Today we travelled down to South Brisbane to experience our first ever Paniyiri Greek Festival. We lived in Brisbane for 8 years and never got there – not until we moved away! It’s been running longer than I’ve been alive and it’s pretty popular here.
Thankfully Mr B. was home (it made crowd control easier!), and we picked up Mum & her partner Dave on the way, then met our friends once we got there. We entered in the sideshow alley area and quickly steered the kids through – we were on a mission, a mission to find good Greek food. At that stage it was only 11.30am, and the food stalls were already a mass of hungry people waiting patiently in line.
Ben and I ate chicken souvlaki and shared a meze plate to sample a few different things – octopus, calamari, haloumi, dolmades and greek salad. It was all delicious but the dolmades were sensational – it was so tempting to go back for more later!
After filling our tum’s we wandered up the hill to see the organisers rounding up volunteers for an olive-eating competition. Mum initially volunteered and we found our spots to watch, until she saw the first round and discovered they were not pitted, and she couldn’t use her hands! She chickened out, which was disappointing…I was hoping to see her work her way through a bowl of olives in a very unlady-like manner!
Upstairs into the Greek Club next to watch a cooking demonstration – we didn’t catch the start of the session so I’m not sure exactly what was being made, but I’m sure I heard ‘shortbread’. The two ladies demonstrating had such a funny banter going on, and were discussing the merits of using either brandy or ouzo in that recipe as opposed to vanilla essence – what a great idea!
We grabbed a chocolate cannoli to share on our way back down to the main entertainment area – no photo’s as it was gone in about 6 seconds, yum! – then settled in to watch some Hellenic dancing for a little while.
By that stage the kids were getting restless so we took them down to the rides area. This was their ‘ride’ of choice…
I was thinking about all the spanakopita and baklava that awaited me, but the food lines were ridiculous and my head was p.o.u.n.d.i.n.g. The plate smashing was yet to begin but let’s face it, I’d had my fair share of that in my own kitchen over the years so I could live without more of it today.
We left the festival and took the kids to the nearby museum for an hour for some ‘quiet’ time before hitting the highway for the trip home (with some haloumi tucked away safely in the esky bag – thanks Craig!).
The success of Paniyiri is a testament to the Greek community not only in Brisbane, but to all those who travel there to make the festival such an amazing feast for the senses. If you get the opportunity to go, I’d highly recommend it for the future – I’ll certainly be back again next year!