Gyro, Ouzo, Dance: Long Beach Greek Festival

The "By the Sea" celebration turns 65 in 2014.

OCEAN BREEZES: Given that so much of Greece is not too far from the ocean -- we're thinking of all of that lovely coastline and those poster-ready harbors -- it feels fitting when a Greek festival gets the location, or rather the setting, pretty darn close to the country in question. Long Beach is a few thousand miles from Greece, give or take, but its long-running Greek Festival summons the ocean-y, brine-perfect sort of breezes and soft air that one might find on Mykonos or Corfu. Does it transport the revelers of LBC across the planet? Perhaps, but the food served and the things to do do a pretty fine job in the magically transporting department (at least magically transporting when it comes to their hearts and minds). The festival's 65th opah! gets moving from Saturday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 1, at Assumption of Blessed Virgin.

BEGIN WITH BAKLAVA: We know, we know... everyone waits for the end of the day to go in search of a baklava square, but we say pop one in your mouth, from the get-go, to get that sweet-melty-pistachio-y phyllo crumble going on early (one can never start the sugary phyllo foodstuffs too soon in the day). Other dishes include tyropita (feta cheese fans, you love this one), pastitisio (indeed, this is the dish rocking the macaroni and beef), and shish kabobs aplenty. And if you need another dessert, after the dessert you started it all with, return to the pastry tables and pick the koulorakia, those "traditional Greek cookies." If fests were made for anything, they were made for strolling, and cookie-enjoying. Or ouzo (which is on the pour during the weekend, too, for the grown-ups).

DANCING... cooking, more dancing, travel films, and other go-to-Greece-for-a-few-hours ways to engage are part of the three-dayer. As is that ocean feel, given that the Mediterranean -- we mean the Pacific -- is only a couple of blocks away.

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