Call me Helen ... Helen of Richmond
That's right, I'm the face that launched a thousand tzatziki dips. My mind turns to all things Hellenic this time of year, with the return of the Richmond Greek Festival, a culinary event in every sense of the word. The June 1-4 festival at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral (30 Malvern Ave., just off Cary St.), celebrates its 30th year this summer.
Striking while the iron (and the weather) was hot, my mother went to the church the first day of the festival to get some carry-out. As native Richmonders know, the festival is very popular, and the lines can stretch as far as the ancient Greek empire. Well, perhaps I'm taking a little artistic license here, but you know what I mean. Mom went at 3:30 p.m. and reported that the crowds were light — not the case at lunchtime and after work. But on to the main event: the food, which is cooked by members of the church.
I'm not a big eggplant-eater, so I passed on the moussaka, but I did enjoy the Greek green beans (cooked in tomato sauce) and the pastichio, which is rather like baked ziti, except with that slight flavor of cinnamon so common to Greek beef dishes. The best dishes, though, were the tiropita (flaky pastry with cheese inside) and the dense, honey-ey baklava. So good. I'm having flashbacks. Oh, and you can do the drive-thru if you are in a hurry.
For those of you who want to make a day of it, the festival also offers a craft market, Greek music and dancing, plus tours of the church. Just get there early and save room for lunch.