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From haloumi to honey puffs – the foodie’s guide to Paniyiri Greek Festival

Paniyiri Greek Festival is almost back for 2024 and you can practically hear the plates smashing, hands clapping and tender morsels sizzling. The Greek culinary prowess is perhaps the country’s best export – which says a lot about the homeland of democracy. From honey puffs to haloumi, the country is known for its drool-inducing dishes and Paniriyi Greek Festival will be serving it up from our very own Musgrave Park. Keen for a culinary adventure? Take our foodie’s field guide to Paniyiri for a spin.
May 13, 2024, updated May 13, 2024

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 to the Cypriot Community stall and you’ll be sure to find these handmade delights.

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 have been stuffed to bursting point with ground meat, onions and spices. You’ll already be at the Cypriot Community stall for the sheftalies – you won’t regret adding these to your plate too!

Pork yiros: We know you’re familiar with yiros, but we know where you can wrap your hands around traditional pork yiros, just like you’d find along the cobblestone streets of Greece. Head to the Olympic FC stall to find this mouth-watering delight – fluffy pita stuffed with juicy pork (not lamb or chicken), hot chips, salata and zesty tzatziki. This year, Olympic has also added a pork yiros plate to their menu, so you can fill up on more of the good stuff!

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. You can find lamb and chicken on the spit at the Pankoakos Associations KOS stall, and lamb loin, pork belly and chicken thigh souvla from the Cypriot Community stall at Plateia Village. Although not technically souvla, keep your eyes peeled for the Chios Taverna, serving up large octopus perfectly charred over the coals.

Loukoumades: Let’s be honest – loukoumades, or honey puffs, are at the top of everyone’s food list when visiting Paniyiri. These fried golden balls of delight are irresistible – and we know where to find the best ones. For traditional honey loukoumades sprinkled with icing sugar, head to The Cretan Association of Queensland stall, but if you want to mix things up, the Athelfotis Zarakiton Association stall is serving up traditional honey, chocolate, Nutella, Biscoff and salted caramel puffs.

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.

Galatoboureko: If you’re a lover of sweet treats and hold baklava close to your heart then you’re almost certain to love galatoboureko (try saying that five times quickly), also known as Greek custard pie. This traditional dessert is made with a creamy set-custard filling that’s encased in a crunchy filo pastry shell, which is bathed in syrup (much like baklava). Honestly, it’s heaven on earth.

Kataifi: As tasty as it is appealing to the eye, kataifi is a traditional pastry made with a nut filling and soaked in a honey syrup. The melt-in-your-mouth dessert is made with a special pastry dough that consists of delicate, thin strands crafted from shredded filo. The result is a birds-nest-esque creation that must be devoured to be believed.

Pastitsio: Did you know that there is such a thing as Greek lasagne? Well, now you do! Pastitsio is a beloved Greek dinner recipe made from layers of pasta, beef ragu, bechamel sauce and kefalotyri cheese to top it off. With the cooler weather rolling in, this is the perfect soul-warming meal to fill your belly with at this year’s festival.

Keftedes: When one thinks of meatballs, the mind wanders to a certain boot-shaped country, but Greek meatballs are very much a thing, pals! Known as keftedes, these meaty morsels are usually made from ground beef or lamb and flavoured with onion, herbs and spices. You’ll most likely find these bad boys on a mezze platter, surrounded by creamy dips and pita breads.

Ouzo Espresso Martini: If My Big Fat Greek Wedding has taught us anything, it’s that Greeks do it best. The Coffee Club has once again joined forces with The Greek Club for this year’s festival, delivering a brilliantly blended sip of the globally loved Espresso Martini and the aniseed bite of Ouzo liquor, exclusively bringing you – the Ouzo Espresso Martini. A bit of liquid luck will have you trying your hand at the Zorba in no time! If you’re craving something a little softer, head to the GOYA stall for frappes (Greek iced coffee) and Greek Epsa soft drinks.

Greek Cooking Demonstrations: Does all of this deliciousness have you craving more Greek food in your life? Be sure to pop by the NAB Greek Cooking Demonstrations on level one of The Greek Club across the weekend. Special guest chef George Diakomichalis from Kalymnos Pastries in Adelaide will be creating kotopoulo youretsi (chicken and orzo casserole) and galaktobaklava, Helen and Eleni Zeniou from Helen’s European Cuisine will be sharing their secrets for the perfect honey puffs, and Jimmy Bazianas and Con Ipermachou from Skouras Wines will be guiding audiences through a pairing of Greek wine and cheese. You can also catch demonstrations from dieticians and nutritionists explaining the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, as well as local members of the Greek community sharing their time-honoured family recipes. Yia-yia Anna’s spanakopita, anyone?

Food is just the tip of the souvlaki stick at Paniyiri – the weekend is jam-packed with a smorgasbord of Hellenic heaven! The Coffee Club Main Stage will host a variety of cultural delights all weekend long, including dance performances, live music, competitions and more. Over in the Madd Loans Plateia you can catch DJ sets and live music throughout each day, and The Greek Club will also showcase an inspiring cultural Olympic progam, featuring an exhibition of Olympic Games artefacts and memorabilia, children’s workshops, talks and performances.

Has this list got your mouth watering? Go on – splash out and try something different this year! You can sample these delights (plus all of your favourites) when Paniyiri Greek Festival returns to Musgrave Park on Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19. Opa!

The Stumble Guide is the comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.

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