Saturday, September 20, 2008

Greek Fest, St. Barbara's Church, Toms River, NJ

St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church is one of the gems of Ocean County. The church features beautiful icons that have been expanded over the years. The front of the church features a screen evokes the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Tabernacle. Behind these screens, the elements for communion are consecrated, just as in the Tabernacle the blood of the atonement is sprinkled on the Mercy Seat. The large picture of the "Theodikus" (Mother of God) with the child Jesus is significant reminding the worshiper that because God became man in the Jesus Christ, we can be united with God through his birth, life, sacrifice and resurrection.The dome of most Orthodox churches feature this icon of Christos Pantocrator, as St. Barbara's does. The title translated is Christ, the ruler of the universe. It depicts the glorified Christ holding the book of the Gospels and his hand is raised in blessing, proclaiming God's loving kindness toward us. St. Barbara's had funded the construction and adornment of their church in part through the semi-annual Greek Fest. It is a wonderful time featuring Greek food, traditional dancing and other aspects of Greek culture. Stopping by the Greek fest is an annual must do for our family.

This is a batch of Loukoumades coming out of the frier. Loukoumades are yeast donuts coated with sugar, very similar to zepoles.

Here is a fresh spit of gyros rotating on the broiler. Gyros is Greek street food. It is usually made of minced seasoned lamb that is sliced off the spit as it is roasted. It is served in a pita with tomatoe, lettuce, onion and tzatziki. Tzatziki is a yogurt cucumber sauce.

I had a tasty dish of Greek food. In addition to the gyro I had some souvlaki and a piece of spanakopita. Souvlaki is basically Greek shish kabob. It is usually pork, but in Greek restaurants or diners you can usually get chicken or beef souvlaki. It is seasoned with olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano. Spanakopita is phyllo filled with spinach and feta cheese.

Of course, for both my wife and I the highlight of Greek fest is picking up some tasty Greek pastry. In addition to the Baklava, we bought some Kadaifi and some Galaktoboureko. Most people know Baklava. It is sheets of phyllo, layed with cinnamon and walnuts, then soaked in a honey syrup. Kadaifi is made from similar ingredients accept the phyllo is shredded. They end product are crunchy haystacks dripping with honey. These are my youngest daughter's favorites. Christine and I are especially fond of Galktoboureko. This phyllo filled with a thick milk custard.

If you are in the Toms River area or even in driving distance, make sure to check out St. Barbara's website so you can put the Greek Fest on your calendar.

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1 comment:

Michele said...

we really waned to go on Sunday...but we had that freak heat wave and decided to stay home in the air conditioning. From your review it looks like I should have braved the heat anyway! There's always next year.