Its the time of the year for our short but well deserved break. it is also the best time of the year to visit some of our wonderful producers in Greece and check this year’s harvests.

Our online shop will be CLOSED from 5th -20th of September. Please plan your orders accordingly to avoid disappointment. We recommend to place your orders latest Friday 1st of September. Online and Wholesale Orders placed after the 1st of September will be dispatched from 21st of September. We will have limited access to emails and will reply to all messages and enquiries on our return.

Meanwhile our shop at Borough Market will remain open as usual Monday- Saturday.

Follow us on Instagram @Oliveology  #oliveologyholidays

 

 


Many say that Mastiha is an acquired taste. As an ingredient, these little rocks look like blurry diamonds. It is quite bitter in taste and very, very aromatic. So one needs to use it with care. A little goes a long way. You can make cakes with mastiha, cookies, use it in cooking as well (it actually goes very well with chicken).

When discussing recipes for this blog post, we decided to go for cookies. But not any cookies. These ones are made with olive oil instead of butter, grape molasses instead of sugar. And orange juice! I call them cookies because they have a very soft and chewy interior. I think the secret is the combination of olive oil, grape molasses and water. Oh and yes, these cookies are vegan too!

They are quite something. You can play around with the dough and make smaller cookies, or, experiment a bit. Shape the dough like a bagel by taking a large round ball and making a hole. Just make sure to bake the larger cookies a few minutes longer. You can eat them as is, or try them with our soft, creamy galomizithra cheese  and some orange blossom honey. And before you start gathering your ingredients, have a read at the story of mastiha. Somehow, images of mastihohoria, the villages on the island of Chios that produce mastiha from centuries ago give this resinous sap a whole different aroma.

For 45 cookies you will need:

1 cup olive oil 

1 cup grape molasses 

1 cup water

1 orange (both zest and juice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mastic tear drops (ground)

700g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

You can buy mastic tear drops from our shop at Borough Market. These can be ground using a mortar and pestle by adding a few pinches of sugar, so that they don’t stick together. Alternatively you can add 1/4 teaspoon (3-4 drops) of our pure mastic oil. Taste and add more if you want a more intense flavour.

In a bowl, whisk together your olive oil, grape molasses, water, orange juice and zest, until you have a smooth mixture. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and mastiha. Mix until well combined until just smooth. Be careful not to over mix the dough.

Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients onto your wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. You should have a slightly sticky dough that you can easily shape. Using a bit of flour, make small round balls, or larger bagel-shaped cookies.

Place some greaseproof paper onto your baking tray and place the cookies on top, leaving a few centimetres between them.

Bake for 10-15min at 180C until they are lightly brown – the centres will be soft. Once your cookies have cooled down a bit, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can have them straight away (please do!), or keep them in an airtight container.

 


It is always exciting when we bring new products into the store. We all gather around as Marianna explains what each ingredient is, where it’s coming from, the story of the producer. This week we are introducing mastiha or mastic! Come by our shop at Borough Market, we’ve got mastiha in crystals, mastiha gum and a pure essential oil that you will find fascinating.

It is often that these foods carry beautiful histories. This week I’ve researched mastiha for you. So join me, as we travel back in time and get to know what mastiha is. So, let’s start from the basics: Chios Mastiha is the name of a resinous sap produced from the mastic tree.

Its history goes back to the depths of time… Legends, traditions, religions, places, voyages, people and cultures compose the myth of Chios mastiha. Ever since the Roman Empire up to the Byzantium, the Venitians and the Ottomans, and from the first Lokum (or Turkish Delight ) produced with sugar syrup, pistachios and mastiha in the 18th c. in Istanbul to the traditional saliq (a type of rice porridge in Saudi Arabia), mastiha enchants people with its unique aroma and taste.

The word mastic derives from the Greek verb μαστιχείν “to gnash the teeth”, which is the source of the English word masticate.

It is a natural, aromatic resin in teardrop shape, falling on the ground in drops from superficial scratches induced by cultivators on the tree’s trunk and main branches with sharp tools. As it drips, this sap appears as a sticky and translucent liquid which falls into the ground. Mastiha starts solidifying into irregular shapes within 15-20 days from the first carving. That solid product is then harvested and washed by mastic growers, giving us finally the natural Chios mastiha. Its colour is initially ivory-like but as due to oxidation a year and a half later changes into yellowish. It is worth mentioning that the mastiha production process has remained practically unchanged over time.

Since 1997, Chios mastiha has been characterized as a Product of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).This means that the quality or the characteristics of the above are mainly or exclusively due to the geographical environment, including the natural and human factors and the production, alteration and process which take place in the delimited geographical area.

It is only produced in the southern part of Chios, one of the biggest islands in the Aegean Sea, in the so-called Mastihohoria or mastiha villages, which are monuments of cultural heritage.  Soil and weather conditions favour the mastic tree’s cultivation only in Chios and only in this specific part of the isle.

During the Genoese occupation from the 14th century until the 16th century the cultivation of mastiha was properly organised and 22, in all, mastiha villages were actually founded in Southern Chios so as to better exploit the monopolistic product of mastiha.

In the 15th and 16th c. Mastiha was exported to Istanbul, Asia Minor, and the Crimea, to Armenia, Rhodes, Syria, and Egypt, and to Europe and northwest Africa.

During the Ottoman possession, the Sultan kept for himself 70% of the 38 tons of mastiha produced annually. In exchange, he exempted the mastihohoria from most taxes and granted them several other privileges, such as to allow self-government. Each village was managed by elected elders, who decided on the quantity of mastiha that each inhabitant was required to contribute to fulfil the sultan’s revenue. To prevent smuggling of any kind, access to the villages was prohibited to all strangers.

In 1848, the mastiha producers had for the first time the right to sell their products on the free market and pay their taxes in cash, rather than mastiha.

Chios was incorporated into the Greek state in the winter of 1912.

Today, mastiha production is a family affair and the Chios Mastiha Growers Association, a co-operative founded in 1938, assembles the total production, processes the product, packages it and manages the international trade of all mastiha products.

Chios mastiha has a variety of uses and has integrated in the culture of different people and civilizations, especially in the East Mediterranean. It is the basis for the production of a great variety of products such as food and beverages such as liquors and a delicious ice-cream known as kaimaki, which has an unusual chewy and stringy texture thanks to the addition of Chios mastiha as a thickening agent.

It is also used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and perfume industry. Chios mastiha, exported from Chios to all over the world. In Lebanon and Syria they make a mastiha-flavoured cheese while for Arabs, mastiha is considered as a great luxury for flavouring food, sweets or milk and is usually added to the local drink Arak. In contemporary Greece, mastiha is used predominantly in baking and in making sweets. Soon, I’ll share with you delicious recipes with this fascinating ingredient. Stay tuned!

by Nafsika Papacharalampous

 


We quite enjoy attending seminars and educating ourselves more about anything food related. Especially when their subject is a powerful food obsession, like fermentation and the person leading it is the fermentation revivalist. The following blogpost will make you feel as if you were sitting next to me during this workshop.

The last days of May, I attended a Fermentation Workshop hosted by Sandor Katz at Vezene Athens. The latter is a contemporary Greek bistrot, the brainchild Ari Vezené. He is a much acclaimed self- taught chef, butcher and owner of two equally celebrated restaurants in Greece; apart from his bistro bar in Athens, he also owns Trattoria Vezené on the Ionian island of Meganissi.

We have been following the events Ari is hosting for a while now, especially since he developed EMBRACE; “a new series of gastronomic events which aims at introducing some of the most important chefs worldwide to a greater local audience while promoting Greece to these chefs, as well as helping to initiate said audience to a “new chapter of Greek cuisine” through the melding of these various visiting cultural influences”.

Back to Sandor now, who has devoted about 2 decades of his life to this project, even if he is not a trained biologist or microbiologist. You might have heard his first book Wild Fermentation or the second one, The Art of Fermentation. He mentions feeling like a mad scientist at times – I definitely consider him as a fermentation demystifier. He travels the world spreading the word about fermentation and the microscopic worlds of microbes. He is a food lover, who chose to return to the land and live in rural Tennessee and not only uses fermentation to fight food waste but for its “glorious healing power”, as well. Let’s find out more about the world of cold boiling, shall we?

He started off his presentation acknowledging that fermentation is not a new concept to Greece. He mentioning trahanas –fermented pasta that Oliveology cooks loved during our Cooking Workshop- yoghurt and wine. If only he knew about our olives -you might recall our previous blogpost on fermentation, explaining why our Kalamata olives are so special. Too bad we didn’t bring some for him to try!

Fermentation might be happening with or without us; however, he focused on the intentional, the planned attempts. The protagonists of this procedure are diverse communities of micro-organisms. The simplest procedure includes getting the vegetables submerged in their own juices and letting lactic acid bacteria work their magic.

In order for his audience to realise the importance of fermentation he stated practical examples like:

  • Alcohol, which is the most widespread byproduct –think wine and beer,
  • Flavour, examples like chocolate, vanilla and cured meats –impossible to lead a delicious life without them,
  • Preservation –an excellent and very Greek example would be homemade preserves –γλυκά του κουταλιού- among others,
  • Perceived health benefits –through this process extra nutrients are generated. Furthermore, in some cases, foods that used to be dangerous are made edible.He elaborated for a while regarding our relationship with bacteria, nowadays. Even if we’ve got about 1 trillion bacteria in our bodies and there’s no form of life without them, we’re still terrified. Bacteria in our contemporary minds equal with danger, disease and death. Did you know that serotonin –vital for your mood, dreams, appetite and even the flow of thoughts- is regulated by indigenous bacteria from the gut? I had no idea!

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We are over the moon as 6 of our products have been awarded stars at this year Great Taste Awards. Great Taste Awards are organised by the Guild of Fine Food, the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. They have been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’.

We are really grateful for the wonderful feedback. Big thanks to the judges and of course our wonderful Greek producers that make us proud every year with their consistently superior quality and unbeatable flavours! Below you can read some of the judge’s comments.

18C evoo “Deep green unfiltered oil with a curiously creamy as well as green herbs, grass aroma. Greek mountain herbs on the palate; the bitterness does not overwhelm, despite the ‘green-ness’ . The pepper spike is sound. There is sweet fruit present also. This is intriguing. We do love the wealth of herbal flavours here. It’s certainly complex and balanced.”

21C “Really good aromas of rosemary and fennel on the nose, the oil has good texture, balanced flavours that marry well, the oil is fresh, interesting and very versatile.”

Apple Oil ‘Apple and cinnamon notes on the nose, the sage is well judged and doesn’t dominate. Smooth texture and well balanced flavours.”

Kalamata Olive Plain “Deep black and shiny in a lovely deep green oil with pepper and vinegar on the nose. Juicy yet firm with easy to pit fruit..”

Kalamata Olives with Lemon  “Beautiful, clean fresh lemon, delightful..”

Chestnut Honey  “A powerful yet subtle flavour that’s a welcoming difference from the norm, plus a really appealing appearance.”

 


Granola is of course not Greek. Growing up in Greece plain oats were available, but to my understanding I was the only weird kid at school who occasionally had porridge for breakfast. Unlike the UK, oats were not that popular in Greece. But let’s begin by what granola is and we will get to our Greek summer version. Granola is basically a mixture of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, baked in the oven -you’ll see how right below.

So what makes this recipe a Summer Greek granola? Well, summery Greek ingredients and flavours. At the shop we just received some lovely dried nectarines. Plump and juicy, with a pink-peachy colour that makes you want to just look at them for hours. They are hand picked and air dried, with no added sugar or any bad oils. It’s just the fruit, really. The perfect ingredient to make granola, wouldn’t you say? Inspired by the Greek nectarines, we created this recipe for you this week.

I’ll give you the measurings in cups as it’s way easier to assemble your mixture that way. Also, this ain’t baking, so if you fancy adding more nuts, seeds or fruit go ahead. But this ratio is very balanced I find. Please don’t go for the blanched almonds, the ones with skin taste better. You can serve your granola with milk, kefir, yogurt and fresh fruit for a lovely summery breakfast.

For a large jar of granola you will need

2 cups of oats (200g)
½ cup chopped almonds (70g)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
a few pinches of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
1 cup dried nectarines (120-150g)

Start by mixing your oats, almonds and seeds in a bowl and place them on a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Then, in a separate bowl mix your olive oil, honey, cinnamon and salt (if your honey is not runny, warm it up a bit).

And now, for the fun part: Drizzle the olive oil/honey mixture on top and mix with oats (the olive oil and honey might not seem enough for that amount of oats, but it really is).

Very carefully make sure to mix everything really well using your fingers until everything is covered in olive oil/honey (you could use a spoon, but then you won’t be able to lick your fingers, you don’t want that).

Right, now for the baking: at 150C, stirring every 10min so that it evenly cooks.

Oh, and whatever you do, when you take the granola out of the oven to stir do not taste: Laugh not, it is very inviting, granola makes the house smell like honey and spice and everything nice but it will burn you (yes, I did get burnt, so be wiser).

So, after about 30-40min, when your granola is golden, remove from the oven and let it cool, mixing in your dried fruit after it’s cooled down.


Fresh herbs are a bliss. Surely, dried ones are easier to store and they don’t need any attention or care. But those of you who are lucky enough to have balconies or even gardens, well, grow some herbs! There is nothing better than freshly cut basil for your tomatoes, or woody rosemary for your roasted lamb. If you are not into taking care of pots of fresh herbs it’s not the end of the world. Most of us can now access fresh herbs at our local market or shops.

There are so many things you can do with herbs. This week, we have something different for you. It is summer after all and as such, foods that don’t require an oven are always welcome. When these foods also happen to be sweet and cold, it’s even better. Have you guessed where we are going with that?

Granita of course! Granita is different than sorbet in that it has a crunchier texture. Ice crystals form because of its preparation method (you’ll see below). Which means it is also easier to make and requires no special equipment! It is kinda like making tea and freezing it if you think about it. It can be eaten as an ice cream, served in glasses, but also as a slush-type drink. If you want, you can spike it with the alcohol of your choosing and there you have it, your very own summer cocktail.

For 2 people you will need:
A small bunch of basil (30g), leaves and tender stalks only
200ml water
150g orange blossom honey
3 medium-sized lemons (both zest and juice)

Finely chop the basil leaves or whiz them in a blender with the water.

In a small pot, and over medium heat warm up the water, basil and honey. Bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it steep for 5 minutes. Add your lemon zest and juice. Taste. Have in mind that once frozen, the flavours will become less intense. However, the mixture needs to feel balanced. If you feel it needs more honey, lemon, or even basil add some now.

At this stage, you are faced with a deeply existential choice. To strain or not to strain. If you think about it, it is quite similar to soups. Do you prefer pureed soups like our trahana cream one or the fall pumpkin one? Or do you prefer soups with texture, like our spring one  or the saffron tahinosoupa? The writer’s personal preference is texture. But of course we tried both. And yes, the writer’s own personal preference is still texture.

So strain (or please don’t) the mixture into a clean metal tray. Place your tray in the freezer. Ever half and hour or so remove it from the freezer and using a fork, scrape the semi-frozen liquid around. You can keep tasting and if you feel there is something you’d like to add, you can still do so. Just make sure to stir it all in. After around two hours the granita should be set and you should be ready for the herby bliss.


There is something really rewarding when you prepare yourself the foods that you usually get ready made from the supermarket. Think mayonnaise for example. Most of us get the commercial one. But think back at a time when supermarkets did not have mayonnaise. Think back at a time when households made their own.

I grew up with the supermarket one. Like most of us I guess. My mother did not. When I told her I am making mayonnaise this week, she told me her own stories. We did not make a lot, she said. Just the quantity we needed for every meal. We would have grilled fish and as the fish would cook, we would make mayonnaise. We used egg yolks and mustard. Lemon juice. And just olive oil, none of these oils you see now at recipes.

Indeed, researching recipes for mayonnaise, most use a mixture of olive oil and sunflower oil. The taste of mayonnaise made with other oils is milder. Olive oil is quite intense on its own. This is exactly why you have to make it just with olive oil. And with an olive oil with a robust, peppery flavour. Only then you can tell the difference between a mayonnaise that’s there just to brighten up your salad or crisps and a mayonnaise that you can’t stop eating with a spoon straight out of the jar (this is the writer’s own personal experience with this recipe here). This mayonnaise made with our 27C olive oil is like a velvety cloud when you taste it. But then, the acidity of the lemon and the richness of the olive oil kick in. And it’s a velvety cloud with sparkles. You can also try it with our 18C, for a more floral and grassy finish. Up to you really.

So go on, make your own. And maybe you’ll become like us, swapping the supermarket jar for this one.

In the recipe below, it’s important that all your ingredients are at room temperature and that you pour the olive oil very slowly. Imagine a thin string of olive oil. Or do half a teaspoon at a time until you feel confident enough to pour. And keep whisking until you get the silky texture you need.

Makes 1 jar

1 egg yolk
1 tsp mustard
juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste if needed
250ml of extra virgin olive oil
salt

Whisk the egg yolk and the mustard. Slowly add half of your oil, whisking constantly. Add the lemon juice, whisking constantly. Add the rest of your oil (you guessed it), whisking constantly. Taste and season with salt and more lemon if needed. Store in the fridge.


Have you ever made dough? If you have, you’ll know what we are talking about in this blog post. If you haven’t then let us introduce you to the magical word of putting a few ingredients together and creating something you thought was impossible.

Sure, like most things you can get ready made dough of your choosing from the grocery store. Do you need filo (phyllo) pastry for a spinach pie? The corner shop will have it. Do you need puff pastry for a bulgur pie ? Supermarket is next door.

But then you will be missing half the fun. You see, making dough is much easier than what you think. When we are talking dough, it all comes down to two things: ingredients and recipe. Dough usually has very few ingredients so as we’ve said in the past, make sure they are damn good. Get the good eggs. Get the slightly more expensive flour. Get the best you can afford. Now, when it comes to the recipe. That’s a tricky one. Internet these days is full of recipes. Bookstores are filled with cookery books. How does one choose which recipe to trust? Because we know first hand how horrible it is to put time and love into a recipe and it not giving you that love back. How does one find a recipe they trust? Here at Oliveology if there is one person we trust more than anyone it’s Mrs Kalliopi, Marianna’s mother. Remember her delicious Apple cake? Every week when we discuss future blog posts at Oliveology I nudge Marianna: call your mum, she has great recipes!

This time she shared with us her recipe for Kourou dough. This is a Greek dough that Mrs Kalliopi makes with olive oil and yogurt. The recipe came just as a list of ingredients and only the phrase: “make a soft and fluffy dough. Let it rest for 30min”. But worry not, we’ve deciphered it for you.

In Greece we usually make it into small pastries and fill them with feta and egg. But as you can imagine you can stuff it with whatever you wish: graviera or other hard cheese and bacon, tomatoes and a soft creamy white cheese like galotyri. Or you can even spread it and use it as a base for your pizza. This specific dough can actually stand on its own, so you can even roll it out and cut it in strips.

Ingredients 
500g  flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
230ml (1 cup) of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons (30g) grated graviera cheese
200g greek yogurt
1 egg

Preheat your oven at 180C. Sieve your flour in a bowl and add the salt.

In a separate bowl whisk your egg. Add the olive oil and yogurt and stir until everything is combined. Add the cheese and stir again. Slowly pour your wet ingredients into your flour bowl. Use your hands until everything is combined. Place your dough in a lightly floured surface and kneed for a few minutes until you get (you guessed it) a soft and fluffy dough.

Let it rest for half an hour while you prepare your fillings or topping (if using any). Roll it and either stuff it, use it as a pizza base or cut in strips. Bake at 180C. Your dough will rise a bit, having a delicious slightly flaky texture. When you make it, drop us an email or tweet, Mrs Kalliopi would be thrilled.