Calendar

Dear subscriber,

You have before you a calendar of Greek Gastronomic Geography. It was created by Timos Petridis, a partner and friend of Gastronomy Tours, drawing on his 10 years of experience as a gastronomic and cultural explorer of Greece. We offer it to you here as a token of our appreciation for your subscription to our Newsletter.

Timos Petridis abandoned architecture to become a gastronomic entrepreneur with two well-known restaurants. His ‘1800’ in Santorini earned a worldwide reputation between 1987 and 1991, while Kallisti (1993 to 2008) created an equal stir on the Athenian scene.  Athinorama magazine and Diner’s Club awarded him the Golden Toque prize three years running for best Creative Greek Cuisine.

“Travelling in the Greek hinterlands I learned to recognize the quintessentially local products. I tasted them in the right restaurants, in tavernas suggested by locals, and I met the most important producers, cottage industries, food processors and restauranteurs; the people, in other words, who give a region its culinary character. They took me in their embrace, and through their stories revealed to me the love carried deep in their soul for their land and its products.
Each month, I present a corner of Greece: its local products, a restaurant and chef, and a private recipe – sometimes simple, sometimes more complex – that will initiate you into the hidden wealth of the Greek gastronomic universe.
I hope you will engage with these recipes as a travel adventure, at first with the mind’s eye but someday in actuality, so as to come to know the places and people I describe and share in the beauty of each place as I experienced it.”

The actual visits (those presented in this calendar and many others) can be accomplished with the invaluable support of Cosmorama.  Check out their program of excursions, book your adventure and … the journey continues.

Timos Petridis – The Gastronomy and Culture Team

January

Destination: Glorious Salamis.

The island of Salamina, commonly known, an easy hour from Athens via Piraeus or Perama, is famous for the great naval battle in 480 BC, a glorious victory that blocked the Persian conquest of Greece and thereby saved Europe. Salamis also hosts the bones of General Georgios Karaiskakis, an important hero of the Greek war of independence.

Local specialties: shrimp, salt fish.

The Chef: Kakias.

“Ouzeri/Fish Taverna Kakias” sits next to the sea.  Behind the counter, you will find Nikos (nicknamed Kakias) and Maria Dimitriadis, with their children Maria and Vangelis and their partners. They rely for success on the freshness of their ingredients, the combination of flavours, attention to detail, and giving good value for money.

Maria’s recipe:  shrimp-balls (garidokeftédes).

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 8 fresh shrimp, peeled,
  • Half a carrot, grated,
  • Half a fresh onion,
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil,
  • Flour UP (self-rising).

Execution:

Make a batter adding the ingredients one by one and, in the end, enough flour to thicken the batter. Leave in the refrigerator.
In a pan add plenty of olive oil and let it burn.
Take a quantity of the porridge with a tablespoon together with shrimps.
Turn over several times until they get a golden colour. To make sure that they have been well-cooked inside pierce them with a fork so the hot oil penetrates.

February

Destination: Tinos… with its flavour trails.

Tinos is an island associated with religious tourism: a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, revealed in 1823, draws thousands of Orthodox pilgrims every year.
There is another Tinos, however, full of treasures to be discovered by true explorers: Tinos, the island of the contemporary painter Tsoklis and of the great marble sculptor Halepas, Tinos the island with its small, untouched villages with traditional architecture, a harsh but beautiful Cycladic landscape, Tinos with its Catholic as well as Orthodox monasteries, antiquities, and distinctive dovecotes.
The island is almost self-sufficient where food is concerned, with its dairies, livestock, fishing, olive products, herbs and fruits, all transformed into delicious dishes in a host of interesting restaurants and taverns. Add the local wineries and brewery, and see why Tinos is the paradise of the bon-viveurs.

Local products: karikilouza artichoke, kritamo (Crithmum maritimum).

The Chef: Giannis Vassiles.

Giannis Vassiles is a marine radio operator who returned to shore but never forgot the sea. He became a fisherman, sharing the sea’s offerings, beautifully cooked, to the visitors at his fish market/tavern Maistros in the small closed bay of Panormos at the northern end of the island. Here is the greatness of Greek cuisine: simplicity and fresh ingredients served by the sea.

The recipe he suggests: boiled skate with lemon oil.

Cut the wings from the skate, peel them and boil them with a little olive oil, pepper and salt for 7-9 minutes depending on the size. Remove the cartilage, place the fish on the dish and add lemon, olive oil and chopped parsley.

March

Destination: Messenia, the wider Kalamata region, which the playwright Euripides aptly described as “Kallikarpon” (producing good fruits).

Messenia always enchanted gourmet travelers with its numberless special products: “Kalamata” olives and olive oil from the famous Koroneiki olive variety, honey, raisins, citrus fruit, figs and prickly pears; unique cheeses, preserved meats (singlino); the herbs of Mount Taygetos, and its famous lalangia.
More recently, restauranteurs and producers gave up their famous Mani vendettas to band together in the great Gastronomic Community of Kalamata. This puts a new arrow in the quiver of tourist development, making the region not only a beautiful touristic but also a gastronomic destination.

Local Products: sfelasinglinolalangia, Kalamata olives, olive oil, pasteli, figs, oranges.

The Cook and Gastronomy Author: Elias Mamalakis.

Elias, a man who entered millions of homes through his radio and television shows and made traditional gastronomy a daily ritual, needs no introduction for Greeks. He is a tireless craftsman of flavours, and you can find him everywhere cooking, talking about cooking, taking care of restaurant menus, presenting new and old chefs as well as housewives sharing old local recipes. He writes about gastronomy in magazines and has published several books. He is a taste consultant and product designer for large companies, but also an Ambassador of the WWF against overfishing. He is our precious Elias.

Elias suggested recipe: salad with roasted coriander, oranges and marinated figs.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 250 g of sfela cheese cut into triangles,
  • Slices of two oranges carefully peeled,
  • 12 dried figs,
  • A few drops of balsamic cream.

We boil the figs in water for ten minutes to soften them a little. We then take them out of the water, allow them to cool and remove their stalk.
We heat a non-stick pan very well and bake the triangles of sfela on both sides until lightly browned.

Execution:

Place the peeled orange slices on a plate, put the baked triangles of the sfela on top, cut the figs in half and place them next to each piece of cheese.
Sprinkle with a few drops of balsamic cream.

April

Destination: Corfu, the cosmopolitan island of the Ionian Sea.

Corfu was for many centuries an apple of discord between Great Britain, Italy and the Ottoman Empire, as a landmark location between East and West. Its occupation by those Great Powers left its mark on architecture, culture, and gastronomy.
Exploring Corfu, you will discover a very special place, aristocratic but also hard-working, inhabited by happy people with a lilt in their voice, people who make music day and night.
Corfu was also the birthplace of the first Prime Minister of liberated Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias (1828-1831).

Local specialties: kumquat, nouboulokangiofoles, spices, glazed fruit.

The Chef: Vasiliki Karounou.

Though not a Corfiot, Vasiliki has become an ambassador of the Corfiot tradition and cuisine, on which she has put her personal mark. She found herself on the island in 2000, and fell in love with it. A very dynamic and active woman, she recognized the importance, number and uniqueness of its local products.
She discovered the kankiofoles, which had almost disappeared from the island, and cultivated them as well as other local specialties. She created her own unique brand with local flavours, and the “Ampelonas” (‘Vineyard’) a multi-space venue in which to exhibit these products.

Her suggested recipe with local products: Roast pork with Corfiot mustard dolce and kumquat.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1 kg of pork leg or shoulder,
  • Half a cup of Corfiot mustard dolce,
  • 12 fresh or dried apricots,
  • 12 kumquats as spoon sweet,
  • ½ cup of raisins (without seeds).

For the meat marinade:

  • ¼ cup of honey,
  • ¼ cup of salt,
  • ¼ cup of coarsely chopped black pepper,
  • 2 bay leaves,
  • 1 tbsp. of dried thyme,
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp. of dried rosemary,
  • 6 cloves,
  • 10 coarsely chopped allspice grains,
  • ½ of a tbsp. lavender flowers.

For the fruit marinade:

  • 1 glass of white wine,
  • 2 tbsp. of white vinegar,
  • ¼ of a tbsp. of orange bergamot or kumquat liqueur,
  • 2 tbsp. of Corfiot dolce mustard.

Execution:

Prepare the meat marinade, putting all the ingredients in ½ lire of water; boil them for 4-5 minutes and leave to cool well.
Cut the meat lengthwise in the direction of the fibres into pieces of 8-10 cm.
Put the meat in the marinade and add cold water, as needed to cover the meat, and marinate it for 24-36 hours in the fridge or 8-16 hours out of the fridge in a cool place.
Marinate the fruit for 2-3 hours in their marinade.
Rinse the meat well and strain the marinade while keeping 1-2 tablespoons of the spices.
Bake the meat in a preheated oven at 250°C for about 20′-25’ until well-browned on all sides. As the meat is hot, cover it well with the Corfiot ‘mustard dolce’, add the hot fruit together with their marinade, sprinkle with the spices kept previously and cook for about 20 ‘at about 200°C. Then cut the meat into thin slices against the fibres, add them to the sauce and garnish with the fruit. If the sauce is not thick enough, remove the meat and let it boil for a while to concentrate. The meat is accompanied with aromatic basmati rice or baked potatoes with honey, lemon and thyme. If we do not find the Corfiot mustard dolce, we can replace it with citrus chutney, and the kumquat with orange.

May

Destination: Kerkini, a perfect ecosystem.

The magic of Western Macedonia includes gastronomic and wine surprises, but also hiking and picnicking in the forests, boating on Lake Kerkini, visiting a spirulina production plant, staying in a unique hostel in Ano Poria (Serres). A tour can include learning about the Vlachs and their passing caravans, or getting acquainted with Pontic Greek cottage industries, or a lyre-playing trout farmer and a buffalo breeder. Combine it with a famous attraction, the Anastenarides, a traditional barefoot fire-walking ritual with ecstatic dance performed in some villages in Northern Greece, to get a glimpse of a diverse regional culture.

Local products: buffalo meat, butter and milk.

The Chef: Aphrodite Georgiadou.

Proud Greek migrants from Pontus live in the depths of Kilkis, notably the Georgiadou family. In their organic farm, using local raw materials, they produce mainly cheeses and pasta but also other goodies at Ragian Pontian Crafts. Daughter Aphrodite does the cooking, inspired by tradition but updating the flavours for today’s world.

Her suggested recipe with local products: Green salad with smoked gais cheese and paskitan ice cream.

Ingredients for 4 people:

For the salad:

  • 50 gr. of sprouts depending on the season,
  • 1 Baby lettuce, 1/3 black cabbage,
  • 50 g mustard leaves,
  • 50 gr. beetroot leaves,
  • 100 gr. smoked gais cheese.

Gather all the ingredients, wash them very well and place them in a mix of ice and water for half an hour so that they remain fresh and crunchy.

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. of petimezi from wild cornel,
  • 300 gr. of olive oil,
  • A handful of mint and rosemary,
  • 30 gr. of mustard seeds,
  • 1 tbsp. of chestnut honey,
  • Peel and juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges.

Place all the ingredients – except for the olive oil – in a pan and mix them until they are homogeneous. We then slowly add the olive oil until it becomes fully incorporated in the mix, and place the dressing in a jug in the refrigerator.

For the paskitan ice cream:

  • 100gr. of paskitan cream,
  • 3 fresh green onions,
  • 1 shot of arbaroriza (apple geranium) liqueur,
  • 30 gr. of pickled wild rose or rose spoon sweet or rose liqueur.

Mix all the ingredients for the ice cream in a pan, add a pinch of salt and fresh pepper, and put the mixture in the freezer for about an hour. Stir every half hour to achieve the desired texture before the mixture freezes (like sorbet)!

To serve:              

Place the vegetables in a pan, add the dressing along with the smoked cheese in strips, and mix well to homogenize all our ingredients. Place the salad on a plate and put the paskitan ice cream on top.

June

Destination: Lemnos, the Island of Hephaestus.

The Minoans introduced vine cultivation to Lemnos with its fertile soil. The island later became a granary of ancient Athens, as of the imperial court of Byzantium centuries later. After 1922, many refugees from the Asia Minor catastrophe settled on Lemnos and enriched it with their culinary habits, products and culture.
Today, visitors have the opportunity to chat with producers and taste their products cooked in the island’s excellent restaurants and tavernas.
Visitors can experience glorious past eras through the archaeological sites and monuments, surrounded by unspoiled nature and the same freedom and beauty older generations enjoyed. They will love this island as if it were their own.

Local products: flomaria, beans, Alexandria muscat grapes and wines, the kaskavali, kalathaki of Lemnos and feta cheeses, as well as goat meat.

The Chef: Malama Banavou.

Malama is a young cook, the owner of the Flomari tavern on Gomati beach. She has put her gastronomic stamp on the island with tastes based on local ingredients and recipes while using all her sensitivity, love and respect for food. Her smile and her hospitality garnish every dish and spread sweet happiness.

Her suggested recipe with local products: zigouri (young sheep) with flomaria.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1.5 kg leg of zygouri cut into pieces,
  • 2 dried onions, finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed,
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste,
  • 120 ml dry white wine,
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, with the seeds removed, cut into small cubes,
  • 1/2 tsp. of sugar,
  • 3-4 grains of allspice, lightly beaten,
  • 2 bay leaves,
  • 150 ml of olive oil,
  • salt, freshly ground pepper,
  • 1 litre of hot water,
  • 500 gr. of flomaria,
  • grated melichloro (for serving).

Execution:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat and sauté the meat for 4-5 minutes, until well browned on all sides. Take it out with a slotted spoon and place in a dish.
Sauté the onion in the same oil for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Add the garlic and tomato paste and continue sautéing for another 1 minute whilst stirring.
Put the meat (with the juice that will have come out) and the wine back in the pot. Allow the alcohol to evaporate for 2 minutes and add the tomato, sugar, allspice, bay leaf, salt, pepper and water.
Cover the pot, lower the heat and cook for about 2.5 to 3 hours or until the meat is well softened.
Remove the zygouri pieces with a slotted spoon, place on a plate, add about one glass of hot water and boil for 1-2 minutes on high heat.
Add the flomaria and boil for 4-5 minutes (or as indicated on the package). Arrange them on the plate together with the sauce around the pieces of the meat and sprinkle with the cheese.

July

Destination: Chios the Island of mastiha.

A cultural-gastronomic escape to beautiful Chios is the best way to get to know this island: its natural beauty, its citrus groves, its unique mastic cultivation, monuments and traditional villages with their distinctive architecture.
Chios is the island of Homer and Hippocrates, but also of Adamantios Korais (1748-1833), a very important figure in the Greek Enlightenment and a supporter of secularism.

Local products: mastic, citrus fruits, olives, kefalotiri, paksa (kind of rusk), mastelo of Chios.

The Chef: Giannis Linos.

The Linos family started a distillery business in 1882. Later, they started offering small dishes for the local clientele. In 1990, Giannis Linos took over the “Taverna Hotzas”. He still cooks there today, serving traditional dishes of the island but also ones brought by the refugees from the coast of Turkey. Dishes of his own inspiration fuse the old with the new in sweet harmony.
He is traditional but also a pioneer, unique like Chios mastic – the trademark of the island.

The recipe he suggests with local products: Octopus with wine and mastic and Chios tangerine jam.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1 octopus of 800 gr to 1 kg,
  • 3-4 large onions,
  • 2-3 carrots,
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes,
  • 1 Florina pepper,
  • 1-2 bay leaves,
  • 1 tsp. of tomato paste,
  • Olive oil,
  • 1 glass of sweet wine,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • 1 tsp. of sweet mastic powder,
  • 1 tsp. of Chios tangerine jam.

Execution:

In a pressure cooker, boil the octopus with a little water for 20 minutes.
In a saucepan, cut all the vegetables (onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers) into pieces, not too small and brown them with olive oil on low heat. Then add the tomato paste, the bay leaves, the salt, the pepper and the wine.
Cook for a while, add the octopus cut into pieces, the mastic and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
Serve on a plate and garnish with tangerine jam on top.

August

Destination: Lesbos the Island of harmony.

Every part of Lesbos is a treasure. It is the island of the painter Theofilos and the novelist Stratis Myrivilis. In the city of Mytilene with its traditional architecture, one can visit magnificent mansions of the last centuries, and the New Archaeological Museum.
Afterwards, the Vrana museum-olive mill, the capital of ouzo Plomari, Polychnitos with its thermal springs, Kalloni bay famed for its unique sardines, the museum of Natural History in Sigri and of course the fossilised forest, are places that should not be missed. In the north, the settlement of Molyvos is a unique jewel of the island, with picturesque houses perched on the hill, and a wonderful sunset.

Local products: ladotiri, Kalloni sardines, olive oil.

The Chef: Stratis Panagos.

Stratis is the “Zorba the Greek” of Lesbian gastronomy, a tireless researcher, author of cookbooks, ouzo philosopher, cooking teacher, and zealous proponent of good living. Always with a smile on his face, he overwhelms you with his presence, making you feel the smells of the island, and dream of delicious meals. After all, the fable epicure Lucullus also passed through and “blessed” this island.

The recipe he suggests with local products: Shrimps with caper sauce.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1,200 gr. of shrimps,
  • 1 bay leaf,
  • 1 glass of vinegar liqueur,
  • 1 glass of white dry wine,
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
  • 4 cloves,
  • 2-3 lettuce leaves,
  • 1tbsp. of chopped parsley,
  • ½ a cup of stale bread crumbs,
  • 150 gr. of capers,
  • 1 glass of olive oil,
  • Salt, pepper and peppercorns.

Execution:

We clean and wash the shrimps.
Put them in a saucepan with salted water; add the vinegar, bay leaf, cloves, salt and pepper.
Boil the shrimps for 15 minutes, drain and leave to cool.
Remove the head and shell.
Put them on a plate after having previously layered lettuce leaves.

Preparation of the sauce:

Soak the crumbs in water and grate them.
Put the chopped capers, the parsley, the rest of the vinegar and the oil in a bowl. Add the crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper and beat the sauce until smooth.
Pour the sauce over the shrimp and serve.

September

Destination: Aegina the Island of pistachios.

In ancient times, Aegina was the first city of Greece to mint its own silver coinage, with the image of a turtle (7th cent. BCE). Its high point was in the 6th century BCE, when it developed major commercial and naval activity. Following the Greek revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans, Aegina was temporarily the capital of Greece; the first coinage of the newly-formed Greek state was minted there again in 1829.
Aegina is an island that has attracted modern great artists such as Yannis Moralis, Christos Kapralos, and Nikos Nikolaou, and the writer Nikos Kazantzakis. It continues to attract new ones, including many foreigners.
Not to be missed are the ancient Temple of Aphaia, and Palaiochora, a region scattered with wayside chapels and ruins of the Byzantine town.
Today, Aegina is renowned for the cultivation of pistachios which, due to their exceptional quality, a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, dominate the agricultural activity on the island.
As for food delights, restaurants such as “Kappos Etsi”, “Skotadis”, “Vatzoulias” and the tavern “Nontas” in the village of Perdika, stand out, each one having a different character.

Local product: pistachios.

The Chef: Dimitris Kappos.

Since 2009 he creates his own flavours and offers them in the inner courtyard of his restaurant “Kappos Etsi” (“Something Like That”). His beautifully restored traditional building in the centre of Aegina town embraces and relaxes you for full enjoyment of his Creative Mediterranean cuisine. He works winter and summer, actively participating in whatever takes place on the island related to gastronomy.

The recipe he suggests with local products: Spaghetti with pistachio pesto.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 50 g of basil leaves,
  • 150 g of Aegina pistachios (kernels),
  • 50 g grated parmesan,
  • 100 ml of olive oil,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Lemon juice,
  • 2 cloves of garlic,
  • 400 gr of spaghetti.

Execution:

Beat the garlic with the olive oil and the basil leaves in the blender first. Add the pistachios and the lemon juice and beat again.
Finally, add the parmesan, salt, pepper and mix. The pesto must be thick enough.
Boil the spaghetti for 7-8 minutes.
Put the pesto in a pan or deep bowl and add with a ladle a little hot water from the pot where we boil the spaghetti and dissolve it.
Strain the pasta when it is ready and add it to the pesto. Stir until the ingredients set.
Serve in a deep dish.

October

Destination: Naxos, the duchess of the Cyclades.

“If Paradise were on earth, it would be here.” This is what the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis wrote about Naxos, and how could anyone argue? Naxos has it all and ‘speaks to the heart’. It is self-sufficient in water and food. It welcomes visitors with open arms, beginning from the Portara, the huge, ancient marble doorway by the port, the characteristic monument of Naxos.
So many things to see: the Kastro (Castle) of Chora, the port town; the Venetian towers dotting the countryside; the emery-mining villages; the kouroi statues still lying in their ancient quarries; the Cycladic idols; the incomparable nature with it greenery and flowing streams; wonderful beaches; sand dunes; the turquoise sea; innumerable country churches and monasteries, the marble village of Aperathos with its three museums and the particular Cretan dialect.
And then, producers who appreciate and respect the abundance and quality of the products their island produces.

Local products: potatoes, citrus fruits, goat meat, gravieraarseniko.

The Chef: Giannis Vassilas.

Chef and author Giannis Vassilas, together with his wife and partner the ubiquitous Sofia, runs probably the most famous, and certainly the most intensely local, restaurant of Naxos, “Axiotissa”. He suggests you try this simple recipe based on pure Naxos products.

His recipe: sweet potato with kopanisti and louza.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes,
  • 280gr. of Naxos cow butter,
  • 120gr. of kopanisti cheese,
  • 12 slices of louza,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Parsley.

Execution:

Wash the sweet potatoes well, pierce them with a fork and after preheating the oven, and bake them at 250o C. The cooking time depends on their size; however, take them out when they soften.
Cut the louza into thin slices and then into small squares, and bake it for 10-15 minutes in the oven, until golden brown. For a large sweet potato we use about three slices of louza.
Place the butter and the kopanisti in a mixer at a ratio of about 4: 1, or add more depending on if you want a more intense flavour of kopanisti, and mix them well. For a large sweet potato we need 70 gr. butter and 30 gr. kopanisti.
Put the sweet potato cut in half on a plate, salting it carefully, given that both the louza and the kopanisti already quite salty.
Add freshly ground pepper, spread the “kopanisti butter” then the hot louza and finally sprinkle with the parsley.

November

Destination: Poros, the Little Venice of the Argo-Saronic Gulf.

In places where tourist access is difficult, there are treasures to be discovered by experienced travelers that ordinary vacationers will miss. Greece can always surprise us. One such surprise is Katerina Sakeliou of Poros.

Local products: Lemons.

The Chef: Katerina Sakeliou is a dynamic, versatile cook, businesswoman (Odyssey’s Apartments), and ambassador of Greek cuisine of her region, and also in the Netherlands, where she spends her winters. With her cooking lessons in Poros during the summer, she attracts gastrotourists from Europe and America who crave to get to know another aspect of Greece, a cuisine and hospitality that make a lasting impression.

The recipe she suggests: zucchini carpaccio.

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • 1 cup of feta cheese,
  • 1 tsp. of oregano,
  • 1 tsp. of thyme,
  • 2 medium zucchini,
  • 100 gr. kefalograviera or Pecorino Romano or any goat cheese,
  • Juice of half a lemon,
  • 1 tsp. of pure virgin olive oil,
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper.

Execution:

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into slices as thin as you can. Lay the zucchini slices on a large plate.
Drizzle with lemon juice and marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to an hour.
Drizzle with the olive oil the zucchini carpaccio and place slices of kefalograviera on top.
Add crushed feta cheese and herbs, and then rub salt and pepper on top.
Cool it for 20 min inside the fridge.
It is very important to put the zucchini carpaccio in the fridge for a while, the flavour will thus become better, and this recipe will help cool you down on hot summer days, a treat to your lunch or dinner.

December

Destination: Syros, the Little Paris of the Cyclades.

The capital of the Cyclades bears the hallmarks of western culture but with influences from the East. Syros town comprises two hills, two churches, two religions, and two cultures that developed in parallel, simultaneous isolated and intermingled.
Local agricultural products formed the basis of the diet of the medieval population of Ano Syra (Upper Syra). The few local recipes, created by the need for a varied diet, were based on them. There were also new recipes brought by refugees from Chios, Kasos, Santorini and Asia Minor. The importance of Ermoupolis as the commercial port of Syros played an important role in bringing new techniques and new ingredients to the island.
The modern era has brought the development of agricultural production to give Syros an adequate supply of fruits and vegetables. Tourism development has encouraged young restaurateurs to develop the traditional flavours and to create a New Greek Cuisine. The leading role is played by local products, dietary habits and the culture that emerges partly from them.

Local Products: San Michalis cheeselouza, herbs, loukoumi, pasteli, halva pies.

The Chef: Dimitris Plytas.

The restaurant “Peri Tinos” (About Tinos) blends Syros and Cycladic cookery with haut cuisine techniques through Dimitris’ creative eye. High quality traditional Cycladic ingredients play the starring role. Seeking out new combinations of flavours, Dimitris Plytas creates with his team a menu of Greek Creative Cuisine with modern touches to highlight the fresh local products he uses.

The recipe he suggests: Risotto with quince and beef brisket.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1 kg of beef neck,
  • Onions, leeks, celery, carrot, garlic, tomato, quinces, parsley, thyme, bay leaf,
  • Allspice, salt, pepper,
  • Honey, cinnamon,
  • Fine chopped onion,
  • Chicken broth,
  • Fresh onions,
  • Nano rice,
  • 2-3 stems of crocus (saffron),
  • Butter,
  • San Michalis cheese.

Execution:

Braised beef:

Cut the vegetables into thick slices and sauté them.
Peel the quinces, cut them into fours and wet them with water with lemon so that they do not turn black.
Sauté the meat after cutting it into small pieces.
In a pan, place the vegetables, quinces and meat on top. Fill with water, cover with oiled baking paper, close the lid and bake in the oven for 2 – 2.5 hours.
When the meat is tender, put it in a pot with the quinces and keep it warm.
Put the juices from the pan in a saucepan, and cook it more to thicken the sauce and add it to the meat.

Risotto

Sauté the onion and rice slowly, add broth and cook for 15-17 minutes.
At the end add the yolk.
Mix the risotto with butter and San Michalis cheese.

Finish

Serve the risotto on a plate, put 2 pieces of meat and 2 pieces of quince on top, and pour the sauce over them.
Garnish with chives sticks.

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