All words: Riley Croghan
All photos: Franz Mahr
Our website analytics assure us that 76 percent of you reading this article have calendars with Sundays blocked off for brunch between now and the year you plan to die, and maybe a few years after that, too. Sunday is a holy day indeed. This Sunday also happens to be Easter, in both the Western and Greek traditions, so be sure that when you order eggs you take a second to pat yourself on the back for staying on-theme. This year, you’ll find me celebrating Greek Easter the way I always celebrate things—with copious amounts of food—at Zaytinya. At a recent menu preview, my photographer and I sampled some of the always-on-point dishes whipped up by Head Chef Michael Costa that will be appearing on the Greek Easter Festival menu from April 20 through May 3rd.
As you can expect, there’s really no small plate you’d ever want to avoid at any of Jose Andres’s family of restaurants, and this year’s crop of dishes live up to the hype. There are three takes on avgolemono—a traditional Greek soup consisting of egg, lemon, and broth—one married with salty-savory lamb neck, lamb liver, and pearl onions; another featuring spit-roasted lamb, feta, and a fluffed-egg version of the avgolemono; the last featuring lobster and livened up with hash brown and a tomato-infused avgolemono sauce. All are equally stunning, though the spit-roasted lamb ekes by through a small margin as my favorite.
One of the creations that Costa spoke most lovingly of is also one of the simplest—and tastiest– on the menu. His Kacamak is a take on the traditional Turkish porridge with poached eggs and a spicy beef sausage, soujouk. Traditionally, the light but flavorful meal is consumed at beginning of Easter, to ease the system from several weeks without meat into the deliciously meat-heavy Easter celebrations to come.
Of course it wouldn’t be Greek Easter without Zaytinya’s Loukamades, or in simpler terms light crispy fritters in honey-lemon syrup, or in even simpler terms, heaven. It’d be great to pair with either of the two drinks I sampled, one a non-alcoholic cinnamon-sweet baklava soda, or the mellow yiayia, a rye based drink dreamed up by mixologist Juan Coronado, which contains all the basic ingredients of a Greek cinnamon cookie (which, naturally, was paired with the drink the night I tried it).
For now, back to your regularly scheduled Easter food porn: