This was a good weekend to eat in Ann Arbor, as two eating events were being held concurrently: the Ya’ssoo Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Church on Scio Church Road; and Taste of Ann Arbor on Main Street.
I started going to Greek food festivals in Connecticut – St. Sophia Orthodox Church put on a magnificent fall food festival, and the whole town could reliably be counted on to show up for several meals during the five-day event. So when I heard that there was a Greek festival in Ann Arbor, I couldn’t resist the temptation to check it out.
The Ya’ssoo festival was much larger than the St. Sophia festival – but St. Nicholas appears to be quite a large church. Instead of being held in a hall, there were large tents and an open-air dance floor set up in the parking lot. We actually had to park a different church down the street and take a shuttle over to St. Nick’s.
The minute we arrived at the festival, the heavens opened and the rain clouds that had been hovering overhead all day started pouring heavy, driving rain. We made a run for the closest tent, which, luckily for us, happened to contain the hot food line AND the Taverna (bar) – score!
The menu was pretty similar to St. Sophia’s – pastisio, gyros, spanokopita. Jess, Josh and I all ordered gyros (along with spanokopita for me and Jess) and managed to find an empty seat.
The gyros were fantastic – sliced, spiced lamb served on pita with fresh onions and tomatoes and a side of tzatziki, the thick, tangy yogurt sauce that I would probably be willing to eat on anything. The spanokopita was appropriately spinach-y and flanked in buttery, flaky phyllo dough.
It was still raining when we finished our dinner, so rather than dart across the dance floor to the dessert tent, we decided to visit the taverna. Jess and I, perhaps a bit carried away from too many viewings of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, decided that the only appropriate way to commemorate the evening was by doing shots of Ouzo and yelling “Opa!” Unfortunately, Jess and I forgot that we hate black licorice, which pretty much means we also hate Ouzo.
We were much too full to eat dessert right then, but still traveled to the dessert tent and purchased the St. Nick’s Mix – a to-go box filled with assorted Greek pastries, including baklava, koulourakia (butter cookies), paximathakia (Greek biscotti) and Karithopita (walnut cake). All of it looked decadent and delicious.
We perused the market a bit and hoped the rain would clear so the dancing could begin, but the weather proceeded to worsen. We decided to head back to Ypsi – a good decision, considering the tornado sirens started wailing minutes after we got back.
We didn’t get to do everything we originally wanted to do at the festival – namely, dance – but we still left very satisfied that we had eaten so much fresh and deliciously prepared food. If you have any Greek festivals in your area, I would highly recommend seeking them out. Your stomach will thank you!
Tomorrow’s post will cover the weekend’s other food-related event, Taste of Ann Arbor.