Tag Archives: festival

Gluten Free Options at the Greek Food Festival

13 May

When I think of the Greek Food Festival, I think of my wedding day.

Of course, I had absolutely no intention of attending the festival that year, which began the day before our nuptials. A girl can’t be bothered when she’s got to rest up, get her hair done and spend the rest of the day at the church-house getting ready to marry her best bud. Then, we’d be off to our honeymoon; no time for a stop-off.

My husband-to-be, however, couldn’t stay away. The siren call of baklava and (unironically) wedding cookies was too much to handle. The morning of our wedding, while my bridesmaids and I fretted and prepared, he hauled down to the Greek Orthodox Church in search of goodies. He loves to tell the story: He walked up and asked if he could buy some things, despite the fact that they weren’t quite open yet. A couple sweet, older Greek ladies started to tell him no, but he told them (with a super-cute face, I’m sure) that it was his wedding day. They oohed, awed, and relented. That white paper bag of awesome fueled much of our honeymoon.

Some years later, I found out that I wasn’t supposed to eat gluten anymore, so baklava and cookies were off-limits. We still attend the festival and find other things for me to eat, and there are always plenty of activities and shows to keep our whole family busy.

This year, the Greek Food Festival folks tell me that there are a few items that are safe for gluten-intolerant folks like myself, given you aren’t exceedingly sensitive to cross-contamination. Fellow GF’ers, I present to you your weekend to-eat list:

These side dishes take center stage for GF patrons prepared with proper crackers or raw veggies.

These side dishes take center stage for GF patrons prepared with proper crackers or raw veggies.

Hummus dip (without the pita bread, obvs) and tabbouleh salad from the Jerusalem Café. Let’s face it, Greek folks know how to do hummus. With a little foresight, you can enjoy this right alongside your gluten-eating family. Just swing by Dempsey or your favorite grocer to pick up some GF crackers, and you’re all set. (I prefer Dempsey’s cracker bread, BTW. It’s so good, my whole family eats it.)

Tender lamb, savory potatoes and more. Just minus the pita, please.

Tender lamb, savory potatoes and more. Just minus the pita, please.

Roast lamb dinner—Sliced roasted lambserved with Greek-style vegetables and oven-roasted potatoes. Again, this is generally served with pita, so be sure to tell the server not to put it on your plate. You’ll have plenty of other yummy options on it. If you need bread to sop up all that goodness, bring some GF something-or-other in your bag. I won’t tell anyone.

Amazing hunks of meat love. Just ask them to leave off the pita.

Amazing hunks of meat love. Just ask them to leave off the pita.

Greek souvlaki/kabobs—Your choice of tender chicken or pork tenderloin, marinated in olive oil and a blend of Greek seasonings, grilled and served on a skewer. Again, be sure to tell the server not to include the usually-mandatory pita on your plate. I think this will be my first choice this weekend. Then again, I may hit all three.

Are you sad about leaving off the pita bread? I mean, it is pretty amazing. Don’t fret, friend! Just make a batch of this gluten free naan I wrote about a while back. Sure, it’s Indian, but honestly naan and pita are pretty close to the same thing. Sneak these into the festival with you and you’re golden.
Are you going to the Greek Food Festival? What are you planning to buy, GF or not?
2015 International Greek Food Festival
Friday, May 15 (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.) through Sunday, May 17 (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
1100 Napa Valley Drive, Little Rock

Wildwood Wine and Food Festival

19 Sep

The crowd begs for more (ha) at the Pulaski Tech table.

I worked among an army of white-clad culinary students at Friday’s Wildwood Wine and Food Festival, both to learn from the other chefs there and to bring our own offerings to the party.

Our team from Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School served crab cakes with fruit coulis, stuffed profiteroles (think cream puff), beef wontons with a spicy mango salsa, and the sleeper hit of the party: roasted, overstuffed baby red potato halves.

I really loved working the table, answering questions about the school and about our food, or cooking in general. It’s one of those moments my PR background comes in handy, I guess.

If you saw my tweet about the focaccia…well…it didn’t make it there. Apparently I overmixed a bit, and they were a little tough. I guess we’re at school to learn, right? I think they’re going to serve some of the better pieces at the school café. Consider yourself forewarned.

Some of the highlights from the event:

  • Lewis Curtis, executive chef at Lulav, cooked two dishes while a flurry of attention buzzed around him. This Wednesday marks the premiere of this season’s Hell’s Kitchen, where he is among the cooks up against Chef Gordon Ramsay’s simmering temper. My quick observation of Curtis: talented and delightfully punkish, the one you’ll “love to hate” on the show. Lulav is holding a premiere viewing party Wednesday; call for details at (501) 374-5100.
  • The longest line award goes to Boulevard Bread, whose Mediterranean-inspired table of olives, cheeses and their famous breads were more than most could resist. In fact, I never got any, as my breaks from our own table didn’t afford the long wait. But it was beautiful. (As I write this, I’m munching on my own purchase of Boulevard Bread’s artisan European loaf, nuked with some Monterey Jack on top. Hey, we can’t be fancy all the time.)
  • The best dish, in my humble opinion, was by Chef Daniel Capello of the Chenal Country Club: an amazing pecan wood roasted wild king salmon topped with (!) sea beans on a corn brioche, with garlic aioli and a tomato-corn relish. Capello said the salmon had just been flown in that morning, and however the heck he roasted the thing, it was tender and melty as butter. Remind me to camp out in his kitchen sometime and absorb his awesomeness.

And this is the event that has finally convinced me…If I’m going to do these kind of events for the blog, I’ve GOT to invest in a better camera. I’m thinking a Nikon D90. Any suggestions are welcome. But for now, the ghetto-photos will have to suffice:

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Argenta Fall Foodie Fest Tomorrow!!!!

16 Oct

I know, it’s almost tomorrow anyway (11 p.m. at this writing). Hopefully there are still a few of you up and on your computers, instead of out on the town or sleeping for tomorrow’s Race for the Cure. Like I said, I’ve been sick!

But I did want to go ahead and give you a brief lowdown on tomorrow’s festivities. It really is going to be a foodie’s paradise.

First of all, it’s the season’s last hurrah for the Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmer’s Market. Come get the latest fall goodies while you can!

The most exciting part: Arkansas’ rockstar chefs from your favorite restaurants and catering companies, preparing their own specialties using locally grown produce and meats. Dishes will feature the fall harvest. Argenta Market, Starving Artist Cafe, Ashley’s Restaurant, Maddie’s Place and Ferneau Restaurant & Lounge are some of the participating vendors. The idea is you see what Arkansas farmers have to offer, then actually interact with chefs who know how to make it fabulous. How often do you get to do that?

They’ll also have live music, arts and crafts, and the Virginia Clinton Kelley Festival for the Cure, offering free health information.

So, you know it’s all about the plate of food you buy to eat. What will be cooking? How about these: Sweet Potato Tart, Beefalo Bratwurst, Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Pudding, Pork and Sharp Cheddar Quiche, Pumpkin Carrot & Lavender Soup, Arkansas Buffalo Chili, Tomato & Gorgonzola Soup, Winter Squash Soup (with Bacon Jalepeño Créme Fraîche) and Lindsey’s Fried Pies (Apple and Peach). Nom.

Bring four or five bucks for each plate. Not bad for a meal that would probably cost two or three times that, at least, in their restaurants.

Have I mentioned this is free? And so is the parking? And that food festivals just like this one are the rage all over the country, but usually have high-priced tickets?

More on this tomorrow. I will be at the event, with my own booth. I’ll be live-blogging as the day goes on, so check back for more info. And for heaven’s sake, get over there and say hello!


Argenta Fall Foodie Festival

9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

6th and Main, North Little Rock

FREE admission and parking