For the third year in a row, my husband and I met up with my in-laws and had an awesome time at the Lebanese Food Festival. My husband, being part Lebanese, looks forward to this event each year. I must admit, the first year I was a bit skeptical. It was more a “you eat what?” kind of mindset. I had thoughts of raw lamb meat running through my head, since when we eat at his mom’s on specials occasions that is always on the menu. Thankfully, the food festival is a bit tamer.
The afternoon started off with us scoping out the menu and planning our attack. I guess maybe I should say morning since we arrived at 11 a.m. to “beat the crowd.” Our first stop was the shawirma stand. The best way to explain a shawirma is basically like a gyro. It has beef or chicken with Middle East spices, tahini sauce and all on a pita. I had the chicken and my hubby had the beef. Very tasty, I must say!
Having 10 other family members there made it easy to us to taste everything. My husband’s all-time favorites are the kibbe, which is baked lamb meat with spices, and tabouli, which consists of parsley, cracked wheat, tomatoes, oil and lemon juice. The cooked kibbe I can handle.
Another popular item with the family is stuffed grape leaves. This may be one of the only items I cannot bring myself to eat. I tried them once, never again. With more than 20 items to try, you just can’t try everything! Thankfully, they offer boxed lunches and of course, you can take anything you want home for later.
Whatever you do, save room for desert. The baklava and zalabia are to die for! Zalabia is fried strips of dough with Middle East spices and special syrup. The baklava is made with pistachios which makes it so good. Oh! And the mamool! Mamool is another delicious pastry with dates or walnuts.
Ok, enough about the food. Throughout the festival, there are numerous dance performances by children and adults of all ages as well as great music! A great time was had by all and I am definitely looking forward year four (for us) already.
Lebanese Food Festival
St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church
4611 Sadler Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Stephanie Kenney is a Marketing Coordinator at RMCVB. Born and raised in Richmond, Stephanie now lives in Glen Allen with her husband, Criss and dog, Bo. She enjoys playing darts and poker in her spare time.