Eat Mideastern favorites this weekend

In the mood for some Middle Eastern fare this weekend? (Oct 22/23) I have a couple options.

The first one is an annual event, so you only have Saturday in which to attend. The Armenian Food Festival takes place at St. James Church in Midtown from 11am to 8pm. While Armenia does not fall in the Middle East, the foods have merged and reflected the influence of Armenian resettlement communities, namely Persia and Lebanon.

The Festival is a great party bringing together the greater Sacramento community.  Armenians (Hyes) have lived in Sacramento since 1919 when the first residents fleeing the 1915 Genocide arrived. Today over half of the world's 11 millionArmenians live in diaspora, outside the Republic of Armenia. The Armenian Food Fest introduces the community to the contributions of the growing American-Armenian community in Sacramento.

Many of the colorful cuisines featured at the St. James Armenian Food Festival originated and matured in Constantinople (Instanbul) where Armenians had a viable community life during the Byzantine Period. 

DateOctober 22, 2016
Time11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Trinity Cathedral Great Hall, 2620 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95816
Admission: Free until 5 p.m. After 5 p.m.: $5 General/$2 Seniors/Free for children under 12
Menu: Traditional Armenian foods including shish kebab, pilaf, kufta, lamajhoon, yalanchi, kadif, bourma and more.

The second one is Kasbah on J Street. Kasbah is the hookah lounge located across from Tapa the World. Formerly owned by the same owners as Tapa, it was bought by employees Debbie Chang and Tanya Azar, who have tweaked the menus. 

The food reflects the flavors of the Mediterranean, utilizing spices and flavors of the Middle East and North Africa, and lending themselves to sharing and socializing. You can toast with Kasbah's selection of worldly cocktails and beverages such as BrazilianCaipirinhas, Lebanese wines and a selection of beers from around the world.

Inside there are comfy cushion banks akin to floor seating in the Mideast, or choose regular table dining. 

If you want, you can choose to enjoy smoking a hookah out on the patio. On weekends you can enjoy the dancing of talented belly dancers.

Being a non-drinker, I tried the virgin version of their Moroccan lemonade made with pomegranate juice and fresh mint. (Drinkers can have it with the Gruven Polish vodka.)

At a media event we enjoyed an array of small bites, including hummus, baba ganouj, grilled veggie kabobs, and kefta tagine meatballs. Everything had an abundance of flavor from the adept use of spices. 

The one worrisome bite was the stuffed dates. They are stuffed with chorizo and blue cheese and then battered and deep fried. In all my years eating Mideastern food, that's a new one for me. While I get the need to kinda bind the whole thing together for cooking, I'd rather forgo the batter and roast them in an oven instead.

That aside, we had an enjoyable time and at Kasbah, finishing off with fresh made baklava.