The Oldest Festival in Austin + Mediterranean Recipes

Mediterrean Festival Food_Shish Kebab with Red Wine PairingI thought we should all start this day off by remembering the time that I noshed a chicken shish kebab from Phoenicia Bakery topped with lots of creamy tatziki like it was my job. My job. Yes! I love Mediterranean food! Maybe you remember that Lebanese dinner party!?! So fun. Or the greek gyro? Or the time my friend taught us to make lamb dolmas? Or the time I nailed a good homemade recipe for Grandma’s Hummus, yes THAT one! I love the freshness and herby goodness that often comes with Mediterranean food! In case you are as into this kind of food as I am, this weekend is the 83rd St. Elias Mediterranean Festival! You heard right that would make this the longest running festival in Austin. In town that loves it’s festivals, I think this one should get a little more recognition! So here I am to tell you about it!

I met up with Sandra Spalding from Twin Liquors earlier this week and she gave me a great tip for pairing food and wine at the festival this weekend, her favorite is a salty savory shish kebab, usually served with cooling yogurt pairs wonderfully with the full bodied elegant reds of Lebanon, specifically the Ixsir Red! Needless to say, I tried it out last night and indeed it’s delicious in case you were wondering!Mediterrean Festival Food_Baba Ghanouj

Also, I may have spoken just a liiiiiiitle too soon when I said the other day that I don’t often get take out. I don’t really but this week caught up to me and I totally picked some food on my way home. No guilt here but it reminded me that I wanted to share with you one of my go-to spots, Phoenicia! It’s been around as long I have been in Austin and a few years ago I stopped by and discovered it greatness! Tons of hard to find items plus a super yummy bakery and deli counter. I love their tatziki, harissa and tabouleh! From the deli I really, really liked the chicken kebab I had last night. Needless to say, if you’re ever wanting something fresh and quick, this is great place to get it at! No, no one paid me to say this, I’m just genuinely obsessed and wanted to share!

And not to worry, if you can’t jump over to Phoenicia or the festival this weekend, I’ve listed some recipes below to get ya through!Mediterrean Festival Food_Make Grandma's Hummus at Home


Baba Ghanouj Recipe from Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen


3-5 medium eggplants (3 lbs)

5 table spoons Tahini paste

Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 table spoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)


  1. Roast the eggplants in the oven at 365 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  2. While eggplants are still hot (not too hot so you don’t burn your hands), peel them and discard the seeds.
  3. Strain the water from the eggplants by placing them on a colander for about 10 minutes. This step is important so you don’t get a liquid Baba Ghannouj. I did this with a mesh strainer, a cheese cloth would work too!
  4. Add eggplants and all ingredients in a food processor and let run for 2-3 minutes until you get a paste.
  5. Place into a serving dish and top with paprika and parsley, serve with olives or pita bread to share!


Homemade Grandma’s Hummus from Garlicky Hummus with Tahini


3 (15 ounce) cans of Chickpeas
1 ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice- Must be fresh!
4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of tahini paste
3/4 tablespoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of kosher salt


  1. Start by peeling the skins off the chickpeas. This isn’t totally  necessary but if you want really smooth hummus it is.
  2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, reserving one tablespoon of olive oil and some paprika.
  3. Whisk additional olive oil and paprika together and drizzle on top.
  4. Serve with veggies or anything you can dip!





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Natalie Paramore

The places I go, the things I do and what I eat.



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