Three international food fests to check out this October
Stay local, eat global. This October, get your fill at three international food festivals, doling out everything from Armenian lamb meatballs to glazed Greek doughnuts and Russian honey cakes filled with sweet cream.
Sacramento Greek Festival
Oct. 4-6 Started in 1963 and drawing about 10,000 attendees each year, this three-day festival in East Sacramento's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is as venerable as it is delectable. A favorite offering is the Greek barbecue, where lamb chops and chicken skewers sizzle over charcoal after basking in a simple marinade of olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano. Get a caffeine kick with a cup of strong Greek coffee—known for its Herculean strength, the drink is brewed in a briki (a small pot) over heated sand—or grab a glass of retsina, a Greek wine that derives its taste and aroma from an infusion of Aleppo pine resin. And for dessert? Pass the Baklava and loukoumades (Green doughnuts topped with honey and walnuts). $5 (free on Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; free for ages 12 and under throughout the festival). Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday noon-10 p.m., Sunday noon-8 p.m. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. 616 Alhambra Blvd. 310-795-9440. http://sacramentogreekfestival.com/
Russian Food Festival
Oct. 12 Comfort food is king at this daylong festival, where you can cozy up to a piroshki (a warm puff pastry turnover filled with beef, braised cabbage or mushrooms) or sit down with a plate of pelmeni (tender, ruffle-edged dumplings stuffed with meat, onion and garlic) at the Ascension Russian Orthodox Church in downtown Sacramento. You can also arm yourself with a skewer of shashlik (marinated meat), whose recipes get passed down through the generations in Russian families—all the more reason to turn out for this once-a-year treat. Got a sweet tooth? Try the blinchiki (crepe pancakes) or a decadent slice of the many-layered Russian honey cake with sweet cream filling. $5 (free for children under 10). 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church. 714 13th St. holyascensionchurch.org
Sacramento Armenian Food Festival
Oct. 25-26 Celebrate Armenian cuisine at this annual feast-ival, where the pomegranate wine has been flowing since 1947 (and now Armenian Kilikia beer too). Old family recipes will bring a taste of home in foods like yogurt-drizzled shish kebabs, fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks, lamb and beef kufta (meatballs) and creamy, garlicky hummus. For dessert, pair dusky, rich Armenian coffee brewed in small brass pots with sweet gata pastry redolent of nuts and cinnamon. Free on Friday. $5 on Saturday. Friday 4-10 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Greek Hellenic Hall. 614 Alhambra Blvd. stjamessacramento.org