Now that James Beard Award-winning Chef José Andrés has wrapped up his 7th annual Oyamel’s Tequila & Mezcal Festival, it’s time to look forward to Greek Easter Festival at Zaytinya to be held April 20 through May 3rd. Kicking off on Greek Orthodox’s Palm Sunday with and culminating the Sunday after Easter on the day of Saint Thomas with Agorá, a traditional Greek outdoor market event. The festival lasts a full two weeks offering Mediterranean-inspired dishes by Head Chef Michael Costa, cocktails by Juan Coronado, music and special events.
Guests can expect to find special intriguing and tasteful dishes on the menu ranging from Greek Eggs (crispy loukaniko and breadcrumb wrapped solf boiled egg, roasted garlic yogurt, and sunflower sprouts), to Mayiritsa (lamb neck avgolemono broth, smoked lamb liver, and pearl onions), and Spit-Roasted Lamb Avgolemono (spit-roasted lamb and dakos hash, feta, fluffy egg, and lemon sauce) – all of which are delicious in their own rights.
However, we have our own dish and drink suggestions that we think deserves a spotlight: First we suggest starting out with the Mellow Yiayia – a beautifuly golden sweetly tart cocktail made with rye, honey-walnut syrup, lemon juice, and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. It packs a punch, goes down easily, and can immediately brighten any mood. Our favorite dishes include the Maroulosalata (housemade fresh myzithra cheese, brown butter hazelnuts, and Earth N Eat greens), Kacamak (traditional Turkish cornmeal porridge, soujouk, and poached eggs), and our absolute favorite the Lobster Avgolemono (hash brown, poached lobster with lobster tomato avgolemono sauce).
Of course dinner is never complete without dessert. No, we don’t care if you’re full. Order it anyway. (Or do what we do and order dessert first so we don’t talk ourselves out of it later.) Zaytinya’s Loukamades (traditional Greek donuts with citrust thyme syrup and flower petals), are just the perfect bite sized dessert after a filling meal. We could honestly make an entire dinner out of these.
And guess what? We CAN! We have the recipe right here for ya’ll to try out in your own homes thanks to Zaytinya, Chef José Andrés, and Head Chef Michael Costa. If you make them yourselves, we’d love to hear what you think.
- For the Citrus and Thyme-Infused Honey:
- 1 ½ cups honey, preferably the Greek brand Attiki
- 1 cup water
- Juice and zest from 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange
- 2 sprigs thyme
- For the fritters:
- 1 ¼ ounces yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 ½ cups bread flour, preferably All Trumps
- 1 ½ tablespoons salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups milk, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- Canola oil, as needed
- Clarified butter, as needed*
- Citrus and Thyme-Infused Honey, as needed
- In a small saucepan, bring the honey, water and citrus juices to a simmer over medium heat.
- Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the citrus zests and thyme.
- Let steep for 5 minutes.
- Pass the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. Let it sit, or “bloom,” for 5 minutes.
- Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed. While mixing, add the milk, yeast mixture and the oil. If necessary, scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- Continue to mix on low speed until a loose dough forms, about 3-5 minutes
- Place the dough in a medium-sized bowl lightly coated in oil and cover with plastic wrap.
- Place the bowl in a warm, dry space and let the dough proof for 1 hour.
- After an hour, punch the down the dough and fold it into itself to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap again and return to the warm hour to proof for 1 hour longer.
- After the second hour of proofing, fold the dough over again and prepare for frying.
- Fill a large pot with a 75 to 25 blend of the canola oil and clarified butter and heat to 330-340 degrees.
- Put the honey in a shallow dish and place near the stove.
- Using a ½ teaspoon measure, or a small spoon, scoop the dough into a ball and place in the hot oil.
- Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, and then using a slotted spoon, remove the fritter from the oil and roll in the honey.
- Fritters may be held on a rack in a warm place for 15-20 minutes before becoming soggy.
- *Note: Clarified butter is butter that has the water and milk fat solids removed. It can be made at home or purchased in some specialty stores. Omitting it will greatly affect the flavor of this recipe.
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Washington DC 20001
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