Greeking Out Over the Holidays

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Greeking Out Over the Holidays

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The festive few weeks of the holiday season provide time with family, an aura of relaxation, and many presents, but what will you provide? Many adults bring dishes made from complex recipes to holiday gatherings. And with seven hours of school a day, plus additional extracurricular activities and homework, unless you are Chef Gordon Ramsay, this does not seem practical.

Delaney Gray (‘19) explains the difficulty of trying to provide food for the holidays in her hectic schedule. “I would like to bake but I just don’t have the time or resources. Personally, I believe it would be easier and less time consuming to go out and buy food that is already baked. After school, I am always doing sports and homework and baking takes longer than the time I have. It is not that it’s hard to bake; I just don’t want to.”

With a crunched time schedule, buying baked goods is the easier option for most high school students. Rather than routinely getting Publix chocolate chip cookies, local bakeries provide delectable options for your holiday table.

Naomi Herman (‘19) provides a unique tradition for the holiday season. Herman explains, “every year for the holidays, each family member contributes something different. For Thanksgiving, my grandma comes in town every year and bakes with me so we always provide the desserts. We have worked out a system so the holidays have almost become a routine.”

The tradition of using Grandma’s assistance when baking is not limited to the Herman household. Jackie Biles, owner of Ya Ya Sweets on San Jose, learned to bake in her Ya Ya’s (Greek term for Grandma) kitchen. Biles refers to her roots, “my Ya Ya taught me from childhood how to make the pastries, breads and the savory items. The baklava goes back to Greece… it’s her recipe. I try to keep all family recipes “tried and true”!”

Biles keeps her Ya Ya’s recipe alive in her bakery located approximately four minutes from the San Jose campus.

Ya Ya Sweets makes an array of food ranging from savory traditional Greek plates to Greek sweets and wedding cakes. Biles lists the range of food available on the menu. “Because we’re primarily a Greek bakery, we have Greek pastries and the most popular items are our baklava, chocolate and chocolate raspberry! We make Pastisio which is a Greek lasagna rich with special herbs, Spanakopita, better known as a spinach pie with feta cheese: a savory favorite with our customers. We also offer breakfast sandwiches for those early birds that need a quick breakfast bite on the way to work.”

For the holidays, homemade pies and cakes are made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Biles highly recommends the lattice pies in apple or pear, as well as the sweet potato pie, cheesecakes and holiday cookies. She discloses, “If you haven’t tried it, you’re definitely missing out.”

The most famous baked good? The chocolate raspberry baklava. Biles reveals, “the chocolate raspberry baklava is a movie star.”

The baklava is so delicious it caught the eye of host Ali Khan from Cheap Eats.

“Who doesn’t love food like their grandma makes? But when it is Greek pastries made by your Ya Ya… yes please!” Khan exclaims standing in front of Ya Ya Bakery adorning his teal Wayfarer style sunglasses and contagious smile. “A one of a kind pastry shop in the Jax area, Ya Ya Sweets packs in locals looking for a taste of the sweeter side of Greece.”

When purchasing baked goods from Ya Ya Sweets, Biles recommends ordering a week in advance. Biles continues, “however we have plenty on hand for those last minute shoppers.”

Those at Ya Ya’s Sweets understand orders can be requested last second as well, as Biles proceeds, “we’ve made wedding cakes overnight! Yes, overnight.”

If you are looking for a way to provide for holiday gatherings try out local bakeries such as YaYa Sweets and add a new tradition to the holiday festivities in your family.

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