Greek Summer in a bite!
The summer is just around the bend, with the heat gradually creeping up. Summer heat is something Greeks are no strangers to, and this is reflected in the Greek cuisine. It is absolutely brimming with numerous freshly prepared, deliciously light local dishes: spreads & dips, salads & starters, lunch or dinner mains and all-day desserts. Choices and options are endless as recipes cover a very wide range of ingredients and flavours (vegetables, legumes, fish, meat, dairy, nuts, fruits), the epitome of the Mediterranean diet.
As each region or island has its own local history and traditions, falling under the greater Greek Mediterranean umbrella, here are few selected typical tastes from four locations that truly encapsulate flavours of a Greek summer.
Santorini is a Cycladic island offering spectacular views from the natural Caldera cliff, overlooking the Kammeni volcano that will take your gastronomic experience to a whole new level.
Brandade – the most unusual Salt Cod recipe of the Mediterranean!
The Santorinian take on the classic Brandade dish is quite unusual as local cherry tomatoes are used to create a tomato puree which is added to the garlic and potato mix, brought to a simmer and poured over the dish salt cod, ready for the oven!
Fava – the yellow-pea dip surprise!
This is a ever so tasty vegetarian dip, using Santorinian local Fava (yellow-pea) beans blended with onions, garlic and lemon juice. Dips are very popular in Greece and they are all primarily vegetarian, made usually from vegetables and legumes, and infused with fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil. Try it as a appetizer by spreading it on fresh bread to get a sense of its very particular flavour.
Tip: Combine it with a glass of Vinsanto and enjoy the romantic environment of Astarte Suites while appeasing your taste palate!
The Ionian island of Corfu is filled with a plethora of different tastes, aromas, aesthetics and flavours. Corfu is a cultural amalgamation of traditions, remnants from customs of past eras. The beautiful Mon Repos Palace “Art” Hotel located in the heart of Corfu city, will allow visitors to properly experience Corfu’s personality, by sampling the island’s’ cuisine at the exquisite Passagio restaurant.
Strapatsada – Scrambled Eggs with a tomato twist!
A dish made popular in Corfu, although readily available all over Greece, this is a timeless and juicy version of the continental boring scrambled eggs dish. With Italian origins, the dish is a simple but mouthering alternative that can be eaten at any time of the day. Light, tasty and nutritious it will leave you craving for more.
Mandoles & Mandolata – Sugar & Almonds hit the spot!
Essentially a dessert that is rooted in Venetian aristocracy, but a perfect example of where less is more, with the almond (mandorla in Italian) as the star ingredient. Mandoles are individual roasted almonds that have been caramelised and sugar coated creating ‘nut’ candy, whereas mandolata are chewy bars of almond nougat with nuts and sesame.
Tip: A sweet way to complement the end of your meal, enjoy the mandoles & mandolata with a Greek coffee overlooking the promenade from Mon Repos.
Crete is one of the most autonomous islands belonging to Greece. Itis a blessed land and has its own mentality and dialect;it is the source of agrotourism for Greece and visitors can become observers of olive harvests, olive oil production and raki distillation.
Olives – the source of Greek goodness!
So it goes without saying that olives are an integral part of their cuisine, and Cretans eat them during breakfast as well. Why not start your day by feasting like a Cretan King at Akali Hotel that offers an exceptional breakfast buffet? Olives are a great source of copper, iron, fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, more so than olive oil. Be sure to try some of the local olive varieties such as: – Throuba (Black Olive) – Cretan (small black olives) – Tsakistes (Green), on their own or as part of a refreshing salad.
Raki – The spirit of Crete!
A traditional grape based alcoholic beverage that can contains up to 70% volume alcohol. Made by distilling the pomace of grapes used for wine, it is common that Cretan households prepare their own distillation of Raki. The homemade versions are usually stronger than the commercial raki, for obvious reasons. Raki is pretty much as common as water in Crete, and you will not be able to escape tasting it.
Tip: Try it cold, as an aperitif before or even during your meal, or ask for the hot, sweet, dessert version of rakomelo (Raki with honey)
Folegandros is a quiet Cycladic alternative to the ever-enchanting volcanic Santorini, with an untouched beauty. The rhythms of life at Folegandros beat slowly and peacefully, and you will be able to experience a more personal, rustic side of Greece here. Local food is more infused with traditional rather than cosmopolitan flavours.
Matsata – Red Wine Rooster!
Matsata is a local dish of Folegandros that is typically prepared with rooster; it is a dish that is prepared during the summer and winter months, and it is packed with flavours and textures as it is combined with mashed tomato and reduced with red wine. Aromatic and wholesome, this dish is can be prepared with your choice of accompaniment (pasta, rice or potatoes).
Karpouzenia – Baked Watermelon!
Perhaps the most interesting of the list, you cannot find this delicacy anywhere else in the world. It is a honey drenched sweet made of strained watermelon pulp mixed with flour, and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Tip: Try this exquisite dessert with one of the fine wines of the Anemi Hotel’s Cellar, to fully bring out the fruity flavour of a Greek summer!
What are the Greek flavours you’re craving this Summer?