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Contents
ISSUE 5 WINTER-SPRING 2007
Letter from the President of HEPO 4
Letter from the CEO of HEPO 5
Kerasma Places, Kerasma Faces 6
Letter from the Editor 9
Groves of Plenty: Greek Citrus Fruits 11
By Diane Shugart
Food for Life: Lessons from the Monastery Kitchen 17
By Georgia Kofinas
Kerasma Monastery Recipes 24
Gorgeous Graviera Cheese 31
By Diana Farr Louis
Rustic Delicacies: Greek Artisan Delights 37
By Epicurus
Sweet Success: World Class Greek Dessert Wines 44
By Konstantinos Lazarakis
Eating Around Macedonia 53
By Diana Farr Louis
Kerasma Macedonia Recipes 62
Bring on the Sauce 67
By Dimitris Andonopoulos
Coffee Time 74
By D. Kochilas
Kerasma: Treat Your Taste with Great Recipes for Rustic Delicacies, 77
Graviera, Citrus, Sweet Wines, and More
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 3
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF HEPO
Kerasma, as the vehicle via which Greek gastronomy and Greek food products are
amassing a recognizable identity across the globe, has traveled far and wide and
with notable results. A plethora of new chefs, trained in classic Greek cuisine, are
creating superb, unique, seductive dishes with broad appeal. Greek cuisine has
something new to offer foreign chefs, too: the marriage of health and flavor, which
is the basis of all our dishes, old and new. At the heart of Greek cuisine is the inter-
nationally acknowledged Cretan diet, one of the most healthful on the planet.
Perhaps then its no surprise that 25 Manhattan restaurantsGreek and non-
Greekwere inspired enough by our cuisine to take part last fall in a Greek culinary
festival, highlighting Greek ingredients in an array of new dishes, appetizing, deli-
cious creations derived from the basic ingredients that have always been part of
the Greek kitchen.
Today, in a western world plagued by obesity, the direct result of poor dietary
habits, Greek treatsKerasmaoffers a viable solution. Not only does our food
taste good, its very good for you. There is a never-ending litany of publish research
on the health benefits of olive oil and on the health benefits of many of the other
basic elements of Greek cuisine, all of which we highlight in the
GreekGourmetraveler.
In this issue, for example, were serving forth a menu of places and foods that long
have been known and revered, from the variegated, rich agricultural landscape of
Macedonia to the sweet wines for which Greece has been renowned since antiqui-
ty. Look, too, for our playful piece on coffee and the array of small plates, sweet
and savory, that Greeks enjoy with a cup of brew at all hours of the day.
Were thankful, too, for all the communication weve received from readers and par-
ticipants in the Kerasma programs. I want to reiterate that we are at your disposal
to answer any questions you might have regarding Greek products, their distribu-
tion and availability. After all, Greeks have always communicated via food and
wine, and we value our contact with you.
Panagiotis I. Papastavrou
President
HEPO
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 4
LETTER FROM THE CEO OF HEPO
Restaurant festivals, international conferences, trade shows around the
worldHEPO is initiating and participating in a whole host of events in the com-
ing months, all as part of the effort to spread our Kerasma campaign of Greek
treats, Greek lifestyle, and Greek healthy traditions across the globe. Weve never
been so busy.
After the tremendous learning experience and success of our 2006 Taste of Greece
in New York City, a campaign to promote Greek-inspired dishes in 25 of
Manhattans top Greek and non-Greek restaurants, we decided to expand the arena
this year, by embracing American restaurants at three different levels. First, by
paying homage to the heart and soulor, I might say hearth and soulof Greek
America, were planning a springtime festival in Astoria, where the famous Greek
neighborhoods 20-plus restaurants and retail outlets will promote the best of the
best of Greek regional and specialty food items. Well publish a restaurant guide to
the area for residents and visitors alike to access and well offer a range of trips to
Greece, lottery style, for visitors who dine at any one of the participating bastions
of traditional Greek cuisine.
Our Greek heart is just the beginning, though. Were planning to take a little Greek
summer sun to Manhattan once again, by hosting a citywide restaurant feast in
the citys best-known Greek and non-Greek high-end restaurants. Look for sunny
Greek skies and fresh Greek flavors on New York plates in July.
True to our wanderers spirits, were venturing further afield, to Greek and
Mediterranean restaurants in key cities all over the United States, all in our contin-
ued effort to promote the delicious culinary treats of Greece and encourage
American consumers to sip a glass of Greek wines and spirits with a plate of ele-
gant Greek fare. Look for the Taste of Greece feast in Chicago, Boston, Washington,
D.C., San Francisco and Atlanta.
HEPO, always under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance, is
also planning a second Kerasma Conference, like the unique one we held last
March for over 50 foreign food and beverage professionals and journalists. This
year, health, cuisine, and lifestyle are key elements, and were heading to the two
Aegean islands that best exemplify that trinity: Crete, home to some of the coun-
trys best olive oils as well as birthplace of the Cretan Diet; and Santorini, with its
stunning vistas, volcanic mysteries and excellent wines.
So, please, join us as we wander and extend a hand filled with Kerasma treats for
all. Greece appeals to every one of the five senses, but also to the basic human sen-
sibility of eating not only deliciously but well.
Panagiotis Drossos
CEO
HEPO
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 6
Kerasma Faces
Kerasma Places
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8 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
WINTER-SPRING
2007
O5
GreekGourmetraveler
Greek Food, Wine & Travel Magazine
Editor-in-Chief
Diane Kochilas
Art Director & Designer
k2design
HEPO Liaison
Anastasia Garyfallou
Contributors
Dimitris Andonopoulos, Epicurus, Georgia Kofinas,
Konstantinos Lazarakis, Diana Farr Louis, Diane
Shugart
Contributing Chefs
Yiannis Baxevannis, Lefteris Lazarou, Stelios
Parliaros, Christoforos Peskias, Kostas Vassalos
Photography
Nikos Bagdinoudis, Christos Dimitriou, Yiorgos
Dracopoulos, Constantine Pittas, Vassilis Stenos
Food Styling
Dawn Brown, Tina Webb
Printing
Red Line
G. Kossyfologos & Associates A.E.
87 Byzantiou Street, Nea Ionia 142 34
ISSN
1790-5990
Cover
Vassilis Stenos
Publisher
Hellenic Foreign Trade Board
Legal representative
Panagiotis Drossos, CEO
Marinou Antipa 86-88
Ilioupoli, 163 46 Athens, Greece
Tel: 00 30 210 998 2100
Fax: 00 30 210 996 9100
http://www.hepo.gr
http://www.kerasma.com
Information and subscription
GreekGourmetraveler, a publication of the Hellenic
Foreign Trade Board, promotes Greek cuisine, wine,
travel, and culture. The magazine is distributed free
of charge to food-, beverage-, wine-, and travel-
industry professionals.
If you wish to subscribe, visit our website at
www.hepo.gr or www.kerasma.com
Reproduction of articles and photographs
No articles, recipes, or photographs published in
the GreekGourmetraveler may be reprinted with-
out permission from the publisher. All rights
reserved. GreekGourmetravelerHellenic Foreign
Trade Board.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 8
9 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Although we've called this, our fifth, issue of the GreekGourmetraveler the winter-
spring 2007 issue, I like to think of it more definitively as the harbinger-of-spring
issue because some of the best food in the country is prepared in the transitional
period between March and June, when our next issue is due out.
For example, citrus fruits are still the luscious backdrop to so many Greek dishes at
this time of the year, and we highlight Greece's formidable citrus industry in an
informative article by veteran GGT writer Diane Shugart. Lent also takes place
now, in the long, cold days of March. While we haven't explored the Lenten table
per se, we did ask Georgia Koffinas, a cooking teacher and the wife of a Greek
Orthodox priest, to share her experiences in a life spent close to so many
monastery kitchens, where the most healthful Greek traditions still flourish. The
article explores a little-known aspect of Greece's culinary heritage and sheds light
on a cuisine that has so much to offer our harried, modern lifestyles.
In this issue, we also wanted to begin an exploration of Greek food beyond the
inspiring array of ingredients that are its heart, by looking past the pantry to the
actual techniques that define Greek cuisine. We start with sauces, the lode star of
every cuisine. In the Greek kitchen the sauce tradition differs radically from that of
the French, as Greek sauces are a marriage of flavors already in the pot, not a sepa-
rate entity to be used as an enhancement or accompaniment. In that light, one can
say we Greeks boast the first real infused sauces.
No issue is complete, of course, without its menu of varied epicurean pleasures,
among them the cheese course, served forth here by Diana Farr Louis, who writes
about graviera, one of our finest, nuttiest, most delicate cheeses; she also takes us
on a tour of Macedonia, with food as the ticket to ride. Our veteran wine master
Konstantinos Lazarakis pours forth more than a sip's worth of Greece's sweet nec-
tars, wines made from some of Europe's finest Muscat grapes as well as from other,
even older, indigenous Greek varietals. Finally, speaking for itself in a few laconic
pictures, is a steaming cup of ellinikos kafes-Greek coffee-which goes well, as you'll
see, with just about everything. We've even provided a quick how-to for making the
frothy, delicious brew.
As always, welcome to our Greek table and all its healthful, delicious dishes. Those,
of course, you'll find in the form of our consistent back-of-the-book digest of
Kerasma recipes-Greek treats-created by the country's top chefs.
Kali Orexi!
Diane Kochilas
Editor-in-Chief
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Groves
of Plenty
Greek Citrus Fruits
Looking back on my childhood trips to Greece in the late
1960s and early 70s, my most vivid memories are of food.
Even back then in southern California, where I grew up, food
came in shiny packages neatly arranged on supermarket
shelves. But in Greece, you could touch, and smell, and taste
everything fresh.
11 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Diane Shugart
Photography: Vassilis Stenos
Styling: Dawn Brown
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 11
I remember peering into dark vats
of olives at the local market in
Plaka, staring mesmerized as the
grocer hauled a chunk of feta from
the barrel to the marble counter. I
can still the aroma of steaming,
sweet pots of rice pudding at a
local taverna in the Plaka, where
we stayed, and the feeling of antic-
ipation as Latifis, the proprietor,
served the prized portion, the one
with the glistening yellow lemon
rind on top.
That particular memory has stayed
with me longest, maybe because it
was a practice that flew in the face
of what I have always been
advised, not to mix citrus with
dairy.
But in Greek cuisine, citrus is used
widely, and lemon, in fact, is the
most common flavoring for pud-
dings, custards, and creamy fill-
ings. From rice pudding, rizogalo in
Greek, to rich galaktoboureko, a cus-
tard-filled phyllo pastry, the place
of lemon is a given. In fact, Greek
cooks use lemons in an enormous
range of dishes, from sweets to
grilled meats to salads. Lemons,
like many citrus fruits, have flour-
ished in Greece for millennia.
MYTH, HISTORY, AND ORANGES
Citrus fruits are native to Asia but
were known to the Greeks since
antiquity. Mythologys famed gold-
en apples guarded by the
Hesperides may have been
oranges. Likewise, it may have
been orange juice that Alexander
the Great sought in his quest for
immortality by drinking the water
of the golden apples.
Though little information exists as
to when and how citrus fruits were
introduced into Greece, the coun-
try is now among Europes leading
producers of oranges, lemons, and,
to a lesser degree, grapefruits. The
range of citrus grown in Greece
includes kumquats, which are cul-
tivated on Corfu and closely identi-
fied with local cuisine; bergamots,
which are familiar to the rest of the
world as the flavoring in Earl Grey
tea but which Greeks use to make
one of the most intoxicating spoon
sweets; tangerines; and citrons,
which may have arrived in Greece
from Persia as the armies of
Alexander the Great returned.
Citron has found its home on the
Cycladic island of Naxos where it is
distilled into a potent liqueur simi-
lar to Limoncello. Also popular,
especially in marmalades and
spoon sweets, are bitter oranges,
or neratzia, and blood oranges,
12 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
The biggest segment
of orange cultivation
is the W. Navel vari-
ety, commonly
known as Merlin.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 12
which in Greece are especially suc-
culent.
WHERE THE CITRUS TREES GROW
According to George
Polychronakis, special advisor to
Incofruit, the Association of Greek
Fruit, Vegetable, and Juice
Exporters, citrus represents a sig-
nificant sector of fruit tree cultiva-
tion in terms of acreage, yield, and
gross value. Citrus cultivation is
extensive in western Greece and
Crete, but its heart is in the
Peloponnesos where it is part of
the arresting natural tableau
swaths of olive and citrus groves
framed by imposing mountains
and sparkling blue waters. In
spring and fall, along the route
from Corinth to Nafplion or
Epidaurus, the orange trees are
heavy with fruit. On the northern
coast of the Peloponnesos, right
across from the island of Poros, lies
one of the countrys natural won-
ders, the lemonodassos, or lemon
forest, where more than 30,000
lemon trees flourish.
According to Incofruit data, citrus
is cultivated on about 522,000
stremmata (130,500 acres);
oranges account for 70% of citrus
cultivation; lemons and tangerines
amount to 18% and 11%, respective-
ly. Oranges grow mainly in
Argolida, in the northern
Peloponnesos, while lemons grow
mainly around Corinth. Kumquats
are a specialty of Nymphes, on
Corfu, having been brought there
in the 1950s by an Englishman
named Merlin. Now, the island pro-
duces about 60 tons a year, most
of which go into making a bright
red liqueur, candied spoon sweets,
and marmalade. Citrons have
become a specialty of Naxos, but
also grow in Rethymnon, Crete,
and in Achaia, in the Peloponnesos.
ORANGES MOST OF THE YEAR
The biggest segment of orange
cultivation is the W. Navel variety,
commonly known as Merlin,
which, like the kumquat, was
brought to the country by a British
governor. There is a street named
after him in Athens fashionable
Kolonaki district. Navels are har-
vested from November through
March, says Polychronakis. The
next largest segment is the com-
mon variety, which is harvested
from December to March and sold
mainly as a juicing orange. About
30%roughly 300,000 tonsof
the common orange crop goes to
the formidable Greek juice indus-
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 13
try. The Valencia orange, is the next
largest crop, harvested from March
to September. The Navelina and
New Hall varieties, suitable for
both eating and juicing (although
the New Hall is not as succulent)
are harvested from October
through January. Between March
and June, Navel Late and Lane Late
varieties are in season.
Orange cultivation is staggered so
that fresh fruit is available for nine
out of 12 months. Lemons are avail-
able year-round, although the win-
ter fruit is superior. Tangerines and
grapefruits have shorter fresh-to-
market periods, mainly late
autumn to early spring.
In recent years, demand and pro-
duction of fresh fruit and juice have
increased both domestically and
internationally. In 2005/2006,
Greek orange production totaled
1,017,200 metric tons, a sharp
increase from the 765,200 metric
ton yield of orange crops in
2004/2005. Both years, exports
slightly surpassed domestic con-
sumption although the bulk of the
orange crop went to production,
14 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
CITRUS IN THE GREEK
KITCHEN
Its hard to think of a
Greek dish to which the
lemon doesnt lend its
scent, from succulent
roasted lamb, to offal,
salads, cooked vegeta-
bles, and the crowning
achievement of lemon in
the Greek kitchen,
avgolemono, the egg-
and-lemon sauce and
soup that is known all
over the world.
Citrus and Meat. Greek
cooks squeeze lemons
over almost every grilled
meat, from pork
sausages to char-grilled
steaks. It helps counter
the fat. Lemons are part
of the marinade in many
roasted meat dishes,
especially lamb and
goat. Even hamburgers
are doused with a
squeeze of lemon.
Lemon-roasted chicken
(with lemon-roasted
potatoes) are one of the
classics of Greek Sunday
meals.
Citrus and Fish. Here,
too, lemon, more than
any other citrus fruit,
plays a major role. One
of the most classic Greek
dishes is fish grilled
whole on the bone and
brushed with a marinade
of fresh lemon juice,
olive oil, and oregano.
Lemon goes over sword-
fish and shrimp bro-
chettes, into ceviche-
type marinated fresh
fish, especially young
anchovies.
Citrus in the Pot. From
soups to stew, whether
with meats, fish and
seafood, or vegetables,
legumes, and grains,
Oranges grow mainly in Argolida, in the
northern Peloponnesos, while lemons grow
mainly around Corinth.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 14
15 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
mainly to the juice industry.
Germany imports about a third of
the Greek orange crop, mainly for its
juice industry. Austria, Poland, and
the Czech Republic are also impor-
tant markets for Greek citrus fruits.
The industry is pushing toward
standardization of varietal shape,
size, color, and labeling, and grow-
ers are beginning to brand their
products either by region of origin
or variety.
While oranges and grapefruit have
a solid foothold in the exports mar-
ket, Greek lemons are consumed
almost exclusively domestically. In
2005-2006, 35,600 metric tons of
a total yield of 42,400 metric were
sold in markets as fresh fruit; just
80 metric tons went to processing
and 1,720 tons were exported.
The statistics reflect an interesting
trend, says an advertising execu-
tive who handles the account of a
major juice brand. Greeks show a
growing willingness to buy their
fruit, especially orange juice,
processed and packaged. But
lemons, even when used for juice,
are squeezed fresh.
Diane Shugart is a freelance journalist based in Athens
and editor of Odyssey Magazine.
citrus fruit a must.
Hearty bean soups are
flavored with a strip of
orange zest in Crete;
cooked greenshorta
are almost always served
with a wedge of lemon
and olive oil; octopus
and squid are frequently
enriched with oranges;
even spinach is some-
times flavored so.
Citrus in Sauces. The
most famous is the
avgolemono, a liaison of
lemon and eggs; but
lemon juice is also mixed
with flour and added to
certain vegetable stews,
especially artichokes and
celery root. Lemon is also
sometimes married with
tomato, at least in the
Peloponnesos, where
both grow profusely.
Lemons and oranges both
find their way into the
robust seasonings for all
sorts of olives in Greece.
Citrus and Sweets. Here,
citrus finds the most uses:
in custards and cream
desserts; in sorbets; in
nut-filled phyllo desserts
often tossed with a little
grated orange rind; in
cakes, like luscious Greek
lemon-yogurt cake; in
pastries and in spoon
sweets. There is a whole
range of preserved citrus
fruits (spoon sweets),
among them: small,
whole green bitter
oranges, orange rind,
grapefruit rind, bergamot
(one of the most fra-
grant); lemon (even
lemon blossoms), and bit-
ter orange rind. Lemon
and orange blossoms are
also distilled to make
blossom water, which is
used in baking. DK
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Food for Life
Tradition Flourishes
in the Monastery
Kitchen
Monastic cookery has a long history and monastery kitchens
have always beenand still arethe safeguards of traditional
Greek cuisine. Today, with so much conflict surrounding issues
of food and so many extremes, from hunger to excess, from
organic vs. genetically modified foods, and so much more, the
Greek monastery kitchen has much to teach the modern cook.
17 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Georgia Kofinas
Photography: Vassilis Stenos
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 17
First and foremost, in monastic
communities, eating together is an
act of love, and the monastic atti-
tude toward food is one of great
respect. Nothing is ever wasted.
Most monasteries are self-suffi-
cient and produce their own food
and wine. For the most part all
things produced are organic.
Hospitality is sacred, kitchen duty
is shared and fasting is a way of
life.
As the wife of a Greek Orthodox
priest, Ive visited countless monas-
teries. While each has its own rou-
tine, called the typico in Greek,
which is guided by the spiritual
father of the monastery, along with
the abbot or abbess, according to
the needs of the monastic commu-
nity, all monasteries follow the
same basic principles. Within these
principles the oldest traditions of
the Greek table still flourish.
COMMUNAL MEALS AND DAILY LIFE
Guests and monks gather together
at mealtimes but rarely eat at the
same table. Nonetheless, congre-
gating in the refectory is important
as it deepens the relationship
among the members and their visi-
tors through sharing food. There is
a lesson to be had in that for sure,
especially in this day and age of
quick bites on the run, conflicting
family schedules, and the general
loss of family meal time.
On Mount Athos, the bulwark of
Eastern Orthodox monasticism,
the 20 monasteries practice the
strictest ascetic order. Women
have not been allowed on the
mountain since a decree banning
them was issued by Byzantine
Emperor Constantine
Monomachos in 1060. After rising
very early for their individual
prayers and following the service of
Matins, the monks have their first
and main meal of the day. If its not
a fasting day, they eat fish and
dairy products right after the litur-
gy. For them breaking the fast
breakfastis a time of celebration.
In other monasteries, breakfast
consists of bread and rusks, butter,
cheese, olives, honey, marmalades,
fruit, and various cookies. During
strict fasting periods, no dairy
products or oil are consumed and
the diet is restricted to fresh and
dried
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Making rose petal jam at the Taxiarches
Monastery, Aigion, Peloponessos.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 18
fruits, nuts, rusks or bread, olives,
and tahini. Herbal teas are served
more often than coffee and are
usually gathered from the
monastery grounds and environs.
After the morning meal the monks
or nuns assume their assigned
duties, called diakonia. Some clean
and maintain the premises, while
others do chores that demonstrate
their individual talents, such as
iconography, handicrafts, garden-
ing, and farming. One of the heavi-
est chores is kitchen duty and in
larger monastic communities there
is more than one cook and kitchen
staff that rotates on a weekly
basis.
If the main meal of the day is
served around noon, then a lunch
bell summons the community
members to stop their work and
gather in the refectory. The abbot
or abbess sits at the head of the
table and gives the signal to begin
eating. Before drinking anything
with the meal, a small bell is
sounded and the abbot or abbess
gives a short blessing.
Vesper bells summon the commu-
nity members to attend the
evening service and afterwards
they usually take their last meal of
the day. If theres a liturgy the next
day during which the monks or
nuns will be taking communion,
then theres a small meal without
oil. When not fasting, leftovers
usually make up the evening meal,
so that nothing goes to waste.
Bedtime is early and monks are up
long before sunrise.
THE KITCHEN
Community spirit prevails in the
monastery kitchen as it does at the
monastery table. Tedious prepara-
tions such as cleaning freshly
picked greens or vegetables, sort-
ing rice or lentils, and making
spoon sweets or cookies, call for
everyones helping hand.
When the monastery is preparing
for its feast day, volunteers in the
kitchen help out and the atmos-
phere is a marked contrast to the
quiet asceticism of daily life.
Although idle talk and frivolous
activities are discouraged, much joy
pervades the monastery kitchen. It
is not unusual to see nuns raise the
sleeves of their black habits up to
their elbows while they work and
chatter about the days menu. In
19 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
In monasteries left-
overs usually make
up the evening meal,
so that nothing goes
to waste.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 19
the monastery where my husband
serves, the nuns favorite gathering
place is the kitchen; cooking is the
ultimate expression of love and
hospitality.
Preserving foods also takes up a
good deal of time in the kitchen of
most monasteries, for anything
left in the garden that cant be con-
sumed is pickled, frozen, or canned
to be used later in the year.
Wastefulness is considered a sin.
Tradition lives on as the older
members pass down tried-and-
true methods of preserving food
and special recipes to their younger
peers. I have flipped through many
frayed notebooks stashed away in
monastery kitchen drawers and
found cherished and often unique
recipes preserving all sorts of fruits
and vegetables.
FASTING
Both fasting and feasting govern
the dietary habits of a monastic
community. In Byzantium, monas-
tic communities and the laity
shared the same basic diet. As a
result, a rich variety of Lenten dish-
es evolved based on bread, vegeta-
bles, pulses, fish and seafood, olive
oil, and wine. Many of these dishes
still flourish on the traditional
Greek table.
There are four Lenten periods in
the liturgical calendar, and togeth-
er with every Wednesday and
Friday, these add up to about 180
days of the year. That means for
about half the year, monks and
nuns abstain from fish and dairy
products. On Wednesdays and
Fridays throughout the entire year
most monastic communities even
abstain from olive oil. This stricter
fast is referred to as xerophagia,
meaning consumption of dried
20 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Tending the vineyards at the Vatopaidi
Monastery in Mt. Athos.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:35 AM Page 20
foods, such as nuts, rusks, and
fresh and dried fruits. During
Lenten periods, seafood and
legumes are the main source of
protein, while vegetables and fruit
come to complete the nutritional
requirements of the community.
There is universal abstinence from
meat in the monastic tradition.
Fish and dairy are foods for cele-
brating major feast days.
All in all, the dietary cycle is
extremely healthy, characterized
by simplicity and punctuated by
long periods of fasting. Fasting is
not only a physical practice but
coupled with fervent prayer, to
express the Orthodox tradition
that the body and soul are one.
Even from a secular point of view,
fastingessentially detoxifying
from all animal productsis
extremely good for the body, espe-
cially in an era where so much of
what we eat is unhealthy and
unnatural.
FOOD, HOSPITALITY, AND INCOME
Upon visiting any monastery in
Greece, a visitor is invariably offered
something to eat and drink.
Typically, confections like loukoumi
and spoon sweets are offered, or
olives, dried fruits and nuts, tea, as
well as homemade soft drinks,
wine, and distillations. Many long
hours go into to the preparation of
these offerings and almost all come
from the monasterys grounds,
since most monastic communities
are self-sufficient.
Many of these products are also
sold and are both an important
source of income but also a good
mirror of the most time-honored,
traditional foods of Greece. For
example, monasteries customarily
produced their own wine for the
21 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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Georgia Kofina is the author of Sarakostiana, a book of Lenten recipes.
sacrament of Holy Communion.
Over time many monasteries
began to sell their wine so that
today wines from Mt. Athos, from
the Monastery of the Holy Trinity
of Jagarolon, Crete, and from the
Voutsa Monastery in Eastern
Zagori, Epirus, are among some of
the best-known in Greece.
Cheese, olives and olive oils, spoon
sweets, marmalades, and a whole
range of traditional pasta products
are among some of the typical
foods produced at monasteries and
sold as a means of income. Almost
all these products are organic.
At many monasteries, older, tradi-
tional varieties of Greek fruits and
vegetables, many of which have
been lost upon industrial farmers,
still flourish; others are beacons of
experimentation. At the Chrysopigi
Monastery, in Chania, Crete, for
example, the nuns cultivate 25 dif-
ferent avocado varieties, adapting
this non-Greek plant to Greek culi-
nary customs, serving it with olive
oil and lemon or with honey on the
strictest fasting days. Chrysopigi
also produces an award-winning
organic olive oil which is found
readily all over Greece, even at
duty-free shops. Other monaster-
ies, such as the Holy
Transfiguration Monastery in
Nafpaktos, make a full range array
of labeled food products which are
sold in small shops both locally and
in Athens. The monastery was also
the first to practice mariculture
and raises livestock as income.
One monastery, Tartanus in
Evrytania, counts a cookbook,
written by one of the monks,
Father Dositheos, among its
sources of income from things culi-
nary. It was published by the
monastery press and is found in
most bookstores. It is now in its
10th edition.
Although the monastic life is one
of simplicity and contemplation, it
is also one in which reverence
and thanks for natures bounty is
indelibly linked to the table.
Simplicity, frugality, respect for
food, honest preparations that
make use of everythingthese
have always been valued in the
Greek kitchen and to this day pro-
vide valuable lessons for how to
live in a harried world where so
much conflict revolves around
food. In the age-old traditions of
Greek monasteries, there is,
indeed, food for life.
22 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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24 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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Casserole - Poached Grouper
(from Father Dositheos, Holy Monastery of Tatarnus, Evrytania)
For 8 servings
5 pounds (2 kilos) whole grouper,
scaled, gutted, and cleaned
4 large onions, cut into thin slices
1 medium whole head of garlic,
separated into cloves
1 bunch parsley, tied with string
Juice of 4 lemons
400 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1-2 tsp. Greek oregano
Salt
Whole peppercorns
1. Remove head and tails and boil with
3 cups water to make fish broth.
Strain and reserve.
2. Cut fish in 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle
with salt and allow to sit for at least 3
hours.
3. Arrange fish in bottom of casserole
and pour over fish broth and enough
water to cover fish completely. Bring
to a boil and remove any foam that
accumulates on the surface.
4. Add onion slices, whole garlic
cloves, and olive oil. Cook over high
heat so that pan sauces blend quickly
with the glutinous flesh of the fish to
produce a thick white sauce.
5. Add peppercorns and the tied bunch
of parsley. When pan liquids begin to
evaporate, add lemon juice and
oregano. Lower heat and simmer until
sauce thickens and is reduced to
about half of original liquid. This usu-
ally takes at least one hour for a
grouper.
6. Carefully remove fish to a platter
with large spatula. Pour sauce over
and sprinkle with freshly ground pep-
per or finely chopped parsley. Serve
immediately.
Variation I: Add 1 1/2 pounds (600 gr.)
thickly sliced zucchini halfway
through cooking.
25 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Kerasma Monastery recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:36 AM Page 25
1. Remove stems from eggplants, wash
and cut into thin slices. Place in large
bowl of salted water for about 20 min-
utes to remove bitterness. Drain and
dry with paper towels.
Brush each side with olive oil and grill
lightly on both sides until oft.
2. Saut onions in olive oil until
translucent and add mushrooms.
Cook over high flame until liquid
evaporates. Add tomato, salt and pep-
per, and cinnamon stick. Simmer until
sauce thickens.
3. Oil a medium rectangular baking
dish and sprinkle with about 3 table-
spoons breadcrumbs. Divide eggplants
into 2 parts. Arrange 1 layer of egg-
plants over breadcrumbs and spread
mushroom filling over eggplants.
Sprinkle with enough breadcrumbs to
just cover filling. Arrange remaining
eggplants on top.
4. Prepare cream sauce: mix potato
flakes with boiling water and leave
aside. Heat oil in saucepan and add
flour stirring continuously over medi-
um flame for about 5 minutes. Lower
flame and carefully pour in the potato
water stirring constantly so it doesnt
get lumpy. Cook over medium flame
until it thickens and add salt, pepper
and nutmeg.
5. Spread cream sauce over eggplants
and sprinkle top with remaining
breadcrumbs. Bake in moderate oven
(about 400F/200C) for about 1 hour
or until golden brown on top. Cool
before serving.
26 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Lenten Moussaka with Mushrooms
(from the Holy Monastery of Bethlehem, Koropi, Attica)
For 6-8 servings
Ingredients:
2 pounds (1 kilo) eggplants
1 1/2 pounds (600 gr.) fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
Salt, pepper
1 1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
Oil for brushing eggplants
For the cream sauce:
5 cups boiling water
3/4 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
3/4 cup flour
3 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of white pepper
Kerasma Monastery recipes
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27 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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28 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
1. Boil rice in water and salt until ten-
der. Remove from flame and add half
of lemon juice.
2. In a medium bowl mix tahini with
one cup of soup broth until creamy,
adding more broth if necessary. Mix in
remaining lemon juice.
3. Pour mixture into soup stirring con-
stantly until liquids blend.
4. Stir in carrots, green onions, and
parsley. Adjust seasoning. Serve with
lemon wedges and whole wheat rusks
(paximadia).
Mount Athos Tahini Soup
(from the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra, Mount Athos)
For 4-6 servings
2 1/2 quarts or liters water
1 cup short-grain white rice
7-8 Tbsp. tahini paste
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 carrots, finely grated
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh green onions (optional)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Salt to taste
Kerasma Monastery recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 05.03.07 a 5/3/07 12:17 PM Page 28
29 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Lenten Bougatsa
(from the Holy Monastery of Osios Meletios, Kithairona, Attica)
For 20-25 pieces
1.600 ml water
12 oz. (300 gr.) fine semolina
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tsps. vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil margarine*
1 pound (450 gr.) puff pastry (package of 2 sheets of pastry)
Powdered sugar
Ground cinnamon
1. Bring water to a boil in large pot.
Slowly add semolina stirring con-
stantly to avoid lumps. Cook over
medium heat until mixture just begins
to thicken.
2. Add sugar and continue to stir until
mixture is thick and creamy. Remove
from heat and add vanilla and mar-
garine.
3. Lay half of puff pastry in lightly
greased rectangular pan. (Roll out to
size of pan if needed). Spread cream
mixture evenly over pastry and top
with remaining pastry.
* Olive oil margarine is a new greek
product.
Kerasma Monastery recipes
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Gorgeous
Graviera
Cheese
Take a look at the cheese counter in any Greek supermarket
and youll see dozens of varieties, ranging from fez-shaped soft
myzithra and glistening blocks of feta to drum after drum of
hard aged cheeses protected by tough rinds. Among these are
the gravieras, a cheese so popular and widespread youd think
Greeks must have been eating it for millennia.
31 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Diana Farr Louis
Photography: Vassilis Stenos
Styling: Dawn Brown, Tina Webb
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:37 AM Page 31
Surprisingly, it is not even a centu-
ry old. Graviera, as the name
implies, was the result of an
attempt to reproduce Swiss
gruyere in this country. In 1914, a
Swiss-trained cheese expert named
Nikos Zigouris happened upon it
while combining imported tech-
niques with a surplus of sheeps
milk. Because he was employed at
one of the royal familys estates in
the western Peloponnesos, his
experiment found its way to influ-
ential circles in Athens and the new
cheese was launched.
Zigouriss discovery was part of an
effort by the Greek state to mod-
ernize and standardize the nations
dairy sector. Under the tutelage of
Reymondos Dimitriadis, considered
the father of Greek cheese making,
Zigouris and other foreign-trained
scientists were dispatched into the
countryside. Their mission: to
teach contemporary
methods of cheese-making and to
help herdsmen organize them-
selves into cooperatives to handle
and sell their products more effi-
ciently and profitably.
Graviera quickly became a tradition.
It is made as far north as Macedonia
and as far south as Crete, in Corfu to
the west, in Mytilini to the east, and
just about everywhere in between.
The cheese can be sweet or piquant,
depending on how long it is aged;
its color ranges from creamy white
to deep yellow; and normally it is
peppered with irregular lentil-sized
holes, but these can shrink to pin-
pricks or swell to rounds the size of
an American dime. (The holes are
caused by the gases given out by
propionic acid bacteria, which are
among the compounds formed
when lactose breaks down. Their
size varies depending on the tem-
perature and humidity in the early
stages and on the degree to which
the cheeses are pressed.)
Although you will find graviera
wherever there are pastures one in
particular stands out for its com-
plexity of flavor, the graviera pro-
duced in Amfilohia. At least one
producer is experimenting with
preserving the cheese by dipping it
an attractive, black wax-like coat-
ing. Three regions in Greece have
won the coveted appellation of ori-
gin status conferred on special
local products by the European
Union: Agrafa, Crete, and Naxos.
Traditionally, Agrafa, in the
Southern Pindos, and Crete pro-
duced their cheese from rich, raw
sheeps milk, sometimes mixed
with a little, thinner, goats milk.
Now virtually all Greek cheeses are
made with pasteurized milk.
The Naxos variety, on the other
hand, employs cows milk exclusive-
ly. This gives it a more yellow hue
and a sharper taste. A footnote to
history, the prevalence of cows in
the Cyclades dates back to the 13th
century. After the Frankish con-
quest of Constantinople in 1204,
those duplicitous Crusaders divided
up Byzantine Greece into fiefdoms.
32 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Highly versatile,
graviera can be
tucked into sand-
wiches, shaven over
salads, or eaten on
its own.
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33 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Agrafa, Crete, and Naxos are three regions in
Greece that have won the coveted appella-
tion of origin status conferred on special
local products by the European Union.
The priests and monks who accom-
panied them apparently brought
along cows to feed themselves and
their converts, and the Venetians,
who eventually gained control,
encouraged the practice. To this
day, islands like Naxos, Tinos, and
Syros have retained both a consid-
erable Catholic population and a
taste for cows milk cheese.
No matter the kind of milk used,
the method of making graviera
remains roughly the same to pro-
duce a cheese that is about 38 %
moisture, 38-40 % fat, and 1.2 to 2.4 %
salt. After the milk arrives at the
dairy, it is immediately poured into
vats and heated to a temperature
of 33-36 C (91.4-96.8F). At this
moment powdered rennet is
added, and within 30 minutes
curds begin to form. Once they are
set, the mass is slid onto a table
and chopped into morsels the size
of corn kernels. These are then
returned to the vats and reheated
gently until fairly dry. At this point
the thick liquid is poured into
round molds holding from 10 to 25
kilos (22-55 pounds), salted, and
removed to a cool place. In Agrafa,
the cheese ripens for at least three
months, until it develops a buttery
flavor. (The mandatory maturation
period is two months.) Some con-
noisseurs esteem Cretan graviera
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:37 AM Page 33
above all others. A recent visit to a
major Athens supermarket
revealed eight different brands of
graviera from Crete alone. Most of
them were large drums that would
have been aged at least six
months, but there were two rela-
tive newcomers on the market: a
small, 2-kilo head and a large drum
that had been aged 12 months.
These two possessed the nutty, full
taste one expects from Cretan
graviera, while a pale variety with
uncharacteristically large holes
proved delicate and sweet. These
cheeses go very well with red wine
but the islanders often pair them
with local thyme honey, an uncon-
ventional but addictive combina-
tion.
The Cretans themselves believe the
finest graviera comes from sheep
that have grazed in the White
Mountains, home to an array of
herbs and plants found nowhere
else. In the days before electricity,
each shepherd clan had its own
secret cave, called a tripa or hole,
where they stored their cheeses.
Now refrigeration does the job and
the urge to sell sometimes over-
comes the patience to wait out the
ideal six-month maturation period
Unfortunately, traditionally aged
cheeses are rarely found on the
market. Rumor has it that they do
exist but are reserved for special
friends and dispensed from unlikely
locations the back of a Heraklion
shoe shop, for example. They
resemble the finest old Parmesan.
In the foothills of the White
Mountains, cheese making is such
an industry that the air is heavy
with the cloying aroma of hot milk
long before the cheese-plant comes
into view. Many of these plants are
small, family-run operations. Here
the owner may stir the thickening
mass with a cheese harp by hand,
as well as with an electric comb,
until there are no lumps a process
that can take up to an hour. He
adds the salt just before pouring
the curds into wicker baskets,
which may have the sign of the
cross woven into their bottoms. In
the old days before running water,
shepherds wives used to wash both
the familys clothes and, less fre-
quently, the family itself in the
whey, at least according to Daphne
Zepos, a cheese expert and
importer in the United States.
No matter its origin, graviera is a
superb all-purpose cheese. Delicious
to eat on its own or with a rusk or
country bread, it is also good grated
and sprinkled over baked dishes,
incorporated into sauces like
bchamel or mornay, fried in cro-
quettes, grilled in a sandwich,
stuffed into crepes, mixed into a pie
or souffl . . . .Its use is only limited
by the cooks imagination.
34 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 36
Rustic
Delicacies
Greek Artisan Cheeses,
Cured Fish, Charcuterie,
and More
Greek food is strong, simple, and satisfying. Much of it, howev-
er, is still terraand mareincognita, a whole undiscovered
world of gourmet delights that mirror the cuisines directness:
I always think of these specialties, from cured meats and fish
to cheeses and more, as rustic delicacies.
37 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Epicurus
Photography: Vassilis Stenos
Styling: Dawn Brown
Avgotaraho
Mesolongiou
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 37
A rustic delicacy might seem like
an oxymoron; something is either
rustic or delicate, not both. But
Greek specialties defy such a seem-
ing contradiction. For the most
part, their simplicity fosters an
inherent elegance yet their strong
agrarian and regional associations
make them intrinsically rustic, too.
GREEK BOTARGO
For me nothing is more rustic or
delicate than a wafer-thin slice of
avgotaraho, the sublime botargo
from Mesolongi, a small city on
Greeces western coast that
inspired Byrons poetry and where
he died for the Greek revolution.
Botargo, much prized throughout
the Mediterranean, is pressed fish
roe. The Spanish and Italians make
it from tuna. Greeks have always
preferred the grey mullet, bafa,
with its rich, tumescent egg sacs,
which are removed from the fish as
they go out to sea to spawn from
the marshlands of western Greece.
I have tasted a lot of botargo in my
life, from many different places
around the Mediterranean, but
none conveys the taste of the sea
as delicately as the botargo from
Mesolongi. None evokes the salty
mist, perennially hovering over the
plankton-rich lagoons, or ivaria,
where local fishermen practice
their trade, living for weeks at a
time in wooden huts along the
water. With each bite I can almost
see their shadows shimmering in
the liquid ecosystem. It is in these
quiet marshlands that the roe is
harvested. The fishermen expertly
remove the roe sacs, keeping them
intact, then cure them with age-
old wisdom, with a frugal dose of
sea salt that gently seasons the
eggs without detracting from their
inherent taste. Once cured, the
whole family gets involved in the
next stage, dipping the eggs in
bees wax to protect and preserve
them. It is a process that Greeks
have perfected over a thousand-
odd years. Avgotaraho, like many
Greek delicacies, traces its history
at least back to the Byzantine
Empire.
Local fishermen traditionally savor
avgotaraho neat, as an accompani-
ment to tsipouro, a grape distillate
like grappa. But, as if in a nod to
Lord Byron, the delicacy also goes
quite well with a dram or two of
single-malt Scotch. In contempo-
rary Greek cuisine, avgotaraho has
found its place either in pasta dish-
es or in creamy risottos. The cured
roe lends grace and complexity to a
dish, while leaving a long, smoky,
sea aftertaste. It also may be
served on blinis with sour cream or,
38 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Siglino, a cured pork from Mani Kavourmas Smoked trout
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 38
even better, on sour dough bread
covered with fresh goat cheese; if
mixed with yogurt, it can trans-
form a simple dip into a meze that
is, well, both rustic and delicate.
OTHER DELICACIES FROM THE SEA
The sea is the source of many more
Greek delicacies beyond avgotara-
ho. Smoked trout, smoked eel and
a host of other preserved fish are
among the countrys most prized
local mezedes and are a growing
part of the specialty foods exports
market. Trout, which traditionally
runs wild in the rushing rivers and
streams of northern Greece, espe-
cially in Epirus, is now largely
farmed. Greece produces a range of
smoked offerings. Greeks serve
smoked trout as a meze, with a lit-
tle olive oil and freshly squeezed
lemon and also make at least one
dip with it. Some cooks also add a
little smoked trout to a batch of
taramosalata, which lends depth.
Eel, too, is a Greek specialty and has
long been considered a delicacy.
Most comes from the same areas
as avgotaraho, as well as Halkidiki,
in Macedonia, and most of Greeces
production is exported to Italy. To
my mind, the smoked eel from
Halkidiki, especially from the vil-
lage of Galatista, perfectly reflects
the gastronomic uniqueness of
Greece. In the rich waters of
Halkidiki, famous for their sea
bass, lobsters, shrimps, oysters,
and small, indigenous mussels, the
fatty eel acquires a distinct com-
plexity. When lightly smoked with
39 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Smoked trout,
smoked eel, and a
host of other pre-
served fish are
among the countrys
most prized local
mezedes.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 39
local wood its strong flavor is sub-
dued and ennobled. Halkidiki
smoked eel pairs beautifully with
tsipouro as well as with more uni-
versal spirits, such as refined, pre-
mium vodka.
One of the regional fish specialties
of Greece is the particular sardine
from the Gulf of Kalloni, off the
island of Lesvos. What distinguish-
es these sardines from others
processed around Greece is the rel-
atively short time, a day, at most
two, they spend under salt. The
result is a salted sardine almost as
fresh as sushi, succulent, sweet
and juicy. About 100 tons of sar-
dines are fished annually from the
Kalloni Gulf, but many more from
surrounding waters are processed
the Kalloni way; the canning indus-
try is a vibrant one on the island.
The sardines are a perfect match
for Lesvos other specialtythe
island is home to some of the best
ouzo in Greece.
SOME GREAT CHEESES
Greece is surrounded by the sea.
Yet most Greeks, ironically even
islanders, trace their heritage to
the mountains because even in the
islands people historically lived
away from the shore in order to be
protected from pirates. Thus, even
islanders developed culinary tradi-
tions rooted as much in the land
as in the sea. It is not an accident,
that Greek islandslike the Greek
mainlandare home to some of
the most unusual cheeses and
charcuterie the country produces.
Tinos, in the Cyclades, for example,
is renowned for its cows milk
cheeses, a rarity in Greece where
sheeps milk dominates, and one
which can be traced to the distinct
breed of cow brought to the island
by the Venetians, who ruled parts
of the Cyclades between the 15th
and 18th centuries. One of the
most unique Tinian cows milk
cheese is the petroma, after the
Greek word for rock (petra), and the
40 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Avgotaraho, like
many Greek delica-
cies, traces its history
at least back to the
Byzantine Empire.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 40
process by which it is shaped: The
curds, once formed, are pressed
inside a marble basin carved with a
spout. They are weighed down
with another, close-fitting slab of
the islands famed marble. The
whey runs off and the cheese
forms into a lovely round disc. This
cheese is the ultimate rustic delica-
cy and finds its way to Athens only
in small quantities.
Greece counts among its rustic del-
icacies an impressive array of other
regional cheeses, surely too many
to list here. The islands are home
to sheeps and cows milk cheeses
but also to pungent, distinctive
wine-soaked cheeses; cheese
swaddled in olive paste; steeped in
olive oil; washed in the sea; aged in
caves; fermented in clay amphorae
or goat skins; and drizzled, among
other things, with golden thyme
honey. Most evolved out of the
shepherds traditions, regardless of
whether they were born on islands
or on the mainland. At least two of
the many shepherds cheeses stand
out for their intense flavors and
individual character: the soft,
white, piquant tsalafouti, made in
central Greece, and metsovone, a
smoked sheeps milk cheese from
Metsovo in Epirus. The former
belongs to a whole category of soft
Greek cheeses that are thicker than
yogurt, naturally fermented, grainy
but also soft and creamy, and
sharp. These are old shepherds
cheese par excellence, once eaten
only seasonally, but nowadays part
of every gourmet shops cheese
counter. Metsovone, on the other
hand, is a more European-style
cheese, modelled after the Italian
provolone and smoked. Greeks
consider it one of their most aristo-
cratic table cheeses.
THE HUMBLE PIG
All over Greece, cured pork tradi-
tionally played a major role in a
familys winter preparations, and
the pork slaughter was, and still is,
41 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Kalloni Sardines Metsovone Cheese and Siglino Kavourmas in an easy sandwich
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 41
Epicurus is the nom de plum of one of Athens premiere restaurant critics and food writers. He
is the author of A Taste of Sephardic Thessaloniki (Fytrakis), A Critique of Food Reason
(Kedros) and Art Cuisine: Food as Art (Imako).
a celebratory feast where every
part of the animal is savored. As a
result, Greece boasts a large range
of cured pork products. For exam-
ple, Crete is home to unusual
sausages, especially a thin, vine-
gar-cured, smoked pork sausage
and another brine-flavored, herb-
and-cypress-smoked pork called
apaki. These have moved beyond
artisinal and into the mainstream,
with several large Cretan charcu-
terie companies producing good
versions of the local delicacy.
In the Peloponnesos, chunks of
pork are generally preserved in olive
oil in a local specialty called siglino.
There have even been contempo-
rary products borne out of this tra-
dition. One Greek producer of cured
pork products, in the mountain
hamlet of Karpenissi in north west-
ern Greece, recently won a Slow-
Food award for his prosciutto.
One of the most traditional Greek
cured pork products is, like the
rock-pressed cheese, a regional
specialty from Tinos. Called louza,
it is made from pork loin and is
redolent of the red wine and warm
spices in which it is marinated
before being air-dried. A similar
cured pork loin, also called louza, is
produced in Mykonos.
By far, though, one of the most
unforgettable cured meat prod-
ucts in all of Greece is the buffalo
kavourma from Lake Kerkini in
north eastern Greece, not too far
from the Bulgarian border. In this
tranquil Balkan landscape, water
buffaloes, historically important
for their meat and creamy milk,
laze about unfazed by diving
storks and impervious to their
own ultimate fate as a delicacy
that is easily on par with the most
renowned French confit. To make
the kavourma, buffalo, sheep, and
pork meat are simmered together
then boiled in pork fat, much the
same way that duck confit is pre-
pared. The word comes from the
Turkish, kavour, which means fried,
and the spices with which it is fla-
vored are decidedly Eastern, a
heady mix of cumin, curry, all-
spice, oregano, and rosemary.
Kavourma is typically served with
a squeeze of lemon, a nice foil to
the fat. One of the regions richest
dishes is kavourma fried with
eggs.
Each time I serve it I like to think
that I am frying up an oxymoron in
a splash of olive oil, seasoned with
a sprinkle of the mountains and a
drop of the Aegean, perhaps with a
hint of the mist of Mesolongion and
sip of Greek sunshine in a glass.
Those are the things that charac-
terize Greeces rustic delicacies.
42 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Avgotaracho drying outdoors. Removing the roe sacs from the grey mullet.
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44 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Sweet
Success
Greeces Dessert Wines
are World Class
Greek wine producers are crafting some of the most amazing
and undervaluedstickies in the world.
By Konstantinos Lazarakis
Photography: Constantinos Pittas
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 45
The king of sweet wine production
in Greece is undoubtedly the
Muscat grape. Greek Muscats are
rich, intense, floral, and sweet but
not cloying, fully displaying in their
character the warm, sunny climate
of Greece and the varietys compat-
ibility to Greek ground. Muscats
are conducive not only to the
Greek terroir but well-matched to
the local palate, since Greeks
regard sweetness not as a childish
taste but as charming.
The Muscat grape is cultivated in
six O.P.E. (Onomasia Proelefsis
Elenhomeni, or controlled appella-
tion of origin) areas, more than any
other Greek grape. (See box.) Three
are in the Aegean: Samos, Limnos,
and Rhodes. The other three are
Patras, Rion of Patras, and
Cephalonia, in the Ionian.
In most of these appellations the
small-berried white Muscat
(Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains) is
cultivated. It is arguably the finest
expression of all sub-varieties of
46 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
SWEET WINES, ANCIENT
PALATES
Greece, an ancient wine-
making country, has been
renowned for her sweet
wines almost forever. In fact,
sweet wines prevailed over
dry in antiquity, mainly
because wine was not con-
sumed with food. Even at the
symposia, participants
would eat first, then philoso-
phize, drink wine, and eat
some fruit. Wines that were
too dry or lean would have
been difficult to drink all
night. Sweet wines could
also be tasty when watered
down, which was customary
in the ancient world. Also,
because of the high sugar
levels of ancient Greek wines,
they withstood oxidation and
bacterial spoilage more easily
and traveled well.
While today producers can
make sweet wines in many
different ways, the ancient
Greeks relied on very high
grape sugar concentrations
in the fruit and must, which
they achieved by leaving the
grapes on the vine until
dehydrated, as in raisins, a
method that concentrates
sugar, acidity, and extract.
They sometimes also added
sweetness externally, with
honey, for example.
Today, Greek winemakers are
well-versed in these methods.
Some forfeit the late harvest,
vine-ripening method, but
dry bunches of grapes on
straw mats, as for raisins.
The most rapid way to do
thisand Greece, with its
sunny clime is an ideal place
for the practiceis to leave the
grapes directly under the sun,
which results in fruit that is
intense, with distinct flavors.
Drying them in the shade, by
contrast, is a slower process
with an elegant result that
respects varietal flavors more.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 46
the Muscat family, which is com-
prised of a number of different
grapes.
In Greece, the Muscat Blanc is cul-
tivated in five of the six O.P.E.
areas, but on Limnos, the Muscat
of Alexandria variety flourishes. It
doesnt have the same ability to
age as the Muscat Blanc, so the
islands winemakers focus mainly
on producing relatively fresh,
young Muscats. However, some
high-quality producers are deter-
mined to prove that Limnos
Muscats can, indeed, age. I have
tasted barrel-matured Limnos
Muscats that are multi-layered,
rich, and full of personality.
SAMOS REIGNS
Commercially, the most successful
Greek Muscats come from the
island of Samos. The main export
market is France. Samos Muscats
are luscious, deep, and intense,
and the island produces a range of
wines.
Samos Muscats may be fortified
and drunk young, which makes for
a very good introduction to this
appellation, being very fruit for-
ward, immediately charming and
not overly complex. They can also
be aged in oak for two or three
years, which makes them more
complex, spicy, and multi-layered.
Despite an extremely high quality
in every expression of the Muscat
grape on Samos, most experts
agree that sun-dried Samos
Muscats aged in oak are superior
to anything else the island pro-
duces with the grape. Standard
bottlings are around four years old
and exceptional but old (and rare)
vintages belong, beyond any
doubt, to the international aristoc-
racy of sweet wines.
A MUSCAT RENAISSANCE
Rhodes is an island blessed with an
exceptional climate and a great
repertoire of local grape varieties,
among them (although not indige-
nous) the Muscat Blanc. Producers
had focused commercially on other
styles of wine for a long time, and
dessert Muscats of Rhodes conse-
quently were made in small quanti-
ties. Today this appellation is re-
emerging on the national wine
scene, with more substantial but
still relatively small volumes and
fine quality. The Muscats made
here are mainly fortified, released
in the market while preserving
their freshness. The character of
these Muscats falls halfway
between the forwardness of
Limnos and the depth of Samos.
Much of the same can be said for
Cephalonias Muscats. Although
the appellation was established a
47 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Samos Muscats
belong to the inter-
national aristocracy
of sweet wines.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 47
few decades ago, the wines are
almost obsolete. But the potential
to make first-rate Muscats, very
close to the Samos approach, is
there. Winemakers are beginning
to increase the amount of sweet
Muscat produced on the island and
are seeing commercial success.
PELOPONNESOS
The final two O.P.E. Muscat appel-
lations are found in the northern
Peloponnesos, in the general area
of Achaia and around the city of
Patras. The largest and the most
important designation is Muscat of
Patras, followed closely by Muscat
of Rion of Patras, a small area on
the east side of the city. Neither is
very intense on the nose, showing
more minerals and less obvious
Muscat fruit. Muscat of Patras is
slightly richer and with a higher
level of fruit than that of Rion,
which is more elegant and floral.
Versions vary from fresh to aged,
with the latter showing a more
structured palate.
In general, Greek Muscats span the
entire range of sweet wine styles,
and include vin doux, vin doux
naturel, vin naturellement doux,
and vin de liqueur.
MUSCATS BLACK BROTHER
Mavrodaphne is, in some ways,
Muscats black brother. It is one of
the best known Greek wines and
most successful, internationally
recognized Greek wine. In fact, it is
typically the first wine a young
Greek ever tastesand likes.
Mavrodaphne, which means black
laurel, can produce wines with
deep color, intense nose full of dark
but not heavy fruit, sweet spices,
and complex herbs. On the palate,
it is surprisingly elegant, while tan-
nins are silky and sophisticated in
texture. These qualities led many
contemporary producers to use
Mavrodaphne in dry reds, usually
as a blending partner of
Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon,
and even Refosco, an esoteric
grape variety originally from north-
ern Italy. However, the varietys
tour de force is the sweet fortified
wines, as well as the occasional
but very rare dessert Mavrodaphne
made from dried grapes.
There are two O.P.E. regions dedi-
cated to Mavrodaphne: the smaller
Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia and
the larger, and, far better known,
Mavrodaphne of Patras. The first
48 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Santorini Vinsanto
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 48
appellation, like the Muscat pro-
duced on the same island, had
almost fallen into obscurity, over-
shadowed by the dominance of the
local white Robola grape. But luck-
ily for the grape, it is never planted
in the highlands where Robola
thrives, instead flourishing in
lower, flatter terrain. As a result, it
has survived. There is a handful of
dried-grape Mavrodaphne wines
still produced on the island and
these are exceptional dessert
wines well worth seeking out.
The O.P.E. growing region for
Mavrodaphne of Patras is large,
which means that wines can be
made in volume, in a variety of
qualities across all price points.
The youngerand cheaper
Mavrodaphne wines are easy, soft,
and terrifically drinkable wines,
offering great value for money and
all the hallmarks of the style. But
the real grandeur of the variety
and the place is not apparent
unless one tastes the older wines,
aged in large oak casks for many
years and usually blended with
other vintages. These are stun-
ning: breathtakingly complex,
showing development and age but
still holding masses of fruit. Most
companies producing
Mavrodaphne of Patras hold a
library of old vintages, in some
cases dating back to the late 19th
century. Usually these rare parcels
are used to add patina to younger
non-vintage blends but, in excep-
tional circumstances, may also be
bottled alone. If someone is lucky
enough to taste one of these bot-
tles, he or she will come across a
world-class paradigm of what
sweet wine can be.
O.P.E. & O.P.A.P.
Greece, like France and
all the European Union
countries, has legislative
nomenclature to delin-
eate the categories of
wines. The top category
is called Onomasia
Proelefsis Elenhomeni
(O.P.E.), which means
controlled appellation of
origin. Wine connois-
seurs might be familiar
with the French equiva-
lent, A.O.C.
There is also the lesser
category of Onomasia
Proelefseos Anoteras
Poiotitos (O.P.A.P.) which
means Appellation of
Origin of Higher Quality,
akin to the French
V.D.Q.S. Vin Delimit
Qualit Suprieure.
49 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
In Greece, the
Muscat Blanc is
cultivated in five of
the six O.P.E. areas.
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SANTORINI NECTAR
Greek dessert wines are not limited
to O.P.E. areas. There is a number of
O.P.A.P. appellations (Onomasia
Proelefsis Anoteras Poiotitos or
Appellation of Origin of Higher
Qualitysee box) that either allows
sweet styles to be produced or
offers the right potential for expan-
sion.
The most revered is arguably
Santorini, home to the sweet
wine Vinsanto. On Santorini
hot, arid, and windy, with its vol-
canic, chalky soilthe indigenous
varieties Assyrtiko and Aidani pro-
duce tiny yields, sometimes as
low as 1.5 tons per hectare (0.6
tons per acre). However, the fruit
grows very ripe and concentrated,
while retaining enormous
amounts of acidity. After a week
or so of drying in the sun and at
least two years in large oak bar-
rels, Vinsanto emerges as one of
the most sumptuous golden nec-
tars in the world. It can be
described as a peculiar cross
between Madeira and tawny Port,
with an extract, concentration of
fruit, and high acidity that make it
indestructible over time, as cen-
turies-old bottles can prove.
OTHER GREEK STICKIES
Dessert wines are enjoying a com-
mercial comeback in Greece and
producers in many areas are
expanding their portfolios by mak-
ing interesting wines meant to be
sipped at the end of a meal.
In the O.P.A.P. regions of Nemea
and Mantinia, some producers are
drying Agiorgitiko and
Moschofilero grapes and crafting
some fine sweet wines, displaying
the varietal characters with great
purity, but also with a whole new
twist to the palate structure. Areas
like Gianitsa, with a long history of
dried-grape wine production, are
re-emerging at the forefront, usu-
ally led by young, progressive
oenologists. These winemakers are
redefining traditional as well as
new grape varieties with respect to
sweet winemaking. For example, a
few decades ago Greek winemak-
ers considered Malagousia a grape
exclusively for dessert styles. It
almost disappeared from the Greek
terroir, only to re-emerge in the
1990s but as a promising variety for
aromatic dry whites. Once again,
winemakers are reinventing it by
experimenting with Malagousia in
the top-quality dessert realm. New
sweet wines are released almost
every month from a fascinating
range of Greek and international
varieties, such as Traminer,
Gewurztraminer, Semillon, even
Viognier and Merlot.
Greece is a most exciting place
among wine-producing countries.
Given their long history, sweet
wines had no choice but to change
with the times, again and again
and again. Now there is momen-
tum and critical mass, as well
many reasons for consumers to
turn to these wines. Greeces
dessert wines combine top quality,
distinctive styles, and really afford-
able prices. That last perk might
change fast as more and more peo-
ple discover them.
50 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Opposite page: Grapes drying in the sun
and kissed by the sea breeze
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51 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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Eating Around
Macedonia
Diversity and Pleasure on the Table
Twenty years ago, if you had asked me what I knew about
Macedonian food, I would have had a short answer: great mus-
sels. My first taste of fried mussels at a classic Thessaloniki
restaurant (now alas defunct) was an epiphany, one of those
moments that stay in mouth and mind forever, like ones intro-
duction to caviar or fresh foie gras.
53 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Diana Farr Louis
Photography: Nikos Bagdinoudis
Christos Dimitriou
V
a
s
s
i
l
i
s

S
t
e
n
o
s
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:38 AM Page 53
If you think fried mussels dont
belong in that exalted category,
then you havent eaten them in
Macedonia. Dipped in a batter so
light as to be ephemeral, the
plump molluscs possessed an ini-
tial exquisite crispness followed by
a succulence so mellow it was
impossible to speak until the plat-
ter was empty. And they were
accompanied by skordalia, garlic
sauce, a perfect marriage.
Today, many journeys north later,
Ive discovered dozens more
palate-tickling Macedonian dishes,
but I still have to treat myself to a
fried mussel orgy before I can enjoy
them. Fortunately, this whim can
be indulged at tavernas almost
anywhere between Thessaloniki
and Kavala, Macedonias second
largest port. In fact, the fattest
mussels come from Olympiada, a
little-visited fishing harbor virtually
equidistant from the two, on the
eastern fringes of Halkidiki. Devoid
of big hotels, it does not feature in
any travel brochures, but it does
boast an ancient site that should
be a Mecca for philosophers. The
walled town of Stageira, where
Aristotle was born, crowns the hill-
side above Olympiada and from
there the view cannot have
changed since he gazed at it in the
4th century BC.
EASTERN INFLUENCES
By the time Ive reached Kavala, Im
ready to try some of the other fishy
delicacies for which the region is
famous. Thats easy because taver-
nas crowd the old port and their
menus are extensive. But do I
choose a simple grilled bream or a
generous squid stuffed to bursting
with herbs, fresh cheese, and its
own chopped tentacles, ethereal
atherina, smelts, half the width of
my little finger or perhaps a plate
of likourinos, pickled fillet of grey
mullet, to awaken the appetite?
Choosing is no simple matter, in
part because the menus list some
foods rarely heard of in Athens and
the temptation is strong to sample
flavors from Anatolia.
In Kavala the Ottoman presence is
palpable. A three-tiered aqueduct
erected under Suleiman the
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Magnificent arches over the traffic,
a crenellated Turkish citadel looms
above it, and echoes of Mehmet
Ali, the citys most illustrious son,
abound in the old quarter.
The Eastern influence in
Macedonian gastronomy, however,
is not so much a legacy of the past
but rather something that arrived
with the hundreds of thousands of
refugees from Asia Minor who set-
tled there after 1922. Unable to
carry their treasured heirlooms,
they relied on two intangible but
indestructible possessionstheir
music and their recipesto dispel
their homesickness and keep their
memories alive.
Some of their dishes have infiltrat-
ed Greek cuisine so thoroughly
youd swear they were native. The
whole family of vegetables hol-
lowed out and stuffed with rice,
raisins and pine nuts; dolmades or
yaprakia as theyre sometimes
called in the north (vine or cabbage
leaves wrapped around a similar
filling); eggplants pureed, smoth-
ered in onions or as a base for
moussaka; sesame bracelets of
varying thicknesses; cumin-scent-
ed meatballs; doner kebaball are
by now so familiar at home and
abroad we forget they were not
always part of the mainland reper-
toire. The same is true of the
sweets introduced by the refugees.
Quintessentially Eastern pastries
combining phyllo, chopped nuts,
and honey syruplike baklava,
kataifi, galaktoboureko and many
less familiar treatscan be found
in places without a single resident
from Asia Minor.
DIVERSITY ON THE TABLE
But Anatolia and the Aegean are
just two of the flavors of
Macedonian cooking. The largest
region in Greece, Macedonia also
had the most diverse mix of popu-
lation and geography. Here the
countrys highest mountains
Olympus and its neighbors, for
example cordon off broad plains,
while its largest lakes and rivers
intersect them. And because its
wheat fields, orchards, vineyards
and pastures are among the most
fertile in the Balkans, they rarely
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were permitted to be farmed or
grazed peacefully. From earliest
times, armies from the west, east
and north tramped through, hop-
ing to claim them for their own.
Roman, Slav, Bulgar and Ottoman
conquerors left their monuments
and traditions, as did nomadic
Vlach and Sarakatsan herdsmen.
Macedonia continues to reflect
that past. And its doors are still
open to new influences. In the 80s
and 90s, ethnic Greeks who for
countless generations had been liv-
ing in the Caucasus and around the
Black Sea (Pontos) sought a better
life in Macedonia and Thrace.
LESS OLIVE OIL, MORE SPICE
To track down these various tastes I
made several trips into the
Macedonian hinterland, which are
so much more rural than the cos-
mopolitan ports. I discovered that
two major themes run through the
cooking of northern Greece, setting
it off from that of the south. For
one, olive oil is used more sparingly.
Except for Halkidiki and the coast,
the climate in much of Macedonia
is too harsh for the olive tree so lard
and butter often take the place of
oil. At the same time, Macedonian
food is more assertive. Here the
predilection for hot pepper flakes,
boukovo, reigns. Sprinkled liberally
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on just about everything, their
piquancy comes as a surprise if
youre used to the herb-rich dishes
of the Peloponnesos.
Northerners are also especially fond
of peppers in general. Florina, a
mountain town with pastel facades,
is the pepper capital of Greece. It
has given its name to a meaty, trian-
gular red pepper so delicious that it
is a popular meze on its own.
Grilled, skinned and brushed with a
little oil, it is eaten fresh or pre-
served in jars for the winter, and
added to stews, soups, and pies all
year long. My favorite pepper dish,
though, is an irresistible dip made
with Florina and chilli peppers,
onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I first
tasted it at a taverna on Megali
Prespa in Greeces lake district.
It was the prelude to a fish feast
deep fried tsironia (like smelts),
butterflied grilled trout, sprinkled
with boukovo, of course, and roast
carp. These lakes are home to 14
species of carp alone. What I hadnt
realized is that their shores pro-
duce tons of Greeces finest beans.
The Prespes lakes form a national
park and bird sanctuary. Youd
think this remote area would be
rough and wild. Instead, staked
out in orderly rows that vanish into
the horizon, bean plantations
cover every inch of arable land.
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59 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
And the stalls for tourists dont
peddle souvenirs emblazoned with
the endangered Dalmatian peli-
cans theyve come to spy on but
rather sacks of beans of every size
and color, from elephant beans
(larger even than gigantes) to
black, brown, white, and red
beans, and even jars of bean spoon
sweet. As one moves east
towards the Macedonian heart-
landthe area around Pella and
Vergina, where Philip II and his
ancestors had their palaces and
tombsgrape vines and orchards
take over the landscape. Naoussa
is one of the countrys best known
red wine producers, nearby Edessa
grows many of its cherries, peach-
es, apricots, and apples. But while
all Greeks love fresh fruit,
Macedonians possess an uncom-
mon Greek habit of adding fruit,
fresh or dried, to their meat, fish or
vegetable stews. Dishes like pork
with prunes, beef with quinces,
and chicken with apricots sounded
so foreign to my Athenian hus-
band, he thought they must be
American. On the contrary, com-
bining sweet with savory may hint
at traditions that have persisted
since Roman and Byzantine times,
or they may point to holdovers
from Slavic and Bulgarian cuisine
where similar dishes are common.
Other favorite ingredients shared
among Macedonia and its neigh-
bors to the north are pickled cab-
bage, walnuts, and thick sheeps
yogurt. In Drama, for example,
another wine-producing district, a
typical meal will consist of colorful
ribbons of tangy red and green
pickled cabbage alongside the citys
spicy soutzoukakia grilled finger-
length meat balls. On the other
hand, a casserole of walnuts and
carp suggests a link with Kastoria,
the lakeside city of fur artisans and
70-odd Byzantine churches. While,
if you sit down to a pilaf of cab-
bage, bulgur wheat, and crushed
walnuts, chances are the cook is
from the Pontos, especially if
theres a bowl of yogurt on the side.
WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM
Meat in Macedonia comes in vari-
ous guises. Post-war prosperity
(and increasingly lazy taverna own-
ers) have created an appetite for
simply grilled steaks and chops.
But as in so many societies of large
families and limited incomes, the
traditional ways of making lamb,
As one moves toward
the Macedonian
heartland, where
Phillip II and his
ancestors had their
palaces and tombs,
grapevines and
orchards take over
the landscape.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 59
Diana Farr Louiss latest book, Travels in Northern Greece, will be published
this spring by the Athens News, to which she is a frequent contributor.
beef, and pork go further can still
be found, minced and stuffed into
plentiful vegetables or stretched in
a stew or casserole with numer-
ous, less pricey ingredients.
One delicacy that has been revived
recently, though, is water buffalo.
Look for it up around Lake Kerkini
between Serres and Kilkis, south of
the Rhodopi mountains and
Bulgaria. Once in danger of dying
out, Greeces last herd of these gen-
tle creatures is actually growing. I
watched them wading on the lakes
boggy shores, an unexpected perk
added to the thousands of exotic
birds that we had come to see. And I
managed to suppress my guilt when
presented with luscious chunks of
their lean meat cooked slowly in the
gastra, a sealed clay pot, on top of
the embers in an outdoor oven.
My favorite meat, pork, is ubiqui-
tous of course and as versatile as
ever in Macedonia. Especially in
winter, curtains of sausages dangle
in butcher shops. Naturally, they are
spiked with boukovo, and often
contain cumin, black pepper and
leeks as well a warming meze on a
frosty evening. A rarer specialty,
kavourma, looks like a cylindrical
pillow and tastes like Frances ril-
lettes de porc, but with an Eastern
pinch of cumin. To others, the king
of cured meat is pastourma. Now
made of beef rather than camel, it is
dried and thickly coated with fenu-
greek, hot and sweet paprika, and a
mixture of other spices that are
almost as intoxicating as the ouzo
or raki you drink with it. Just one
whiff hurls you back to Anatolia.
It is wonderful to be able to track
down all these foods and feast
ones way through Macedonia. The
good news is that if this is impossi-
ble, almost all these specialties and
many more can be found in
Thessaloniki. For me, the Modiano
market in the heart of town exerts
an attraction more compelling
than any of its museums. In its
way, it too is a museuma living,
ever-changing, interactive exhibi-
tion of the culinary heritage of this
fascinating region. Still owned by
the Sephardic Jewish family who
built the market in 1922, the
bustling emporium mirrors
Macedonias diversity, past and
present. Thankfully, the region that
gave its name to fruit salad has
remained an extremely appetizing
mix of people and the pleasures
they bring to the table.
60 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
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1. Wash the mussels very well, scrub-
bing their shells and removing their
stringy beards. Place in a large pot
without any water, cover, and heat
over low heat. Let them steam in their
own juices until the shells open, for
about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels
whose shells have not opened.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet
over medium heat and cook the garlic
and squid tentacles until bright pink,
about 3 minutes. Add the tomato,
parsley, salt and pepper and simmer
the sauce for about 20 minutes over
low heat, until thick. Bring a pot of
salted water to a boil and cook the
pasta until tender but al dente, about
7 minutes.
3. Strain the mussels, and strain their
liquid through a fine mesh sieve. Shell
half the mussels. Add the steaming
mussel juices and the mussels them-
selves to the sauce. Drain the pasta
with a slotted spoon and empty it into
the sauce, tossing with about one cup
of the pasta liquid, until the final dish
is juicy. Serve immediately.
62 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Mussel Pilaf with Tiny Pasta
For 4-6 servings
3 pounds (1 1/2 kilos) mussels, preferably Greek farmed mussels
1/3 cup Greek extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large squid, cleaned, body cut into thin rings, tentacles chopped
1 cup peeled, seeded, chopped plum tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 pound tiny Greek couscousi pasta or other tiny pasta
Kerasma Macedonian recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 62
Spicy Pan-Fried Pork with Leeks, and Wine
For 4-6 servings
1 1/4 pounds (750 gr.) boneless pork shoulders
cut into 1 1/2 inch (5 cm) cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. Greek hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried mint
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1/3 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 large leek, trimmed and chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1. Toss the pork with the salt, pepper,
paprika, pepper flakes, mint, and
orange zest. Cover and refrigerate for
one hour.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy
skillet over medium-high heat. Add
the pork and cook, stirring, until
browned on all sides. Remove with a
slotted spoon.
3. Lower the heat to medium, add the
leek and onion, and cook, stirring,
until translucent. Add the pork back
to the skillet; pour in the wine, and
cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer
for 1 1/2 hours, or until pork is very
tender. Add more wine or water as
needed to keep the mixture moist.
Serve hot as a meze or main course.
63 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Kerasma Macedonian recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 63
1 .Melt the butter in a large roasting
pan over high heat. Season the lamb
with salt and pepper and sear in the
butter. Set aside and preheat oven to
400F (200C).
2 .Meanwhile, simmer the liver in
lightly salted water for about 15 min-
utes. Drain and finely chop.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy
skillet over medium heat and cook the
scallions, stirring, until wilted. Stir in
the paprika and continue to cook for 2
to 3 minutes. Add the spinach in
batches, and cook until wilted. Add
the liver and mint, and season with
salt and pepper. Add the rice and cook
for 5 minutes, stirring.
4. Spread the mixture around the lamb
in the pan, add the water, and roast
until the lamb is tender or cooked to
desired doneness and the rice soft.
Remove from oven, let rest for 15 min-
utes, and serve.
64 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Lamb Cooked on a Bed of Spinach- Pilaf
For 6-8 servings
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 leg of lamb, bone in
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lambs liver, trimmed of membrane
1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 pound (440 gr.) scallions or spring onions, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
4 pounds (2 kilos) fresh baby spinach, trimmed, chopped and
washed well
1 cup fresh chopped mint
1 cup Greek short-grain rice
2 cups water
Kerasma Macedonian recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 64
Baked Apples Stuffed with Halva
For 6 servings
6 Golden Delicious apples
6 generous tsps. unsalted butter
1/4 pound (125 gr.) sesame halva (Macedonian style)
Ground cinnamon and fresh mint leaves for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350F (170C). Cut
off and reserve apple crowns. Core the
fruit and scoop out a hole about 1 1/2
inches (5 cm) wide and deep.
2. Rub the inside of each apple with
1/2 teaspoon butter. Crumble the
halva with your fingers and place
equal amounts inside each apple,
mounding it decoratively. Place the
tops back on and place the apples in a
buttered baking dish. Melt the
remaining butter and drizzle over the
fruit. Bake, uncovered, until the
apples are tender, about 45 to 50 min-
utes. Remove, cool slightly, and serve,
sprinkled with cinnamon and gar-
nished with mint.
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Bring on
the Sauce
The unique characteristics of the worlds different cuisines
have become more and more important as the world becomes
smaller. It used to be that French cuisine held sway over all
others, at least to western palates.
67 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
By Dimitris Andonopoulos
Photography: Vassilis Stenos
Styling: Dawn Brown, Tina Webb
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 67
Now, the worlds tables are all on
equal footing, a moving feast of
images and flavors to globetrotting
gourmets, even those who dine vic-
ariously via television. The result, to
my mind, is a modern modernism,
brimming with ethnic diversity and
overpowering the once French
monopoly as the top model for all
things culinary. Case in point is the
subject of Greek sauces.
Greek sauces are generally simple
and spare, and markedly different
from those found in French cuisine,
which dictates that sauce be a sep-
arate entity from the food at hand.
Greek sauces are derived from the
raw ingredients that flourish on
Greek soil, first and most revered of
which is olive oil.
The most common sauces indeed
are those created in the pot itself, a
result of a whole category of olive
oil-based dishes we call lathera.
Vegetables and legumes cooked
this way are delicious; the Greek
kitchen indeed can boast a whole
range of vegetarian dishes that
have real soul, based on tradition
and culled from the seasonal gar-
den. Our vegetarian cuisine isnt,
by any stretch of the imagination,
the brown and boring food for
thought that stigmatized vegetari-
an cooking in the West for decades.
Its vibrant, tasty, and a long-
standing part of how we eat. On
the traditional table, vegetable
dishes are sometimes embellished
with meat, cooked as lathera.
Meat cooked this way tends to end
up as falling-off-the-bone tender.
The technique is straightforward:
The ingredients are slowly sim-
mered over two sometimes even
three hours so that their flavors
meld. These dishes are ready when
all thats left [of their pan juices] is
a little of their oil, as a Greek home
cook might advise.
We generally dont use heavy roux.
Our sauces are laconic, with a min-
imum of ingredients: onions, usu-
ally sauted in olive oil at the start
of the cooking process; herbs; and,
often, tomatoes.
Cooking en sauce the Greek way
results in a kind of infusion of the
basic ingredients. The flavors are
crystal clean. I like to think of our
lathera in another light, too: Like
the aromatic oils infused with
basil, oregano, mint, and other
68 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Cooking en sauce
the Greek way
results in a kind of
infusion of the basic
ingredients. The fla-
vors are crystal
clean.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 68
herbs that are so popular on
restaurant tables today, so is the
sauce at the bottom of the pot in
each and every olive-oil based dish
a kind of aromatic oil. Its just that
the route to the final, intense fla-
vor is a quicker one, since these
dishes are cooked.
When tomato is a part of the dishs
flavor profile, the main ingredient
(fresh or dried beans, okra, even
potatoes, for example) makes up the
background flavors in the final
sauce. But when the dish is white
without tomatoes, in other words
its characteristics change complete-
ly. Vegetarian stuffed grape leaves,
dolmades yialantzi in Greek, are one
of the classic white oil-based dish-
es. Here, the olive oil takes on a
magnificent almost electric green
hue, thanks to the grape leaves but
also to the dill, which is the herb of
choice in the rice filling. These dish-
es are perfect and elegant in their
simplicity.
SPICES FROM THE EAST
I could easily describe Greek sauces
by their Doric sparseness, but mini-
malism isnt all that defines the
Greek saucepot. Tomato sauces are
among the most popular in Greece,
and these are often seasoned with
a uniquely Greek spice triplet: cin-
namon, cloves, and allspice. Dishes
like kokoras pastitsada, rooster
cooked in a heady tomato sauce,
specialty of Corfu, or tas kebab,
braised cubes of beef or lamb,
again with aromatic tomato sauce,
dance on our tongues and palates
in Greece. Even simple ground
meat sauces for spaghetti are sea-
soned with the same aromas.
Spiced with the triad of cinnamon,
allspice, and cloves, these dishes
and all like them are a duet of the
sweet and the piquant, with a per-
fumed refrain that echoes back to
Byzantium, to the spice caravans
that landed in Constantinople,
crossroads of East and West. The
triplet of those exotic spices fused
with Greeces naturally lean culi-
nary aesthetic, so that today, cen-
turies later, we taste the perfume
even in spartan summer dishes
from the islands, like fresh green
beans ragout and baked summer
vegetables, which makes them at
once mellifluous but staccato in
their clean, spare ingredients, like
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:40 AM Page 69
the music of a lute.
Other dishes play to a different
fusion of flavors. These would be
the pared down, roasted meat tra-
ditions of Greeces mountains,
where lamb, chicken, goat, beef,
and pork are seasoned ever so
sparingly with olive oil, lemons,
and herbs. Olive oil and oregano
make for just one couplet; here,
our liquid gold is also enriched with
the overflowing flora of the moun-
tainsGreeks especially like
thyme, marjoram, and savory. In
traditional cooking, these would
all be used dried, but a modern
cook could easily do what a con-
temporary chef might do: simmer
the meat confit-like in olive oil and
freshnot driedherbs.
Yet another facet of olive oil in the
evolution of Greek sauces is a par-
ticular preparation called stifado.
Stifado is the name of a range of
long-simmered meat and meat-
and-vegetable or -legume dishes
(from rabbit, chicken, beef tongue,
or lamb to dried broad beans) pre-
pared with a type of small, whole
onion, that aromatic trinity of
spices from afar (cinnamon, all-
spice, and cloves), olive oil and a
touch of vinegar, which imposes its
acid rifts on the soft sweet
melodies of the East.
DRESSINGS OLD AND NEW
If Greek cooked sauces are a pot-
pourri of exotic spices and warm
flavor combinations, Greek dress-
ings are refreshing and refreshingly
tart. We love the sour taste of fresh
lemons in our dressings. The pair-
ing of extra virgin olive oil and
lemon juice, called ladolemono, is
one of our favorite dressings.
Without the addition of herbs, the
lemon-olive oil duet insinuates
itself over boiled vegetable salads,
such as zucchini and wild greens,
some 300 varieties of which blan-
ket the Greek countryside from
October through May. The lemon
juiceolive oil ablution is also the
most common way to dress a raw
salad, especially a green salad,
made with lettuce or shredded
cabbage.
Add herbs to it and its role changes
completely, from that of dressing
to that of marinade and sauce
almost exclusively to be used over
Greek grilled fish.
This classic has changed with the
times, though. Today, emulsified
versions of the lemon-olive oil
dressing are a new thing, beaten
together at high speed with some
fish or meat stock. At least one
Greek chef, Christoforos Peskias,
creates what he calls mayonnaise
la Grecque by emulsifying at high
speed. Another trend is to enrich
the basic duet with extra flavor,
with a little lobster stock, for exam-
ple. Additions such as that catapult
the traditional Greek ladolemono
into the realm of sauces that actu-
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GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:41 AM Page 70
ally can be served the French way,
separately, that is, from the main
ingredient on the plate.
Greeks have their own vinaigrette,
ladoxido, made with extra virgin
olive oil and red wine vinegar. One
strictly upheld rule among Greek
cooks is that their ladoxido always
be made with extra-virgin olive oil,
and never with anything else. It is
the simplest of vinaigrettes, with-
out the addition of mustard, shal-
lots, or garlic but sometimes with
the addition of dried herbs. The
certain presence of great quality
extra virgin olive oil gives it an irre-
proachable Greekness.
In the contemporary kitchen, even
traditional ladoxido has had to jive
with the times. There are new ver-
sions of this simple Greek classic,
among them a ladoxido prepared
with a little feta, and at least one
other sweetened with a little
honey. Feta vinaigrette is the per-
fect addition to a classic Greek
salad, while a Greek honey vinai-
grette goes especially well with sal-
ads that have some mild cheese in
them, such as Greek myzithra or
Cretan graviera. Ladoxido and tahi-
ni (sesame paste) are an especially
earthy combination. Lately Ive
seen Greek tomato vinaigrette,
mint vinaigrette, and most unusu-
al of all, a beet vinaigrette.
THE GARLICKY GREEK SOUL
If aioli or brandade lend a rustic,
southern Mediterranean note to
the basic corps of urbane French
cuisine, then the Greek garlic
71 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Greeks have their
own vinaigrette,
ladoxido, made with
extra virgin olive oil
and red wine vinegar.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:41 AM Page 71
sauce, skordalia, is one with the
Greek soul. It is made quite differ-
ently from its garlicky cousins
across the Mediterranean.
Skordalia is made primarily by mix-
ing either boiled potatoes or damp-
ened bread with garlic. Thats its
rustic starting point, from which
myriad contemporary recipes have
evolved. Among them: refined
skordalia, with the addition of
blanched almonds; stylized la
Grecque with the addition of
Kalamata olive paste; bold and
exotic with the surprise addition of
a little Chios Mastiha, which melds
perfectly with lemon and olive oil.
Garlic glitters on the mosaic that is
Greek sauce cuisine in yet another
classic dish, tzatziki, the yogurt-
garlic-dill concoction that by any
standard is a sauce, even though
traditional Greek cooks dont call it
one. At the hands of avant-garde
Greek chefs, tzatziki becomes an
airy foam and even an ice cream,
melting lusciously to the accompa-
niment of roasted vegetable chips
or sous vide souvlaki.
LEMON AND EGGS FOREVER
While all of the above are among
the main players in the world of
Greek sauces, none is as uniquely
Greekfound in no other cuisine,
in factas the most artful of Greek
sauces, avgolemono. Avgolemono
is an egg-lemon liaison that wends
its way as easily into hearty meat
(especially lamb and pork) dishes
as into fish, seafood, and vegetable
medleys. Taken one step further, it
also becomes a soup, arguably the
most famous Greek soup at that.
There are two basic ways to make
it. The first, and probably most
widespread, is by whisking together
egg yolks and lemon juice and
adding to that mixture, in a slow,
steady drizzle, whisking all the
while, a few spoonfuls of the hot
pot juices of whatever it is we want
to dress. The other method calls for
whipping the whites into a
meringue, beating the yolks as
described above, and marrying the
two, a method that produces a
notably thicker end result. Either
way, the whole trick is to temper
the eggs with hot liquid so that they
dont cook into an omelet when the
sauce is finally poured into the hot
pot and swiveled around.
Avgolemono is an la minute sauce
with the unique ability, despite the
expediency with which it is prepared,
to absorb the essence of whatever it
is meant to adorn. The end result is
usually a perfectly smooth mar-
riage of flavors, but never the same
since the sauce adapts itself to
each individual recipe.
The most classic Greek recipe for
avgolemono is fricasse, which in
Greek terms is a marriage of either
lamb and greens, pork and celery,
or fish, usually sea bream, and
greens. Stuffed cabbage leaves,
Greek Easter soup, chicken soup,
and rice-and-ground-meat cro-
quettes are among the other classic
Greek recipes that call for avgole-
mono.
But the sauce surpasses tradition
effortlessly. Dishes like Greek
Carbonara, with pastourma and
avgolemono, or lobster and pasta
with lobster stock avgolemono,
come to mind as just two varia-
tions. Lime instead of lemon is
another possibility. Herbs such as
lemon balm might be added to
enhance the citrus overtones.
Lemon grass, soumak, green pep-
pers or hot chili peppers, saffron,
Mastiha, even champagne, and
white wine all marry well with
avgolemono and transform
Greeces most traditional sauce
into something sexy and exotic.
Alas, one doesnt have to go that
far afield to find the exotic. One of
the most unusual versions of
avgolemono is the one that mar-
ries the sauce with tomato. It is a
regional specialty of the
Peloponnesos and parts of the
Ionian Islands.
72 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Dimitris Andonopoulos is one of the best-known restaurant critics and food jour-
nalists in Greece. He writes weekly for Athinorama.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:41 AM Page 72
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Coffee is the arbiter of every social interaction in Greece. Disputes are settled, politics are discussed, deals are
made, teams are rooted for, and fortunes are told, all over a cup of coffee. Cafes exist in every village, often delineated
by political affiliation, and on every urban street corner. Greeks traditionally spend many hours a week at a caf and
drink countless liters of coffee a year. We are, by any account, a coffee-loving nation.
Although Greeks like just about every kind of coffee made, we have two national coffee drinks. The first, pictured
here, is our own home brew, ellinikos kafsGreek coffee. The second is frapp, which was born by accident in the
late 1950s when a local Nescafe salesman in Northern Greece could not find hot water with which to make a cup
of instant coffee. So, he mixed it with cold water and frapp, the frothy, smooth, potent, iced, uniquely Greek
refreshment came to be.
Greek coffee, unlike frapp, is an artform. Made in a small, tapered pot with an elegant long handle called a briki,
smooth-as-silk, medium-roasted, finely ground coffee beans are stirred into water, often with a little sugar, and heated
74 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Ellinikos kafs
Greek coffee
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 05.03.07 a 5/3/07 12:18 PM Page 74
over an open flame. When the coffee begins to simmer, its maker artfully lifts it over the flameconnoisseurs say the
requisite is three timesuntil the bubbles thicken without boiling over. Then, with noticeable ceremony, it is poured
into a demi-tasse cup and served. The ratio of coffee to sugar determines the style of a Greek coffee. A metrios, or
medium-sweet, coffee, for example, has a heaping teaspoon each of coffee and sugar, stirred into the standard 125 ml
or so of water. A sketos coffee is plain, without sugar; a varis, or heavy, has double the amount of coffee, while a glykos
kafes, or sweet coffee, has two teaspoons of sugar for every one of coffee.
As its social standing might indicate, coffee is not only a morning drink in Greece. Sure, its the first thing most Greek
put into their mouths in the wee hours before setting off for work. Its also a mid-morning mood modifier, often
sipped with either a sweet or savory snack. Its enjoyed with equal ease in mid or late afternoon as well as early
evening or after a meal. That said, we thought wed illustrate a few of the many snacks that Greeks enjoy with their
most enjoyable national drink.
75 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Coffee Time
Kouloura, the sesame-
studded bread ring that
hails from Thessaloniki
but is pan-Greek now, is
the breakfast snack
among traditional Greeks,
often served with a wedge
or two of mild kasseri
cheese.
Pasteli. One of the
healthiest sweets in the
world, filled with calcium-
rich sesame seeds and
Greek honey, pasteli and
coffee are a great mid-
morning pick-me-up.
Greek Sandwich. Who
says coffee cant accom-
pany a sandwich? Here, a
typical coffee lunch for
busy urbanites.
Halvas. Another sesame-
based confection, made
with tahini and often fla-
vored with chocolate or
nuts. Halvas and coffee are
a natural duet, great in
mid-afternoon, either after
the once traditional Greek
siesta or in place of it.
Sokolatakia. Small choco-
lates are the Greek
lagniappe, served with a
hot cup of frothy elliniko
cafe right after the
evening meal.
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77 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Kerasma:
Treat Your Taste
with Great Recipes for Rustic
Delicacies, Graviera, Citrus,
Sweet Wines, and More from
Greece's Top Chefs
Photography: Yiorgos Dracopoulos
Food styling: Tina Webb
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:41 AM Page 77
1. In a large bowl, stir together the
flour, salt, and yeast. Add the warm
milk and water, the egg yolk, and the
orange zest.
2. Whip the egg white to stiff peaks
and fold it into the batter.
3. Brush a nonstick skillet with olive
oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Take one heaping tablespoon at a
time of the batter and pour it into the
skillet. Flip to cook on both sides.
Remove when lightly golden and con-
tinue with remaining batter.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the
Anthotyro, orange juice, salt and pepper.
5. To serve: place a teaspoon or so of
the Anthotyro mixture on top of each
blini, place 2 slices avgotaraho on
each, drizzle with a little olive oil and
sprinkle with pepper.
78 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Blinis with Avgotaraho and Anthotyro
Chef Lefteris Lazarou
For 4 servings
5 oz. (150 gr.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt, plus more for filling
2 tsps. powdered yeast
170 ml milk, warmed
160 ml water, warmed
1 egg, separated
Grated zest from one orange
Juice of one orange
Freshly ground black pepper
16 thin slices of avgotaraho Mesolongiou, trimmed
1 Tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
Kerasma recipes
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:41 AM Page 78
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80 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
Avgotaraho Bruschetta with Greek Yogurt Cream
Chef Lefteris Lazarou
For 4 servings
8 slices rye bread
2/3 cup Greek drained yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
5 oz. (150 gr.) avgotaraho, trimmed
1 tsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
1. Cut the bread into small squares
and toast or broil lightly on both
sides.
2. In a small bowl, combine the
yogurt, pepper, lime zest and juice and
toss well.
3. Cut the avgotaraho into thin slices.
Place a half teaspoon or so of the
yogurt mixture onto each bread slice,
top with a slice or two of the avgo-
taraho, drizzle with a little olive oil
and serve.
Kerasma recipes
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81 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER
1. Boil the pasta to al dente in lightly
salted water.
2. In the meanwhile, whisk together
the yolks and lemon juice. Add the
parsley and avgotaraho.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of
the hot pasta liquid. Slowly drizzle the
hot water into the egg mixture,
whisking vigorously all the while. Add
this to the pasta and toss. Add the
olive oil, season with salt and pepper
and serve.
Carbonara with Avgotaraho
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 5 servings
1 pound (1/2 kilo) spaghetti
5 egg yolks
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
5 oz. (150 gr.) avgotaraho
Freshly ground white pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
Salt to taste
Kerasma recipes
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Pennes with Avgotaraho and Grated Lemon Zest
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 5 servings
1 pound (1/2 kilo) pennes
Grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin Greek olive oil, as needed
3 oz. (100 gr.) avgotaraho, cleaned and finely diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Boil the pasta to al dente in lightly
salted water and drain.
2. As the pasta is cooking, and just
before you drain it, heat 2 tablespoons
olive oil in a large deep skillet and
saut the lemon zest. Add the pasta to
the skillet and toss.
3. Remove from heat and toss with the
parsley, lemon juice, avgotaraho and
two more tablespoons of olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
and serve.
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1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat
in a large skillet and saut the onion
and garlic until wilted. Add the cured
pork and the tomatoes, bring to a boil,
reduce heat and simmer until the
sauce thickens, about 12 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle
with the chopped chives and oregano.
2. In a separate skillet heat the
remaining olive oil and fry the eggs
sunny-side up. To serve: If using quail
eggs, use two per serving, if hen's
eggs, one. Divide the sauce evenly
among six plates and place the sunny-
side up eggs on top.
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Scambled Eggs with Cured Pork (Siglino)
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 6 servings
2 Tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
8 oz. (250 gr.) siglino (cured pork), diced
1 1/2 pounds (600 gr.) peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
1 scant tsp. dried Greek oregano
12 quail eggs or 6 large hen's eggs
Kerasma recipes
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Smoked Eel Salad with Green Apple and Celery
Chef Lefteris Lazarou
For 4 servings
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly browned
3 green apples, cut into small cubes
2 cups finely chopped celery
Juice of 1 lemon
5 oz. (150 gr.) Greek drained yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 oz. (300 gr.) Greek smoked eel, cut into thin strips
100 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1. Combine the walnuts, apple cubes
and chopped celery in a bowl and toss.
Add the lemon juice and yogurt and
mix well. Season lightly with salt and
pepper.
2. Add the eel strips and toss gently.
Divide the salad evenly in four individ-
ual bowls. Drizzle with 1-2 table-
spoons of olive oil, garnish with
remaining walnuts, and serve.
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1. Prepare the mussels: Heat the olive
oil in a large, deep pot and saut the
onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add
the peppercorns and mussels. Pour in
the wine, tomato, and thyme. Cover
and steam for about 4 minutes, until
the mussels open. Remove from heat
and discard any that do not open.
2. Remove the mussels from their
shells, place in a bowl and strain the
pot juices over them.
3. Bake the dough boats at 400F
(200C) for about 12 minutes, or until
golden and done. Remove, distribute
the mussels evenly and spoon into
each of the six dough boats. Pour the
liquid evenly among the dough boats.
Garnish with a little eel and serve.
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Dough Boats (Peinirli) with Mussels
and Smoked Eel
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 6 servings
6 ready made dough boats* (2 oz./60 gr. each)
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
2 pounds (1 kilo) whole fresh mussels, cleaned and trimmed
4 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
12 whole black peppercorns
150 ml dry white wine
1/4 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
3 oz. (50 gr.) fresh tomato, peeled and finely chopped
2 oz. (60 gr.) Greek smoked eel
Kerasma recipes
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Black Eyed Pea Salad with Smoked Mackerel
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 6 servings
1 pound (1/2 kilo) black eyed peas, boiled to al dente and drained
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 fresh tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
Extra virgin Greek olive oil as needed
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 smoked mackerel fillets
1. In a large bowl, combine all the
ingredients except for the mackerel.
2. Divide the salad evenly into six
serving bowls and top each decora-
tively with a fillet of smoked mackerel.
Serve.
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1. In a bowl using a whisk, stir togeth-
er the honey, mustard, vinegar and
poppy seeds. Gradually add the olive
oil, whisking until the dressing emul-
sifies.
2. With a vegetable peeler or zester,
remove the peel from the grapefruit
and orange, careful not to take any of
the bitter pith, and cut into julienne
strips. Blanch the strips for a few min-
utes and rinse under cold water.
3. Cut the grapefruit and the oranges
into thin slices. Peel the avocado and
cut into thin slices.
To serve, place the rocket leaves on
each of four plates, then alternate
with concentric slices of grapefruit,
orange and avocado. Fold three pro-
sciutto slices decoratively over on top
and drizzle with the dressing. Garnish
with the julienne grapefruit and
orange strips.
Arugula Salad with Citrus, Avocado,
and Karpenissi Prosciutto
Chef Lefteris Lazarou
For 4 servings
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. spicy mustard
30 ml red wine vinegar
1 tsp. poppy seeds
100 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 grapefruit
1 orange
1 avocado
1 bunch rocket trimmed
12 slices Karpenissi prosciutto
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John Dory or Skate with Citrus, Pomegranate
and Aromatic Spices
Chef Yiannis Baxevannis
For 4 servings
2 pomegranates
8 prickly pears
1 large grapefruit
1/2 orange
1/2 tsp. allspice berries
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. red peppercorns
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. aniseed
1/2 chili pepper
4 1/2 pounds(2 kilos) John Dory fish or skate,
filleted or cut into serving pieces
butter
1 pound (1/2 kilo) beetroot leaves, boiled
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1. Juice the pomegranates, prickly
pears, grapefruit, and orange and set
the juice aside. There should be about
two cups.
2. Sear the allspice berries in a hot, dry
frying pan. Add the peppercorns, stir,
and pour in the fruit juice. Add a little
of the finely cut hot chili pepper, the
fennel seeds and the aniseed.
3. Place the fish in the skillet and
poach for 2-3 minutes. Carefully
remove the fish from the pan. Add the
butter to the sauce and stir until
thickened slightly. Serve the fish over
the boiled beetroot leaves and drizzle
with the sauce.
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1. Cut the eggplants into 1-inch (2 1/2-
cm) cubes. Heat about a third of the
olive oil and saut the eggplant cubes,
in batches, until their skin blackens.
Repeat with remaining eggplant,
replenishing the oil as necessary. Save
one tablespoon olive oil for searing
the tuna.
2. Boil the orange juice together with
the fennel seeds, cumin, and red pep-
per until reduced by half. Gradually
add pieces of the frozen butter until
the sauce thickens. Add the pickled
watercress.
3. Place the eggplants in a pan, season
with salt, and pour the orange sauce
over them. Bake in the oven for 15
minutes at 375F(180C).
4. Heat a nonstick skillet or iron plate
and brush with a tablespoon of olive
oil. Sear the tuna on both sides, care-
ful not to overcook it. Sprinkle with
the coarsely ground black pepper and
lemon zest. Serve the tuna accompa-
nied by the eggplants and the orange
sauce.
Eggplant with Orange and Spicy Tuna
Chef Yiannis Baxevannis
For 4 servings
4 large eggplants
1/2-1 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil, as needed,
for sauting the eggplant
3 cups orange juice
Pinch of fennel seeds
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of red peppercorns
3 oz. (100 gr.) butter, cut into small pieces and frozen
1 1/2-2 pounds (800 gr.) fresh tuna,
cut into 1 1/2- X 3-inch (4- X 7-cm) strips
1/2 pound (200 gr). pickled watercress or other small-leaf green
Grated zest from one lemon
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 92
Breaded Mackerel with Orange and Purslane
Chef Yiannis Baxevannis
For 5 servings
1 1/2 cups finely ground, plain breadcrumbs
1 tsp. turmeric
Zest and juice from 1 orange
2 pounds (1 kilo) mackerel
1 cup sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 - 1 cup water, as needed
Olive oil for frying
1 pound (500 gr.) purslane or curly lettuce (frisee)
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 oz. (90 gr.) almonds, ground
4-6 Tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. lemon juice
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1. Mix the bread crumbs, turmeric, and
orange zest together on a wide plate
and set aside.
2. Cut the mackerel into fillets and
cover each fillet for 10 minutes with
coarse salt. Rinse off the salt thor-
oughly.
3. Whisk together the flour and water
to make a batter, dip the mackerel,
skin-side only, in the batter. Turn over
carefully and press the flesh side into
the bread crumb mixture.
4. In a heavy, non-stick skillet, heat
the olive oil and fry the mackerel,
skin-side down.
5. If using purslane, blanch for one
minute then immediately shock in
cold water. If using frisee, trim and
cut as for a salad. Whisk together the
extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, scal-
lion, almonds, and orange and pour
the mixture over the greens. Serve the
mackerel on top of the salad.
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1. Scrub the mussels thoroughly and
remove the threads.
2. In a pot, place the wine, saffron,
garlic, onion and pumpkin, bring to a
boil over high heat, add the mussels,
cover and steam for 5 to 7 minutes,
until the mussels open. Remove the
mussels with a slotted spoon, discard-
ing any that did not open. Pulse the
remaining mixture in the pot through
the blender.
To serve, remove half the shell from
each mussel. Place the mussels on a
large platter. Pour over the saffron
and pumpkin sauce and garnish with
the finely chopped parsley and a few
drops of olive oil.
Mussels Steamed in Samos Muscat
Chef Lefteris Lazarou
For 4 servings
2 pounds (1 kilo) mussels
150 ml Samos Muscat wine
1 pinch of saffron
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound (250 gr.) pumpkin, grated
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
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1. Boil the head of the lobster, cut it in
two and keep the coral separate.
2. Next, saut the head in a little olive
oil, adding half the finely chopped
onion, ouzo, and a little water. Let
simmer for 30 minutes over medium
heat until reduced to 1 1/3 cups.
Strain. Pass the coral through a sieve
to mash it.
3. Soften the gelatine in a little cold
water. Place the broth, gelatin, 80 ml
olive oil, egg yolks, juice of two
lemons, salt, and pepper into a
whipped cream canister. Place 3
ampoules into the top of the canister
and heat gently in a double boiler
until ready to serve.
4. Cut the zucchini and asparagus into
thin slices. Toss with the sun-dried
tomato, salt, pepper, scallions, mint,
and cumin. Whisk together the olive
oil and the juice of the third lemon.
5. Slice the lobster tail in its shell.
Saut the slices in the remaining 70
ml olive oil. Add the remaining
chopped onion, garlic and coral.
6. Serve the lobster slices on the cold
salad and spray the frothy avgole-
mono foam-sauce on top.
Zucchini, Asparagus, and Lobster Salad
with Avgolemono Foam
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 4 servings
For the lobster:
One 2-pound (1-kilo) lobster, the head and tail separated
150 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100 ml ouzo
2 gelatin sheets
3 egg yolks
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
For the salad:
6 small zucchini, trimmed
12 stalks of tender green asparagus, trimmed
4 ounces (120 gr.) sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips
2 scallions
2 tsp. chopped mint leaves
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
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Warm Avgolemono Foam over Surf
and Turf Phyllo Cones
Chef Yiannis Baxevannis
For 20 cones
For the sauce
4 egg yolks
500 ml broth, made from the crawfish shells
150 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
100 ml lemon juice
1 tsp. dried lemon zest*
3 gelatin sheets, softened
For the cones
500 gr. commercial phyllo pastry
1 tsp. butter
For the filling
2 pounds (1 kilo) crawfish, boiled and cleaned
7 ounces (200) gr. chicken breast, boiled and shredded
1 scallion
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
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1. For the avgolemono: Place the egg
yolks, crawfish broth, olive oil, lemon
juice, dried lemon zest, and gelatin
sheets, which have been dissolved and
softened first, into a whipped cream
canister. Screw in 4 ampoules and
heat gently a double boiler.
2. Cut the phyllo into 40 equal
squares. Place two together, buttering
between each, and wrap them around
a cone-shaped mold or cone made out
of aluminum foil. Bake in a medium-
hot oven for 10-12 minutes, until light-
ly golden. Remove and cool.
3. For the warm salad : Slice the craw-
fish and toss with the finely cut chick-
en breast, finely chopped scallion,
ground fennel seeds, cinnamon and
coriander.
4. Fill the cones with the salad and
spray with the avgolemono foam just
before serving.
(*) Dried lemon zest is zest that has
been dried in the oven at very low
temperature for about 4 hours, or that
has been left in the sun to dry. It is
then ground to a powder in a spice
grinder.
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1. Cut the cucumbers in thin strands
using a mandolin. Marinate them in a
little salt for one hour. Rinse well
under cold running water for 30 min-
utes.
2. For the fish roe foam, pulse the fish
roe and the fish broth together in a
blender for 2 minutes. While still puls-
ing, gradually add the olive oil until
the sauce begins to emulsify. Add the
lemon juice. Pass the sauce through a
sieve into a large pot.
3. To serve, warm the cucumber and
the mint in a skillet with just a little
olive oil (take care not to cook it).
Season the fish with salt and pepper
and saut in a skillet for two minutes
on each side.
Beat the sauce with an immersion
blender until frothy.
4. Place a little cucumber on a plate
with the fish on top and circle it with
the sauce.
Sea Bream, Marinated Cucumber
and Fish Roe (Tarama) Foam
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 6 servings
3 large cucumbers
Salt
3 1/2 oz. (100 gr.) white fish roe
350 ml fish broth
Extra virgin Greek olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
6 fillets of sea bream (without the skin), 5-6 oz. (160 gr.) each
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 100
Tahini Sauce
Chef Christoforos Peskias
5 oz. (150 gr.) tahini
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
130 ml lukewarm water
90 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
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1. Using a whisk, blend the tahini with
the lemon in a bowl. Note that the
sauce at this point will be very thick.
2. Keep stirring, gradually adding the
water, which will make the sauce
creamier. Add the olive oil and the
remaining ingredients. Serve in a bowl
with bruschetta or crudite.
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1. Pour the broth into a food processor
or blender and pulse at very high
speed. Gradually add the olive oil,
pulsing, until the sauce thickens.
2. Add the fennel and lemon juice to
taste, and continue beating for anoth-
er minute.
3. Put the sauce through a sieve and
season with salt and pepper. This can
accompany all grilled fish.
Emulsified Lemon Olive Oil Sauce for Fish
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 4 6 servings
300 ml rich fish broth, warm
Extra virgin Greek olive oil
200 ml lemon juice
1 bunch fennel leaves
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 102
Emulsified Olive Oil Sauce for Lamb
Chef Christoforos Peskias
For 6-8 servings
300 ml lamb broth, fat skimmed
100 ml white wine
200 ml extra virgin Greek olive oil
1/2 bunch wild fennel leaves
1/2 clove of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
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1. Boil the lamb broth with the wine
until it is reduced to 300 ml.
2. Place the reduction in a blender and
pulse at a very high speed. While puls-
ing, gradually add the olive oil until
the sauce thickens.
3. Add the fennel, garlic and lemon to
taste and keep beating for another
minute.
4. Put the sauce through a sieve and
season with salt and pepper. Serve
warm or at room temperature with
grilled or roasted lamb.
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1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for
2-3 minutes and then place in a little
warm water.
2. Whip the egg whites with 4 ounces
of sugar to a stiff meringue and set
aside.
3. Beat the yolks with 8 ounces (240
gr.) of sugar until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the lemon juice, lemon
rind, and softened gelatin. Stir, adding
the heavy cream. Fold in the
meringue. Fill individual bowls and
serve with orange zest.
Lemon Mousse
Chef Stelios Parliaros
4 gelatin sheets (20 gr.)
6 eggs, separated
12 ounces (360 gr.) sugar
Juice of 4 lemons
Grated rind of 1 lemon
600 ml heavy cream
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Citrus Marmalade
Chef Stelios Parliaros
2 pounds (1 kilo) oranges, peeled and seeded
2 pounds (1 kilo) sugar
1 lemon rind
1 tangerine rind
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1. Puree the oranges in a blender.
Place the orange puree, sugar and cit-
rus fruit rinds in a medium pot, bring
to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer
over low heat until the temperature
reaches 220F (105C).
2. Have sterilized jars ready. Fill them
to the rim with the marmalade while
both are still warm. Seal shut immedi-
ately and turn them upside down. Let
stand until cool. Store in the refrigera-
tor.
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1. Lightly grease a three- or four-quart
or liter jello or other mold of your
choice.
2. Pour the orange juice into a small
pot, add the rind and bring to a boil.
Stir the corn starch with a little water
in a cup. When the juice comes to a
boil, add the corn starch and stir con-
tinuously until the cream sets and
begins to bubble. Remove from heat
and pour into the greased mold. Let
cool slightly.
3. In the same way, prepare the lemon
cream and carefully pour over the
orange cream.
4. Repeat procedure to make the tan-
gerine cream and pour over the set
lemon cream. Chill for several hours
until completely set. Invert the mold
onto a dish and serve.
* Having greased the mold helps you
remove the cream. You may also gar-
nish the dessert with dried nuts and
cinnamon.
Three Citrus Creams
Chef Stelios Parliaros
For 8 servings
Orange Cream:
1 quart (1 liter) orange juice
3 oz (90 gr.) sugar
2 1/3 oz. (70 gr.) corn flour
1 orange rind
Lemon Cream:
1 quart (1 liter) lemon juice
4 oz. (120 gr.) sugar
2 1/3 oz. (70 gr.) corn flour
1 lemon rind
Tangerine Cream:
1 quart (1 liter) tangerine juice
3 ounces (90 gr.) sugar
2 1/3 oz. (70 gr.) corn starch
1 tangerine rind
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 106
Chocolate Cream with Mavrodaphne Wine
Chef Stelios Parliaros
6 1/2 oz. (250 gr.) dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
400 ml heavy cream
70 ml whole milk
6 egg yolks
2 2/3 oz. (80 gr.) sugar
70 ml Mavrodaphne wine
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1. Heat the milk and cream over medi-
um heat in a medium saucepan.
2. Place the chocolate in a large metal
bowl and pour the warm milk mixture
over it. Let stand for three minutes
and stir with a whisk until smooth.
3. Beat together the sugar with the
egg yolks and add to the chocolate
cream mixture, stirring continuously.
Stir in the wine.
4. Pour into individual baking dishes
and place in a three-inch- (10 cm-)
deep baking pan. Fill half way with
water. Bake in a preheated oven at
160-170C (350-370F) for 10-12 min-
utes. When removed from the oven,
the cream should be slightly runny in
the center. Let cool to room tempera-
ture then chill for several hours. Serve
cold, sprinkled with a little cocoa.
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1. Place the wine, cloves, and cinna-
mon sticks in a large pot and bring to
a boil.
2. Simmer for two minutes, then add
the dried figs and raisins. Simmer for
approximately 15 minutes until the
juices have reduced to a thick syrup.
Remove from heat and cool. Serve
with Greek Anthotyro or other soft,
mild whey cheese.
Dried Figs in Sweet Samos Wine
Chef Stelios Parliaros
750 ml Samos Muscat wine
3-4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
25 dried figs
2 oz. (60 gr.) golden raisins (sultana)
2 oz. (60 gr.) Greek Anthotyro cheese for serving
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 108
Balsamic Figs with Mavrodaphe and Cheese Mousse
Chef Stelios Parliaros
For 10 servings
40 dried Greek figs
500 ml Mavrodaphne wine
200 ml balsamic vinegar
1 small rosemary sprig
14 1/2 oz. (400 gr.) pine nuts
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 1/2 oz. (300 gr.) walnuts
1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
3 whole cloves
For the cream:
500 ml whole milk
1 small rosemary twig
14 1/2 oz. (400 gr.) fresh Greek myzithra cheese or other mild, soft
whey cheese
3 1/2 oz. (100 gr.) sugar
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1. Soak the figs in the Mavrodaphne
wine for 12 hours. The following day,
add the balsamic vinegar and rose-
mary, place in a pot, bring to a boil,
and simmer until the figs are soft.
2. Lightly roast the pine nuts in a little
butter, adding the walnuts, cinna-
mon, and cloves. Fill the figs with the
dried nut mixture.
3. Bring the milk and rosemary to a
boil, remove from heat, and strain.
4. Dissolve the sugar and myzithra in
the milk, stirring vigorously.
5. Fill a whipped cream canister with
the milk mixture and chill.
Serve the figs with their balsamic
glaze in a bowl or in a glass and fill it
with the light myzithra cream.
GREEKGOURMET.VOL 05 02.03.07 a 5/3/07 11:43 AM Page 109
In the Next Issue...
Sun-Sweet Summer Fruits
Herbal Essence
Aegean Flavors
Village Salad Goes to Town
Greek Wines on the Global Table
And more ...
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