All posts filed under: food & drink

picky toddler: greek foods that don’t go to the dog

My dear friend A, who lived on a Greek island for 20 years, where daily she tended a fabulous fruit and vegetable garden so skillfully that we named her Lara Crop, left it all behind to move to the US. One day, beyond disbelief, she Skyped me to tearfully announce that lemons there cost a dollar apiece and were all GMO. It was then that I was struck with the realization that despite the crappy crisis and many other problematic issues in this country, we are at least fortunate enough to live in a place where neighbours with country houses will actually try to force bags of garden-grown, organic lemons on you so they don’t have to watch them rot in a pile. Here, we are still lucky enough (but for how long, I don’t know) to have access to rich varieties of non-GMO, healthy and delectable, locally-grown foods; saying that, the majority of fruit & veg is heavily sprayed so one has to seek out the organically grown stuff, and even then there’s the issue …

a positive mentaleaty

In the somewhat edgy, yet lively and up-and-coming neighbourhood of Kerameikos, as you walk past a scattering of cozy, youth-filled cafes and bars, you’ll arrive at a restaurant with the curious name Mentaleaty Asian Food Therapy. Created by the Athina-Elipis social cooperative that started in 2011, bolstered by European Union funding, Mentaleaty offers employment opportunities to individuals with severe mental health issues as well as offering all profits toward their care. “A group of us started the Athina-Elpis social cooperative in 2011,” says psychologist Effie Koutsi. “The objective was to provide good employment opportunities to individuals who otherwise have little or no chance of earning their own money and getting social benefits, and to help them integrate socially. We started by running a cleaning service for public and private businesses and organisations. After that we ran a small photocopy shop in a clinic for people with Alzheimer’s, and next a small café. Mentaleaty is our most recent project, opening at the start of 2016”. The team opted for Asian cuisine in order to stand out …

Greece on a Plate

What does Greece taste like to the most successful Greek-origin chefs in the world? By Alexia Amvrazi Chef Michael Psilakis Award-winning chef Michael Psilakis owns the lauded Kefi, MP Taverna, The Hall at MP and Fishtag restaurants in the US for which he has received numerous accolades, including the James Beard Award and a Michelin Star. His book How To Roast A Lamb was received with great aplomb for its heartening references to comforting Greek foods and earned him several TV appearances and articles in major publications. MOST EVOCATIVE TASTE & AROMA OF GREECE: Lemon. The bright acidity it provides is the basis of why the simplicity of Greek cuisine is so brilliant. Every bite starts anew when the lemony finish cleanses the palate and prepares the taste buds to experience subtle nuances, as if it were the first bite. FAVORITE GREEK FOOD TO EAT RAW: Sea urchin, cracked on the rocks, rinsed in the ocean, with a squeeze of lemon, salt… equals heaven. IT’S WORTH DEDICATING HOURS TO COOK…: Live fire, spit-roasted lamb, embodies the …

lighting up the stars

Osteopath and holistic therapist Vicky Vlachonis stays true to her Greek roots, dynamically advocating holistic practices ancient and new and changing lives via her book, talks & 1-on-1 sessions. “Everybody has pain. We’ve all felt pain in our heart, stomach, shoulder, head” says Vicky Vlachonis, author of the book ‘The Body Doesn’t Lie’ and osteopath to the sparkliest stars in the Hollywood sky. “Pain is the most powerful tool we have, if only we listen to the signals our body gives us. That’s why I wrote the book and have offered a three-step, pain-free program based on Reflect, Release and Radiate.” When we meet, Vicky is tanned after her Greek island family holiday, and positively radiant – clearly she practices what she preaches. It’s been over 20 years since I last saw her at our school, where I remember her as a very sporty, vibrant and charming teenager. I am excited that she has forged such an energetic path in my favorite area of all – holistic wellness, helping thousands of people awaken to the …

enchantment and a glass of wine

BY NICO MANESSIS In another life, one of my features was a profile of Santorini’s unique vineyard in The Greek Wine Guide, 1996 Edition. This jewel of an island vineyard was then promising, yet unknown to foreign markets. It was obvious that these penetrating, before chilling chambers, angular, bone-dry wines would create a cult following, spearheading modern Greek wine out of relative anonymity. Such an improbable, windswept vineyard was too much of a good story not to become a darling by switched-on merchants and sommeliers looking for something different. It seems like yesterday (summer 1995) that the late George Venetsanos took me to his Venetsanos winery, perched on the caldera’s rim, to discuss details of how master builder Tzorzis Saliveros and he set out in 1947, and completed in 1949, this one-of-a-kind gravity-fed winery. One still marvels at the inclined floor so water would self-drain. At the Venetian-era know-how steps where transported goods, solid or liquid, would remain shoulder horizontal. In the winery’s belly, the two giant pear-shaped water cisterns are awe-inspiring to look down into …

it’s kale-tastyc!

PRODUCT REVIEW ADMITTEDLY I’m already into health foods, thus I don’t need to be converted. I’m also very open minded and experimental when it comes to trying new foods, as long as it’s not the live red ant curry I was offered in the Cambodian countryside or the squelchy cooked lamb’s brains I almost passed out watching someone else noisily suck out of the poor animal’s skull. So this isn’t a post about someone who suddenly discovers the amazing attributes of a vegetable she previously considered healthy but nondescript; in fact, when I heard that Troo Food Liberation (TFL), a cooking & raw/vegan awareness-raising team I’ve been a big fan of for years now, had produced their own Kale Chips, I was excited to try them out.    My love of healthy, bio, ethical foods and years of self-experimentation with the effects and energies of foods, as well as my job as a journalist, at some point naturally led me to hooking up with the Troo Food team, who are unique in what they do in Greece, as well …

a cretan odyssey

BY NICO MANESSIS The setting: the Venetian Grand Arsenal overlooking the port of Chania. A beautifully restored 15th-century dockyard, it is possibly the finest venue for a wine tasting in Greece. The 8th Oinotika was a well-organized, enlightening show. Large, airy room, cool temperature. A civilized flow of tasters that allowed wine scribes to do our business. Genuine engagement, good questions. Generous bonhomie and humour, encouraging the high amount of 30somethings attending. This was also an opportunity to meet the most obscure addresses, especially from the far-flung western reaches of this continent of an island. On a west to east axis, highlights that stood out include: Pnevmatikaki Kritopelagitis 2014 White: An intriguing blend of Vilana and Romeiko, with fruity earthiness. Manousakis Mourvedre 2012: Perfumed, civilized, smooth tannins. Dourakis Euphoria: A dessert wine from sun-dried Romeiko, orange wine minus all the funky stuff. Bergamot scented, silky. Alexakis Athiri Dandelion: Textured, vineyard-driven minerality. Maragakis 8th Art Vidiano 2014: One of the show’s brightest stars. White flowers bursting with pit stone fruit. Douloufakis Kotsifali 2012 : Boldly scented, thought …

syntagma’s mexican street food

MEXICAN food is not a novelty in Greece, but a truly successful rendition of authentic (as opposed to Americanized or Europeanized) Mexican food is. So when the My Greek Review’s Food Task-Force (TFT) read about the arrival of Taqueria Maya in central Athens, we were excited. We first headed out there on a Sunday for a leisurely lunch but found it closed, so we opted for an empty, six day old Indian restaurant nearby instead, much to our deep regret (N.B. As our Food Task-Force member / experienced chef Dimitris Panteleakis says, when a restaurant manager answers your comments about inedibly dry, rubbery chicken with the ‘reassurance’ that the restaurant is open to receiving your comments, good and bad, via their Facebook page, one cannot help but yelp at the thought of being part of some amateur cooking experiment). The interest in trying out Taqueria Maya was met almost a week later when, strolling up chaotic Ermou St in a state of near-murderous hunger, the taqueria came to mind and we headed to Petraki St, popping our heads into …

Q&A: diane kochilas, chef and food writer

DIANE Kochilas is one of the foremost authorities on Greek cuisine in the world. She is a chef, host of Greece’s most popular cooking show, “What’s Cooking Today, Mom?” cookbook author (18 books!), and passionate pioneer of healthy Greek cuisine. She is as native New Yorker whose family hails from the “Blue Zone” Greek island of Ikaria, on which her latest book is dedicated. Every summer she and her husband, Vassilis Stenos, host a cooking and cultural immersion experience on the island. Here she talks to My Greek Review about her hopes and her bond with Greece. How Greek are you? Hybrid. Greco-American citizen of the world. What is your biggest role in life? Juggler-parent. What is most important to you right now? My family. What are you most grateful for? Everything. What scares you most? Nothing I would put to words. What is Greece to you? Mana. A direct link to the raw energy of life.   Your one favourite thing about Greece past, present and future? Past: Unspoiled beaches. Present: The excitement of being in …

class-leading sauvignon blanc

SAUVIGNON Blanc is ubiquitous. Though it does not scale the heights of Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or Assyrtiko, it scores high in awakening one’s senses. It brilliantly matches oysters and other metallic- iodine-tasting shellfish. Passes the goat-cheese salad test. It’s pungently aromatic and crisp, with rare exceptions it fails to deliver the middle part of the story, though. Yet, its popularity grows by the mouthful. It has the knack to remind you of its presence. An actor delivering fireworks in the first act but lacking the firing power and stamina to enthrall his audience through to the end. Old vines carry wisdom. They go a long way in covering up imperfections. In fewer words, they say more. I recently advocated that the way forward for Amyndeon is the micro-parcel route. Thanks to its sandy-clay topsoil lying on limestone bedrock, there are nuances to explore. Droumo was planted in 1990. It is one of the earliest of its kind. Moreover, it is in the right microclimate. With no maritime influence from the Ionian or Aegean, this 550-700m landlocked …