Contents

ISSUE 8 WINTER-SPRING 2008

Letter from the President of HEPO Letter from the CEO of HEPO Letter from the Editor Press Sightings Green, Greek, Great: The Organic Movement Shines Bright in Greece's Sunny Clime
By Diana Farr Louis

4 5 7 8 13

Chain Reaction: Casual Greek Restaurant Companies Bring Simple, Healthy Food to the Masses
By Joyce Gatsounis

19

Trends: Spreading the Olive — From Meze to Marmalade, the Proliferating Appeal of Greek Olive Purees
By Dimitris Antonopoulos

25

Smoking Allowed! Focus on Cheese: Metsovone and the New Generation of Smoked Greek Cheeses
By Daphne Zepos

31

Recipes with Metsovone Honey from the Vine: Greek Dessert Wines are World Class
By Konstantinos Lazarakis

41 47

Andreas Mavrommatis: Paris à la Grècque
By Susan Hermann Loomis

57

Recipes from the Kitchen of Andreas Mavrommatis Sweet Success: From Cocoa Kourambiedes to Watermelon Loukoumia, Greece's Confectioners are Rethinking Tradition.
By Diane Shugart

63 71

Prospero's Kitchen: Food, Life and Travel in Corfu
By Diana Farr Louis

77

Recipes from Corfu's Regional Table A Tale of Three Cities: Exciting Greek Cuisine in Shanghai, Dubai and New Delhi
By Rachel Howard

82 87

Kerasma Recipes for: Sweet and Savory Olive Purees, Lamb, Smoked Cheeses, Sweet Wines, and More

95

3 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF HEPO

Dear friends, We are very pleased by the messages we've received from the many places “Kerasma” has been holding events around the world. Our desire to share the Greek way of life, its food and wine, is being embraced with ever-growing enthusiasm. It's a snowball effect! More and more chefs are becoming acquainted with Greek products and including them and Greek recipes among their offerings. Moreover, Greek chefs abroad, already acquainted with the many facets of Greek products and cuisine (as mentioned in this issue of GREEKGOURMETRAVELER) are being held in high regard, and even winning Michelin stars! With the many initiatives of “Kerasma,” things we once kept to ourselves are today being projected around the world. At the same time, we are highlighting the true meaning of the Greek way of life, so well received by those who meet us in person those who encounter the Greek “art de vivre” from up-close. Greek cuisine, using Greek products, offers something apart from all other cuisines, combining taste and health in a unique manner. We mustn't forget that the heart and creative force behind the Mediterranean diet, well known for its health benefits, is Greek cuisine and Greek products. In past issues of GREEKGOURMETRAVELER we provided information about Greek food as well as recipes. Today we are moving even further forward, giving you new and interesting information, such as the spread/development of the olive and its innovative new uses. As always, health benefits should not be overlooked! A recently published study refers to the anti-carcinogenic effect of olive skin as well as its richness in antioxidants. There are also new developments as far as Greek smoked cheeses, in traditional sweets, and especially interesting developments in sweet wines. We would be happy to keep you updated on the details of our events (posted on our site) planned at your location for 2008. It would be a pleasure to meet you in person. We would especially like you to note our extensive presence in Paris at SIAL this October. Please save the date and contact us to arrange a meeting and a “Kerasma” meal. We're sure it will remain unforgettable.

Panagiotis I. Papastavrou President HEPO

4 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

LETTER FROM THE ACTING CEO OF HEPO

Since its inception three years ago, the Kerasma campaign has been tremendously dynamic and effective. Its trickle-down effect is evident in the news articles on Greek cuisine and wine the world over, from London to Sydney to New York; in the publicity and status achieved by some of the chefs who have worked on behalf of Kerasma; on the success and increased exports of our products in the international market. Kerasma, which means treat in Greek, has always embodied the country's innate sense of hospitality and convivial cheer around all things that have to do with that most human and civilized of activities-eating and drinking good, healthful things and sharing them with friends and family. For us Greeks, as for everyone, the table is the heart of life. The Kerasma campaign has benefited greatly right from its start, from the good will and eager participation of both Greek and international food and beverage industry professionals who shared their expertise and products with us so that we at HEPO could in turn share those things with as broad an audience as possible, through the great success of our conferences, through our participation in highprofile events on almost every continent, via our many award-winning publications, our website, and more. We built Kerasma into a well-known and easily recognized campaign that we bought with characteristic hospitality to many corners of the globe. Now, we're poised to bring the campaign home to Greece as well, introducing the millions of tourists who visit the country each year to the vast array of Greek regional food products, unique wines, and great recipes. In doing so, we are embracing hotels, restaurants and producers around the country and inspiring them to jump on the Kerasma bandwagon with us. After all, treating visitors to the best Greek foods and wines, the most healthful and delicious Greek dishes, and to the convivial spirit that permeates the Greek table is just part of our famous hospitality. We hope by so doing that we inspire our guests to yearn for a little Kerasma when they return to their native soil and to seek out our timeless and delicious foods and wines wherever they are.

Andreas Katsaniotis Acting CEO of HEPO

5 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

WINTER-SPRING 2008

O8
GreekGourmetraveler Greek Food, Wine & Travel Magazine Editor-in-Chief Diane Kochilas Editorial Assistant & Translations Evelyna Foukou Art Director & Designer k2design HEPO Liaison Anastasia Garyfallou Contributors Dimitris Antonopoulos, Diana Farr Louis, Joyce Gatsounis, Konstantinos Lazarakis, Susan Hermann Loomis, Diane Shugart, Daphne Zepos Contributing Chefs Yiannis Baxevannis, Vassilis Kalydis, Andreas Mavrommatis, Stelios Parliaros, Christoforos Peskias, Kostas Vasalos Photography Jacques Denarnaud, Yiorgos Dracopoulos, Holger Mette Fotolia.com, Richard Morgan Fotolia.com, Clairi Moustafellou, Christian Sarramon, Vassilis Stenos, Dimitris Vattis Food Styling Tina Webb Printing Scripta Ltd. ISSN 1790-5990 Cover Vassilis Stenos Publisher Hellenic Foreign Trade Board Legal representative Andreas Katsaniotis, 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 travelindustry 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 without permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. GreekGourmetraveler©Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

6 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

These are exciting times for Greek cuisine because it's traveling far and wide, beyond Greece, beyond Europe, and beyond traditional venues. We try to cover it all in the GREEKGOURMETRAVELER, something you will see in this, our eighth, issue. In the last six months alone, Greek cuisine has been cited as the hottest cuisine in North America. We sent a few contributors in search of the trends. Former Bloomberg reporter Joyce Gatsounis writes about the new breed of courageous restaurant operators, who, seeing the trend toward high-end Greek restaurants from coast to coast, figured that the time was also ripe to take their native cuisine to the masses. In Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere, Greek chain restaurants are growing at a robust pace, banking on the cuisine's healthy image to forge franchises and chains across the land. Veteran GGT reporter Rachel Howard covers the cuisine's growth in such far-off places as Dubai, Shanghai, and New Delhi as Greek restaurants open their doors across the globe. And, well-known food writer Susan Hermann Loomis talks with Andreas Mavrommatis, who for years now has been bringing Greek flavors to Paris in his many restaurants. On the home front, exciting things are happening, too. For one, Greece, a country extremely well-suited to organic food and wine production thanks to its relatively small-scale farming, has seen the organic sector growing by 15 percent a year. More and more Greek food producers, winemakers, cheese makers, and others are going green with great success, writes another veteran GGT contributor, Diana Farr Louis. Traditional foods are always a point of interest among our readers and in this issue you'll get a taste of many. First, Diane Shugart covers trends in Greek confections, as commercial producers seek ways to breathe new life into the likes of baklava, Loukoumia, and more. We travel to northern Greece to taste the spectrum of smoked cheeses in an article by cheese connoisseur Daphne Zepos and to Corfu for a foray into the food and lore of this Ionian gem. Enjoy and savor all that's on the plate in this exciting issue of the GreekGourmetraveler.

Diane Kochilas Editor-in-Chief The GreekGourmetraveler

7 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

From professional restaurant trade journals to popular cooking magazines to spots on national U.S. television, the amazing press coverage for all things Greek and culinary is proof that the cuisine—timeless, healthy, delicious—is also hot and thoroughly in fashion. In a quick survey of the press, here are but a few mentions of our beloved cuisine, and all this just since the last issue of the GreekGourmetraveler:

Press Sightings…

8 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Bon Appétit Magazine called Greek cuisine “Cuisine of the year”, in its January 2008 issue: “Today's Greek food is fresh and modern - just the thing for a great dinner party”. Bon Appétit magazine visited New York's Anthos restaurant to see what's on the menu. Picks include smoked salmon tarama with pita chips, dried fig souvlaki, scallops with cauliflower, dried cherries and capers, sun-dried tomato and garlic-crusted rack of lamb, roasted garbanzo beans and garlic with Swiss chard and spiced fresh orange and honey sorbet for dessert. “It's an approach that takes traditional Greek ingredients and combines them in ways that are new yet still identifiable with this cuisine…”. Anthos chef Michael Psillakis, who was awarded a Michelin Star, has been having his day in the sun in a big way. He recently appeared on CBS “Chef on a Shoestring” and created an easy, Greek gourmet meal for under $40. The New York Times also just ran a front page Dining Section article on him (February 6, 2008).

Our June Kerasma Conference on Crete also got a fair share of press attention, including an article in the October 2007 issue of Food Arts Magazine and the January 1, 2008 issue of GourmetRetailer. Food Arts' Beverly Stephen writes in her piece, “Taking Center Stage:” Greece…this prodigious producer of olive oil, wine, cheese, honey, yogurt, and other specialty products is striving for a distinctive designation…. Capitalizing on the healthy image of the Mediterranean Diet as well as the quality of the Greek products, HEPO turned the spotlight on both traditional and modern Greek cuisine to promote more awareness of the country's goods and burnish its image… As a result of ongoing promotional efforts Greek food and beverage exports have been rising steadily, up 36 percent since 2004 and this year's effort is expected to boost the numbers even more… In Letters from Greece column, Michelle Moran of the Gourmet Retailer writes: “Beautiful breezes, fine wine, lavish displays of food…

it's hard to tell people I am working when I am staring out at the azure waters along the coast of Greece taking bites of perfectly roasted eggplant and nibbles of delicate green pie. It's hard to complain. My first trip to Greece was in 2006 when I headed to Athens for the first Kerasma conference. I was amazed by the markets, the joie de vivre of the people, and the lifestyle. I was thrilled last year when the organizers asked The Gourmet Retailer Magazine to help identify a small group of specialty retailers in the U.S. to attend the 2nd International Kerasma Conference on Greek Gastronomy and Food, Wine and Spirits Industry sponsored by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board this past June. I called on buyers with a sense of overwhelming anticipation to share what I had experienced previously and learn more. …And, of course, we jumped at the chance, pulling together members of our Retailer Advisory Board as well as suggesting importers to attend this four-day conference in Crete

9 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

and Santorini. The result was an amazing gathering of the top specialty food retailers in the U.S. in an amazing place, sharing and learning about the Mediterranean diet in its birthplace….Crete was chosen for this event because of its tradition of flavors and recipes. The Mediterranean diet is a way of life there. The goal is to preserve humanistic values while forging forward into new culinary adventures. The flavors of Greece are traditional yet new, complex yet simple, nutritious but very flavorful. These types of flavors, seated in tradition, will push forward a new cuisine that will empower us to create dishes that truly embrace the balance of the Mediterranean diet…. One of the goals of both the organizers of Kerasma and The Gourmet Retailer was that…buyers came back to the U.S. with a better understanding of Greek cuisine and culture, as well as their own personal stories to tell their staff and customers. Buyers told us that goal was more than met and we've seen the results in the classes, promotions and newsletters many have produced since returning

home…."I have many stories that I tell my customers while I am demonstrating the Greek products I introduced after my Kerasma experience. One of my favorites is when I do a tasting for the Cretan olive oil and I tell my customers that despite what the Italian say, most of the olive oil produced in Italy comes from Greece (the majority of common brands), so why not buy the real thing?"

Hellenic quaff, honoring the Greek sailors of old,” she suggests. And to do so, she recommends the “floral, dense and smooth” 2006 Katogi Averoff Traminer… Greek wine got more encomia in the recent Saveur 100, a list of 100 great things to eat and drink, compiled each year by Saveur Magazine, which writes: It's no secret to oenophiles that Greece, long associated with quaffable but unsophisticated local specialties like retsina, is now produc-

On Greek wines: Janice Kleinschmidt writes in the Forbes Traveller issue Feb 1 2008 If the Master Sommeliers of the world were stranded on a boat…and had room for just five wines, what would they be? Lest you doubt the veracity of the following recommendations, consider the fact that among the world's 6.6 billion-plus population, a mere 158 held the prestigious Master Sommelier title. Madeline Triffon, Master Sommelier of Michigan-based Matt Prentice Restaurant Group emphatically states that, “Modern Greek wine is a must!” for a 'round-the-world voyage. “We could toast the beginning of the voyage with a special

ing world-class wines. The most intriguing among them may be those made from a dark purple grape known as XINOMAVRO, which is believed to have evolved from indigenous Greek fruit first vinified thousands of years ago. Winemakers near the town of Naoussa, in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, are using this grape to produce wines with an evocative bouquet that closely resembles that of Italy's barolos. Though bottlings from top producers, such as Boutari, Karydas, and Kir-Yianni, can seem harsh in their youth, they mature with admirable grace…. On Greek food trends: 1 January 2008

10 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I) reports: The foodservice forecast is brightest in 2008 for operators who stay relevant to how consumers live and who understand what drives dining occasions. “Explore up-and-coming ethnic cuisines from Greece, Vietnam, Korea, South America and the Eastern Mediterranean…Embrace easy nutrition. Find simple ways to eat more healthful meals, and add beneficial foods rather than avoiding ingredients demonized by fad diets….Calling out ingredients' local origins adds undeniable cachet; the mention elicits questions, conversations and, of the most importance, orders. So, too, do influences that stem further from home, as diners increasingly turn to ethnic cuisines for bold but nuanced flavors. “It feels like everyone's doing the same [contemporary American] menu now,” says Chef-owner Michael Dotson, who instead entices diners with [among other things] Greekaccented fare at recently opened Sens Restaurant in San Francisco…

More trends abound, among them the classic Greek salad. As food trend trackers Technomic Information Services Editorial Staff reports: ”Salad's image as a health food has helped the category to grow quickly….High on the list of favorites are: seafood salads, Asian-influenced salads, Southwestern salads and Mediterranean and Greek salads. Among the most striking ethnic trends, Mediterranean-influenced (particularly Greek) salads are gaining the spotlight…

'New Aegean' cuisine.” At the other end of the spectrum, we have casual and QSR Greek chains like Mr. Greek and Daphne's Greek Café slowly spreading around both Canada and the United States. To top it off, Bon Appétit named “modern Greek” the cuisine of the year for 2007 (see above) and followed that up with this month's “cooking club” highlighting modern Greek food. Right now, it's good to be Greek. Or at least it will be very soon….My mind is spinning in these Aegean arcs primarily because I'm

In “Revisiting Greek Cuisine for the First Time” in Food Product Design Magazine (01/17/2008) managing editor Douglas J. Peckenpaugh writes: Although several elements of Spanish cuisine appear poised to vie for more Americans' food dollars (see yesterday's post), culinary highlights from a country on the other side of the Mediterranean, Greece, might be ready to follow in that wake….On one end of the new Greek culinary revival, we have a restaurant like Anthos, helmed by Chef Michael Psilakis-an up-andcomer dubbed “the poster boy of Greek revival, the Mario Batali of

currently editing an overview of the potential for new Greek cuisine, written by an RCA Certified Culinary Scientist (an elite group of scientist-culinarians) who recently traveled around Greece and brought home her informational bounty for all to share (well, all who read CULINOLOGY® Magazine, that is … the article's slated for the March issue). Stay tuned for that one… Once folks begin to wrap their minds around Greek foodperhaps updated for the ages and cleverly positioned for some American demographics-they're bound to find much to love.

11 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

You don't have to be particularly observant to notice that the organic movement has taken off in Greece. Green supermarkets are sprouting up all over the country, all the big chains boast an expanding organic corner, and organic farmers' markets exist in 28 locations from Athens to Thessaloniki and a half dozen smaller cities.

Greek, Green, Great
The Organic Movement Shines Bright in Greece’s Sunny Clime

By Diana Farr Louis Photography: Vassilis Stenos

13 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

There's no doubt that interest in healthy, environmentally friendly food is increasing fast, in terms of both producers and customers. A look at the statistics confirms astonishing growth. Greece tripled the area under organic cultivation between 1999 and 2003, but did not stop there. By the end of 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, the number of producers leaped from 15,412 in 2005 to 24,666, while 302,256 ha were under conversion or already devoted to organic crops or pastures. Contrast this with the decade 1982-1992, when only 150 organic producers were registered and the total area under cultivation was a mere 200 ha. Italy, Germany, and Spain lead the rest of the EU member states in

organic produce, but Greece has won a respectable place in the middle (next to the UK, France, and Austria). It also possesses considerable potential for further growth around 30 percent per year - thanks to a variety of factors. Among these are its rocky soil; hot, dry climate; and the relative lack of intensive cultivations and agribusinesses that employ artificial fertilizers and toxic pesticides and herbicides. Fortunately, pockets of protected areas, large and small, abound in the foothills of Greece's many mountains and on the islands. Permanent crops already thriving in such places have been the first to be converted. For this reason, olive oil and olives, citrus and other fruits, and grapes top the list, though grains, especially durum wheat,

dairy and legumes are becoming important. Moreover, Greece takes the blue ribbon for having the highest percentage of organically raised pigs, while half of Europe's organic goats are Greek. This will come as no surprise to anyone whose car has been immobilized by a huge flock of Pan's relatives on the way to Delphi or Epidaurus. Slow to adopt a green mindset, Greece did not export organic products seriously until after the late 1990s. And when it began, olives and olive oil were a natural place to start. The country is the third largest producer of olive oil worldwide, after Italy and Spain, but it produces more extra virgin oil than either of its competitors. To add insult to injury, much of this was and is still shipped in bulk

14 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

to Italy and blended without acknowledgment. One young man, and a foreigner at that, was so appalled by the situation that way back in the early 80s, he grabbed some bottles at an oil press in the Mani and started filling them by hand, mainly to send back to his native Austria. He was the first person in Greece ever to bottle organic oil and not only went on to found his own company but managed to convert all the growers in the region to organic methods. The company is the largest employer in the Pyrgos-Lefktrou area. Three hundred farmers with 300,000 olive trees supply him with 300 tons of organic oil and 100 tons of organic olives, which he exports mainly to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. More importantly

though he was on the forefront of what would become a major trend in Greece: Today there are more that 115 organic Greek olive oil and olive companies. Some of the olive oil and olive companies have carved a niche for themselves in the specialty-and organic— food business, making dips, spreads and traditional appetizers with Florina peppers, sundried tomatoes, eggplant and the like. Innovative combinations and pasta sauces designed by celebrity chefs raise their appeal to gourmets in the U.S. and Scandinavia as well as in older markets like Germany, Russia, and the U.K. But while elevated prices restrict some organic products to high-end food shops abroad, others simply represent quality to discerning

mainstream consumers. Greek organic cheeses fall into this category and several dairies have gone totally green in the last few years. In most cases, convincing herders to go organic was an uphill battle as most were initially discouraged by the lack of a domestic market for their products. But now demand is well established; at least 30 companies sell organic cheese and dairy products in Greece, with hundreds of families around the country supplying them with organic sheep's and goat's milk, the mainstays of the Greek cheese industry. They produce the likes of feta from the mountains of Arcadia, graviera from Crete, manouri from Macedonia, plus fresh cheeses like anthotyro and myzithra. The first three are PDO (Protected Designation of

15 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Origin) cheeses. And these are the most sought after abroad. As the director of one of the most successful organic dairies says: “Fifty percent of the cheese we export is feta and the EU ruling that feta is exclusively Greek has helped enormously. We only began exporting in 2007 but the signs are encouraging. Germany takes the lion's share, and the message we're receiving from Australia and the US leads us to hope they'll be next.” The best markets for exports of organic Greek PDO cheeses, and particularly feta, are the US and UK, and this despite the weakened dollar, says the managing director of another organic Greek dairy. The Far East (Japan, China, Hong Kong) and India, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates also seem like rosy

prospects, especially for feta, given the new appeal of healthy light white cheese as opposed to the yellow cheeses traditionally favored by Europeans and Americans. Exports are rising annually, as more and more consumers take home memories of feta from their holidays in Greece and become aware of the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Another category where exports are growing is wine. To date, wine from organically grown grapes is not officially organic itself, but legislation is expected to clarify this in 2008. In the meantime, more and more vineyards are converting, at least in part. The list includes some well known names like Costas Lazaridis, Antonopoulos, Porto Carras, Strofilia, Babatzim, Papaioannou,

Sigala, Karipidis, and Spyropoulos, who was arguably in the vanguard. “We started not from zero but from minus zero,” says one organic Greek wine maker,“because first we had to convince people that Greek wine is not what it used to be. They weren't going to get retsina.” Indeed, the Greek wine industry, organic and conventional, has made enormous strides in the last two decades. Organic meat is another area where Greek producers are beginning to make major market inroads. The first Greek firm to venture into organic meat, Creta Farm, based near Rethymno, has a well-earned reputation domestically for quality pork. It has also perfected a method of substituting the fat in processed and cured meats with extra virgin olive oil,

This page and opposite: organic honey, beans, and jams being packed in an organic packing facility.

16 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

which makes them much healthier. The method has been patented in 90 countries. Several companies specialize in organically grown chickens, which are widely available nowadays not only in local supermarkets but also at local green farmers' markets. Given the dire conditions under which conventional chickens are raised, the prospects for organic chickens, especially among eco-aware consumers, are great. Organic eggs, too, are a growing industry. Judging by a visit to the most recent organic food show here a few months ago, the range of products both sold in Greece and produced here for sale on the domestic and international markets is impressive. Some product categories, such as honey, fresh and processed vegeta-

bles, regional pasta—especially trahana—tomatoes and tomato products, fruit, and herbs are traditional and so naturally suited to cultivation and production here. There is even a nascent movement among the most fervent eco-minded growers to preserve traditional varieties, and in the last few years a few such preservation organizations have sprouted in agricultural areas, establishing seed exchanges, festivals and more. But the organic field is not without its struggles. Harvests for organic vegetables and fruits are lower compared with conventional and high standard farming; costs for producing organic often run 25% to 50% higher, and those are passed onto the consumer. Weather poses its own threats.

Last summer's heat waves drastically reduced yields in some parts of the country. To offset those difficulties many farmers, and, by extension, food companies, produce and sell foods that are quality-controlled and high standard, but not necessarily fully organic. This is barely a representative sampling of the kinds of organic products that Greece exports. The task now is to make sure the country's tasty, healthful, ecologically-raised foods reach a larger public, both at home and abroad. ”The next wave after niche-market organics is sustainability, and this niche has to go mainstream within a reasonable period for the health of the planet we live on,” says one of the more dedicated organic producers in Greece.

Diana Farr Louis is a writer for the Athens News and the author of numerous Greek cookbooks and travel books.

17 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Fifteen years ago, George Raios was in the same position as many Greek restaurateurs in North America. He had a successful restaurant in Toronto's popular Greek district and was considering another one. This time, he decided, it wouldn't be in the Greek neighborhood.

Chain Reaction
By Joyce Gatsounis

Casual Greek Restaurant Companies Bring Simple, Healthy Food to the Masses

19 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

"People said we'd never be able to sell Greek food outside Greektown," Raios says. "But I saw other cultures' cuisines like the Italians and the Chinese had made it into the mass market, and I knew Greek food would be the next big thing." The risk paid off. Within three weeks, the second restaurant had matched receipts of the original, proving that Greek food could be successfully sold to the mass market. "Suddenly, Greek food was in," says Raios. His Mr. Greek franchises have been multiplying ever since, and by the end of 2008 he expects to have 32 locations in Canada and another two in the U.S., with further expansion expected. Raios isn't the only one finding Greek food an easy sell. From

London to Los Angeles, Greek restaurants are mushrooming, helped by the cuisine's image as healthful, consumers who are more open to ethnic cuisines, the popularization of Greek culture through the country's hosting of the Olympic Games, and the massive popularity of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. George Katakalidis' California business, like Raios' in Toronto, was also at a turning point in the early '90s. In 1992, his second store was opening. Watching the restaurant do brisk business on its first day without any advertising or marketing, he says it was then he realized that Greek culture -- and food -had finally become part of America's cultural landscape. Daphne's Greek Cafe has grown

from about 30 outlets in 2003 in southern California to 80 throughout the western U.S., making it the largest Greek food franchise outside Greece. "Twenty years ago, it was a nightmare trying to sell Greek food," notes Katakalidis, who then abandoned his first attempt at selling souvlaki in malls at a shop he called Greek To-Go. "It's different now. Movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding have made the food seem less 'foreign.'And as second-generation Greeks have become more assimilated in America, so have the components of their culture." While Katakalidis found selling fastfood souvlaki to the mass market in malls too challenging 20 years ago, by 1997 entrepreneur Nikos Tiginagas felt trends had become

20 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

more favorable. Tiginagas began Opa! Souvlaki of Greece in Calgary, Canada and the chain has since grown to 55 locations in the country with another three in the U.S. The company says its strategy of selling in malls has helped it introduce Greek food to a broader spectrum of people. People who might be curious to try Greek food but not willing to commit to a 40-dollar, three-hour night out at a traditional Greek mom-and-pop restaurant are more likely to take a risk on a $6 or $8 souvlaki plate they pick up at a pit-stop in a mall, said marketing director Mark Andrews. Most purveyors of Greek cuisine attribute some of the pickup in popularity to the 2002 hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which propelled Greeks into the mainstream

consciousness. Florida-based chain Taverna Opa has tapped into the popularity of Greek-American culture celebrated in the film, and invites people to "Be Greek For A Day" as part of its advertising. "People saw the Greek cuisine, dancing, and lifestyle in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and they want to experience some of that for themselves," says Sophia Theodore, director of operations of Taverna Opa, which has four locations and is expanding via franchise. Greek restaurants have been mushrooming in Florida ever since the movie, Theodore explains. Taverna Opa joins competing Florida chain, Louis Pappas Market Cafe, which has seven locations in the state, having been developed in recent years from one legendary Greek

restaurant by the grandson of the original owner. One Arizona-based franchise even calls itself My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, borrowing on some of the film's currency. The chain has doubled its outlets from 5 to 10 in the last two years, is opening two more stores in Arizona, launching in New Mexico by the end of this year, and plans to expand to Texas and Nevada next year. Americans' increasing interest in the healthful Mediterranean diet has also helped nudge the cuisine out of the relative obscurity of the mom-and-pop tavernas of the past. Books like The Mediterranean Diet have become bestsellers. The dangers of "trans-fats" have been widely disseminated by media and that knowledge is now part of

21 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

people's nutritional fluency, which has promoted both olive oil and Mediterranean food as ideal antidotes to North Americans' fatclogged arteries. Greek restaurants are now using the word "Mediterranean" liberally in their marketing, advertising, and menus to broaden their appeal. Mr. Greek added "Mediterranean Grill" to its name a few years ago, and Raios said doing so was an immediate success; it allowed him to add menu items like certain grilled fish, some of which were not traditionally Greek, and make the food more accessible to more people. Greek retailers are beginning to market Greek food's nutritional image more directly to health-mind-

ed consumers. Mr. Greek lists its menu items' nutritional values and reminds customers of the benefits of "good fats" like olive oil on its menu. Opa! Souvlaki of Greece is now working with a nutritionist to highlight its menu's nutritional values. Greek chains aren't the only ones capitalizing on the popularity of the cuisine. Other franchises are finding its appeal wide enough to feature Greek items on their menus. Burger King has offered a "Greek Chicken Salad" in its Canadian stores and has played up its nutritional value. Extreme Pita, a sandwich chain with about 200 outlets in Canada and the U.S., offers gyros and chicken souvlaki on its menu. Souplantation, a 105-

unit U.S. chain targeting more healthy diners, had a "Greek Week" in summer featuring the cuisine and will repeat it again next year after a successful run. The restaurant's Greek salad is one of its most popular items, said Joan Scharff, director of brand and menu strategy of the company. The new Greek chains owe some of their success to what marketers call "educating the consumer" — helping people become acquainted and familiarized with the cuisine to make it more approachable. For example, the new breed of Greek mass-market chains name menu items in English — Daphne's calls its take on tirokafteri "Fire Feta" —and include concise descriptions of the

22 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

food to help customers make more informed choices before ordering. "We owe our success to demystifying Greek food," says Scott Robison, operations director of the My Big Fat Greek Restaurant chain, which operates in markets with somewhat less familiarity of Greek food than the large urban areas. Robison says it has "removed all the barriers" for Americans to enjoy Greek food in part by eliminating certain menu items like octopus ("The average American consumer just isn't going to eat that") and rabbit. "We feel strongly there's room for at least one major Greek food chain, and we're moving every day towards being the one." Greek food's mainstream appeal is

not only a North American phenomenon. In the U.K., The Real Greek's four locations have made it the country's biggest chain to focus on the cuisine. The Real Greek started out as a high-end restaurant in 1999 and in 2003 was bought by restaurant group Clapham House, whose aim is to develop small chains into larger ones. Clapham House management built on the U.K.'s boom in Spanish tapas bars, which had been fueled by the rise of cheap Spanish holidays, and "translated" it to a Greek mezedes concept. Since Greece is also a common holiday destination for British — they make up the largest proportion of tourists there — the familiarity of Brits to the cuisine has helped The Real

Greek's popularity, said Liz Williams, managing director of the chain. The expansion of the franchises may provide an opportunity for food producers to increase sales. Many of the chains import ingredients and products from Greece, especially cheese and wine. Raios, who buys kefalotiri, wine, and beer from Greece, says he'd like to import more Greek products. As the cuisine becomes more mainstream the opportunities for feeding the masses on Kalamata olives and Greek extra-virgin olive oil, not to mention Greek feta and more, will also grow exponentially. These are opportunities that the Greek food industry should be looking to with alacrity.

Joyce Gatsoulis was the retail reporter for Bloomberg's Athens agency and also wrote about mass-marketing and travel in Greece and Eastern Europe for twelve years while living in Athens, Greece and Prague, Czech Republic. She has recently returned to her home country, the United States.

23 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Tapenade has long left its Provençale roots behind, been embraced as a condiment all over the Mediterranean, but especially in Greece, where olives have always been a part of the table and of life. Puréed, though, the olive has changed course, moving from a traditional snack to an upscale gourmet nosh.

Spreading the Olive
From meze to marmalade, the proliferating appeal of Greek olive purées
By Dimitris Andonopoulos Photography: Vassilis Stenos Food styling: Tina Webb

25 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Now, it is poised for yet another transformation as Greek chefs and food manufacturers experiment with the olive as a spread that's not only savory but sweet. It fits the zeitgeist of the times, as chefs in Europe and the U.S. are increasingly crossing the boundaries of what can be sweet; olives are appearing more and more as an ingredient in dessert as well. In Greece, the olive is as comfortable in a tangy tapenade as it is in a nutritious marmalade. The range of spreadable olive products is one of the fastest growing segments of the olive market. Olives, both black and green, now appear in jams, spoon sweets and marmalades. Tapenade consti-

Kalamata olive paste combines beautifully with herbs, oranges, even figs.

26 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

tutes an international niche. All this just a few years ago would have been unheard of, for until recently the olive was more or less confined to its traditional role as a meze and garnish. Then, seven years ago one of the country's most progressive and arguably daring food companies came out with the first ever olive marmalade, a dark, dense, unctuous spread created by Stelios Parliaros, one of Greece's top pastry chefs. It was before its time, though, a novelty that the market was not quite ready for. Nonetheless, it eventually paved the way for Greek olives manufacturers to begin thinking about this ancient fruit in new, exciting ways.

Many companies now produce olive spreads and the range of sweet olive spreads and condiments seems to be growing all the time. One company in northern Greece, for example, has experimented with an olive-based condiment that marries the olive with another ancient fruit, the fig, and pairs well with distinguished Greek cheeses. The product has been popular in the American, German and English markets. Small black Kalamata olives, dried figs, and almonds combine in yet another innovative olive spread that goes beyond the boundaries of marmalade, marrying three traditional Mediterranean products and creating something with new

taste dimensions and texture. It will be launched by a Greek food exports company in a few months, also as a relish meant for cheese. The same company also makes a spoon sweet with the green Halkidiki olive and almonds. Many of the companies that are creating these unique, diverse novelty olive spreads are small; they don't have the capital to compete with the giants, but they have the flexibility to take risks. The motivation behind the creation of many of these new olive pastes was the need to create an entirely different gamut of products around the olive. One company, for example, makes a bonafied marmalade of black olives, unprocessed sugar, and lemon juice,

27 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

which is sold locally in Greece. The small plate revolution has also helped unleash a whole new world of uses for the olive in paste form. Tapenade, a staple of small-plate menus, has moved in the high-end as well as deli item direction. For example, olive pastes mixed with spinach and feta, or with herbs and nuts are popular condiments in Greece and beyond, marrying well with grilled fish and meats as well as pasta. As a more prosaic deli item, these products are suitable dips for crisp triangles of toasted pita bread as well as for Mexican nachos and vegetable crudite.

Pure olive purées can also be used as a raw ingredient, the first step in creating a meze or spread that is nuanced and exotic.Kalamata olive paste, for example, combines beautifully with herbs or with orange, to create luscious simple meze spreads. Black olive purée also pairs well with prunes. If it's sweetness one hankers after then try green olive paste with honey and pistachios, or black olive paste with anise or ouzo, citrus and Tahini (sesame paste). Olives also work well in the mode of pesto, mashed with walnuts or other nuts, with sun-dried toma-

toes, and more. These are delicious with crisp fresh vegetables like fennel. Green olives work especially well with pistachio nuts and almonds, lemon, mint, hot pepper, green peppers, even artichokes and coriander. The olive's newfound spectrum of uses flies in the face of tradition, at least as Greeks interpret the olive's place on the table. But these are times when chefs and home cooks alike are breaking the formal boundaries of the past and forging ahead with new ideas and innovations. It's a brave new world out there for the olive in any form.

Dimitris Andonopoulos is one of the best-known food writers and restaurant critics in Athens. He writes for Athinorama.

28 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

29 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photo: Clairi Moustafellou

One can't talk about the cheeses of Metsovo without talking about the landscape from which they emerge. The village of Metsovo is situated in the Northeastern part of Epirus, in the rugged mountains of Pindos. All ways of life up in the Pindos range are directly affected by and adapted to suit the magnificent mountains and weather conditions of the area. Here as in every mountain setting, the land provides the lead; the mountains direct the ways in which man might inhabit them and eek out a living from them.

Smoking Allowed!
Metsovone and other smoked Greek cheeses
By Daphne Zepos Photography: Clairi Moustafellou, Vassilis Stenos Food styling: Tina Webb

31 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

To reach Metsovo, the easiest way is to drive north from Ioanina up into the Pindos Mountains. The road slowly lifts off from the borders of the green Ioanina Lake and weaves itself in what feels like an endless ribbon (there are over 100 turns before the mountain crest) toward Katara, the aptly named mountain pass that links Northwestern Greece to Thessaly. Katara means Doom. The road reaches over 1700m in altitude and is frequently a victim of violent weather changes, like ice gales and snow storms. It is very common to find oneself enveloped in a thick mountain fog that makes the pockmarked road practically invisible. The sound of the bells on the grazing animals is the only hint at the hidden landscape. Suddenly a shepherd, wear-

ing a hooded cape and holding a walking staff, appears on the side of the road like the grim reaper, accentuating the apocalyptic otherworldliness of the landscape. However when the weather is good, meandering up and over the pass on a sunny summer day, breathing in the fragrance from the wild grasses and flowers that carpet these empty highlands, and being suspended mid air between mountain peeks and deep valleys is equally unforgettable, like driving through a “Sound Of Music” paradise. No matter the weather conditions, the road to Metsovo is grandiose. Metsovo is an immaculate, architecturally preserved village perched on a hillside, with winding, cobbled streets, open air fountains and traditional stone houses. It has an

unmistakable air of wealth and solidity. Strolling on the paths that circle into Metsovo and taking stock of the arresting view, one cannot escape the feeling of soaring like an eagle above the world. Again the sound of bells permeates the landscape, from the cottony echoes of sheep bells across the valley to the metallic zing of the church chimes that pierce through the thin air like an arrow. The village owes its good fortune to an incident in the 17th century, when Greece was under Turkish occupation. A Turkish aristocrat, out of favor with his sultan, was given refuge by a local peasant. The aristocrat later came to power and returned the favor by granting Metsovo trading and tax-free privileges, a circumstance that led to a degree of prosperity and wealth

32 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photos this page: Clairi Moustafellou

unlike any other village in Epirus. The preservation of Metsovo as an outdoor museum of traditional architecture is due to the generosity and wisdom of several local philanthropists, especially the AveroffTosizza family. Their endowments have protected the strong local traditions and helped develop a mar-

ket for the many handicrafts Metsovo is renowned for today, such as weaving, wood carvings, silver and gold work, and of course, cheese making. Metsovo's several thousand inhabitants are Vlachs; they speak their own Latin-based dialect as well as Greek. Until the Second World War

many Vlach tribes in Europe were semi-nomadic, crossing the Balkan Mountains with their livestock. The Vlach shepherds from Metsovo still practice transhumance, the seasonal migratory movement of animals and their keepers up and down the mountains. In the spring, they follow the new grass

OTHER SMOKED GREEK CHEESES Metsovone might be the most famous of the Greek smoked cheeses, but it's not the only one. There are a handful of cheeses made in northern Greece that are fashioned in a similar vain, oblong, semihard, and smoked. One small dairy in Metsovo itself makes a cheese very similar to the PDO Metsovone, and calls it

Kapnisto Metsovou (“smoked Metsovo”). In Grevena, a former student of the Tossitsa Foundation Dairy set up his own cheese-making facility and produces an earthy smoked cheese like that of his mentors. The Kapnisto Verroias, from central Macedonia, and the Kapnisto Sohou, from a well-known dairy outside Thessaloniki also both make similar log-shaped

smoked cheeses. In Serres, one dairy that specializes in the products of the Pontian (Black Sea) Greeks makes a smoked cheese called Baharotyri. Although the smoked cheeses of Greece all share common traits, each producer has developed his own particular method. These cheeses are made mostly from cow's milk, although some also contain a

percentage of sheep's milk. The flora of each region and microclimate determine the ultimate flavor the milk used. That, combined with closely held trade secrets, such as the type of wood or woods used to smoke the cheeses and the duration of aging before and after the smoking period, all help to determine each of these intriguing cheese's individual profiles. DK

33 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photo this page: Clairi Moustafellou

growth into the high altitude pastures; then, in autumn, they come back down in the valley for the winter months. Shepherds settle in the pastures above -Metsovo for the summer, making cheese and grazing their sheep in some of the most versatile, pristine pastures in Greece. Epirus is renowned for the enormous variety of its flora and has become a reference point for European pharmaceutical plants. It is important to recognize the quality of the milk in the summer months. Cows, sheep and goats graze on a very large variety of wild grasses. Invigorated as they are by open air living, they produce milk

that reflects this varied diet. This is milk made by animals that are free to graze in uncultivated regions, free from fertilizers, or pesticides. Many mountain cheeses made in the summer months are prized accordingly, because they can become a far better cheese, a cheese with richer, more complex flavors. It was this magnificent milk that fueled the desire of the most renowned benefactor of the region, Mr. Evangelos Averoff, to preserve and expand the variety of cheeses made in Metsovo. In addition to originating from Metsovo, Mr. Averoff was a

renowned Greek politician. He founded the Tossizza foundation, which opened the first modern cheese factory in Metsovo in 1958. Mr. Tassos Averoff, current president of the foundation and the nephew of (the now deceased) Mr. Averoff, puts it aptly: “(His) vision was to create a cheese dairy which would take the shape of a school for the practical art of cheese making - a model for the cheese-makers of the region, not just a factory to provide employment for the local population. Averoff gave several of the young men from the village of Metsovo the chance to go to Italy to learn the art of cheese making.

34 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photos this page: Vassilis Stenos

These were the sons of families of herders and stockbreeders who, from a very young age, had watched and assisted their fathers in the making of cheese, just as the previous generation had learned

from theirs. The knowledge which they obtained from the famous northern Italian schools for the art of cheese making, coupled with the experience they had gained as children, contributed to their becom-

ing consummate cheese makers”. These young cheese makers were taught the art of making pasta filata cheeses, a process that involves scolding the freshly made curd in hot water and stretching it. The most renowned members of the

CHEESE PLATE IDEAS: - As part of a Greek cheese platter, with a fat sheep's milk Manouri, Naxos blue, and the Metsovo “peppered chèvre” with honeycomb and toasted almonds. - As part of a European platter: Valencay goat

from France, Cashel blue from UK, Taleggio from Italy, with black cherry jam and walnut halves.

RECIPE IDEAS - In a risotto with dried porcini mushrooms and brussel sprouts. - In a Panade gratinée with chard, day old

pasta filata family are Mozzarella and Provolone. In Italy, these cheeses have always been very receptive to smoking: fresh buffalo mozzarella is often flash smoked and sold, still dripping with whey, the same day it is made. Scarmozza—another variation— is also slightly smoked and encased in wax, left to mature for a few weeks until the flavor has mellowed and

WINE PAIRING: - With a glass of brassy red zinfandel, or a dry fino sherry from Pain, or a dark ale.

bread, eggs, cream etc. - Shaved over sautéed whole green onions tossed with lemon zest and black pepper.

35 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photos this page: Clairi Moustafellou

permeated the whole cheese. It was from that experience that METSOVONE was born. The name comes from the marriage of two names: Metsovo, the town where it originates, and Provolone, the cheese it was inspired by. Metsovone is a smoked, pasta filata cheese. It has a long, cylindrical shape and comes in 3 sizes, from 1.5 to 4.5 kilos. It is unique in the roster of Greek cheeses and a comparatively recent acquisition if you compare it with ancient cheeses like feta and Kefalotyri.

Metsovone is made with 90% cow's milk and up to 10% goat's milk. The milk comes from the herds that graze around Metsovo, and is either delivered or collected by truck each morning. Once the milk has curdled and the curds have separated from the whey, the cheese-maker lifts the curd mass out of the vat with a large cheese cloth and places it into a wooden tub, where it remains in a warm environment for a period of one hour. Then, he cuts the curd mass into large slabs and submerges them in a tub filled with hot

water. He softens the slabs with a large wooden paddle until they turn into one uniform, pliable mass. He breaks off pieces from the mass and hand-kneads them giving them their oblong elastic shape. He slides the oblong pieces into their cylindrical molds and immerses them in a bath of cold water until the warm cheeses harden and keep their shape. The newly formed Metsovone cheeses are then taken out of the molds and submerged in a brine bath for one to three days according to size. When the

36 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photo this page: Clairi Moustafellou

37 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photo this page: Clairi Moustafellou

cheeses are ready for ripening, they are wiped clean, tied with sturdy string and hung from the ceiling in the cheese maturing room. There, as it ages, each cheese develops surface molds that accentuate the flavors and give it character. After it has fully matured, the cheese is brushed clean and placed in the smoke room where it is briefly smoked over burning vine branches, aromatic leaves and hay. Finally

it is waxed and labeled and ready for sale. Always recognizable in a cheese shop, Metsovone hangs from the ceiling alongside the cured hams and the gourd shaped provolone. In flavor, a three to five month old Metsovone resembles a mature provolone, with bold, slightly peppery flavors and hints of dried mushrooms. The heart of the cheese paste is straw yellow, and

gets slightly darker as it reaches the smoked edge. The texture is semi-hard to hard, and lightly striated with small holes. The cheese is smoked over burning vine branches, aromatic leaves and hay, which gives it a natural, camp-fire aroma. While the salty and smoky flavors are assertive, they never conceal the lovely milky, savory notes that come from using such a spectacular milk in the first place.

Daphne Zepos is a well-known authority on cheese. She lives in New York City.

38 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Photo this page: Clairi Moustafellou

40 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

Artichokes Stuffed with Metsovone and Pastourma
Kerasma recipes
Recipe by Diane Kochilas

For 8 servings

4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from 1/2 pound/250 gr. bread) 1 1/2 cups grated Kefalotyri cheese 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 1/2 ounces (70 gr.) pastourma, trimmed and minced 1 cup finely chopped Metsovone cheese (1/4 pound) Salt and pepper 1/4 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil For the artichokes 8 medium-large globe artichokes 1 lemon, halved 1 cup water 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and brown breadcrumbs in an ungreased pan for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Toss with grated Kefalotyri, garlic, parsley, pastourma, metsovone, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle in the oil and toss with a fork. 2. Trim and stuff artichokes: Cut off artichoke stems and discard. For each artichoke: Cut off top 1/2 inch (1 1/2 cm) with a serrated knife, then cut about 1 inch off all remaining leaf tips

with kitchen scissors. Rub cut leaves with a lemon half. Separate leaves slightly with your thumbs, then pull out purple and yellow leaves from center. Using a teaspoon scoop out choke. 3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spoon about 2 tablespoons stuffing into cavity of each artichoke and, starting with bottom leaves and spreading leaves open as much as possible without breaking, spoon a rounded teaspoon stuffing between each leaf.

4. Pour water, broth, half the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a baking dish large enough to hold the artichokes snugly in one layer. Place the artichokes in the liquid and drizzle each with a little of remaining olive oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for one hour, or until tender. Remove, cool slightly and serve in deep dishes with the pan juices around them.

41 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

42 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

Panade of Leeks and Mixed Greens with Metsovone Cheese
Cook" by Paula Wolfert .

Kerasma recipes

Adapted From "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate

For 8 servings

1 one-pound (450 gr.) loaf of stale chewy bread with crust 3 large leeks (white and light green parts only) 1 red onion, peeled and chopped 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced, or 5 green garlic shoots 1/4 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt to taste 1 1/2 pounds mixed leafy greens, deribbed and shredded to make about 10 cups Juice of 1/2 lemon Freshly ground black pepper to taste Grated nutmeg to taste 3 cups whole milk, heated to simmering 1/2 pound (250 gr.) Metsovone cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 250°F/120°C. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and measure about 1 1/2 quarts. Spread in single layers on oiled baking sheets and bake 45 minutes, or until golden. Let cool and set aside until ready to use. 2. Split leeks lengthwise, rinse in cold running water to remove grit, and chop. Measure leeks, onion and garlic to be sure you have about 1 quart. 3. In a 7- to 8-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Slowly stew onion mixture 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook 5 minutes. 4. Add greens to pot, cover and cook over low heat 45 minutes. Uncover and boil away excess liquid. Allow to cool. Add lemon juice, about 1/4 tea-

spoon pepper and about 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg. Taste and correct seasonings. (Up to this point the recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) 5. About 2 1/2 hours before serving, oil a deep 3-quart casserole, preferably earthenware. Place one-third of the bread in the dish, top with half of greens and repeat, ending with a third layer of bread cubes. Pat lightly to make an even topping. Gradually pour hot milk down the insides and over the top of the panade so everything is moist. If necessary, add 1/2 cup water. Cover with grated cheese and a sheet of foil.

6. Bake in a preheated 250°F/120°c oven for 1 1/2 hours. Raise oven temperature to 400°F/200°c, uncover and bake 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest about 10 minutes before serving. Note: The greens can be a mix of any of the following: sorrel, chard, parsley, arugula, spinach or watercress. The finished dish is much like a dense bread stuffing, and would be wonderful with roasts.

43 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Greek Omelet with Kalamata Sausages, Mushrooms and Metsovone Cheese
Recipe by Diane Kochilas For 4 servings

Kerasma recipes

1/2 pound (250 gr.) orange-flavored sausages from Kalamata, casings removed 1/4 pound (125 gr.) brown button mushrooms, quartered 1 small garlic clove, minced 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 large leek, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled 6 large, preferably organic, eggs 2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary 1 Florina red pepper, roasted and chopped 1/4 pound (125 gr.) Metsovone cheese, coarsely grated
Vassilis Stenos

1. Crumble the sausage meat and sauté without oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown. Break it up with a fork if necessary. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain over paper towels on a plate. 2. Add the mushrooms to skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and toss with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Set aside.

3. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook the leeks and thyme for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Season until very soft, about 6 minutes. Season leek mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside. 4. In a medium-sized metal bowl, whisk 3 eggs and half the rosemary in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of leek mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or omelet pan over medium heat. Add egg mixture to skillet and spread evenly with rubber spatula.

Cook until bottom of mixture is golden and the eggs are set on top. Using the spatula, lift sides of omelet to let uncooked egg flow under, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Arrange half of sausage, mushrooms, peppers and cheese in the middle 1/3 of the omelet. Fold one side of omelet over filling and roll out onto a serving plate, preferably heated. Make a second omelet exactly the same way with the remaining ingredients. Garnish with fresh rosemary or thyme and serve warm.

44 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Sautéed Green Onions with Grated Metsovone and Lemon Zest
Recipe by Diane Kochilas For 4 servings

Kerasma recipes

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin Greek olive oil 12-16 green onions, trimmed but whole Sea salt to taste Grated zest of 1 lemon Freshly ground black pepper to taste 6 Tablespoons grated Metsovone cheese
1. In a large, heavy, preferably castiron skillet, heat the olive oil and add the whole green onions. Sauté until soft and lightly caramelized, about 810 minutes. Shake the pan back and forth as the onions sauté, to cook them evenly on all sides. 2. A minute before removing from heat, sprinkle with a little sea salt, the grated lemon zest, and black pepper. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with the grated Metsovone.

45 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

Greek sweet wines could easily warrant the most expensive price tags in the world. The Greek wine renaissance of the last three decades has helped push the country's dessert wines to new heights, out of a backwater and into the limelight. Wines that have been made for centuries have new polish, and more and more vintners are finally experimenting with sweet wines. In the last five years alone, a few dozen new sweet wines have emerged from the Greek vineyard.

Honey from the Vine
Greece's world-class dessert wines
By Konstantinos Lazarakis Photography: Vassilis Stenos Food styling: Tina Webb

47 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

SWEET APPELLATIONS: MUSCATS AND MAVRODAPHNES Yet, for most of the 20th century, sweet Greek wines were invariably made either from the Muscat or Mavrodaphne varieties, and these wines, with their long history and easy palatability were always the pinnacles of Greek sweet wine production. Greek wine legislation evinces as much. In Greece at this point the only sweet wines granted the coveted Controlled Appellation of Origin classification are those made with one of these two traditional grapes. The Muscats include those of Samos, Lemnos, and Rhodes in the Aegean, the Muscat of Cephalonia (from the Ionian), and the Muscats of Patras and of Rion of Patras, both from the northwestern tip of Peloponnesos. (All appellations, with the exception of Muscat of Lemnos, use the

sub-variety of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, or small-berried white Muscat, which is the top quality member of the Muscat family. Actually, many modern viticulturalists suggest that this Muscat be called “Muscat of Samos”, since its origins have now been traced back to the island. In Lemnos, vineyards are cultivated with Muscat of Alexandria, a Muscat that produces excellent, very floral, young sweet wines that lack, however, the aging ability of Muscat Blanc.) The appellation Mavrodaphnes are the Mavrodaphne of Patras and of Cephalonia. Almost every Greek appellation Muscat is either a “Vin Doux,” meaning a wine fortified very early in the fermentation process, or “Vin Doux Naturel,” a fortified wine in which the spirit is added at a later

stage. Most are bottled young and consumed fresh, but some Greek Muscats are aged in oak, where they lose a bit of the vibrant primary fruit but gain in complexity, extract, and texture. However, the most expensive Muscats are not the fortified ones but those produced from sun-dried grapes, caskaged for a number of years, and bottled as “Vin Naturellement Doux,” wines in which the concentration is so high that fermentation stops naturally at around 15 percent. Most of these wines are consumed on release since they are too charming to resist, but older bottles, with their complex aromas, fine grained texture and enveloping, constantly evolving finish, prove that the sun-dried muscats have great aging potential that can easily span two and even three decades.

48 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

MAVRODAPHNE Although there are only two appellation of origin Mavrodaphne wines, they are just as important commercially as the Muscats. Mavrodaphnes never have aggressive tannins and are always characterized by a certain elegance, with aromas and flavors displaying ripe red fruit, sweet

spices, and multifaceted notes of intense, aromatic herbs--it isn't by accident that Mavrodaphne, which means “black laurel,” is so named. The most famous Mavrodaphne is that of Patras. The Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia, also an appellation of origin wine, was almost extinct in the 1990s, but now is enjoying a resurgence

as more and more producers are experimenting with it and releasing some exciting wines made with it. Almost all Mavrodaphne wines are fortified and need at least few years of aging in oak, usually large,old barrels, to develop the breathtaking spectrum of aromas and flavors that characterize the wine. For a while,

Nowadays, top producers are crafting some superb examples of Mavrodaphne.

49 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

pedestrian Mavrodaphnes flooded the market and gave the wine an undeserved image issue. But nowadays top producers are crafting some superb examples of Mavrodaphne. Recent trends include a move towards a richer, more fruit-focused style, closer to a dense RubyPort, or the use of new oak and smaller barrels, which results in wines with more marked toasty and vanilla aromas. Nevertheless, the powerhouse of Mavrodaphne is the rare, old bottlings. Some companies sell mature, vintage-dated labels or multi-vintage blends that are extremely impressive. Some producers and collectors have 100year-old bottlings, and these belong unquestionably to the pantheon of great sweet wines.

Greece's sweet wine production is moving really fast and the scene is literally booming.

50 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

OTHER SWEET WINES Beyond the two traditional sweet wine appellations of origin in Greece are many other sweet wines, many classified as appellations of origin of Higher Quality, and these are often just as intriguing as the better known Muscats and Mavrodaphnes. The sweet wines of Santorini, for example, are at the same high levels of quality as Greece's more traditional sweet wines. Santorini-arid, hot,windy, and volcanic--produces small quantities of grapes often from century-old vines. These grapes are sun dried straight after harvest for anywhere between seven days and two weeks. The must is then fermented and aged in old, large oak barrels for at least two years. The final product is

Vinsanto, a term used in Santorini well before Tuscan producers started producing this style. Vinsanto is very intense, concentrated and very sweet, sometimes reaching levels of 300 grams of sugar per liter. The balance of the wine is saved by the ultra-high acidity of Assyrtiko, which provides freshness and nerve. Vinsantos are delicious when young but, because of their intensity and extract, time can barely touch them. After years they are still very fresh. In Santorini there is also another dessert wine called Mezzo, but not everyone who makes it agrees on what exactly it is. Some producers interpret Mezzo as the lighter, younger, less sweet version of Vinsanto, while others claim it is a Vinsanto-like wine made from the

sun-dried red grape Mandilaria, which is native to some Aegean islands. Consumers benefit most from this friendly dispute: Mezzos made from Mandilaria and Mezzos made from Assyrtico are equally delicious.

SWEET CRETE Crete, other Aegean island, also has a long, but sometimes lost, history of sweet wines. And yet, according to some aficionados of sweet wines, Crete has given the world more than a few sweet gems. A wine lover traveling around Crete in the early 20th century would have encountered myriad dessert wines, among them Marouvas from Hania, a fortified wine aged in a solera system , very similar to semi-sweet Sherry; and

51 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

sweet Malvasia wines made from sun-dried local Liatiko grapes. This last wine may in fact have been the precursor to Madeira. Crete's sweet wine traditions were dormant for almost three decades as producers concentrated on drier wines. But they are beginning to enjoy a much-justified revival as both new and well-established wineries explore the sweet genre and release wines that are both classic and contemporary. In the next decade, at least a few sweet wine greats will surface from Crete. Crete is not the only place with a long dormant history of sweet wine making revived. Many parts of Greece used to produce sweet wines and modern winemakers all over the country are eyeing these lost traditions with new interest, seeing in them great potential. A prime example is Nemea in the Peloponnesos, one of Greece's

most vibrant wine-producing regions, and home to the native, charismatic red Agiorgitiko grape. The appellation's hot lower grounds that have been planted with Agiorgitiko produce very ripe grapes and, consequently, wines with a certain degree of sweetness. Vintners are selecting and drying these grapes carefully, either in the sun or shade. Some have experimented with long oak aging and have produced astonishing wines as a result, much in the same vein with the Recioto style produced in the Veneto. On the other end of the viticultural map, Macedonia, especially the small town of Siatista, which was once renowned for its sweet and semi-sweet sun-dried Xynomavro wines, is also enjoying a revival. Xynomavro has captured the attention and imagination of Greek winemakers for well over the last

three decades, for here is a noble, Nebbiolo-like grape with low color, intense aromas, high acidity, angular tannins but splendid complexity. But it was almost always a grape associated with the dry reds of Naoussa, Goumenissa and, more recently, Rapsani. There was not a single, commercially available bottling of sweet Xynomavro from Siatista. Instead, the wine was a well-kept local secret, with but a few artisans producing limited barrels mainly for their own consumption. The wines acquired a kind of cult status as a result. Oenophiles would travel all the way to Siatista hoping to purchase few litres of this rare wine. The wine will finally be available commercially in a year or two, after long aging in oak, which will soften the tannins and increase the aromatic complexity. Greece's sweet wine production is

52 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

moving really fast and the scene is literally booming. Almost every major premium winemaker recently has released or is planning to release at least one sweet or semisweet wine. Many winemakers are also experimenting with sweet wines made from international grape varieties, such as Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Merlot,

Chardonnay and Riesling, or with sweet wines made with indigenous grapes that have not been traditionally associated with sweet wines. Among these are: Malagousia, Malvasia and Savatiano, mainly harvested late, anywhere from a week to a month after the regular harvest, to achieve concentration. Although

sweet wine production in Greece is experiencing an exciting renaissance, the perception of these wines among both consumers and professionals can be limited. The biggest error is confining sweet wines to the dessert wine category. That's not to say, of course, that sipping sweet wine with desserts isn't tantalizing, it's just not the

A wide range of Greek sweet wines can easily complement savory dishes.

53 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

only way to enjoy them. A wide range of Greek sweet wines can easily complement savory dishes: strong cheeses with Muscats, pâtés with rich white wines, cold meats with elegant reds, and even a mature Mezzo with a rich tomato and bean soup are some examples of untraditional but delicious pairings. Sweet wine is also the perfect all-day drink, something to eradicate the bitterness of coffee for example, or to enjoy with a simple snack of nuts in the middle of a languid afternoon. As accompaniments to dessert, of course, the options are limitless. Lighter white wines, such as young Lemnos Muscats, superbly match less sweet fruits such as pineapple or pear, while richer wines, such as the sun-dried Muscats of Samos pair well with richer fruits, like figs. High acid Vinsantos go well with deep fried fruits, like bananas, and sweet red wines are a natural partner with richer desserts, like honey-drenched walnut pies and cakes. More mature, elegant but less opulent reds, such as aged Mavrodaphne, is the Holy Grail in the quest for finding a great partner for bitter, dark chocolate. Sweet wines offer a fantastic array

54 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

of possibilities and are limited only by a wine lover's imagination. Greece's sweet wines live up to every dining situation with an equally fascinating spectrum of wines, both new and long-forgotten treasures.

inevitable in those days. They knew that sweet wines have a greater tolerance for oxygen because of their greater concentration of sugar and extract and so have a longer shelf life, which made them more conducive to trade and thus more commercially attractive..

Greek winemakers came to prefer these sun-dried, unctuous sweet wines and for good reason. Their aromatic profile bears all the intensity of the sun-drying process. In ancient Greece, indeed, all around the Mediterranean basin, these Greek sweet wines were the “Grand Crus” of the era. This was the basic, albeit inexact, winemaking method for centuries, until the advent of distillation sometime in the early 20th century, allowed winemakers to arrest fermentation at will by adding enough distilled grape spirit -- fortifying the wine, in other words -to bring the alcohol level up to 15%, at which point fermentation automatically stops. Wine may be fortified at any point during fermentation but the earlier it's done the more sugars will be retained. Fortification at a late stage leaves less sugar in the final wine, but imbues it with a more integrated alcohol presence. Fortified wines have a different balance on the palate and usually lack the intense raisin aromas of wines made with sun-dried grapes since they are made with grapes that have normal levels of ripeness and concentration.

SWEET WINE HISTORY IN GREECE Greece has a long history of sweet wine production. The first wines ever made here were sweet, out of necessity rather than choice. Ancient winemakers harvested their grapes, which were likely wild vines crawling up trees, pressed then and waited for the alcoholic fermentation to start, initiated by the yeasts naturally found at that stage in the must. If these native yeasts were not vigorous enough or if the grapes so ripe that the musts were very sweet, then fermentation would be sluggish before finally stopping, which meant that there was residual sugar that did not have a chance to convert to alcohol. To ancient empiric wine makers, this was a good thing because sweet wines are more stable; dry wines, they knew by experience, turned easily to vinegar when they came into contact with air, which was almost

In order to assure that sweet wines could be made reliably year-in, year-out, wine makers of yore knew they could not rely on unpredictable yeast strains so they opted for wines made from grapes that were already very ripe, and they achieved this ripeness by letting the grapes stay on the vine longer, exposed to the fine Greek autumn weather. Eventually they developed more controlled methods for achieving ripeness, by harvesting grapes and letting them either dry slowly and gently in the shade or more expediently right under the hot September sun. When pressed, the must was already sweet, of course, and yeasts were used to initiate fermentation but at some point the high levels of sugar and alcohol would kill off the yeasts, stopping fermentation, and thus producing those desirably stable, sweet wines that for eons were the stuff of poetry.

55 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Tucked away on the rue des Patriarches, in the village-like 5th arrondissement of Paris, is a soft and luxurious Hellenic culinary haven. Mavrommatis is the name on the sign above the front door of the restaurant, and it represents a trio of brothers who have brought their corner of the world to the French capital.

Paris à la Grecque
Andreas Mavrommatis marries French techniques with Greek tradition
By Susan Hermann Loomis Photography: Dimitris Vattis, Jacques Denarnaud Food Photography: Christian Sarramon, from Les Délices d'Aphrodite, courtesy éditions Filipacchi

57 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Andreas Mavrommatis, the eldest brother, came to France some thirty years ago to study philosophy and sociology. A pragmatist even as a young adult, his attraction to France included its romance and culture, and its no-cost, high-quality education. “My father asked why I didn't want to go to England, because Cyprus has strong links with the English. I told him I was attracted to the Latin culture of France; it corresponded better to my Cypriot lifestyle,” he said. He lived and attended school in the 5th arrondissement, working nights and weekends in Greek restaurants.

His hours were long, his studies onerous, yet he found time to begin a love affair with food. One fateful day, a friend of his who dabbled in real estate made him a proposition. “He said it was a deal I couldn't refuse, a restaurant to buy,” Mavrommatis said. “I said I didn't have time, and I didn't know about restaurants.” The friend prevailed, and set Mavrommatis on his successful path as he opened his first restaurant, a take-out Greek charcuterie featuring the foods he'd grown up with. “We called it Les Délices d'Aphrodite and it was the begin-

ning,” Mavrommatis said. Since then, and with his two younger brothers, Evajoras and Dionysos, Mavrommatis has expanded his holdings into a robust little Greek empire in Paris. It now includes four restaurants and five take-out shops, as well as a lively catering business. (Just a year ago, the Mavrommatis established an “outpost at home” a restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Cyprus.) Mavrommatis is the driving force behind the business, and the driving force behind him is a simple, profound passion for food. “It came

Les Délices d'Aphrodite

Christina’s Tapas Restaurant

58 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

D. Vattis

from my parents, who gave all seven of us children the love, support and tenderness that established us in life,” Mavrommatis said. “We raised our own food in the tiny fields in our mountaintop home, and my mother was such a good cook that her food stays in my memory. Through her I learned about fine ingredients, and fine food. It is my basis.” Once in the food business Mavrommatis, a born perfectionist, decided he wanted to apply French technique to Greek specialties. The logical step was to sign up for cooking lessons at the finest

Parisian school of the time, École Le Nôtre. “I took them all — chocolate, sauces, pastry,” he said smiling and shaking his head. To reinforce his cultural culinary background he visited home often, learning culinary secrets and gradually unearthing the best Greek and Cypriot producers. Today he imports key ingredients from his homeland. “I am not an importer, I am a restaurateur,” Mavrommatis says, laughing.“But the flavors and freshness of certain products just can't be equaled anywhere else, and besides, I want to work with the Greek producers.” To that end he imports

loukoumia, special Kalamata olives, extra-virgin olive oil, feta cheese, candied fruits, tiny dried yellow split peas from Santorini, saffron from Kozani, and grape leaves. Three of the four Mavrommatis restaurants, Laurier, Christina's Tapas, and Les Délices d'Aphrodite, offer casual cuisine. At Mavrommatis, the flagship restaurant, Mr. Mavrommatis shows his true flair for combining Hellenic and French cuisine. Take the plump and perfectly roasted veal fillet which arrives at the table surrounded by an avgolemono froth, and set-off by disks of

59 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

crisp kolokassi, a taro-like root that Mavrommatis calls a “Greek potato,” and grilled Kos lettuce salad. With its feathers of reduced cooking juices artfully decorating the plate, it is a picture-perfect French dish. “This is a typical dish which, at home, would be a braisé,” Mavrommatis said. “But how many braised dishes can you serve at a restaurant? So, I took the ingredients and treated them separately. For the avgolemono sauce, I simply used veal stock as a base, frothed it, and poured it around the veal. All the traditional elements are there, they are just treated with French technique.” And that is the true secret of the Mavrommatis success; food that is not only expertly prepared and ele-

gantly served, but intriguingly bi-cultural. Take the tzatziki, a dish which, albeit deliciously refreshing, couldn't be more banal. But at Mavrommatis it is interpreted as a strip of fresh cucumber wrapped around garlickissed yogurt. Eggplant purée is another Greek standard, but at Mavrommatis it has a near-ethereal delicacy and is topped with one, perfect roasted walnut. Stuffed grape leaves, so often leaden and gummy, here float off the plate with lightness, their olive-green wrapping mouth-meltingly tender. “There is a reason for the tenderness of those grape leaves,” Mavrommatis said. “I import them from Greece, and take nearly the whole harvest of one special producer, because none are better. He

packs them in glass jars, they are heavy and cost seven times that of any other grape leaves, but it's worth it seven times over. If the quality of the grape leaves wasn't enough to convince that his importing efforts were worth it, the flavor of the saffron he uses would be. A small bowl of shellfish soup arrived in a saffron cloud, whose delicacy in the mouth was astonishing. “This soup,” Mavrommatis said with a smile. “This soup I call Mediterranean. All of us on the Mediterranean, we share a 'truc', a little something with our tomatoes, shellfish, peppers. Our saffron? Well, no one really knows about it and it's superior. That's why I import it.” Mavrommatis is a long stone's

60 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

D. Vattis

throw from a community of Greek restaurants that line the ancient streets of the Latin Quarter, yet the quality and creativity he offers is a million miles away. Why did he decide to distinguish himself with gourmet Greek cuisine? “I feel so bad for those who have bad restaurants,” he said. “Look at me. I have so much satisfaction. I work hard, minimum of twelve hours a day, usually much more than that, all weekends, it never stops. But I eat the finest food, drink the finest wines. If I had a bad restaurant I would still work long hours but I wouldn't enjoy my food. It's as simple as that.” Of course, it isn't really. Mavrommatis is one of those people with a love of food in his blood,

a deep resonance with ingredients straight from the soil, a fountain of enthusiasm for all that is delicious, and a simple pride in his origin. “I have been here so long of course I love life here,” he said of France. “And I miss my country. But not that much because I'm surrounded by my country all the time. I work with Greek food and ingredients, I listen to Greek music in my restaurants, I speak Greek with my brothers and my handful of Greek employees.” Mavrommatis appears to be the sort of person who would be happy no matter where he is, but he's created an undeniably wonderful niche for himself and his family in Paris. He reaches out to the Greek community, whose members

respond with regular visits to all his restaurants. He has made himself a part of the culinary scene, and is solicited constantly to cater affairs for events that range from weddings to business extravaganzas. He visits his establishments regularly and has made friends among his clients, he confers with his brothers constantly, and is on a comfortable first-name basis with most of his two hundred employees (fifteen of whom are Greek), some of whom have been with him since he started in the restaurant business. This man from an island has re-created his island far from home. “My brothers and I are proud to represent our country in this way,” he said with a shake of his head. “It is the best way to honor it.”

Susan Hermann Loomis is the owner of the French cooking school On Rue Tatin and a well-known cookbook author and journalist. She lives in France.

Mavrommatis restaurant Paris.

Mavrommatis is the flagship restaurant, where the chef shows his true flair for combining Hellenic and French cuisine.

61 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

62 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Constantinople-style Artichokes
Kerasma recipes
Chef Andreas Mavrommatis For 4 servings

Preparation time: 40 minutes, cooking time: 40 minutes For the Broth and the Sauce 2 medium-sized shallots 2 medium-sized carrots 2 celery stalks 4 Tablespoons olive oil 10 cl white wine 50 cl chicken broth Salt and pepper 1/2 bunch of dill (tied like a bouquet garni) 2 pinches of paprika Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the Artichokes 14 small purple artichokes 8 small spring onions, chopped 8 small carrots, chopped 300 gr. broad beans 300 gr. fresh peas Juice from 1/2 lemon 3 dill sprigs Salt and pepper

1. To prepare the broth and vegetables for sauce: Peel the shallots, carrots, and celery stalks. Wash, trim, and chop the vegetables. 2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot. Brown the vegetable pieces over low heat stirring all the while with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and cook until it is almost absorbed. Pour in the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, skim, and add the dill bouquet. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain the broth through a chinois and reserve in order to cook the artichokes and the vegetables.

3. To prepare the artichokes: Cut away tough outer leaves. Chop off 1-1 1/2 inches (2 1/2 - 3 cm) from the top of each artichoke. Open the petals and scrape out the choke using a teaspoon or sharp knife. Cut away tough outer parts of stems leaving only tender white core. Rub each artichoke with lemon and submerge immediately in cold lemon water. Soak until ready to use. 4. Trim the spring onions (leaving some of tender greens) and peel the carrots. Shell the broad beans and peas. 5. Bring 1 1/2 liters (1 1/2 quarts) of salted water to a boil and blanch the broad beans for 10 seconds. Then, add the peas and cook until al dente. Pour over cold water, drain, and set aside.

6. Remove the membrane off each broad bean and place on the plate with the peas. Heat the broth in a large pot over high heat and cook the onions, carrots and artichokes in turns. Set aside on a platter. 7. To finish with the sauce: Wash the dill. Purée the boiled vegetables in a blender together with 2 artichokes which have been cut into small pieces. Add some of the cooking broth from the artichokes. Add the paprika, 4 tablespoons olive oil, and the juice of half a lemon. If the sauce is too thick, add more broth. 8. To serve: Cover the bottom of 4 deep plates with sauce. Arrange the artichokes, cut into quarters, on top, then place the carrots and onions over and around the artichokes. Add peas and broad beans. Sprinkle with dill. Serve hot or cold.

63 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Stuffed Squid with Rice, Vegetables and Herbs
Kerasma recipes
Chef Andreas Mavrommatis

For 6 servings

For the Squid 12 large squid suitable for stuffing 800 gr. (1 3/4 pounds) spinach Salt and pepper 3 Tablespoons olive oil For the Stuffing 2 squid (200 gr./6-7 ounces total) 1 kilo (2 pounds) mussels 20 cl dry white wine 100 gr. (3 ounces) Arborio rice 1/2 bunch chives 1/4 bunch dill 1/4 bunch chervil 1/2 bunch spring onions 2 medium carrots 1 medium pear 4 Tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper 2 pinches of chili pepper

For the Sauce Juice from the mussels 250 gr. (1/2 pound) tomatoes 200 gr. (7 ounces) spring onions 2 Tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper 2 pinches of saffron threads

1. Clean squid thoroughly: Grasp the head just below the eyes, pull it from the rest of the body, and set it aside. Cut away the thin purplish membrane on the outside of the tail section. Using your index finger, scoop out and discard the guts and the thin cartilage «icicle» on the inside of the tail section. Rinse tail sections inside and out and set aside in a colander to drain. Take the head section in one hand and put pressure with your thumb and forefinger around the mouth and eyes, to squeeze them out. Discard mouth and eyes.

2. For the stuffing: Chop the 2 squid and their tentacles. Season with salt, pepper and cook in a skillet over high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon. 3. Scrub and rinse the mussels well. Place in a large pot, pour in the white wine, cover, and cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, until mussels open. Rinse mussels well in cold water and remove from shell. 4. Strain the juice through a chinois. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water. Drain. Bring a pot with 2 liters

of water to a boil. Add rice, season with salt, and cook over low heat, about 15 minutes. Drain. Rinse well in cold water and let drain. Trim and wash the herbs (chives, dill, chervil). Peel the onions, carrots, and pear. Chop coarsely and then chop further in a food processor. 5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot, add the vegetables and sauté for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour in half of the reserved mussel juice. Add precooked rice, and cook over low heat stirring with a wooden spoon until all the liq-

64 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

uid is absorbed. Add the chopped squid and shelled mussels. Adjust the seasoning, remove from heat, and add the herbs. Mix with a spoon. Stuff the squid using a teaspoon (up to 3/4, leaving ample room on top), and secure closed with a toothpick. 6. For the spinach: Trim the ends, wash well in cold water and drain in a salad spinner. 7. To cook the squid and make the sauce: Plunge the tomatoes for 10 seconds in boiling water. Rinse immediately in cold water. Peel and seed. Cut the flesh in small pieces. Peel and fine-

ly chop the onion. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat and brown the stuffed squid pieces. Remove from the skillet and reserve in a preheated oven at low temperature. Discard the cooked olive oil, and add 1 tablespoon fresh olive oil. Add the chopped onion, sauté for 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Pour in the remaining mussel juice. Purée in a mixer and pour back into a small pot. Add the saffron threads. Reduce the

sauce until thick and syrupy. Adjust seasoning. 8. To finish, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Sauté the tentacles, season with salt and pepper and chili pepper and remove from heat. In the same skillet, sauté the spinach leaves until al dente. Season with salt and pepper. 9. To serve, divide the spinach in 6 plates. Place 2 squid per person on top of each plate. Garnish with the tentacles on top and pour the sauce around the plates.

65 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

66 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Monkfish with Cured Pork (Lountza), Creamed Peas and Mint
Chef Andreas Mavrommatis For 4 servings

Kerasma recipes

For the Monkfish 1 two-ounce (60-gr.) piece of whole lountza, finely chopped, plus 4 slices of lountza 4 monkfish pieces (about 220 gr./ 1/2 pound each including backbone) (prepared like osso buco) 3 Tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper 3 pinches of cumin powder 10 cl chicken broth 1/2 lemon 1 garlic clove 1 thyme sprig For the Vegetables 1 bunch spring onions 2 1/2 kg fresh peas 3 Tablespoons olive oil 1/2 liter white chicken stock 8 mint leaves 2 pinches of cumin powder Salt and pepper

1. To prepare the monkfish: Blanch the chopped lountza for a few seconds in boiling water, then rinse in cold water. Drain on paper towels. Using a sharp knife make several incisions in the flesh of each monkfish piece and stuff with bits of the lountza. Set aside. 2. To prepare the vegetables and the crusted lountza: Peel the spring onions. Shell the peas. Chop the onions and sauté over low heat in a pot with 3 tablespoons olive poil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour in the chicken broth. Cook until the broth evaporates. Set aside.

3. Bring a pot with 1 1/2 liters (1 1/2 quarts) of salted water to a boil. Add peas, mint leaves, and cumin. Cook for 7 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Purée the peas and onions in a blender, adding some of the cooking liquid to make the mixture smooth and creamy like a mousseline. Adjust the seasoning. Keep warm. 4. Spread the lountza slices on a baking sheet, cook in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F), then drain on paper towels. 5. To cook the monkfish: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Season the monkfish pieces with salt and pepper.

Brown in the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes, basting the fish often. Remove the monkfish from the skillet and place on a platter. Spread cumin on the entire surface of the fish. Reserve hot in a preheated oven at 60°C. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken broth. Reduce until syrupy. Strain through a chinois, add a dash of lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning. 6. To serve: Divide the pea purée in the middle of 4 plates. Place a monkfish piece on top. Garnish with a baked, crispy lountza slice and mint leaves. Pour the juice around the plate.

67 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Spiced Lemon Chicken
Kerasma recipes
For 4 servings

For the Chicken 4 chicken fillets Salt and pepper 3 Tablespoons olive oil 4 garlic cloves 1 thyme sprig 1/2 rosemary sprig 3 oregano twigs 5 cl white wine 15 cl chicken broth For the Honey & Lemon Confit 2 lemons 50 gr. thyme honey 1/2 rosemary sprig For the Onions 24 fresh spring onions 1 Tablespoon olive oil 2 pinches of turmeric 1 pinch of chili pepper 1/2 rosemary sprig Salt and pepper
1. To prepare the honey and lemon confit: Put the lemons in a small ovenproof skillet. Pour in the honey and enough water to come up to the middle of the skillet. Add rosemary, cover, and cook in a preheated oven at 325°F/160°C for 40 minutes. Let cool and cut into quarters. 2. To prepare the onions: Peel and wash the onions (leave some tender green parts). Heat the olive oil in a pot over low heat and add onions, turmeric, chili pepper, rosemary and 2 tablespoons of water. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 4 minutes. 3. To prepare the chicken: Cut the chicken fillets in three equal pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over high heat, and brown the chicken pieces, 3-4 minutes. Cover with the lemon confit, add the garlic, unpeeled, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Cook in the oven at 350°F/170°C for 20 minutes. Baste every now and then with the pan juices. 4. When the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces and keep hot. Remove the cooked oil from the pan, deglaze the skillet with white wine, until it is almost all evaporated. Pour in the chicken broth and add the onions. Adjust the seasoning and cook, about 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is thick and syrupy. 5. Arrange the chicken on the serving plates, add the lemon rounds and the onions, and pour over the juice. Sprinkle some freshly grated black pepper.

68 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

69 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

It's a sure thing that whenever I visit friends outside Greece, the one thing they always ask for are Greek sweets. Some ask for a small tray of almond baklava from a tiny zaharoplasteio in Pangrati, others want a jar of mastiha sugar paste, called ipovrihio-submarine-for the way it is dipped in a glass of cold water to soften before eating.

Sweet Success
Greek confectioners are rethinking tradition
By Diane Sugart Photography: Vassilis Stenos Food styling: Tina Webb

71 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Another asks for pasteli, the sesame or nut brittle, and everyone seems pleased if I come home with a jar or two of Greece's more arcane spoon sweets, such as bergamot rind or chestnuts in honey. Next to the cream-laden Frenchstyle pastries, fruit pies, and frosted cakes, Greek desserts are healthier. Despite the ultra sweetness of syrup-based sheet pan desserts and spoon sweets (fruits and some vegetables preserved in syrup), generally there is less fat in them and they rely on nutrient-rich fruits and nuts (high in fat but also high in vitamins and minerals) as main ingredients.

These traditional sweets are enjoying renewed status among gourmets with a sweet tooth across the world. They are also enjoying a quiet renaissance; even in traditional tourist outposts like souvenir shops and the airport Duty-Free shops, one can find a range of variations on the traditional roster of sweets that just a few years ago didn't exist. Several companies, for example, are currently producing cocoa-infused and dusted kourambiedes, the buttery shortbread cookies that are a standard on the Christmas table here. Commercial producers of packaged baklava now

sell a range that includes baklava flecked with chocolate or filled with dried fruits. Makers of Loukoumia, the bite-sized chunks of aromatic jellies that are a longstanding tradition in the Eastern Mediterranean, have created a rainbow of flavors that go beyond traditional offerings like rosewater- or Mastiha. At the gourmet level, in fine pastry shops and restaurant kitchens, traditional sweets tweaked anew have been enjoying a revival ever since the first chef thought of soaking Greece's well-known walnut cake, Karydopita, in chocolate syrup instead of the usual sugar

Siropiasta, Greece's syrup-drenched pastries, come in an astonishing range but regardless what they're filled with most people refer to them as baklava.

72 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

syrup. Now, the country's top pastry chefs are experimenting with spoon sweets that are less sweet and ingredients that lend an aura of healthfulness to a part of the meal most people associate with guilty pleasure. Olives and olive oil for example, are used in myriad desserts nowadays; there is a growing range of Pastelli, the nut or sesame brittle mentioned above, made with different nuts and honey instead of sugar-syrup; even chocolate is getting its day in the spotlight as at least one Greek producer began making high-end organic bars. Organic in general is

a growing area, too, in the Greek sweets kitchen. Attesting to the newfound popularity of traditional or traditioninspired Greek sweets, even supermarkets and fine delicatessens are starting to sell a range of sweets that just a few years ago would only have been available in neighborhood sweet shops. You can even order rose petal preserves from Amazon.com. Glyka-sweets—made in Greece are one of the hottest trends in Greek food exports, which topped the twobillion-euro mark a couple of years ago and have been growing at an

annual rate of around ten percent. The enduring trend for Greek food products, Greek producers' increasingly attractive packaging, and their participation on international trade fairs are all helping to fuel the growing exports market for sweets. Trade fairs are helping Greek desserts makers connect with new customers and expand their exports base, but it's the Greek diaspora that has been vital for gaining a foothold in markets abroad. Greek restaurants, even the humble North American diner and corner kebab store of Europe, have served as outlets for Greek sweets

Pastelli, right, is one of the oldest and healthiest Greek confections. Loukoumia, below, are a longstanding tradition in the Eastern Mediterranean.

73 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

in many markets. One Thessalonikibased company, for example, started exporting its products in 1977 to supply retailers and restaurants serving the large Greek community in Germany. It has now expanded its foreign client base to Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Cyprus, and, recently, Brazil, and is eyeing markets in eastern Europe such as Poland. The company specializes in syropiasta-syrup-soaked pastries-producing an astonishing 120 variants on the classics. Regardless what they’ re filled with, though, foreign consumers call them all baklava, says the company's owner. Syrup-soaked exports fall into two categories: foodservice-sized exports to catering firms or sweet shops and exports of packaged products in small pieces for the retail market. Demand from catering firms is on the rise in markets like Italy, explains one producer. Two of the producers we spoke with built up exports by participating in trade fairs and watching "demand fuel growth," as one says. There also has been a noticeable

growth in exports in the last two or three years, arguably because Greek sweets offer something unique in a globalized market. Greek companies have also learned the importance of branding, packaging and placement, lessons wrought first in the domestic market and carried over to the international market. Greek sweets companies, notes a marketing executive, have the relative advantage of a two-pronged presence in export markets through gourmet products in exclusive stores like Fortnum & Mason in London and mass market penetration through Greek restaurants. Gourmet products don't have the same reach but help strengthen the other segment by transferring the aura of their exclusivity. For most sweets makers, quality and taste have been key in driving exports of Greek sweets. Smaller, artisinal companies, though, often grapple with scale when it comes to exports. "The problem is with production, as the products are hand-made," says Stelios Parliaros, a GGT contributor and one of the

country's top pastry chefs, referring to his own line of branded pastries. He is considering other products that are easier to produce en masse for export, such as halva, marmalades, and a line of cookies with tahini or mastiha. Greek companies large and small also have to grapple with market demands that vary from export market to export market. Package size, for example, is an issue. In Greece, for example, a typical family-size package of pastry or other confections easily weighs a kilo (2.2 pounds); in other parts of Europe, family size is equal to 300-400 grams. Market responsiveness also means offering products or developing new ones that meet demand trends without, of course, diluting the image or importance of tradition. There is room for both, especially as people worldwide look for more healthy snacks where olive oil, fruits, nuts, and honey play a role, or to gourmet variations on some of the well-known classics that lend a drop or two of exoticism to an already exotic tray full of baklava.

Diane Shugart is the editor of Odyssey Magazine.

Glyka—sweets—are one of the hottest trends in Greek food exports.

74 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

75 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Baked beans and belly dancing; English breakfast; Bargain Booze; These are just some of the roadside signs aimed at package tourists on the island of Corfu. But you would be sorely misled if you took them as a clue to local gastronomy. They merely represent a token nod to the latest wave of foreign invaders. Away from the beach resorts there reigns a cuisine rich in flavor and imagination that boasts dishes not found anywhere else in Greece.

Prospero’s Kitchen
Food, life, and travel in Corfu
By Diana Farr Louis Photography: Clairi Moustafelou, Vassilis Stenos Food styling: Tina Webb

77 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Set in the Ionian Sea, this westernmost part of the country looks like an appendage of Italy. Apart from Pompei-red ancestral mansions, baroque churches and cypressstudded olive groves, it seems to possess a languorous gentility quite foreign to the rugged mainland or the austere, wind-blown Aegean. Its inhabitants speak with lilting accents, sing cantadas that sound like Rossini, and hang their laundry with a flourish across cobbled alleys. Their favorite foods have names like bourdetto, sofrito and pastitsada, while they call

their meatballs polpettes rather than the almost panhellenic term keftedes. This is Greece with Venetian overtones. Four hundred years of occupation kept the Ottomans offshore and nowhere near their kitchens. But while the upper classes and landed gentry spoke Italian until World War II and had their names inscribed alongside titles in the Libro d'Oro, the people who actually worked the land remained resolutely Greek in language and in traditions. Their diet was no different from that of their countrymen

in the Peloponnesos or Crete: wild greens dripping with olive oil, bean or lentil soups, cheese but little meat, and coarse bread, often made from corn. One dish of baked garden vegetables, a variant of the popular briam, Greece's answer to ratatouille, is still called ftohofago or food for the poor (even though it tastes luxuriously rich). But peasant or sophisticate, all Corfiots then and now love to season their dishes with hot paprika. Whether it's sautéed greens and potatoes (tsigarelli) or a delicate fish stew (bourdetto from the

78 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Italian brodetto or little soup), it will inevitably have a piquant touch. Curiously, none of the lower Ionian islands share this penchant, except for tiny Paxos just to the south, although there are dozens of fiery recipes in Macedonia and Thrace. Historians speculate that the taste for paprika may have come along with trade with the Venetian colony of Dubrovnik or been brought by Byzantine refugees fleeing Constantinople after the Ottoman conquest. No one knows for sure, but every grocer on Corfu stocks packets of

paprika, hot and sweet. Corfu's other two signature dishes, pastitsada and sofrito, are redolent of garlic, which features prominently in many foods. Not just a clove or two, but a whole head. Pastitsada, whose origins can be traced to the Veneto, is a succulent ragout of veal or cockerel simmered in wine, with herbs, cinnamon, paprika of course and said garlic. The addition of pasta, which cooks in the sauce, turns it into a filling one-pot meal often served for Sunday lunch. Sofrito, from the Italian soffriggere—to fry gently—

is a delectable braisé of sliced veal, slivered garlic, vinegar and a copious amount of parsley. If flat-leaved parsley is the Corfiots preferred herb, mint and fennel leaves run a close second. A visitor to the farmers' market underneath the New (16th century) Fort in Corfu Town will find stacks of neatly tied bundles of these and other aromatic greens ready to be added to legions of stuffed vegetables, stews, and baked dishes. Unlike the Italians, Corfiots very rarely season anything with rosemary or sage, but unlike many of their

79 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

compatriots they often throw a handful of chopped basil into a dish that contains tomatoes, cooked or raw. Greeks consider basil holy because of its connection with St Helen's discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem. Tomatoes, naturally, appear often in Corfiot cooking, as they do all over the Mediterranean. But here again, the islanders give them extra zing, adding lemon juice to tomato-flavored artichoke, rabbit and chicken dishes. On the other hand, they are so fond of tomatoes that they use them instead of lemon in tsilikourda, their version of the egg-lemon soup with lamb innards that breaks the Lenten fast on Easter Eve throughout Greece. For the sweet course, a Venetian touch can be detected in a fondness

for pandespani (pan di spagna or sponge cake), pasta frolla, and zabaglione sauces for puddings. But here another source of inspiration emerges: the puddings often have English relatives. In the notebooks left by women of earlier generations on all the Ionian islands, there are countless recipes for desserts like English pudding, bread pudding, caramel pudding and the like. Most are embellished with raisins, currants, almonds and citrus juice and peel. They are vestiges of the period after the Napoleonic Wars, when Britain ruled the islands as a protectorate until 1864. More recent Anglicisms are the candied kumquats sold to tourists and the Merlin navel oranges introduced in the 20th century. Other touches of Olde England are

the marching bands that parade through town in full regalia and cricket matches played on the Spianada, in front of the palace of St Michael and St George. You can sip fizzy tzintzibira (ginger beer) while watching them from a chic café under the famous Liston arcade. Built during France's very brief occupation of the island, it echoes Paris's rue de Rivoli. Architecturally, culturally, and gastronomically, Corfu is a delightful pastiche, blending elements from its varied past into something unmistakeably its own. Nowadays, you can also dine on moussaka, souvlaki, pizza, spring rolls and baklava, not to mention baked beans on toast. But chances are, no matter what you choose, it will possess a uniquely Corfiot touch.

Diana Farr Louis is a writer for the Athens News and the author of numerous Greek cookbooks and travel books.

80 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

81 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Cayenne (Glykopatates Bourtheto)
For 4 servings

Kerasma recipes

Recipe adapted from “Glorious Foods of Greece,” by Diane Kochilas

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil 2 large red onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced Garlic 1 heaping Tablespoon sweet paprika 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste Tomato paste 3 pounds (1 1/2 kilo) sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise 1 cup dry white wine Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet and sweat the onions and garlic over low heat, covered, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, and tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. 2. Add the sweet potatoes and stir for another minute. Pour in 1/2 cup of the wine and enough water to barely cover the potatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and dark, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. 4. Remove from the heat, let stand for about 5 minutes, and serve.

82 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Vassilis Stenos

Fragrant Tomato Chicken with Thick Pasta (Kotopoulo Pastitsada)
For 4 to 6 servings

Kerasma recipes

Recipe adapted from “The Food and Wine in Greece,” by Diane Kochilas

1/2 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil One 3- to 3 1/2- pound (1 1/2 -kilo) chicken, cut into stewing pieces (fat trimmed and skin removed, if desired) 3 cups coarsely chopped red onions 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves Cayenne pepper to taste 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (canned are fine) 1 cinnamon stick 4 to 6 allspice berries, to taste Salt to taste 2 Tablespoons tomato paste diluted with 2 Tablespoons water 2 to 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste Pinch of sugar 1 pound (500gr) tubular spaghetti Grated kefalotyri or any hard yellow cheese

1. In a large stewing pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then brown the chicken pieces on all sides in batches. Remove from the pot and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. 2. Add the onions to the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir until wilted, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, cloves, and cayenne and stir for a minute, just enough to open up their aroma. Add the chicken back to the pot and

Vassilis Stenos

pour in the tomatoes. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice, salt, and enough water to cover the chicken. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is tender, about 40 minutes. Before removing the chicken from the heat, stir in the diluted tomato paste and add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and the black pepper. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as desired, with a bit more vinegar or with the sugar if it is too pungent.

3. While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of slated water for the pasta. Boil the pasta until al dente and drain. To serve, place pasta on individual plates or on a large serving platter with the chicken and sauce over it. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

83 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Pan-fried Veal with a Tangy Vinegar Sauce (Kerkyreiko Sofrito)
Recipe by Diane Kochilas For 4 to 6 servings

Kerasma recipes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour Freshly ground black pepper to taste Dash of cayenne pepper 2 pounds (1 kilo) boneless veal, preferably top round, cut into 6 slices 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, or slightly more to taste 1 1/2 cups beef broth Salt to taste 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Spread the flour over a large plate and season with black pepper and cayenne. Lightly dredge the veal slices, tapping off any excess. 2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown slightly on both sides. Transfer to a plate. 3. In a separate large, deep skillet or casserole, heat the remaining tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the veal. Pour in the vinegar, which will steam up and lose some of its pungency. Add the broth and season with salt. Simmer the sofrito over low to medium heat until the meat is tender and the sauce thick, 15 to 20 minutes. About 5 minutes before removing from the heat, stir in the parsley and add more vinegar if desired for a more pungent flaVassilis Stenos

vor. Serve the sofrito hot over mashed potatoes.

84 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Peppery Fish and Leek Casserole (To Bourtheto tis Kerkiras)
Recipe by Diane Kochilas For 6 servings

Kerasma recipes

2 pounds (1 kilo) fresh whole white-fleshed fish (grouper, scorpionfish, cod, etc.), gutted and cleaned Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil 1 large leek, white and tender green parts, washed well and thinkly sliced 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 heaping Tablespoon sweet paprika 1 scant teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste 1 Tablespoon tomato paste 1 cup dry red wine 1 cup water
1. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. 2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet, add the leek and garlic, and sweat over low heat until the leek is very soft, about 20 minutes. Add the paprika and cayenne and stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute. Pour in 1/2 cup of the wine and the water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and dark, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Place the fish over the leeks in the skillet. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine, cover the skillet, and simmer until the fish is flaky and tender, another 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of the fish. Remove from the heat, let stand for about 5 minVassilis Stenos

utes, and serve.

85 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

A new wave of chefs and restaurateurs are trying their luck in locales where there is no Greek culinary heritage at all, like Shanghai, Delhi, or Dubai.

A Tale of Three Cities
Greek restaurants shine in Dubai, Shanghai, and New Delhi
By Rachel Howard Photography: Holger Metter – Fotolia.com, Richard Morgan – Fotolia.com and courtesy corresponding restaurants

87 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

“I didn't have any idea about Greek food,” admits Kathy Shaw, a Chinese restaurateur who opened Aegean Shanghai in 2006 with her Greek business partner, Angelos Kalogeras. “But there's a trend for healthy Mediterranean food here. People are eager to explore different cultures through food.” There's a touch of the Greek islands in the blue and white color scheme and whitewashed paving stones leading to Aegean Shanghai, but the aesthetic is very much modern European. This is echoed in the menu: alongside updated Greek classics like fava with red onion jam and mint, you can order marinated crab salad with caviar bruschetta or octopus risotto with grilled king prawns. “I changed the whole menu when I arrived a year ago,” explains chef Panayiotis Kalamidas, who worked

at The Real Greek for three years. “What I learned at The Real Greek was to adapt traditional flavors to English tastes, without compromising on quality. So I put Chinese products into some dishes to make them more familiar. I make prawn and béchamel pies because the Chinese love seafood, or I use Chinese leaves and sausages in gigantes because they like spicy flavors. If you mix Chinese and Western cuisine together, you can create wonderful things.” With fewer than 200 Greeks living in Shanghai - a tiny number considering the population is pushing 20 million - catering to Chinese customers is essential. The majority of Aegean Shanghai's patrons are businesspeople who consider Greek cuisine an exotic luxury that will impress their clients. Kalamidas focuses as much on

how each dish looks as what is in it. “In typical Greek tavernas, portions are big and the food is tasty, but it doesn't look great. Presentation is very important for the Chinese. A dish has to be attractive or they won't try it.” One thing the Chinese are reluctant to eat in any guise is dairy products. However, at Shanghai's new souvlaki joint, Greek Taverna, the best seller is the dessert: creamy yogurt with walnuts and honey. “We have a sheep farm in Chengdu, four hours north of Shanghai, where we make our own yoghurt and feta. We even have a resident cheese-maker from Epirus - a region well known for producing the best cheeses in Greece,” explains Bill Dimitriou, who launched Greek Taverna with his brother, John, in December 2007.

88 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Richard Morgan – Fotolia.com

89 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Courtesy Elia Restaurant, Dubai

The pair plans to build a cheese factory in spring and have already lined up potential customers in the United States. The Greek American double act have a manufacturing plant in Shanghai, but they also own two Greek restaurants in New Jersey, part of a chain called It's Greek To Me. Their philosophy is to stick to what they know best, rather than try to adapt to the local market. “New Jersey has a big Greek population, but mostly we catered to nonGreeks. It's no different here. Our menu in Shanghai is exactly the same as in the US,” says Bill emphatically. That means stuffed vine leaves, Greek salad, succulent gyros, slabs of moussaka, and, of course, baklava. As Bill wryly points out,

“Everyone knows baklava - even the Chinese.” To ensure the souvlaki is up to scratch, two Greek chefs were poached from The Best, a jumping gyro joint in Thessaloniki. Greek Taverna lives up to the stereotypes its name conjures up: whitewashed walls, blue shutters, and an open grill make a convivial backdrop for sampling a range of Greek wines, ouzo, and even tsipouro. There's also a deli counter where patrons can pick up Greek jam, honey, olives, and olive oil - a testament to the authenticity of the ingredients. Authenticity is a recurring theme among global Greek restaurateurs. “We spent six months doing food trials. We even got the Greek Embassy involved. The Cultural and

Defense Attaché sampled everything to make sure the menu was as authentic as possible,” says Kanav Grover, co-founder of Delhi's first Greek restaurant, It's Greek To Me (which, incidentally, bears no relation to the New Jersey franchise). What prompted Grover, an aviation expert, and partner Deepak Sharma, who runs an export business, to open a Greek restaurant in India? “We were determined to do something that wasn't already well known in India, which has plenty of Italian, Arabic and Chinese restaurants,” Grover explains. “What appealed to us about Greek cuisine is that a big percentage of the dishes are vegetarian. India has a huge vegetarian population, so

90 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Courtesy Elia Restaurant, Dubai

this helped broaden our client base. Indians have become more health-conscious recently. Around 90 percent of our dishes are grilled or cooked in olive oil, so this was another advantage.” In keeping with this vogue for healthy eating, souvlaki options include chicken with cottage cheese and pickled vegetables. Dishes such as 'Santorini fish fingers' or 'prawns Skaithos' (sic) seem to be named after the owners' favorite holiday spots. Grover's favorite restaurants in Greece are simple, family-run affairs. “We have tried to create that sense of a family business by having an open kitchen that is very interactive, so our customers can see how Greek food is prepared.”

The place is a huge hit. Close to the embassy district in the heart of south Delhi, it attracts diplomats, celebrities, and affluent young Indians. “Our restaurant is not cheap, because we have to import so many of our ingredients. But luckily the Indian economy is doing rather well,” Grover says. “In the four years we've been open, we have never advertised.” They already have two branches in Delhi and are planning to open another in Bombay this year, followed by an outlet in Bangalore or Hyderabad. Plate-smashing is also popular at Greek Taverna, a 1970s throwback in Dubai's Carlton Tower hotel, where the bouzouki music and belly dancing don't stop until 3am. Dubai's oldest Greek restaurant,

Zorba, closed recently to make way for a Russian club, catering to the new breed of super-rich Russians in the Gulf. In its stead, two new restaurants have come along to challenge preconceptions about Greek food in one of the world's fastest growing cities. “Greek cuisine is misinterpreted abroad. I wanted to teach people that we do have fine dining in Greece and to introduce people to the flavors we grew up with,” says Anna Avramidou, managing director of Dias, which opened in June 2007 but is currently undergoing some changes. The restaurant was financed by a group of local investors and no expense was spared. Glitz is all-important in a town that boasts more billionaires

91 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Courtesy Elia Restaurant, Dubai

per square meter than Park Avenue. Raised in London, Avramidou understands high-end hospitality. Chef Yannis Avramidis also learnt his tricks in London, working with Marco Pierre White and at Gordon Ramsay's Maze. Avramides' creations are a mélange of Greek and Middle Eastern flavors: pomegranate and haloumi salad or braised lamb shank with chickpeas, tahini and honey. And for dessert? Mastiha pudding with poached figs or…Baked Alaska. For centuries Greeks have absorbed international culinary influences, but where's the connection with Alaska? “The Greek cuisine Dias represents is very new. People do not adapt so easily, so we added some international dishes,” explains Avramidou. “I'd be happy if more Greek restaurants opened in Dubai, so people didn't see it as something exclusive.” The competition arrived in November, when chef Yannis

Baxevanis opened Elia, his first restaurant outside Greece, at the Dubai Majestic, a hotel owned by Greeks with established interests in the Middle East. Baxevanis spends one week every month in Dubai, tweaking the menu with his specially trained team. Baxevanis' innovative cooking is rooted in Greek tradition, given a contemporary edge with modern techniques and unexpected combinations. A typical meal might be seafood salad served in a phyllo pastry cone topped with olive oil and lemon mousse, minted meatballs with feta fondue, followed by fried orange slices dipped in chocolate. All polished wood and crisp white linen, Elia's cozy interior avoids Greek clichés. The clientele is as cosmopolitan as Dubai's residents.“We tell them where each dish comes from, how it should be eaten, and explain the benefits of the Cretan diet,” says Ioanna Stavara, Elia's manager.“We get lots of Greek cus-

tomers too, but they all want mama's cooking. I tell them: 'Yannis Baxevanis cooks like your mama with a master's degree.'” Baxevanis is known for using unusual Greek ingredients, which must be difficult to source here in the desert. “We're always picking up suitcases of supplies from the airport,” Stavara laughs. “Eventually, we plan to open a delicatessen, which should solve the problem.” It won't be so easy to dodge Dubai's heavy duties on alcohol; nevertheless, Elia carries six indigenous Greek wines and even plans to host wine tasting events. With over 15,000 visitors expected to attend the Taste of Dubai festival in February 2008, Dubai is establishing itself as a destination for gourmets. Baxevanis' participation, alongside top international chefs like Richard Sandoval and Vineet Bhatia, will ensure that Greek food plays a part in that renaissance.

92 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Courtesy It;s Greek to Me, New Delhi

93 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Holger Metter – Fotolia.com

Yiorgos Dracopoulos / Tina Webb

Kerasma:
Treat Your Taste
with Great Recipes for Olives, Sweet Wine, Desserts, and More from Greece's Top Chefs

Photography: Yiorgos Dracopoulos Food styling: Tina Webb

95 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Pan-Fried Metsovone with Spicy Fig Jam
Kerasma recipes
Adapted from a recipe by Christoforos Peskias

For 6 servings

400 gr. Greek dried figs, soaked in warm water for 1 hour 10 1/2 ounces (300 gr.) Metsovone cheese, cut into 6 thick rounds Flour for dredging Olive oil for frying 2 Tablespoons finely chopped ginger 15 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil 150 gr sugar 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar Freshly ground white pepper
1. Drain and chop the figs and set aside. Reserve their soaking water. 2. Wet the cheese under running water and dredge well in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet and fry the cheese until golden, flipping once to color on both sides. 3. In a small saucepan, sauté the ginger in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 30 seconds and add the figs, their soaking water, and sugar. Cook on medium to high heat until thickened. Add pepper and vinegar to taste. 4. To serve: Plate the cheese on individual plates and spoon a little of the fig mixture on top.

96 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Candied Olives
Kerasma recipes
Chef-Pâtisseur Stelios Parliaros

For 10 snack servings

1/2 pound (250 gr.) black olives, rinsed very well of salt 1/2 pound (250 gr.) sugar 125 ml water 40 ml corn syrup Sugar for garnish

1. Soak the olives for 24 hours to leach out their salt. Drain and wipe with paper towels. 2. Bring the water, sugar and corn syrup to a boil in a medium pot. Add the olives, reduce heat and simmer until the syrup is thick or reaches 238°F - 248°F (115°C - 120°C) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. 3. Using a small slotted spoon or fork, remove each olive and dip it into sugar. Place carefully on a plate to dry. Serve.

97 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Sautéed Olives with Honey and Yogurt
Kerasma recipes
Chef Christoforos Peskias

For 6 servings

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil 1 ounce (30 gr.) finely chopped onion 2 ounces (60 gr). wrinkled olives/raisin olives (unsalted) Grated zest of half an orange 5 mint leaves, finely chopped Freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup strained Greek yogurt 1/4 cup Greek sheep's milk yogurt 2 Tablespoons Greek honey 3-4 drops of mastic oil 6 mint leaves for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over low heat and lightly cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. 2. Remove from heat, add the olives, orange and spearmint. Add a little pepper. 3. Mix the 2 yoghurts, honey and mastic oil together in a bowl. To Serve: Distribute the olive mixture into 6 small cups. Top with the yogurt mixture. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

98 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Semifreddo with Yogurt, Greek Olive Paste and Village Salad
Chef Vassilis Kalydis For 8 servings

Kerasma recipes

300 ml heavy cream 400 gr. (3/4 pound) strained Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon salt 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil 300 gr. Kalamata olive paste, divided into 8 portions 1 cup fresh oregano leaves For the Salad 500 gr. (1 pound) cherry tomatoes, halved Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 1/2 cup chopped parsley Pinch of coarse salt 8 Tablespoons olive oil
1. Whip the cream until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt, salt and olive oil and blend with a spatula. 2. Line an 8 or 12-portion cupcake pan with plastic wrap. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the above mixture in each cupcake mold, add a portion of the olive paste and 1 tablespoon oregano leaves. Cover with a little more of the yogurt mixture. Place in the freezer and set, about three hours. 3. Place all the ingredients for the salad in a large serving bowl and toss. Remove the semifreddos from the freezer and let stand 10-15 minutes to soften up a little. Serve the salad on individual plates with the Semifreddo on top.

99 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Tomato Soup with Olive Paste Gelatin and Feta Saganaki
Chef Vassilis Kalydis For 6 servings

Kerasma recipes

For the Gelatin 1/2 cup water 2 gelatin leaves, softened in cold water 150 gr. (1/4 pound) Kalamata olive paste For the Soup 6 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1 teaspoon coarse salt For the Saganaki 6 pieces of feta, 1-inch (2 1/2 cm) square A little flour for dredging the feta Extra-virgin Greek olive oil for frying and for garnish Fresh basil leaves for garnish Croutons for garnish

1. Heat the water in a small saucepan and melt the gelatin. Add the olive paste and place the mixture in a small cake pan. The mixture should be about 1/4 inch thick in the pan. Chill for two hours in the fridge. Remove and cut into small dice-sized pieces.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Quarter the tomatoes and seed. Place in a lightly oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and pulverize in a blender with the pepper and coarse salt until smooth and creamy. Cover to keep the mixture warm.

3. Dampen the feta pieces in cold water and dredge lightly in flour. Fry lightly in olive oil in a small skillet until lightly browned. 4. Place the feta Saganaki on the bottom of a soup plate, pour in 1 ladleful of the hot soup and add some of the olive gelatin. Garnish with olive oil, fresh basil, and croutons.

100 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Pork Fillet with Mavrodaphne Sauce and Bulgur
Kerasma recipes
Chef Kostas Vasalos

For 6 servings

11 oz. (300 gr) coarse bulgur 2 pounds (1 kilo) pork tenderloin, fillet 150 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil 5 1/2 ounces (150 gr). onion, medium, finely chopped 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 250 ml. Patras Mavrodaphne 50 ml. Greek honey 1 teaspoon thyme, dried Salt, white pepper 20 scallions, finely chopped 50 gr. Corinthian raisins 2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped

1. Soak the bulgur in cold water for three hours. 2. Cut the fillets into strips, three per serving. 3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet and sauté the pork strips until browned lightly. Add the onion. Dust the contents of the pan lightly with flour and pour in the wine. Season with honey, thyme, salt and pepper. 4. To garnish: In another pan, sauté the scallions in a little olive oil and add the raisins and bulgur, strained. Add some of the meat sauce, salt and pepper to taste and top with the parsley. Serve the pork strips over the bulgur and spoon over some of the pan juices.

101 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Rabbit Noisettes in Mavrodaphne Sauce
Kerasma recipes
Chef Kostas Vasalos

For 4 servings

12 rabbit noisettes 12 strips of lard 4 quinces, cored and cut into 6 wedges each Salt and pepper 1 Tablespoon butter 80 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 Tablespoon flour 250 ml Mavrodaphne wine 3-4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar 8 whole cloves 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Using a mallet or the side of a chef 's knife, pound the noisettes until relatively flat and wrap each piece in lard. Use a toothpick to secure the lard onto each piece of meat. 2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Toss the quince wedges with salt and pepper, place in one layer in a shallow pan, add butter, and roast until golden and tender. 3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the noisettes until lightly browned. Add the peppercorns and sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour. Pour in the Mavrodaphne and vinegar. As soon as it steams up, reduce heat, add the cloves and rosemary and simmer until the sauce is thick. Season with salt and pepper and serve over the quince.

102 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Dried Fig and Honey Spoon Sweet
Kerasma recipes
Chef-Patisseur Stelios Parliaros

For 4 servings

150 ml honey 150 ml orange juice 25 ml lemon juice Lemon zest 2 cinnamon sticks 1/2 pound (250) gr. Greek Kimi dried figs 4-5 Tablespoons Greek raisins

Put the honey, the orange juice, the lemon juice, lemon zest and cinnamon in a pot. Bring to the boil and then add the dried fruit (and raisins). Bring back to a boil. When the mixture reaches 228°F - 229°F (109-110°C) and the syrup starts to thicken, remove and place immediately in sterilized jars.

103 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Chocolate Walnut Cake with Corinthian Raisins
Kerasma recipes
Chef Kostas Vasalos

For a 12-inch round cake pan

1/2 pound (250 gr.) butter, at room temperature 1/2 pound (250 gr.) sugar 10 eggs, separated 1/2 pound (250 gr.) ground walnuts 4 1/2 ounces (125 gr.) cocoa, sifted 4 1/2 ounces (125 gr.) all-purpose flour, sifted 3 1/2 ounces (100 gr.) Corinthian raisins 1 Tablespoon baking powder For the Syrup 1 pound (500 gr.) sugar 500 ml water 50 ml brandy

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour the cake pan. 2. Whip the butter and sugar together at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and light. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. 3. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to a stiff meringue.

4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Fold a little of that into the meringue and then fold the meringue into the butter-flour mixture, mixing quickly with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan.

5. Make the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the brandy and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes and pour immediately over the cooled cake. Let it soak for 6 hours before serving.

104 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

Fresh and Dried Fruit Baklava
Kerasma recipes
Chef Yiannis Baxevannis

For 8 servings

4 sheets of commercial phyllo pastry, defrosted and at room temperature 2-3 Tablespoons butter 10 1/2 ounces (300 gr.) sugar 2 apples 2 pears 7 ounces (200 gr.) dried apricots 3 1/2 ounces (100 gr.) coarsely chopped walnuts 1 scant teaspoon cinnamon powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves Ice cream for garnish Honey or caramel sauce for garnish

1. Spread out one phyllo sheet on a clean, dry work surface. Brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle with a little sugar. Place another phyllo sheet on top, butter and dust with sugar. Place on a buttered sheet pan and cut into equal size triangles. Bake in a medium oven for a few minutes, just until golden. Remove, remove sheets from hot pan, and cool. Repeat with remaining two phyllo sheets.

2. Peel and core the apples and pears. Cut into a small dice. Cut the apricots into a small dice, too. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and sauté the apples, pears and apricots in the butter just until lightly golden. Don't overcook. Add the walnuts, cinnamon and cloves and toss gently.

3. Take two phyllo triangles at a time and spread a little of the sautéed fruit mixture on top. Place another two phyllo triangles over it to cover and garnish with a scoop of vanilla or kaimaki ice cream. Serve drizzled with a little honey or caramel sauce.

105 GREEKGOURMETRAVELER

www.kerasma.gr

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful