Monday, April 7, 2014

Zaytinya's Greek Easter Festival

By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor

Zaytinya’s Sixth Annual Greek Easter Festival begins on April 20 and lasts through May 3. Zaytinya honors Greek Easter, one of the most important holidays on the Greek calendar, with its two-week festival that will feature specialty food, cocktails, music, and special events. Capital Cooking was invited to a preview of the specialty dishes and drinks that were created in honor of the festival. The event began with fresh house-made lavash chips accompanied by Zaytinya’s famous hommus, labneh, and tzatziki.

Head Chef Michael Costa’s talents really shone during this event. The first course, Greek Egg, which was crispy loukaniko and breadcrumb wrapped soft-boiled egg with roasted garlic yogurt and sunflower sprouts was presented beautifully – a difficult feat given the size of the egg! The Maroulosalata consisted of house-made fresh myzithra cheese, brown butter hazelnuts, and Earth N Eats greens and was a fresh alternative to a typical spring salad.

The Spit-Roasted Lamb Avgolemono, which consisted of spit-roasted lamb and dakos hash, feta, fluffy egg and lemon sauce, was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The hash was delicious; its mild flavors were an excellent accompaniment to the egg and lemon sauce. The course that followed was the Kacamak, which was traditional Turkish cornmeal porridge, soujouk, and poached eggs. The egg was poached beautifully and really complemented the soft flavors of the porridge.

One of my favorites of the evening was the Mayiritsa, which was lamb neck avgolemono broth, smoked lamb liver and pearl onions. This soup was smooth, satisfying, and delicious. Chef Costa explained that Mayiritsa is eaten to break the fast of the Greek Orthodox Great Lent and the soup is meant to be thick and creamy and used to re-introduce the body to meat after the fast.

The Lobster Avgolemono was another hit. With hash brown, poached lobster, and lobster tomato avgolemono sauce, this was one of the most delicious takes on lobster I’ve had in a long time, as the citrus avgolemono sauce perfectly complemented the sweetness of the lobster.

No celebration is complete without dessert! Zaytinya outdid itself with the Loukamades, traditional Greek donuts with citrus thyme syrup and edible flower petals. They were crispy and warm with the citrus syrup offsetting the sweetness of the donut. Everything served was such a hit, even Jose Andres stopped by to join the party! 

Zaytinya also created a spring cocktail for the Greek Easter celebration. Named the Mellow Yiayia, the drink was made with rye, honey-walnut syrup, lemon juice, and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. This drink was accompanied by a small selection of honey cookies that paired perfectly with this smooth cocktail.

Guests visiting Zaytinya during their Greek Easter Celebration are really in for a treat! For more information, please visit, follow @zaytinyadc and #GreekEasterFest.

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