I went with my friend Maria and my family to a local Armenian church for its annual Armenian festival. I had no idea what Armenian food would be other than “something similar to Mediterranean food,” so I was excited to give it a shot.
The food was indeed similar to Mediterranean food, and it was all very tasty. A quick run down of the dishes I tried:
Shish Kebab: selected chunks of skewered lamb. The chunks felt a bit dry and tougher than I would have liked, but I liked the flavors, especially with the caramelized onions they added on top.
Luleh Kebab: ground lamb with exotic spices on skewer. I have no idea what those exotic spices were, but this was my favorite item. The texture was similar to that of a meatball, with a slightly charred outside and juicy inside.
Koofta: “meatball” stuffed with meat, onions, spices and butter. Also delicious. Visually there was a clear distinction between the outer meatball portion and the stuffing inside, but all of the flavors melded together into one delicious meatball.
Cheese Beoreg: pastry filled with cheese. The pastry was super flaky, and the feta cheese was warm and tasty, though it added a lot more saltiness than I would have liked.
Pahklava: flaky thin layers of phyllo dough with walnuts, sugar and spices. It tasted like a regular baklava from Mediterranean cuisine but not as gooey or soft. The phyllo dough layer separated from the nut layer.
Cream Khadaiff: thin crispy phyllo noodles with cream filling. This was a winner! The contrast of the crispy phyllo noodles with the soft cream made for an enjoyable bite, and the cream tasted more like a natural cream rather than an overly sweetened cream like what is sometimes found in doughnuts.
Armenian Apple Delight: if you love apple turnover then you will love this dessert. It’s essentially one of those but shaped as a roll.
Gata: sweet, buttery pastry with sugar or walnut cinnamon filling. It felt like eating a super thick cookie. I didn’t like this one as much, mainly because it was much drier than I expected, but everyone else seemed to really like this one.
Shortbread cookies: these were not your usual shortbread cookies. They were much softer, like a chewy chocolate chip cookie. I’m glad we got there and got these early because when we attempted to buy them again for the road, they were sold out.
Overall, we all enjoyed the food at this festival, and I definitely want to go again next year.
St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church
650 Spruce St.
Oakland, CA 94610