Sheftalia: To kick things off in our foodie’s guide to Paniyiri, let’s talk sausage. We’re not referring to your typical Bunnings snag. Oh no, friendo – these bangers are way more legit. This Cypriot sausage is made from a mixture of lamb and pork, which is then wrapped in caul fat and cooked over a blazing fire. Just follow the sizzling sound and you’ll be sure to find some.
Koupes: Cyprus is represented again in the food stakes with this hugely popular street dish. Koupes are delectable baked clusters of bulgur wheat, flour, oil, salt and egg that has been stuffed to bursting point with ground meat, onions and spices.
Souvla: No, we’re not misspelling souvlaki – souvla is its own beast, one that deserves to be respected. This is Greek barbecue at its purest – picture hunks of meat skewered on a spit and cooked to perfection over a charcoal barbecue. Any self-respecting carnivore shouldn’t think twice when spying these beauties from across the festival.
Tiropita: If you’ve got a passing familiarity with Greek cuisine, you’ve probably tried spanakopita. Well, let us introduce you to its cheesy cousin! If you like your pastries buttery (don’t we all?), then you’ll have a hard time passing by this multi-layered filo, cheese and egg-stuffed snack. Don’t be scared of going back for seconds – everyone else is.
Ekmek: Just because this is a dessert dish doesn’t mean your eating is coming to an end – sometimes it’s nice to break up the savoury with a little somethin’ somethin’ once in a while. Getting down to brass tacks, ekmek is kataifi dough that is baked until golden and crispy, dipped in lemon syrup and capped with creamy custard, whipped cream, cinnamon and nuts. Enough said.
Moussaka: In the pantheon of Greek comfort foods, moussaka has pride of place at the top of the dais. The combination of mince, eggplant, potato and bechamel sauce is a certified winner, which is what you will be once you order a serving at Paniyiri.
Greek frappe: Yes, even the coffee nuts are represented at Paniyiri this year. If you want a jolt of energy to see you through the final few meals (because you’ll be eating more than once, let’s be honest), grab a Greek frappe made from blended Nescafé coffee, served with or without milk and your choice of sweetness. This year you can also try the freddospresso, which is made with espresso coffee and cold water.
Yemista: If someone in your group asks you for a recommendation on what to try next, tell them to get stuffed – or rather, get a yemista. This dish (which translates to ‘stuffed’ or ‘filled with’) consists of juicy tomatoes stuffed with rice and ground beef. You’ll want to eat so many you’ll be calling yourself a yemista before too long.
Bougatsa: Now is the time to go all out on the sweets. At this juncture we suggest seeking out some bougatsa, which is made from filo dough and filled with semolina custard filling before being baked until extra crispy. These treats then get the ‘salt bae’ treatment with a decent sprinkling of icing sugar.
Trigona panoramatos: Try saying this mouthful five times quickly! It doesn’t matter if you can’t pronounce it, just as long as you eat it. New to the festival this year, trigona panoramatos are made from golden pastry triangles, which have been soaked in syrup and filled with creamy custard. Now it’s time to sit down – we’re too full to Zorba.
The Plateia: For the second year running, Paniyiri Greek Festival is hosting The Plateia – an homage to a traditional Greek village complete with Cycladic architecture and all. Among narrow paved streets, vine-covered pergolas and whitewashed walls sit several market stalls hawking all sorts of Greek delights. Mosey on through and sip on Greek coffees, sweets, fresh seafood, oysters, Greek wines, ouzo mojitos, and fourno, otherwise known as crispy traditional Greek pies. These bad boys are filled with the likes of spanakopita and are a must-try.
Paniyiri Greek Festival is on this weekend, May 19–20, at Musgrave Park. Head to our Event Guide for full details. If you’re looking for a ride, you can travel free with a pre-purchased Paniyiri ticket to the event on all regular network-wide Brisbane City Council buses and Queensland Rail City Network trains.