Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pilaros Taste of the Danforth & A Recipe!

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, or happen to be in town for the weekend, you know that this weekend is the Pilaros Taste of the Danforth Festival, running from Friday, August 9- Sunday, August 11.  This is Canada's largest street festival, and this year marks the festival's 20 anniversary, so things are going to be bigger and better than ever! 

My husband and I try to make it down for the festival every year. It's a great event for families, with children's activities, as well as great food and wine for the adults. GreekTown on the Danforth boasts one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per kilometer in the world. Closed off to traffic, the Festival route is 2.5 kilometers, where visitors flock to enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavours from over 100 participating restaurants and retailers that do their best to show off their excellent offerings, including special deals and samples. If you're not familiar with how delicious real Greek food can be, this festival is a great way to get acquainted with it. If you're going gluten free, like my son, then it's important to be more cautious about what you try, but there are many dishes that are naturally gluten free, or you can purchase some prepackaged goods from some of the vendors to try at home, and avoid the concern of cross-contamination.  

By the way, I checked, and ouzo is gluten free. Opa!

The Mediterranean diet is widely considered to be one of the healthiest in the world, incorporating many dishes that are naturally gluten free. Olive oil, tomatoes, grapes, fresh cheese (including feta, traditionally made from sheep's milk, not cow), lean meats and fish, beans and legumes, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt, and moderate wine consumption combine to provide a diet rich in vitamins, lean protein, and healthy, complex carbohydrates.  Despite some misconceptions that pasta makes up most of the diet, that's actually not true. It is consumed, but Mediterranean meals also consist widely of soups, salads, vegetarian and fish dishes, grilled meats and vegetables, and there are plenty of beans thrown in for good measure. 

The Three Greek Sisters have been ambassadors of Greek food since their first cookbook was released a few years ago, and now they're back with a new cookbook featuring traditional Greek recipes. In celebration of the Pilaros Taste of the Danforth, I'm lucky enough to be able to share a recipe with my readers. Halloumi cheese is naturally gluten free, but always check ingredients to be sure. This is a simple recipe that even a novice chef can pull off!

 Grilled Halloumi with Fresh Mint Vinaigrette
A tasty, salty and squeaky cheese that is ideal for grilling or frying.
Serves 4

4 halloumi cheese slices, ¼-inch thick
Olive oil for coating

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chili pepper, deseeded, minced
2 Kalamata olives, chopped

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Lightly brush both sides of the halloumi cheese slices with olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add the cheese.  Cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes per side, or until the cheese is golden-brown in color.  Remove from skillet and transfer to serving platter.
In a separate bowl, mix the vinaigrette ingredients together.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the cheese and serve warm with bread.

Note: Halloumi cheese can also be grilled on a barbecue over high heat.
Photo courtesy of Pilaros

Join the 1.3 million others who regularly make their way down to the Danforth in Toronto this weekend and experience all things Greek at one of the most popular street festivals Canada has to offer. Sample some Greek wine, watch some fun performances, and bask in Mediterranean hospitality.

I hope to see you there!

Pilaros provided me with the facts and recipe used in this post, but I was not otherwise compensated in any way. If you are gluten free, be sure to ask questions before purchasing from the multiple booths that will be selling food. A lot of Greek food is naturally gluten free, but it's best to be certain.




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