When our Lida wrote her blog post on wine and cheese pairings, we absolutely loved the combination of smoked graviera with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro. The thought of melted smoked graviera cheese has been with us since. And although we were getting ready for spring recipes, the weather did us a favour to remain wintery for a bit longer.

So while we are enjoying the white snow in London, this week we have prepared for you a very comforting recipe. The last winter recipe probably, as we are officially into spring. It is March after all. And what better way to say goodbye to winter with our absolutely favourite cauliflower and cheese. But for this one we’ve used our smoked graviera cheese!

Made from sheep’s and goats’ milk, this cheese comes from Sfakia on the island of Crete. It is made with thyme, making it all more interesting. Herby, woody and smokey, it is the perfect cheese for this recipe. And for a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro of course.

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower (approx. 700g net weight)
1lt whole milk
1 tsp whole peppercorns
½ bunch tarragon plus more to serve
½ tsp salt
1.5 tbsp butter
1/5 tbsp flour
100g grated smoked graviera cheese
Smoked chilli flakes (optional)
Tarragon leaves (to serve)
Olive oil  (to serve)

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Finely chop the stalks and separate the leaves. Add the cauliflower, stalks and leaves in a medium sized pot. Top up with milk. Milk should cover it completely. Add the tarragon leaves, peppercorns, salt. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer until cauliflower is cooked, but still firm when pierced with a fork. Strain and reserve the milk.You should be left with approximately 700ml milk. Discard the tarragon and peppercorns. Place the cauliflower in an oven dish in one layer. In the same pot melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until mixed. Slowly add the aromatic milk you have reserved until your béchamel is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt. Add the smoked graviera and stir until melted. Pour the béchamel on the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes. Bake at 200C for 20-30 min. To serve drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some tarragon leaves.

 


Let’s discover more about fabulous feta and bring some wine to the party!

How much do you like feta? If that’s the case for Greeks, we seem to like it quite a lot, consuming about 10 kilos of it annually. Most Greeks can’t live without it, enjoying this cheese in various forms and textures. Most of us have a friend who is having some with every single meal, right?

This post is an attempt to uncover feta’s diverse character. Sure, its creamy, crumbly, grainy texture and its full-flavoured, salty, tangy flavour are glorious -nothing much one can say about it. But 2018 is a year of discovery. So let’s discover together how feta works as part of a dip, in a pie or whipped up as a mousse.

Allow us inspire you to eat more feta and pair these recipe ideas with delicious Greek wine as well. Let’s not forget, the most recognised Greek product, is a quite a wine-friendly cheese. So today we will look into three feta recipe ideas and how each pairs with a different variety of Greek white grapes: Assyrtiko, Malagouzia and Vilana-also explaining their flavour profiles.

-Turokafteri (spicy feta dip) with Assyrtiko 

The main ingredient for turokafteri –apart from feta, of course- is roasted Florina peppers. For this dip you will also need: extra virgin olive oil, chilli flakes, yoghurt, white vinegar and paprika. Add the feta and roasted peppers to a food processor, add the remaining ingredients to taste until you create a smooth dip.

The famous Assyrtiko (usually from Santorini) balances this spicy dip with its tangy acidity. Maybe the most popular Greek white dry wine, Assyrtiko is lemony and mineral. Although cultivated successfully in the mainland as well as in other parts of the world, the Santorini Assyrtiko is always a point of reference, a fascinating case of vine that was never affected by phylloxera. But let this be the subject of another blogpost.

-Turopitakia (cheesepies) with Malagouzia 

Think of small pastries with kourou dough and a melty feta filling. You can also use phyllo pastry if you don’t have much time. To make your filling, combine feta cheese with eggs -and you can add another cheese (like muzithra or graviera) in there too.

The pies are looking for something aromatic so we could not recall of a wine more appropriate than Malagouzia. Think of a white grape variety producing pale yellow wines with white flowers, herbs, citrus fruits and mature peaches -all these aromas pair perfectly with these little pies.

-Feta cheesecake with Vilana 

Not any cheesecake would do; but a cheesecake with a galomizithra and feta mousse, with a base made of rusks and some sautéed apricot would do the trick. Rusks are added to a food processor and whisked until really smooth. You can add a bit of honey and melted butter until the mixture solid and refrigerate it. In case you don’t have apricots, another similar summery fruit would be great as well.

Vilana grape, described by the famous Jancis Robinson as “relatively delicate speciality of Crete” produces fresh whites with soft acidity. Its citrusy, lemon tree flower and green apple notes; create the perfect balance for this not-so-sweet dessert.

Did you enjoy the recipes? Would you like more detailed descriptions? Please let us know.

What’s your favourite way of enjoying feta? How do you pair it with wine? We would love to know!

By Lida


Today we are going to have a closer look at the Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko produced on the Island of Crete, Greece. Vintage of 2015. The grape variety, Liatiko, usually has very dark skin and is traditionally used to make both dry and sweet wines.

Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko is a dry red wine made from 100% of the Liatiko grape variety. This species once had great importance to winemakers in Crete dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, however, only a few producers are making wines from Liatiko. This is why we are very lucky to have this one!

Located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, Crete is the largest island of Greece. The island has a Mediterranean climate, yet there can be significant differences between the coastal and the mountainous areas within the island. There is a drop of 6°C in temperature with every 1000m increase in altitude. Therefore, in hot regions like Crete, grape vines enjoy a cooler growing environment and better air circulation if the vineyards are on mountainous slopes. When it comes to the soil in Crete, this is normally rich in limestone, with variation in the portions of loam and clay. Limestone, together with the slopes, provide good drainage to the vines and thus contribute to the flavour concentration of the grape berries.

Crete saw the prevalence of modern winemaking in the 1970’s, and has four PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellations today: Peza, Arhanes, Dafnes and Sitia. Among these appellations, Dafnes is located in central Crete, is the only one that specializes in the Liatiko. All Dafnes PDO wines must be 100% Liatiko. And so is the wine we are presenting today.

The producer, the Douloufakis family has been dedicated to wine production since the 1930s. The winemaking traditions and philosophy has been greatly preserved and passed on. The winery has vineyards situated in hill slopes at the altitude of 350 meters in Dafnes.

The 2015 Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko perfectly presents everything you may expect from what has been mentioned above. It has a beautiful pale ruby colour with a garnet and orange edge. On the nose it has ripe red fruits such as strawberry and red cherry, with notes of toast, sweet cinnamon and caramel – hints of oak barrel. On the palate it is savoury and spicy, with a good acidity, between medium to full body, and outstanding tannins. It has an elegant release of its alcohol and relatively long finish, echoing the note of tobacco. Believe it or not, such a flavour profile just reminds me of a very excellent Barolo.

This wine is better served around 20°C — slightly higher than room temperature, in a large tulip shape glass. Decanting absolutely helps to soften the tannins and achieve a more rounded taste on your palate. With its complex and developing flavour profile, this wine goes well with duck, goose, or other gamy birds. It can also pair with salami or even pizza.

 

By Celine


Clean Monday or Kathara Deftera as we call it in Greece is the day of the beginning of lent prior to Easter. It’s a moveable feast, moving every year with Easter. As such, its name means exactly that: leaving behind anything “unclean”, including non-fasting foods.

A public holiday in Greece, clean Monday is the day when families gather together and set the table with foods made especially for the day. If the weather is nice, tables are moved outside and picnics are planned. And along with delicious food, kites come out. Yes, clean Monday is the day when we fly a kite, kids and grown-ups together. It’s a day of being around nature, eating fasting foods and seafood, celebrating the beginning of spring and of the pre-Easter period.

The traditional lagana bread is being prepared, and platters with salads, some shellfish, taramosalata and other fasting foods are laid on the Clean Monday table. This year, Marianna herself has prepared  taramosalata for her team. Using her gran’s’ great recipe with boiled potatoes the consistency is more creamy.  However there is another version using stale bread instead of potatoes. Marianna experimented using Dakos croutons to replace the stale bread. Dakos worked wonders and gave taramosalata a thicker consistency and deeper flavour! We are waiting for the team’s verdict to decide which one works best! Watch this space.

Ingredients:

200g cod roe
200g boiled potatoes  or stale bread or Dakos croutons.
1 onion
Juice of 2 lemons
300ml extra virgin olive oil

Kalamata olives to garnish

Soak the bread or dakos in water. Squeeze out all water. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Blend together the potatoes/moist bread/dakos, cod roe, onion, lemon juice, adding a bit of water if needed to loosen the mixture. Slowly add the olive oil. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed.


2016 Markou Vineyard Schinopeuko Retsina, 12%

Deeply influenced by the Mediterranean climate, Greece has hot summers with rare rainfalls. Due to the mountainous terrain and rock soils, Greece’s vineyard management and winemaking has followed many traditional yet unique paths.

When we ask what is special about Greek wines, we may want to start with Retsina.

What is Retsina? It is an ancient way of winemaking. Wine was made with the addition of pine resin, and thus carries distinct characteristics. Such winemaking tradition can be traced back to the 2nd Century BC, and is now making a glamorous come back. Normally, Retsina can be produced almost everywhere in the country. One finds it mostly in Attica, at the eastern edge of Central Greece. Under the European Union labeling system, Retsina has its own term of Appellation Traditionnelle, and presents itself as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) wine.

The 2016 Markou Vineyard Schinopeuko Retsina is made from 100% of Savatiano, the mostly planted white grape variety that can be easily found around Athens. The grape variety has outstanding resistance to drought and disease, and thus has been cultivated in this region for hundreds of years. Good quality Savatino grapes are able to produce herbaceous dry white wines with notes of citrus and white flowers. In order to make a brilliant Retsina, a small amount of fine resin is added during the fermentation of this wine. The resin is extracted immediately afterwards, but works remarkably in enriching its flavour.

This is a very youthful wine. In glass it shows a clear and pale lemon colour, with a hint of lemon green on the rim. Being gently swirled, it releases intense aromas of fresh lime, pine needles, a slight hint of lavender, and the pleasant notes of fresh wet leaves in a forest after rain. On the palate it is very citrusy and intense, releasing the flavors of the pine resin and quickly developing into a crispy and refreshing mixture of lime peels and rosemary. Its alcohol content is actually low, but feels slightly higher due to the flavours that were extracted from the pine resin. With a very long and piny finish, the aftertastes magically reminds you of sushi rice – the smell of steamed rice mixed with the perfect amount of sushi vinegar. Overall, the flavour profile is not complex. But it has everything you expect from the moment you see it.

The wine will be best drank cool between 8°C and 10°C served in a tulip shape glass. While traditionally Retsina is frequently paired with fried zucchini, fried fish or stuffed vegetables, this wine can also go well with smoked salmon with fresh lemon juice dressing. With the amazing aftertaste of sushi rice, it also tastes fantastic with tuna or salmon sashimi, but not necessarily sushi (with the gluten from rice the wine may become metallic on your palate).

In a hot summer day nothing treats you better than this catchy Retsina. But you definitely can enjoy it anytime. It is so refreshing that you may always replace your Mojito with it.

By Celine T.

References:
http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/food-drink/wine/best-greek-wine-listregions-producers-varieties-food-white-retsina-waitrose-a8124346.html
http://winefolly.com/review/retsina-wine-making-surprising-comeback


Happy Valentine’s Day dear Oliveologists! We wish you a glorious day full of love, affection and delightful treats! We are firm believers of this quote by Harriet van Horn: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” As we keep finding ways to introduce you to food and wine combinations, we could not forget this divine combination: wine and chocolate.

What if the love potion is actually a combination of wine and chocolate? This blogpost is about two of my favourite foods and how to pair them. Both are fascinating, complex foods, promising special sensory experiences. Terroir is extremely important in both of them; still they’re not sharing terroir.  Most cacao trees are grown in West Africa, Asia, and South America. Specifically, Brazil and Ecuador are producing most of the South American cacao. The terroir of the wines we will be suggesting is mostly Greek, with few international grape varieties, as well.

Wine and chocolate are both synonymous to luxury, uniqueness and closely associated with romance. According to researchers, chocolate has aphrodisiac qualities as it contains a number of compounds associated with pleasure, well-being, and excitement, such as phenylethylamine and anandamide. Did you know that chocolate has tannins? No surprise that most tannins are found in dark chocolate.

According to sommeliers there are few rules regarding chocolate desserts, according to which, ideally they are paired with sweet red wines, aged with full body and velvety texture. The outstanding aromas of cacao and chocolate can be found in wines that aged in barrels, high in alcohol and sweet.

As far as Greek wine is concerned, we love pairing dark chocolate with dry Mavrodafni from Patras. This local grape variety gives deep coloured wines with an intricate aromatic character, that becomes even more complex while ageing and maturing. Aromas of ripe red fruits are combined with the aromas of spices, tobacco and herbs. Let’s not forget the brilliant pairing with aged Goumenissa, and with the international varieties Syrah and Cabernet.

If you prefer milk chocolate, pair it with Muscat of Alexandria. Moscato wine is well known for its sweet flavours of peach, orange blossom and nectarine. The name originates from Italy, but the Muscat grape may be one of the oldest cultivated varieties in the world. Especially when fruits are dipped in a milk chocolate sauce, this Muscat or Muscat Hamburg (Black Muscat) is a glorious pair. A creamy dessert would ask for a Samos Muscat, a Malagouzia, and the international Viognier.

White chocolate is brilliant with Vinsanto, a naturally sweet white wine from sun dried grapes grown in Santorini. Think of sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves going towards dried fruits such as apricots and raisins. Muscat of Lemnos, but also a white Muscat Spinas from Crete, are great choices, as well. Moscato d Asti and soft Sherrys are a great choice for this buttery and sweet type of chocolate.

Join us at Borough Market today and find our selection of rare, unique wines and discover more about this ancient elixir!


We are in the midst of winter and cheese and wine pairings are our go-to way to entertain. We are here for those of you who want to try new flavours and texture combinations or understand how to create a fun cheese platter. Let us take you through some “pairing rules” as well as highlight important factors that you need to consider. Each case is followed with few examples in order to inspire you to taste new flavours.

-As a general rule, white wine is easier to pair with cheese than red. A cool white wine with strong acidity and fresh scents will “cut through” cheese’s natural richness.
Take Metsovone, a PDO Greek cheese or  Smoked Graviera for example, a smoked cheese from Crete, just in at our shop at Borough Market-look for an aromatic white or a red that will bring out its bold flavour. This cheese is brilliant with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko. When gloriously melted, an aged Xinomavro (or a Ximonavro blend) will be a great contrast -and match-to your Metsovone, especially when paired with sausages and garlicky potatoes.

-Red wine pairs mostly with hard aged cheese. It’s not just the texture but also the aromatic and flavour complexity of an aged cheese that asks for something bold and full bodied as a partner.
Graviera is a PDO cheese produced in various parts of Greece, the main of which are: Crete, Agrafa and Naxos. We would pair the one from Naxos -produced exclusively from cow’s milk- with Agiorgitiko. On the other hand, the one from Crete -made from sheep’s milk or sheep’s and goat’s milk- with Xinomavro.

-Is the cheese cooked or not? The aromatic and flavour profile of a cheese changes and more layers are added. Are we grilling the cheese, pan-frying it (saganaki) or serving it as a soufflé?
Kaseri, a PDO cheese made from 100% goat’s milk, or Kefalotyri made with milk from the island of Evia are a great pair to Cretan Vidiano. In case we stuff red Florina peppers with it and have some rusks on the side we’re looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

-How can we approach the usual stars of cheese boards with a fresh eye?
Just when you think that you had parmesan with every single wine, you start wondering what this cheese is really looking for. Try pairing parmesan, pears and prosciutto with the aromatic Malagouzia for a truly unique combo.

-How do we pair blue cheeses?
Mavrodafni, a PDO fortified dessert wine is a beautiful companion to strong and spicy Stilton.
The famous dessert wine from Samos, Moschato with its aromas of apricot jam, overripe melon and butterscotch candy, is wonderful with Roquefort.

-Still wondering what to drink with feta?
The most popular Greek cheese loves retsina. Retsina finally makes a comeback to the wine world with a newfound vitality. It is the perfect choice when you’re feeling summery or wanting to bring some warm sunshine a la table. For example, think no further when you decide to prepare a Greek salad or a Cretan dakos salad.

So many pairing rules, so little time! We’ll be back with more exciting flavour combinations and more Greek cheeses and wines, soon. In case you want to read our Greek wine related posts, follow the link.
Tweet us your cheese board and favourite pairings; we always love new ideas! Last but not least, do you find is there a wine or a cheese you struggle to pair with? We’re here to help!

by Lida P.

(photo by Amaryllis)

 


So, pancake day is here! Shrove Tuesday or Pancake day is this wonderful day in February or March when we eat (you guessed it) pancakes! This day is linked to the beginning of the fasting for Easter. It is indeed a moveable feast, moving every year as determined by Easter. The idea behind it is that you use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast. And pancakes are the perfect way to use up all these ingredients! What is beautiful about these cycles of feasting and fasting though, is that they create traditions and food patterns that remain unchanged. So today, irrespective of whether you fast or not, irrespective of any religious ideas one may have, we all enjoy pancake day!

At Borough Market we celebrate pancake day with the annual pancake day race, where all of us compete in a pancake flipping relay. Obviously, the best way to celebrate pancake day is to eat loads of pancakes with various fillings. And as you know, we love sharing with your our own Greek take on things.

So this week, we came up with the simplest, yet most delicious (and nutritious!) sweet pancake filling. And stay tuned, because there are various ways to use this-more to follow! So this year give chocolate or sugar a break and let us introduce you to the amazing sweet intense nuttiness of…

Tahini and Grape Molasses Pancake Filling

200g tahini
100g grape molasses
pinch of salt

In a bowl place your tahini, grape molasses and salt. Using a fork stir vigorously until both ingredients are combined and the texture is like thick butter. Generously spread over pancakes.

This mixture pairs perfectly with bananas, colourful raw pistachios and dried cherries.

 

 


Remember a few weeks ago we were discussing where our inspiration for recipes comes from?
Often, Marianna is the one who provides this inspiration. This week she came to me with our aromatic sample of mastiha oil and a glass of water. She gently tilted the tiny bottle and a drop fell in the glass. Drink this, she said. What can we make? Maybe rice pudding? I like rice pudding, she said as she walked away, the smell of mastiha all around me.

I, too, love rice pudding. Especially variations of it. Yes, there is the classic one which we prepared last year.
But this week, things get more exciting.

As you may remember from our mastiha cookies, mastiha is an aromatic sap, coming only from the island of Chios in Greece (read more here!). For this recipe, we didn’t use mastiha oil, but instead, we combined mastiha and mastiha liqueur.

Traditionally, in order to use mastiha in baking you have to grind it. But not all of us have a pestle and mortal at home. And in this blog we believe that when we cook we need to make the best with what we’ve got. So you don’t have a pestle and mortal at home. You’ll use the mastiha as is. This recipe asks for slow cooking, so your mastiha will slowly melt and dissolve in the velvety milk. Just make sure you stir every so often. You know, you can always give more love.

Don’t be tempted to use more mastiha, your rice pudding will become bitter. We know so because let’s say that our first batch of rice pudding was not on the sweet side. Learn from our over-excitement.

Serves 4

50g carolina rice (you need rice with high amylopectin (starch) content such as Arborio or other risotto rice)
50g white powdered sugar
600ml whole milk
one very small rock of mastiha
2 tablespoons of mastiha liquer
raw pistachios (to serve)

Put all your ingredients in a medium sized pot. Stir and place over medium high heat. Once the milk reaches a near boiling point immediately turn down the heat (be careful not to let it overflow). Let it simmer, stirring every so often, so that mastiha dissolves and evenly offer its aroma to your rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the mixture feels like porridge remove from the heat. Add the mastiha liqueur and stir. Serve with raw pistachios. Mastiha likes that.

 

 


January is in full swing, with gloomy wet weather (which however the writer of this blog post happens to adore). January is the month when we all decide we will take better care of ourselves. With the feasting of the holidays now way past us, we make promises to eat healthier, better. What healthier and better means may differ for each of us. For us at Oliveolology it is eating fresh vegetables, food made with care, good olive oil.

But you know, you have to have exciting flavours too. So this week we are playing with one very special ingredient. Kalamata olives with orange and herbs. These olives are marinated in orange juice, zest and wild aromatic herbs from our farm. Try to imagine the meatiness of the kalamata olives together with the citrusy orange. Absolutely delicious.

And what these olives pair perfectly with? Beetroot! You know we love this vegetable and there is something very satisfying to roasted beetroot. Remember our beetroot dip? How about last year’s lentil and beetroot salad?

To bring everything together we’ve selected kale and our organic goat’s cheese.

Serves two as side or one as main

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet red wine vinegar
1 grape molasses
1 bowl/plate/bunch/bag of kale leaves
2 large beetroot
½ tub orange olives
¼-1/2 pack goat cheese
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 200C. Scrub your beetroot under running water. Wrap each one in tinfoil and place them in a baking tray. Roast them until cooked through, around an hour.
In the meantime, wash and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, sweet vinegar and grape molasses, salt.
Once cooked, remove the beetroot from the oven. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, unwrap them and using your fingers peel the skin off. You can of course leave the skin on. Slice the beetroot or cut them in wedges. Gently toss together beetroot, kale, orange olives, dressing. Lay on a plate or bowl (we used a chopping board). Crumble the cheese on top.