Happy Greek Independence Day!

Today, Greeks all over the world celebrate Greek Independence Day. The choice of March 25 is a bit odd, since none of the events central to the Greeks' successful revolution against the Ottoman Empire happened on that date. Rather, it was chosen to coincide with the Feast of the Annunciation.

The local Greek community will celebrate this Saturday, the 28th, with a parade sponsored by the Hellenic Federation of Northern California and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. The parade starts at noon; the organizers recommend parking in the garage under Civic Center Park, east of City Hall. Spectators are invited to join the parade participants at a reception afterward in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Additional San Francisco options for getting your Greek on:
  • Hellenic-American Imports (2365 Mission, pictured above): This shop has a large selection of Greek wines, some pastries and cheeses, and a few hard-to-find baking ingredients including mastic (natural gum used in Easter breads), mahleb (sour cherry pits; their flavor is similar to bitter almonds), and baking ammonia (aka hartshorn, an old-fashioned leavening agent). The gift section of the shop has a somewhat ribald statue of a pair of Greek wrestlers that might make a good gag gift for certain people.
  • Parea Wine Bar (759 Valencia): This mellow and friendly wine bar / restaurant is owned and operated by a charming young couple, Nicole and Eleftherios "Telly" Topakas. He's Greek and runs the front of the house. She's a talented somellier and has put together a great list of moderately-priced wines which includes many of the best choices from Greece locally available. There's a happy hour from 5-7pm Monday through Saturday, and a "Greek night" with live music the third Thursday of every month.
  • Greek restaurants: Estia (1224 Grant), Kokkari Estiatorio (200 Jackson), Mezes (2373 Chestnut), Myconos (1431 Polk)
  • Greek Food Festival: This annual three-day celebration / church fundraiser happens the last weekend of September at the Cathedral of the Annunciation (245 Valencia). Join the mailing list to get a reminder.
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