Is it summer yet? The weather might be a bit confusing still, but we can’t help but feel that one of our favourite seasons is here. We kicked off June (and summer!) with our Greek Islands Cooking Workshop, where we got to taste and make amazing island recipes and wines. Our wonderful chef, Lida shared her passion for island foods, and –sneak peak to September-she is preparing another ‘island’ workshop! A Cretan one this time. Watch this space for updates on this and our other cooking workshops!

So this week, we have the ultimate summer recipe for you: a Horiatiki, also known as Greek salad. But with a twist. If you are looking for something refreshing and filling for those warm summer days or nights, look no further. Our bulgur wheat horiatiki is our go-to summer dish.

In the recipe below, you can cut the tomatoes, cucumber and onions in whichever way you like. We had plenty of time, so we went for small cubes. But if you are more rushed, then go for tomato wedges and roughly chop the cucumber and onions-it is equally delicious. And, as always, do not hesitate to add or omit ingredients! We’ve added fresh herbs for example. You adore feta? Double the quantity! You hate capers? Omit them. But not before you pop by our Borough Market shop to taste ours.

So get into the kitchen and let’s kick off this summer!

Serves 2:

100g bulgur wheat
4 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1 red onion
1 tbsp capers and
1/2 tub Kalamata olives or amfissa green olives (we used both)
Dried oregano (to taste)
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
100g feta cheese
a small bunch of fresh herbs (parsley, mint or dill – optional)
Salt

Place the bulgur wheat in 250ml of water in a medium-sized pot. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it cook until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

In the meantime, cut your tomatoes, cucumber and onion in small cubes. Place in a large bowl, along with the capers and olives. If using herbs, finely chop them and add them to the salad. Crumble the feta cheese on top. Add the cool bulgur wheat and oregano. Dress your salad with olive oil and vinegar and season with salt.

Serve with crusty bread. Happy summer everyone!

 


2016 Markou Kleftes Savatiano Sulphur Free, 12.5%

How much do we know about natural wine? In the April issue of Decanter magazine last year, the rise of natural wines was brought to the attention of wine consumers. The ‘trend’ of drinking natural wine is gradually becoming a matter of lifestyle for many enthusiastic wine lovers.

So, what exactly is the natural wine? How different is it from the wines we are used to drinking? According to the Oxford Companion to Wine, what we call natural wine is a relative rather than an absolute term. It differentiates these types of wine according to the winemaking processes (or philosophies). Typically, the grapes are grown by small-scale, independent producers, they are harvested by hand from sustainable, organic, or biodynamic vineyards. The wine is fermented without any extra yeasts (meaning only the natural yeasts existing on the grapes are used) or additives, and little or no sulfites are added for refining. This definition, unfortunately, indicates that the term “natural wine” is quite vague and we have to uncover in what specific ways a bottle of such wine is indeed “natural”.

The 2016 Kleftes from Markou Vineyards, is a sulfur dioxide (SO2) free wine made from grapes grown in organic vineyards in the Koropi area of Attica, Greece. The name “Kleftes” in Greek is also the name for dandelion seeds, which carry your thoughts and dreams to the loved ones and present hope, dream, and the uncertainty of a new journey. If you have read our earlier wine review about Shinopefko Retsina in this blog, you will find that this wine is made with the same grape variety, from the same region as the retsina. In this case, what can we expect from a sulphite free wine to taste differently?

Normally, sulfur dioxide in winemaking is necessary to preserve the wine from oxidation and to refine the wine by preventing bacteria and unwanted yeasts. This is the same element as you may find in dried fruits from supermarkets. Without sulphite, Kleftes is obviously more oxidised and displays more characteristics of oxidation. In the glass, it shows a slightly hazy yet bright gold colour with a lemon rim. On the nose, the wine has moderate aromas led by cooked apple, ripe pear and citrus flowers. Swirl the glass gently, it may also reveal some notes of roasted nuts and honey. There is no hint of the oak barrel. On the palate, it is dry, with crisp acidity, light body  and relatively low alcohol level. The flavour intensity is high, dominated by tastes of grape fruit, citrus flowers and crushed apple, accompanied by a long finish.

The wine is best drunk around 8-10 °C, which is about 5-10 minutes after being taken out from the fridge. Because it is sulphite free, it is not an ideal wine for aging. To prevent the oxidation, my suggestion is to consume this wine as soon as possible. It is a good wine to pair with food such as fried fish pie, green salad, or risotto with asparagus and parmesan cheese. An amazing pairing with wild capers, fava and bread.

Click here to buy the Markou Kleftes Savatiano!

by Celine

References: Oxford Companion to Wine


Spring is officially here! The weather is warmer, the sun is shining and the flowers have blossomed. Spring for us at Oliveology is often the time for new beginnings. Try something new. Start something new. Plant a seed that will soon blossom into something beautiful.

For us, it is also often about discovering new, seasonal ingredients or techniques. This week we are cooking with fresh artichokes. You have, of course, the option of using our marinated artichoke hearts. But in the spirit of trying something new, we suggest you get your hands on the fresh ones.

Remember our artichokes with anchovy vinaigrette from a few years back? Delicious! And how about some Greek classics?

Lida, our resident chef, had prepared this traditional recipe for you a few years back.

Artichoke hears with peas, carrots and potatoes. Absolutely delicious! In our Vegan Cooking Class at the end of April, she will be making this recipe again, also showing you how to prepare fresh artichokes. As above, in the spirit of trying new things, book yourself a space – we’ve got very few left!

Inspired by spring, this week we have for you a recipe of artichokes cooked in white wine with wild garlic, capers and lemon olives. A perfect dish to have as a main or as a meze sitting under the sun.

Serves two as a starter

3 tbsp olive oil
5 fresh artichoke hearts
2 cups of Gavalas Santorini Blue Assyrtiko
1 bulb of fresh garlic
½ tub kalamata olives with lemon and herbs
1 tbsp capers
smoked salt, pepper (to taste)

Place the olive oil in a pot and over high heat. Place the artichoke hearts facing down and fry, until the edges are brown and charred, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and season with the smoked salt and pepper. Add the fresh garlic, two cups of white wine, and one cup of water.

Cook for 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered, until the artichokes are soft and the remaining liquid has formed a thick sauce. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the olives and capers.

Serve with crusty bread and some Assyrtiko wine.

 


This is a very easy and quick recipe, made with ingredients you have in your cupboard. It is perfect for when you don’t have much time, but makes for a very exciting meal!

For this recipe we’ve used a combination of our capers, kalamata olives with lemon and herbs and sun-dried tomatoes, but you can adjust it of course, using whatever you have available.

When it comes to pasta, we’ve selected our trichromo organic penne. Trichromo means having three colours, which is exactly what this pasta is. It comes from a small producer in Grevena, in the northern part of Greece. It is made with organic durum wheat semolina. The red pepper from Florina region in northern Greece gives this penne its red colour and peppery taste. Organic spinach turns it green and vibrant. Similar to fresh pasta, penne trichromo cooks in a few minutes! We told you it is a quick and easy recipe!

 

Serves four
200g penne trichromo
2tbsp olive oil plus more to serve
30g capers
75g kalamata olives with lemon and herbs
30g sun-dried tomatoes
a small bunch of fresh parsley

Boil the pasta for 5-8 min, or until al dente. Drain and place it in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and stir. Add the capers, olives and sun dried tomatoes, fresh parsley and toss until well mixed.

Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzling some more olive oil.


As the weather is getting colder and colder, we like adding colours to our dishes. Somehow eating colourful foods makes us feel warmer inside.

This week’s potato salad takes inspiration from the lemon-yogurt dressing we made a few weeks ago. In search of lovely ingredients to pair it with, we came up with this colourful dish.

You need to do a bit of chopping, but we find that the preparation of this potato salad is quite relaxing, as there is no ‘right’ way to chop your ingredients. And if you are like us and always looking for new, interesting ways to make food and get culinary inspiration, we have two wonderful cooking workshops coming up at the end of November and in December. Have a look at our website and book, spaces are filling up fast!

This potato salad is perfect for lunch, as it can be enjoyed at room temperature and makes for a lovely dinner, especially served warm.

Serves 6

1kg potatoes
2 small bunches spring onions
1 handfull of celery leaves
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 cup cooked corn
1 small bunch of dill
50g capers
1 cup lemon-yogurt dressing

Peel the potatoes. In a large bowl with salted water boil the potatoes until tender but not mushy.

In the meantime prepare the rest of your ingredients.

Finely chop the spring onions. Place them in a large bowl (large enough to fit the potatoes afterwards). Cut the peppers in small cubes, strips or whichever shape you like. Add them in your bowl, along with the corn. Finely chop the dill and set aside.

When the potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, cut them in large bite-sized pieces. In your bowl, toss together the potatoes, vegetables, capers, dill, and lemon-yogurt dressing.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 


Fish and shellfish are foods that many of us associate with healthy eating, not to mention they are delicious! But it’s important to choose them wisely. We always go for fish that is suitable; line caught or harvested by sustainable methods; and we avoid endangered species.

You can begin by finding a good fishmonger (Sussex Fish or ShellSeekers). They tell us what’s in season, where fish and shellfish come from, how they’ve been caught. Not to mention they will recommend new things for us to try!

And of course, buy local. Buy in season. It’s usually cheaper, with a smaller carbon footprint. And it tastes so much better!

As we enter into November, our fishmonger recommends shellfish such as cockles or clams. They are now in season and hand gathered. Do avoid eating them during breeding season from March to July.

These lovely heart shaped shells go perfectly with, what else, fresh pasta. Here’s how!

For a meal for 2 you will need:

Two cloves of garlic, minced
One leek, finely chopped
Two glasses of white wine
Two handfuls of cockles or clams
Two tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
250gr fresh pasta (you can also use dried pasta)
Smoked dried chilli (to taste)
Capers (to taste)

In a large pan heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the garlic and the finely chopped leek. Season and cook until tender. Add two glasses of white wine. Once reduced, add the cockles and clams, but discard any that are open already. Cover with a lid and let them steam until they have opened. Discard any closed ones.

Meanwhile, boil some fresh pasta. When the pasta is ready serve on two plates and scatter the cockles, clams and juices from the pan. Sprinkle some dried red chilli (we used smoked), and capers.  The salty and sour flavour of these dark green flower buds, goes perfectly with this pasta. Drizzle some olive oil. Enjoy with a glass of white wine.


When asked to name a case of a bud, more popular than the flower or even the fruit, which one comes to mind? I always think about the caper.

Capers are beautiful pea sized, dark green flower buds known since the Palaeolithic-era. In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates mentioned its expectorant properties; Dioscourides advised mouthwashes with an infusion made with capers boiled in vinegar. It was also believed that its skin had toning and aphrodisiac properties. The poet Antiphanis mentions capers as one of the spices along with sesame, cumin, thyme, marjoram, vinegar and olives.

The caper bushes are native to the Mediterranean and usually grow in rocky, dry areas. Other varieties can be found in other places of Europe, as well as Asia and Africa. They are categorised and sold by size. Their price is usually high, due to their laborious harvesting method: not only do they have to be hand-picked but also picking needs to take place quite early in the morning. Then, they are sun dried and either salted or pickled. The unpicked buds, bloom into white- pinkish flowers and in the evenings, they release a sweet, pleasant scent. In Greece the caper leaves are considered a delicacy and are usually added fresh in salads or pickled as mezze. When opportunity comes, do try them- you are in for a treat!

These spice buds with their piquant, salty and sour flavour as well as their floral aroma, act as flavour enhancers. They are great with fish, tomatoes and onions and are often used in conjunction with lemon. Widely used as a condiment or a flavourful garnish, they are essential to dishes like Santorini fava, puttanesca pasta, Nicoise salad, as well as in tartar and remoulade sauces.

Nutritional value wise, they are very low in calories and contain many phytonutrients, anti-oxidants (high in in flavonoid compounds rutin and quercetin) such as and vitamins essential for optimal health. We would advise you to pay special attention to their high sodium levels.

So, what are you waiting for? Treat yourselves to our organic and wild capers in olive oil (not brine); they are hand picked, prepared and packed for us with love, care and expertise by Mrs Love (Κα. Αγάπη) in Southern Crete!

Have a look here and buy our Capers!