This Sunday marks Greek Easter, Greece's most important religious holiday. The holiday comes after a 40-day fast, in which Greeks mainly give up meat and oil -- both major staples of their cuisine.
So when they do break their fast, it's an all-day affair, with the main meal of the day being meat -- usually lamb -- slow-roasted on a spit.
Luckily, you can partake of this tradition here in New York. Thanks to a special permit, executive chef Maria Loi will be hosting an outdoor spitfire lamb roast at her restaurant Loi from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday; she will then serve the meat all day on a special prix fixe menu. The Upper West Side establishment will also serve salmon, chicken and traditional Easter treats like the magiritsa soup, tsoureki and red eggs.
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"Easter is a day of giving," Loi says. As people traditionally gather with their friends and family, "you give love and you give food," she said.
On the Tuesday before Greek Easter, women traditionally bake dessert biscuits called "koulourakia." On the Thursday before the holiday, they dye eggs red, to symbolize the blood of Christ, as well as make the traditional Easter bread known as "tsoureki." Then after church on Saturday, around midnight, people gather at each other's houses to feast on "magiritsa," a soup consisting of lamb intestines and vegetables.
Play the traditional game of egg-cracking. Hold the hard-boiled egg in your palm, as your opponent does the same. Hit the two eggs together, and whoever’s does not crack will have a year of good luck.
Loi said to choose your egg wisely and to go for the shiniest egg offered.
Where to go
208 W. 70th St, 212- 875-8600
Loi got a special permit and will be the only restaurant in New York to cook lamb on a spit.
871 Seventh Ave.
At Molyvos, executive chef and partner Jim Botsacos will celebrate Orthodox Easter with holiday favorites including slow roasted Vermont baby lamb, magiritsa soup as well as galaktoboureko, a semolina custard wrapped in phyllo with citrus syrup for $65 per person.
19 W. 44th St., 212-221-0144
Executive Chef Gregory Zapantis is following the tried and true menu of magiritsa soup, salad with fresh scallions and a feta cheese dressing, baby lamb with lemon roasted tomatoes as well as tsoureki bread.
505 Columbus Ave.
For $38.95, diners can feast on a four-course meal with options such as magiritsa, roasted leg of lamb, braised lamb shank and walnut cake, among others.