Greece

We all have daydream moments that we hope to one day turn into reality. I like to imagine myself on a cliffside balcony in Santorini wearing a sundress the same shade of blue as the region's brilliantly hued roofs, snacking on dolmathes, sipping a glass of Greek wine, and staring out at the azure Aegean Sea. It's a pleasant but far off vision as Greece is 7000 miles away from home the reigns of parenthood, work, and everyday obligations hold me back. These days, the closest I typically get to Greek cuisine and culture is the take out counter for Daphne's Greek Café. Luckily, I will be able to indulge in an authentic taste of Greece in just a couple more weeks at Irvine's annual "A Taste of Greece" festival.

The festival, now in its 35th year, take places June 21-23, 2013, bringing Greek cuisine, music, and dance to over 11,000 attendees. St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church (4949 Alton Pkwy), Orange County's largest Greek Orthodox church, plays host to the festival from 5:00pm to 10:00pm on Friday, June 21, noon to 10:00pm on Saturday, June 22nd, and noon to 9:00pm on Sunday, June 23rd.  St. Paul's was founded in 1977 and places an emphasis on philoptochos, a Greek word meaning "love for the poor". The festival, while offering great fun and culture to Orange County, also serves as fundraiser for the church's philanthropic programs; funding an orphanage in Mexico, digging wells for African villages, and helping Tanzanian church run clinics and hospitals.  Festival admission is just $3 for adults while children under the age of 10 enjoy free admission.

Irvine Greek Festival

If you have been daydreaming of dolmathes and wine like me, "A Taste of Greece" is the place to find them. Be sure to bring an empty stomach because festival-goers' will also be able to graze of a variety of traditional Greek foods such as spanakopita (a spinach a feta pastry dough pie), pastichio (Greek lasagna), lamb chops, loucanico (Greek sausage), calamari, saganaki (Greek brandy-flamed cheese), sweet loukoumathes (Greek doughnut holes), and, of course, plenty of traditional baklava. A variety of Greek beverages from beer to wine and even coffee will also be available for purchase. 

Taste of Greece Irvine

Those wishing to immerse themselves a bit further into Greek culture will certain have to take part in the free Greek dance lessons and stroll the boutique booths which will be set up to be reminiscent of the Plaka, an iconic and picturesque neighborhood in Athens. Tours of the beautiful church sanctuary, highlighting the Christian artwork done in mosaic style, will be offered. Kids will love the full-scale carnival with a variety of games for the entire family.

 For more information on the Taste of Greece Festival check out IrvineGreekFest.com