The 31st Annual Monterey Bay Greek Festival took over downtown Monterey this past Labor Day weekend. As soon as the festival commenced at 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Custom House Plaza was crowded with local residents and tourists alike. Independent artists and vendors lined the courtyard to showcase their intricately-made jewelry, larger-than-life paintings, and traditional Greek delicacies.
Despite being early in the morning, a long line had already formed for the loukoumades: a deep-fried dough drizzled with chocolate sauce, honey, and walnuts. The sweet aroma was almost overwhelming as it wafted through the air, tempting those that passed.
Another item of interest was the Greek coffee, also known as ellinikos kafes: a strongly brewed coffee topped with an abundance of foam and the coffee grounds still lingering at the bottom. What differentiates this coffee from traditional American coffee is that it is prepared using extremely finely-ground coffee beans and remains unfiltered. Though most commonly consumed black, it is also available “glykos,” or sweet.
Other popular Greek cuisine that was on display included dolmades, which is stuffed grape leaves, and baklava, a flaky filo pastry also topped with nuts and honey.
Artists were present selling rings, beaded necklaces, paintings, embroidered handbags, vintage brooches, and more- a painted porcelain elephant was being sold for more than $600! Various performances took place on the small stage provided over the course of the weekend as well, such as traditional Greek dancing and singing.
If you missed the Monterey Bay Greek Festival, be sure to attend next year’s return, as well as Monterey’s Festa Italia and Oktoberfest later this month!