Dayton’s Lebanese Festival was held on August 23rd through the 25th at the Saint Ignatius Maronite Catholic Church on 741 across from Meijer. The festival featured authentic Lebanese food, carnival rides, traditional dancers, various craft vendors and adult gaming. Your favorite Dayton foodies, the Food Adventure Crew, set out to try the various tasty treats that this unique fest had to offer. We parked our cars in the grass of the festival grounds and made our way towards the large white food tent. A fantastic aroma filled the air as we approached. Inside the tent, was a large, easy to read menu at the “food line.” The man at the carving station explained that almost everything is homemade at this festival. Our Food Adventure was about to begin.
The menu showed the various dinners and sandwiches. We recognized some of our favorites like Chicken Schwarma & Beef Schwarma. These Lebanese sandwiches are a little like a gyro or soft taco and are filled with lettuce, meat and a garlic cream sauce. Also on the menu were some familiar items like spinach pie, hummus and stuffed grape leaves. The makeshift eatery even offered tabouli salad. Tabouli is typically made with bulgur or couscous. It also includes tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion and garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. It is a fresh, healthy snack and one of our favorites. We noticed another favorite, falafel which are tiny “hushpuppies” made with ground chick peas. This was a full blown Food Adventure, so we had to try it all. We also sampled skewers of grilled beef called kafta kabobs.
We sat at one of the tables in the tent and began eating. Traditional music played and some wonderful dancers entertained the crowd. The performers wore wonderful costumes and sometimes held fans and fabric which they used to dazzle the festival goers. No better way to enjoy a Food Adventure with authentic Lebanese food than with authentic music and dancing. The Big Ragu learned some great dance moves that they intend to use at a future date.
After one of the dance performances ended, we walked over to a station where they were making flatbread with a machine. The sign said “Mountain Bread,” so we tried it. The Big Ragu loved this grilled flatbread topped with a nice garlic and sesame seed pesto like sauce and folded in half for easy eating.
Finally, The Big Ragu went for the dessert area. There were lots of baked goods that looked homemade. Most of them we had never seen before. Cookies called Mamool, Burma, Barazik and Ballourie. These traditional treats were great and featured varied items like dates and pistachio as ingredients.
All in all, the Lebanese Festival is yet another unique eating experience in the Miami Valley. It was wonderful to see the cultural displays, listen to traditional music and enjoy some Lebanese food. Make sure you catch this festival next year in August, 2013. It is one you do not want to miss !
Have you been to the Lebanese Festival? Please comment below on you experience.