"We only get this once a year," said the fellow at the next table, playing the part of a favorite uncle at a family dinner.
He was speaking more in gratitude than in complaint about the Armenian home cooking, prepared and served by a dozen or so ladies who bustled about the church kitchen. Pictured above and, in most cases, below: kufté ($3.75), a "meatball" of onion, parsley, peppers, and lamb in a lamb-and-bulghur shell; the meat-topped Levantine flatbread lahmajoon ($2); eech ($2), a chopped salad featuring bulghur, tomato, and scallion, a cousin to Middle Eastern tabouleh; a boreg ($2) made of flaky filo and filled with warm salty cheese; and keshkeg, also known as herisah, a thick soup often made with whole wheat kernels. This keshkeg featured barley and, I believe, little bits of lamb.
Also shown below: a khavourma dinner ($18), named for those slabs of fork-tender braised beef, with a wedge of bread (dunked in some cookpot or other), baked quince (firmer and less fruity than apple), and bulghur pilaf (ribboned with noodles). At bottom, three desserts (about $2 each) with similar flavor profiles but different textures: bourma, baklava, and khadayif; milk pudding ($2) on a bread-pudding base.
Holy Cross Armenian Church food festival and bazaar
318 27th St. (at Bergenline Ave.), Union City, New Jersey
Late October/early November (the 2013 food festival was held on November 2)