Nikki Nezeritis, of Grosse Pointe Woods, enjoys Greek fare on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church during last year’s Opa! Fest.

Nikki Nezeritis, of Grosse Pointe Woods, enjoys Greek fare on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church during last year’s Opa! Fest.

File photo by Donna Agusti


Opa! Fest explores Mediterranean diet

Bone marrow drive to support 9-month-old

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 12, 2018

 Demo Renieris, from Sterling Heights, tends the chicken on the grill, as he said he has done for the last 10 years, at Opa! Fest last year.

Demo Renieris, from Sterling Heights, tends the chicken on the grill, as he said he has done for the last 10 years, at Opa! Fest last year.

File photo by Donna Agusti

TROY — Hankering for the Greek isles? 

Hundreds of volunteers will bring the tastes, sounds and sights of Greece to the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Troy during Opa! Fest June 22-24. 

There will be a number of cooking demonstrations throughout the festival. 

Clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas — a Greek chef from Los Angeles and the author of “Wild Mediterranean: The Age-old, Science-new Plan for a Healthy Gut, with Food You Can Trust” — will demonstrate recipes from her cookbook during Opa! Fest. 

These include baklava butter served on toast and topped with figs, rosemary meatballs, and black-eyed peas with grilled peaches. 

Her cookbook will also be available at the festival. 

“Food is what brings people together of all cultures to our Greek family,” Metsovas said. She said she plans to visit Eastern Market in Detroit during her visit. 

She said a Mediterranean, plant-based diet is good for gut health. 

“It’s been proven for hundreds of years to work, and you can find the ingredients in grocery stores.” 

Her mission is “to make the Mediterranean diet more visible. When I start talking about the simplicity of foods, people’s eyes light up. The body feeds off simple ingredients that are nutritious.” 

 Many of her dishes feature fresh olive oil. 

“You don’t want to cook it at a high temperature,” she said. 

The secret to digestive health is “vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables,” Metsovas said. “If there was a magic pill for gut health, I would be selling it. The gut feeds off plant fiber. That’s most important — consuming vegetables, not taking a probiotic.” 

Festival volunteer Kessie Kaltsounis is coordinating a bone marrow drive on-site during the festival. All who give a cheek swab will be placed in a bone marrow registry with the hope that there will be a match for Elias Argirokastritis, 9 months old, of Shelby Township. 

He was diagnosed with nuclear factor-kappa B essential modulator deficiency syndrome, or NEMO, a rare immunodeficiency disease, after he was born. He takes infusions for his immune system once a week for six to eight hours at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. 

“He has no immune system,” Kaltsounis said. 

The disease affects only boys, and Argirokastritis is the 22nd case registered in the U.S. Immunodeficiency Network. 

Participants in the bone marrow drive must be between 18 and 55 years old and will be asked to provide a cheek swab, and participants must be between 18 and 44 to be a match for “Baby Elias.” There is no charge to provide a cheek swab. 

The bone marrow drive will be held 4-9 p.m. June 22, 4-9 p.m. June 23 and noon-7 p.m. June 24. Call (248) 318-6334 for more information. 

Opa! Fest will feature folk music, dancing, the Plaka Marketplace — with authentic Greek merchandise and a bookstore — a wine tasting, children’s games and rides, and food to eat on the grounds and to take home. There will be formal, guided tours of the church and its iconography. A program playing in the vestibule of the church will explain the tenets of the Greek Orthodox faith. 

Children will perform traditional Greek dances throughout the festival. 

Volunteers make all of the traditional Greek food, including gyros, which are seasoned lamb and beef, thin-sliced from a vertical rotisserie; chicken kebobs; spanakopita, which are spinach and feta cheese fillings in paper-thin phyllo dough; and pastitsio, which is layered pasta and ground sirloin and cheese, topped with creamy béchamel sauce.

A variety of authentic homemade Greek pastries will be available for purchase, including baklava, sesame cookies and much more.

“It brings joy to the community,” said the Rev. Stratton Dorozenski, pastor of St. Nick’s. “We love sharing our faith and culture with the community at large.” 

He said the highlights of the festival are the food, the music and the children dancing. 

“Also, people coming into our beautiful church to pray.” 

He said new food items this year include a lamb shank dinner, spinach and cheese pies, and Greek meatballs. 

“We have our bands. We have our dancers,” Dorozenski said. “It’s a great family afternoon or evening.” 

The 25th annual Opa! Fest will be held on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 760 W. Wattles Road, between Crooks and Livernois roads, 4-11 p.m. June 22, 4-11 p.m. June 23 and noon-8 p.m. June 24. 

General admission costs $2, and children younger than 12 will be admitted for free. Free admission will also be granted in exchange for three cans of food to benefit Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan. 

For more information, call (248) 894-4447 or visit www.opa fest.org. 

Free parking and a shuttle service will be available from Walsh College, 3838 Livernois Road, south of Wattles Road. Handicapped parking will be available at St. Nicholas.