Here it is again – the annual bazaar roundup – our report on the best eating at area ethnic churches during the holiday season.
This year, we have discovered four new ones, so this article is all new from last year’s – although we did revisit a few. The Finnish Bazaar at the River Road Unitarian Church, and the Christian Academy‘s bazaar were both as good as last year.
We added one Nordic to the role: the Julemarked, or Norwegian Christmas Fair, at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Bethesda. It was held on Friday as well as Saturday – great scheduling for a bazaar junkie!
One large room was lined with tables selling Norwegian packaged food, gifts, and decorations. The laid-back vibe was a refreshing change from the large Nordics with big crowds. Although the choice of Smorbrod was limited to three, two of them were our favorites, shrimp and salmon. A small selection of sweets was complemented by a separate bake table, and waffles made to order.
And then there was Solo, a bottled drink which, if you grew up in Norway, I guess you are glad to see. Being curious, we snagged the last bottle on sale. It was room temperature with no ice available (which none of the Norwegians enjoying it seemed to mind.) I think next year, we will leave it to the natives.
The St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church held a yard sale, barbecue and traditional food event – three of my favorite things rolled into one. The huge cooker trailing a plume of fragrant smoke lured us into the church activity building, where we encountered a dilemma.
Should we go totally with the Serbian food, or try the chicken barbecue as well? The cheerful servers explained that the cevapcici, chopped and seasoned meat cylinders, were so popular they sold out at the Serbian Festival (held the first Saturday in October, an event I will certainly try to attend next year).
We resolved the issue by ordering one plate of each. The chicken was as good as the sight of that cooker had led us to expect, and the cevapcici were just as savory, and more exotic.
On December 5th, we scored a main course at one bazaar, and dessert at another. The International French Bazaar at the Wesley Theological Seminary was another laid-back scene, with the food area tucked away behind a room filled with opportunities to resolve your holiday gift list.
It presented another quandary for food selection: two facing tables, one filled with the components of traditional choucroute and boeuf bourguignon, the other with a bounty of exotic African cuisine choices.
We resolved it, guess how? That’s right, one plate of each.
Even though we couldn’t identify all the components of the African plate, it was more interesting than the choucroute; and, not surprisingly, some bits were better than others. Next year, we know what we’re ordering!
There was a table of light fare, if you didn’t feel like a big meal – quiche, pate, and salad. Also, a sweets table, but we had other plans for dessert.
Just down the road, the Soorp Khatch Church was hosting their Armenian Dessert Festival. Another big room, more tables spread with delicious things to eat, this time all sweet. Five kinds of kedayif (shredded dough stuffed with ricotta, pistachios, and other goodies), baklava, raised-dough pastries, and Armenian coffee were on offer.
Our only regret was being rather full from our visit to France. No worries, they boxed some up for us to take home.
That’s the holiday bazaar roundup for this year. Happy New Year, everyone! Enjoy eating in 2016!