TCMA Benefit Dinner at Gardens of Salonica

There was nothing dry or academic about the symposium held last Wednesday (March 23) at the Gardens of Salonica New Greek Café and Deli in Minneapolis. Chef and owner Anna Christopherides devotes the fourth Wednesday of each month to “Symposia. A Series.” Each edition of the series features a speaker and a special menu created by the chef. The spirit of the series can be found in the original meaning of the word symposium– a drinking party. But as Christopherides points out, the Greeks never drink without food, and apparently without conversation, and on this special occasion, dance and song, as well.

In celebration of Greek Independence Day (May 25) the Twin Cities Media Alliance, the Twin Cities best source for local independent news, was the guest for Symposia. A Series. VI. Although the weather on Wednesday was a disappointment—just as spring whispered, “I’m coming,” nearly a foot of snow blew in– an overflow crowd turned out to attend the event, a benefit for the TCMA.

Guests enjoyed a virtual tour of Greece, beginning with the briny flavors of Ta Nisia’, the Aegean Islands. Christopherides served tender grilled octopus, shrimp with feta, caviar mousse and fava bean dip. Between food courses, there was dancing by the Greek Dancers of Minnesota. The troupe’s director Dr. Angela Mortari introduced dances and costumes that originated, like the food, from various regions of Greece.

Tables were arranged along the edges of the room, family style, so that conversation flowed as easily as the wine. The salad course from central and western Greece included a classic Greek salad and Kolokithopita, winter squash in fillo. TCMA executive director Jeremy Iggers thanked the crowd for their support and introduced Twin Cities Daily Planet editors Mary Turck and Jay Gabler, as well as board members and neighborhood correspondents.

The dancing continued through the Macedonia-inspired entrees. Alaskan cod was served with garlic sauce and olives. Parchment packets were opened at the table to reveal a steaming bundle of lamb with feta and vegetables.

Crete was the final stop; diners could only close their eyes and imagine the sweet golden, apple-shaped quince that went into the syrup drizzled over the semolina cream in fillo. Small cups of thick, sweet Greek coffee were served while special guest Niki Stavrou, owner of Victor’s 1959 Cafe, stood up and sang a cappella, songs from her Greek childhood. Who could mind the snow on such a heartwarming evening?

The entire event is available in podcast thanks to iDream TV. Click on this link:

The next edition of Symposia will feature poet Mary Jo Thompson on April 27. For more information, visit

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