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Zaytinya's Greek Easter Agorá And Baklava Couture

April 2016

Plenty of amazing Greek and Mediterranean vendors come to Zaytinya’s Agorá Greek Easter Market every year. But Katerina Georgallas’s Baklava Couture from Kensington, Maryland, is arguably a fan favorite. Georgallas built her business bit by bit, starting with sales at FRESHFARM farmers’ markets and eventually opening up her own store. Ahead of this year’s Agorá (Saturday, April 30, 11:30AM-4PM at Zaytinya), she talks Greek Easter traditions and a José favorite.

Q. Tell us about Greek Easter traditions – what are some typical baked goods you might find for this holiday?

A. Before Greek Easter, most Greeks do a 40-day fast. It works out to be a largely vegan diet, which makes it a little different from Western Easter where a person might choose to give up one or two things for 40 days.

A. There’s a traditional type of Greek Easter cookie called Koulourakia (pictured). It’s a twisted, braided butter cookie and it’s considered an Easter staple because it has all the stuff that you can’t eat for 40 days! At Baklava Couture we make Koulourakia cookies year-round and we will definitely have them at Agorá. There’s also an Easter bread called Tsoureki. It’s braided and it contains a red dyed egg in the center, which is very symbolic in Greek tradition. We’re taking preorders for this bread. [Order online here.]

Q. What do you love about coming to Zaytinya for Agorá?

A. I think when people know there’s going to be an event with Greek food and drinks and music, it’s going to be a good time. Greek gatherings are always full of food and full of stories- it’s a different energy, though to me it’s just how I grew up. This will be our third year coming to Agorá, and I really appreciate the warmth from Chef Michael Costa and all the Zaytinya staff. It’s just a really great crowd.

Q. You make a variety of baked goods, both savory and sweet. What are some of your favorites?

A. We make a smoked salt dark chocolate walnut baklava that I really enjoy. We source a beautiful bourbon barrel smoked salt from husband-and-wife salt farmers in South Carolina.

And José Andrés really likes our semolina cakes (pictured). Semolina is a coarse-ground wheat-based flour with a fine, sandy texture like cream of wheat. When you bake with it, you get a cake that’s a little crumbly, with a fine pearl-like texture. When it’s drizzled with honey syrup you get a moist buttery cake. We make the cake with and without walnuts. Our recipe has been in my family for four or five generations.

Read more about Georgallas’ story and Baklava Couture at the Washington Post.

(All images by Violetta Markelou)