Foragers will perform the waggle dance during swarming season to propose suitable new nest sites. The waggle dance is also the way successful foragers share information with the colony about nectar/pollen sources, water or propolis. For close sources less than 50m from the hive, bees tend to use a round dance, although confusingly this can also have a short waggle segment! Dancing bees release a pheromone to alert their siblings nearby of the importance of this message. Dancing bees will indicate the quality of their source by the frequency of the waggle and the amount of pheromone release. They can also provide small samples of the source product to nearby bees to allow independent assessment of the quality. These bees will also perform the dance if they approve of the source. In this way, when multiple dances are occuring simultaneously, a democratic process ensures the best, closest sources are exploited first.

As all comb within the hive is orientated in the same direction, the angle of the dance in relation to vertical represents the angle of flight in relation to the sun. The length of the dance is proportional to the distance involved, with 1s of dance roughly equal to 1Km of flight. This allows observer foragers to work out the correct direction and distance to fly.

This is all remarkably clever for such a small navigator, considering we as humans pride ourselves on our complex communications. What is more amazing is that observer bees can also remember a time component, as if they try to find the source hours later, the sun will be in a different position in the sky. The bees understand this and change the angle of flight accordingly so they can find the source.

Photo Credit © Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (2015)


Further to our research project: “Fides –beyond the chicken soup” we developed this comforting and delicious soup.

Combining the excellent antioxidant properties of saffron with mineral-rich tahini bring us to a special soup that you can use as a starter or as a meat free Monday meal. It’s great if you’re fasting too –the main inspiration for this soup is frugal Monastery cooking. We are preparing a special blogpost introducing you this brilliant cuisine, stay tuned!

Ingredients

1 lt water
, 1 1⁄2 cup of fides pasta (angel hair)
1 cup of tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of Kozani saffron
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Method

Break fides with your fingers, in smaller pieces. Boil it in salted water. Remove it from fire.

Mix tahini in small bowl and set aside. Add saffron and lemon.

In the small bowl with tahini, add a few spoonfuls of hot soup broth and mix well. Add this back to the soup and stir to incorporate completely. Stir well and boil it for a couple of minutes.

Serve it and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you feel like going large with your toppings: garnish with grated lemon zest, sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Don’t forget paximadia!

Delightful note:
Did you enjoy the saffron-tahini combination? You can always use it as a salad dressing. We love it with green salads, especially with roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Soften the saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, and let it cool. Put into a bowl with the tahini and lemon juice and whisk to a creamy consistency. Check the seasonings.


What is Dakos you say?

Dakos salad is one of the most iconic Greek dishes and probably one of the simplest to make. For us Greeks, it brings back memories of Greek summers. Of time spent by the sea, in the village. This is why often we eat it all year round. And in the big cities most of us now live.

What is dakos, many may ask. Dakos is a hard rusk traditionally made with barley. Barley mixed with water, salt and sourdough creates these delicious dark brown rusks. Barley gives a more intense flavour. Nowadays many make dados rusks using wheat, or a mixture of wheat and barley. But please try and get the barley ones. Especially if this is your first time tasting this. Barley after all is good for your body. It is a rich source of nutrients, that are essential for you, including protein, dietary fibre vitamins and minerals. So go on, swap wheat for barley for a bit. Dakos is good for your soul, too. The way it is usually prepared in Greece, originating from the island of Crete, forms the perfect filling lunch or dinner. Even breakfast if you prefer savoury flavours in the morning.

Our dakos rusks are made just for us by a family owned bakery in Chania, Crete. They still use their family recipe from 1930’s and bake them in traditional ovens using olive wood. These rusks come in various forms and shapes. The ones we prefer at Oliveology are the round ones that come cut in half.
Tradition has it that the top part of the rusk, slightly lighter in texture as it containing more air, is given to guests. The hosts always take the bottom part. Greek hospitality through food, wouldn’t you say?

There are many ways to use dakos; it is so versatile. During our cooking workshop  our guest chef Despina Siahuli even crumbles it on top of strapatsada (the greek version of shakshuka), a dish made with eggs and tomatoes.

Yes, tomatoes go great with dakos. Ideally you need juicy, ripe tomatoes. But if you can’t find any, our passata is an ideal substitution. Just add a few cherry tomatoes for texture. The way we usually prepare and savour dakos is simple, yet includes flavours that smell of Greece. Tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, olive oil, olives. We always add capers too. We won’t give you quantities for this recipe, as you should adjust everything according to your own personal taste. Every household in Crete has their own way of making dakos after all.

You will need:
Dakos barley rusks
Tomatoes (or combination of passata and chopped tomatoes)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Feta Cheese
Dried oregano
Kalamata Olives 
Capers

Start by laying your rusks on a platter. You can prepare individual plates, but the Greek way of serving food is sharing it. Drizzle some water and olive oil on top. This will moisten the hard rusks. Scatter the passata and chopped tomatoes, with all their liquids. Don’t worry, the rusks will absorb them all. Crumble some feta cheese. Scatter olives and capers. Add oregano generously. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. Smell it. Smells like Greece, doesn’t it?


As fides (angel hair) is a delicate type of pasta, we love pairing it with light, structured sauces. They are wonderful with broths, consommés, soups, light tomato and dairy sauces. In Greece, it’s the type of pasta that is usually added in avgolemono soup –a lemon chicken soup, thickened with eggs. However we find this type of pasta versatile and fun and we would like to show you more ways of using it. The following recipe is a great light and healthy, spring dinner. Alternatively, omit the noodles and serve as a prawn dressing for crisp salad leaves. This recipe is special as we use petimezi, which adds depth and a hint of spice. Salad with fides (angel hair), spinach and prawns

Ingredients
500g fides
250g prawns fresh or frozen
2 oranges thinly cut in fillets but also juiced
1/2 cup of petimezi
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon of powdered
60ml evoo
250g fresh or frozen spinach
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Optional: more evoo for the pan, 1-2 garlic cloves crushed, chilli flakes, sesame seeds

Method
Steam the spinach for 3-4 minutes, remove it from the pot and set aside the water you used. Alternatively, sauté spinach in a pan, with evoo until softened; put in some crushed garlic and some chilli flakes to enhance the flavours.

Prepare the prawns by removing tails, heads, shells and intestines. Boil them for 2 minutes, as soon as they show any sign of changing colour. In a bowl, mix together petimezi, orange juice, evoo and add the shrimps to the marinade. Boil fides in the water you left previously, according to the package. Drain well and run the pasta under cold water, to stop cooking.

Mix fides with spinach, prawns and the orange fillets. Add ginger and fish sauce in the marinade. Shake up the dressing ingredients in a jar and tip over the salad. Toss gently and check the seasonings; remember that fish sauce is quite salty. Garnish with sesame seeds and dinner is served.
Enjoy!


Orzo, or kritharaki in Greek is traditionally eaten as part of a beef stew. Oven baked pieces of meat, with tomato sauce and orzo. Orzo is usually added towards the end of the cooking, when meat has started falling off the bone. It gets a delicious meaty flavour and mellow texture.

A vegetarian friend recently told us how for him, this is such a wonderful dish that it can stand on its own. Just remove the meat he said. Indeed, now that we are full into spring, maybe something lighter will be better.

This dish can be prepared in the hob, or you can finish it off in the over. We prefer the oven. You can serve orzo al dente. But we feel that there is something comforting in the soft grains, enveloped in tomato sauce. Also, although this shifts our recipe away from vegan, we would add some feta cheese. Take the orzo out of the oven a few minutes before it’s cooked. Crumble some feta cheese on top. Return to oven and bake for a few more minutes, until feta is melted. Trust us, this takes this recipe to a whole different level.
Feeds 4
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
8 tbsp of olive oil 
200gr orzo
1 bottle of tomato sauce (passata)
1 bay leaf
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried rosemary
salt
pepper

Peel and finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic. You can use a cheese grater for both if you prefer.
In a medium sized pot, add the olive oil. Yes it’s plenty, to add flavour to the dish. In medium heat, gently fry the onion and garlic until translucent and slightly caramelised. Add the orzo and give it a stir, to cover it in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf. Add 1/2 cup of water. Lower the heat and let the orzo cook in the flavoured tomato juice. Alternatively, cover and place in the oven at 180C. Check occasionally and stir, adding water if needed. When the orzo is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes later remove from heat/oven. Add the feta cheese if using. Serve with warm crusty bread for a wonderful, light spring dinner.


Spring is in its full swing!  To welcome spring here at Oliveology we brought in some very delicious new ingredients. All from Greece of course. All from small artisan producers. All of excellent quality. We will have plenty more of these in this blog in the future.

For now, we will celebrate spring introducing you to our golden marinated artichokes. Tender, meaty, fresh. Marinated in extra virgin olive oil, with a golden white colour. You can savour them as they are, or enjoy them in wonderful spring salads.

Speaking of spring salads, the amazing thing when following the seasons is that one can experience all sorts of new foodstuffs. What comes with spring? Well, we will pair our artichokes with purple sprouting broccoli. This is a very interesting vegetable, that also happens to be very beautiful. Its dark green and purple stems, leaves and florets complement perfectly our artichokes.

Serves one as main or 2 as a side dish

2 large handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli florets -you can replace with broccoli or cauliflower- (approx. 1 cup)
1 large red pepper or 1 roasted red pepper
A handful of marinated artichokes (approx. 1/2 cup)
A few springs of mint, finely chopped
Red wine vinegar (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

Trim any woody broccoli stems. Slice horizontally any large florets so that all have the same size, to cook evenly. You should have both florets and stem attached together. Rinse under cold water. Boil in salted water for 3 minutes. Test and leave a few more minutes if needed. Let cool.

Roast the red pepper in the oven at 180C until tender and the skin has blackened. Once you are able to handle it, remove skin and seeds and discard. Save the juices from your baking tray. You can skip this step if you are using roaster red peppers from a jar. Slice the roasted pepper in long strips.

Mix the broccoli, artichokes and red pepper. Add the olive oil from the artichoke marinade (no waste here-it’s delicious!) and the juices from the roasting pan of the pepper, or a tablespoon of the juice from the jar. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, sprinkle the mint and season with salt. Enjoy!


Over the years many of you who come to our shop or contact us ask for our recipes, tips and advice on how to use our ingredients. Inspired by all of your questions and interest, the time has finally come for us at Oliveology to share our passion, knowledge and spirit of Greek foods with all of you! How? We’ve got many things planned for the future. Think cooking classes, food tastings, wine workshops and many, many more.

How do we kick it off? Well, how else? Teaming up with guest chefs who share our vision, we are beginning a series of cooking workshops. These will have various formats and themes. Some will be shorter, others will be longer. Some will be focusing on specific themes or produce. Others will be focusing on learning different cooking skills. All however will celebrate seasonal Greek cooking. Putting forward healthy, easy recipes you will learn how to create delicious dishes with a hands on culinary experience. Most importantly, you will experience Greek hospitality (yes, there will be lots of food and drinks on offer!) and the way food is used to bring people together. At a warm, social environment you will interact with our guest chefs, us from Oliveology and your fellow cooks having a fun experience, while learning what Greek food really is. Did we mention there will be a surprise goodie bag with Oliveology ingredients for you to take home after the class? Yep!

For our first series of workshops, we will be teaming up with the amazing Greek chef Despina Siahuli who has put together a purely vegetarian cooking experience for all of you. We will be focusing on star ingredients. These are unique artisan produce sourced exclusively from small producers all over Greece. These star ingredients represent the uniqueness of the Greek terroir and culture. During our cooking workshops you will learn how to taste and use them in very creative ways. Our first series of cooking workshops will take place at The Cookhouse, a lovely space at the heart of Borough Market. Full of light and with a fully equipped professional kitchen, this space is ideal to host our culinary adventures.

So join us for a celebration of Greek seasonal cooking. Sign up now for a fun and interactive way to discover the secrets of Greek cuisine and improve your cooking skills.

Price: £45 per person (including food, drinks and a goodie bag)
Duration: 2.5 hours

Location: The Cookhouse, Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL

Workshop #1 – Thursday 18th May
10am-12.30pm | 2pm-4.30pm | 6pm-8.30pm

Book your time slot

For more info email us at: cookingworkshops@oliveology.co.uk


St George’s day here in the UK marks the beginning of the asparagus season. Don’t you just love it when a season for an ingredient “officially” begins? We love seasonal food as you know. And we also love asparagus. They are after all what makes us feel like we are properly into spring.

Obviously there are many things one can do with this green spring vegetable.

But it so happens that we just received from Greece the most amazing ingredient to pair with asparagus.

Spaghetti made with emmer wheat, or as we call it in Greece, zea. The naming of zea links to the idea of “giving life”. So that should tell you something. It is also one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. This ancient grain is high in fiber and has a low GI. But besides being good for your body, it is also very tasty. Think beyond what you would expect from your average pasta. Long strings of delicate pasta with a nutty, warm flavour. Is there anything better? Well yes! A zingy pairing with asparagus.

By the way, this pasta will go beautifully with a mushroom sauce or a ragu. But that’s for another blog post.

Serves four

1 pack of Emmer wheat spaghetti
1 large bunch of asparagus
1 large lemon, both juice and zest
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Grated graviera  or parmesan cheese (optional)

Place your pasta in a large pot with boiling salted water. As the pasta is boiling, place a small colander on top of your pot and steam your asparagus. If you prefer, you can steam them separately or blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water. Set asparagus aside and once you are able to handle them, cut in bite size pieces. Or leave whole if you prefer.

When the pasta is al dente drain. Beware, artisan pasta cooks much faster than store-bought.

In a large bowl, place your pasta, asparagus, lemon juice and zest and drizzle with plenty of olive oil. Add some grated graviera cheese (or parmesan) if using. Season with salt and pepper and stir until everything is well combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed.

Serve warm. But this specific pasta dish is actually delicious served cold. Leftovers for lunch anyone?

 

 


This is a blog post to share with you some of the magic which exists in Greek cheese. Most of us often see cheese as an interesting ingredient to cook with or have as part of our cheese platter. And it is of course that. But so much more.

Next time you get a piece of cheese, before you eat it or start grading it, stop. Look at it. Smell it. Cut a small piece and put it in your mouth. When you taste cheese, an entire world opens up. The cheese that you taste is more than its taste and aroma. It’s more than an ingredient to be used in salads or soufflés. It carries within it all the characteristics of the place where it is coming from. Of the animals whose milk created it. Of the time of the year when it was made. Of the cheesemaker whose art turned the milk into cheese. Of the culture of that place in the world where it comes from. Each cheese carries a story. If you pay close attention, you can experience it.

Today we will share with you the story of our graviera cheese from Naxos.

The cheesemaker Emmanuel Koufopoulos lives on the island of Naxos. His cheese room operates from 1990 in the area of Saint Isidoros Galanadou at the intersection of Melana and Potamia. You know, if you are ever around. His graviera cheese has been awarded protection under the European Union’s Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) status. What does this mean? It means that only the cheese produced there can have that name.

Koufopoulos puts together family heritage and modern technology and creates his cheese using local cow’s, sheep’s and goats’ milk. Almost daily, he collects milk from his own cows, and from animals living in the mountains of Naxos. Kinda gives you a glimpse of how cheesemaking was done in the past. He also uses vegetable rennet (yes, this cheese is vegetarian!). Of course, there are no preservatives or additives.

He usually talks about his love for cheese, which, yes, comes through once you taste it. Aged for minimum one year, this cheese has a semi-hard texture and a rich aroma, a creamy and buttery mouthfeel, and a mellow peppery taste with nutty undertones.

There are various ways to enjoy this cheese. You can include it in a cheese platter. You can enjoy it in a sandwich, smothered with some chutney or pickled onions. You can use it in cooking. Grade and sprinkle over pasta. Make soufflés, quiches or pies. Cut in cubes and include it in salads. Melt in a cast iron skillet and serve with pickled cucumbers.

Yes, there are many ways to enjoy this cheese. But if you ask me, the best way to savour it is the simplest one. With some good crusty sourdough bread. You can then experience properly this graviera from the island of Naxos.


There’s something magical about artichokes, no doubt. Visit any food market in Greece this time of the year and you’ll notice them straight away. Quite intriguing, don’t you think? Their exterior might be armour-like but their sweet, delightful hearts are irresistible. Excellent any way you approach them: steamed, grilled, roasted, sautéed; you might recall us writing love letters to them, too. This recipe is all you need to celebrate their peak season.

Ingredients for 4 persons

•12 fresh, prepared artichoke hearts (preserved in water with the juice of 2-3 lemons) or jarred/frozen
•2 carrots
•2 spring onions
•80 g red onions or shallots
•250g potatoes
•60g peas
•2 lemons
•Dill
Evoo
•Salt and pepper
•Vegetable broth (optional)

Method

Initially, chop onions and spring onions. In addition, chop carrots and potatoes in dices. In a wide pot heat the olive oil over medium heat olive oil and sauté the onions for a few minutes until soften. Alternatively, if you’re using shallots, sauté them whole in a small pan and add them in the pot towards the end.

Continue with carrots and potatoes until softened. Add vegetable broth or water. Afterwards, put in the artichoke hearts to the mix, some more broth or water. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice, cover and let simmer for 30-35 mins. Towards the end, add the peas and the shallots and boil for 10 minutes approximately. Shake the pan to distribute, instead of stirring. Check the seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

This dish can be served hot or cold. As all “ladera” dishes, they are a match in heaven with feta!