Gyro. Baklava. Traditional Greek dancing and live music.
These are the just some of the many feasts for the senses offered at the 2011 Hamptons Greek Festival, which opens tomorrow in Southampton.
The festival, organized by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons (Kimisis tis Theotokou) for more than two decades, draws an average of 1,500 people per day, says Fr. Constantine Lazarakis. It even lured Kelly Ripa to visit, he says.
“I hope people come and have a great time and have a really wonderful, authentic sense of Greek culture,” says Lazarakis.
And there’s plenty of culture, starting with Syn-phonia Band, Aphrodite Daniel and Panos Chrysovergis. The group will perform live music in the evenings (6-10 p.m. Thursday, 7-11 p.m. Friday, 6:30 – 11 p.m. Saturday, 3-8 p.m. Sunday) so attendees can dance. The church’s own Hamptons Hellenic Dancers, ages 3-18, will also perform 7 p.m. every day and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets for kids’ carnival rides will be available for purchase. Meanwhile, adults can play too – bidding on a raffle tickets ($50 each) that can yield a 2011 Fiat 500 or $15,000, a Yankee game package, a 46-inch T.V. and many other prizes.
Expect to eat well. Authentic Greek food is served in a food line, so attendees can select what they want as they proceed along. This includes grilled items such as loukaniko ($8) - sausage served with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and topped with tzatziki sauce on pita bread.
George Polychronopoulos, former head chef and owner of Gordon’s in East Hampton and Kyriakos Mytides, official chef of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will be present to serve up their roast lamb shank dinner ($22) with orzo, Greek-style string beans, bread and salad.
Several sides, such as melitzanosalata ($5) - eggplant salad - and spanakopita ($4) - spinach and cheese-filled phyllo dough triangles, are also available.
Your foodie passport to Greece isn’t complete without trying a few pastries like kourambiedes ($3) - butter cookies with almonds - and diples ($3) – a flaky pastry with honey and nuts.
If waiting in line isn't your thing, order from the take-out menu at least two hours in advance of your pick-up time. (Note: Pick-up orders are only available between 3:30 - 6 p.m. Thursday - Saturday, and Sunday all day).
So why come?
“It is the best chance in the Hamptons to get home-cooked Greek meal. You can’t get it any other time out here on the East End,” says Lazarakis. “I think people should come for the spirit. We have a loving, hospitable community out here in the Hamptons. You see the kids dancing, the volunteers. Everyone who comes out has a great time.”
Perhaps most importantly, Lazarakis says, “The festival supports the ministry of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, and a big part of the ministries is philanthropy in the broader community.”
2011 Hamptons Greek Festival
WHEN/WHERE 4-11 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 12 noon - 9 p.m. Sunday at Southampton Elks Lodge 1574, 605 County Road 39, Southampton.
COST Free to attend, food ranges from $4 to $25
INFO 631-283-6169 or kimisishamptons.org