like filling was encased in a sweet, crisp biscuit shell and topped with nuts. Simply devine. A trip to Paniyiri would not be complete without consuming (way too many!) honey puffs and that we did with pure delight. Hot, crisp and fresh from the fryer, lashings of perfectly crisp dough balls were smothered in a sweet honey syrup and dusted lovingly with icing sugar. You know these are good when you have Greek grandmothers pumping out over 1/2 a tonne of them over the course of just a couple of days.
Apart from all of the food we lovingly devoured, we also attended cooking demonstrations held in the Greek Club starring none other than Helena & Vikki from My Kitchen Rules! I was quite a fan of this pair on the show and I was a little star struck when I met them outside. Such lovely girls, I can’t wait to check out their cookbook next year full of traditional Greek recipes.
What a fabulous day, Paniyiri has got to be one of my favourite Brisbane foodie festivals and it truly is getting better every year. The food, people and atmosphere are all amazing and I can’t recommend attending to see it (and suffering a Greek food coma!) for yourself in 2015!
Until I get my Greek on again next year stay hungry,