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Odyssey Greek Festival - Orange, CT

St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church in Orange, CT, will be holding their annual Odyssey Festival this weekend. They have the best Greek food I've been able to find in Connecticut.
Here is the link to the main page of their website:
http://www.saintbarbara.org/news/odys...
But this is the page you're probably more interested in:
http://www.saintbarbara.org/news/odys...
The food page leaves some things out. The last couple of years they have had saganaki (a pan fried sheet of feta), but they run out of this early in the weekend. Down in with the Greek pastries in the church basement they serve traditionally prepared Greek coffee (analogous to Turkish coffee). There is also a stand outside that serves frappe (a frothy, frozen coffee drink made in a blender from spray dried instant coffee, milk, and ice, with the option of sugar; Starbucks frappuccino is a really poor imitation of this traditional Greek summer drink).
Over the course of the weekend I usually end up eating everything they serve at least once, but my favorites are: tiropita, keftethes, pastitsio, souvlaki, kadaifi, and saragli. I always take home at least one loaf of their tsoureki (a slightly sweet brioche like bread flavored with mahleb) which is fantastic toasted for breakfast.
Make sure to visit both food tents as they have different offerings. Check out the schedule of events before you go. There are Greek cooking demonstrations, live traditional Greek music, and performances of traditional Greek dancing (they have different age groups of dancers with the oldest being in high school, and I think usually the earlier performances are the younger kids, and late performance is the high schoolers). Take a look inside the actual church building while you are there; the artist that painted it is exceptionally talented.

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  1. I also recommend attending Odyssey. It is one of southern Connecticut's only chances of tasting real Greek food. I used to live in the area and would go every year due to my love of the cuisine and lack of quality Greek restaurants in CT to indulge in (and I don't mean Greek pizza/gyro places).

    1. OMG Dan; you aren't addicted to their loukoumades? (not listed on your favs?) My next-door neighbors work that booth. I die waiting for them fresh.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheereeo

        I love the loukoumades, but I don't have that much of a sweet tooth. Some of my friends and family, however, talk about the loukamades all year.

      2. Thanks for posting this--we missed the Waterbury Greek festival this year and I've never been to the Orange festival. Now I have one more chance!

        2 Replies
        1. re: kattyeyes

          I haven't been to the Waterbury Greek festival in several years, but the Greek festival in Orange is even better. Much bigger & many more food options. I hope I get a chance to go this weekend.

          1. re: joan mar

            That is good to know because out of all the Greek fests I've been to, Waterbury has been my favorite. So now I REALLY need to go to Orange! Flash the secret chow sign if you see a tall woman with short, dark hair chowing down on galaktoboureko ('cause that'll be me). ;) Should be a gorgeous weekend for the festival.

        2. My friend just called me from the festival. She said that the entertainment set-up is quite different this year due to the new hall that they built behind the church. She said all the shade trees have been cut down so consider that if you are going to watch the dancers, bring sunscreen and perhaps umbrella. Carnival moved to where some of the parking was. And parking in rear was full, so she had to go next door--seems some of parking may have gotten taken over by new hall/carnival area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cheereeo

            Are there no tents like Waterbury?

            1. re: kattyeyes

              There are tents, but the dancers are out in the open.

          2. And I can't believe Norwalk is having their festival on the same weekend--saw something about that they extended it through to this weekend. YOu think they wouldn't do it the same weekend. All the churches need to raise funds to survive, and Labor Day w/e has always been St. Barbara's, and I know people travel far to attend this festival.

            1. We (Kattyeyes, me and SO's) went to the Odyssey Greek festival on Saturday and had some Greek food that was pretty good. The Spanakopita was OK, but the one made by the woman who did the "how to cook Greek food" demo was spectacularly good (and free)!

              The Gyro was not traditional, IE, not cut off a chunk roasting on a spit. We shared a Meze platter. I liked the Dolmathes (Dolmas) Loukaniko (sausage) and Kefethes (meatballs)These were all good. The rest was ordinary. The Greek salad was OK.
              I think we agreed the Saganaki (fried cheese), was fairly good (and I ate quite a bit of it), but expensive for $7. I don't know how you could eat this by itself.
              Nobody wanted to stand in the long, slow moving line for the roast lamb and nobody wanted the pork souvlaki. They had a bottleneck at one point with only one person carving the lamb meat (as shown in one of my pics). We were pretty full anyway.

              Tried some dessert: Galaktoureko, a flaky pastry filled with custard, and coated with honey. Meh...It was OK, but I'm not big on curdly, custardy things and it had little flavor. SO liked it a lot.
              We had a spice cake that had pecans in it and was laced with brandy, so some was dry and pretty good and some was wet and pretty strong. Of the three of us eating the desserts, nobody quite wanted to finish them.
              See the food they offerred here: http://www.saintbarbara.org/news/odys...:

              We watched the dancing. That was fun. Was good, cheap fun, all in all and a nice change of pace. I/we'd like to try other foods and see the adults dance.
              Porta potties were really hot inside and should have been placed in the shade.
              There were no "adult beverages", like beer or wine at this festival. No ouzo, either!

              We got vanilla flavored rum and limes on the way home and cooled off on the deck with mojitos. Might do it again next year. The mojitos, at least. We need to find a good Greek restaurant in the area. We need advice.

               
               
               
               
              1. More pictures. Note: Kattyeyes is a good photographer. Half are hers.

                 
                 
                 
                 
                1 Reply
                1. re: Scargod

                  Good post! I have to say, coming so highly recommended on Chowhound, I was expecting this festival to blow the tent down on the Waterbury Greek Fest, which is held Mother's Day weekend...it didn't. It was nice, please don't misunderstand, but the Waterbury festival is better because:

                  --they slice the gyro meat fresh to order (and don't use the pre-fab, rectangular pieces they served at the Odyssey)
                  --there is ONE LARGE TENT that shades ALL THE TABLES, with little booths for browsing all around, then all the hot food housed at one end of the tent; whereas the Orange festival had tons of tables in the blazing hot sun, which unfortunately for the very adorable little dancers we watched, was also where they had to dance (in the blazing hot sun), fully costumed. Holy heat exhaustion!

                  I can't give a good Greek restaurant recommendation in this neck of the woods (I'm not sure one exists), but we now have Cavos on the pike in Newington. See other suggestions for Greek (including my two cents) here:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/607406

                  And not that it has a thing to do with Greek cuisine, but those mojitos were SPECTACULAR and I found myself thinking about them today, SO REFRESHING, SO TASTY. It's so stupid we can't buy liquor on the weekend (or on Monday) in CT. Does anyone know if any packys are open tomorrow? I need to get me some vanilla rum!!! Must.make.more.mojitos!!!

                2. Wow Saganaki is new there. Never saw it there years past. I'm sure they didn't flame it, the way it is traditionally served, flaming to your table. I think normally it is flamed with ouzo or brandy. And they usually have a clock on the roasts to tell you when next one is served; you must have arrived at the mad rush. I have never been able to get roast when I've gone; always seem to miss it.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cheereeo

                    No, the saganaki was not flamed as you described. THAT I'd like to try and I do believe they serve it at Cavos in Newington.

                    1. re: cheereeo

                      Saganaki is only flambeed in the US. But then, it seems most of the things considered traditional for Greek food in the US are essentially unheard of in Greece (like lamb in a gyro).
                      You're not missing much with the spit roasted lamb. The regular lamb dinner (cooked in an oven) is better. For a combination of reasons (mostly minor food safety concerns, and pleasing the crowd) the lamb is served cooked through in both cases. The spit roasted lamb can get kind of dry because of this, while the oven cooked lamb stays moist.

                      1. re: cheereeo

                        There was no mad rush. Only the line for the lamb/lamb dinners. Just a period when there was only one person cutting meat.There was virtually no wait at other food venues.

                      2. Was able to go early on Friday to avoid the mad rushes and taste what we set out to try. Went back briefly later in the weekend and was sure to get those killer loukoumades. Thanks to those who mentioned them.

                        Not normally much of a sweet-toother either but these were QUITE good. As I recall this caused an impromptu uncorking of dessert wine from an earlier stop on the wine trail in the adjacent church's lot. Nice accompaniment.

                        Looking forward to going to Waterbury's Greek Fest next time as it's been a few years since that last visit.