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


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?


On this blog we have mostly been writing about food. With the Greek wine culture in renaissance, we are really excited we can finally share these wonderful ancient elixirs with the world. So, we decided to start a series of blogposts focusing in this very subject sharing out knowledge and passion. On a previous blogpost we introduced you to four flagship Greek varieties, Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro which are from Cyclades (Santorini), Peloponnese and Northern Greece.

This time we focus to another wine producing region, Crete. The main wine growing area in Crete are the mountain foothills behind the (capital of the island) Heraklion, which actually is the country’s second biggest wine producing zone. The region was nominated as Wine region of the year 2016 according to the prestigious Wine Enthusiast magazine along with Champagne, Provence and Sonoma County.

We find the magazine’s description of the region, to the point: One of the world’s oldest wine regions, dating back about 3,500 years, this Greek island has recently begun to gain international acclaim for its quality and affordable pricing. A Phylloxera outbreak followed by very limiting laws about which grapes could be planted held the region back, but it has solidly hit its stride with unique island wines and a burgeoning wine-tourism industry. Wines of Crete is a network including about 31 wineries, 27 of which export wine around the world.

According to the experts, Cretan wines are considered a great combination of value and intrigue and are on the rise both in Greece and abroad. The last 15 years are considered really important for the wineries of the region, as the new generation of producers revitalised and upgraded the production. Most of them were trained in important wineries across the world and share ambitious future plans. The Cretan production includes international varieties, as well as 11 indigenous varieties with a lot of potential including Vidiano and Thrapsathiri (white varieties), Liatiko, Mandilari and Kotsifali (red varieties) but forgotten varieties that are being rediscovered, as well. Oinotika, a Cretan wine fair organised by Wines of Crete at the Hotel Grand Bretagne on 30/10/2016, with 23 wineries across Crete and around 200 labels; destined for wine professionals and wine enthusiasts to discover Cretan varietals and blends. The fair was quite successful, with organisers counting around 1500 visitors. We noticed that most of them were young people, a quite encouraging fact we believe.

One of our favourite things about the fair was a table set up sampling different aromas and flavours one notices when tasting these special varieties, as well as the different soil that they grow on. This set up was really helpful in order to understand the Cretan terroir. In case you’re not familiar with this (mostly wine) term, it describes the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate.

Among others we tasted and highly recommend: Toplou Aged Syrah, an organic wine from the Toplou Estate (part of the Toplou Monastery), Melissokipos, an organic Kotsifali and Mandilari blend from Domaine Paterianaki as well as Skalani, an aged Kotsifali and Syrah blend from the Boutari winery. This post would be incomplete without a special mention for the appetising small barley rusks which were offered throughout the fair, a perfect snack while tasting all this glorious wine.

By Lida P.


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!


If you have ever travelled to Greece, it’s most likely that you have lost your heart to dakos, like Yotam Ottolenghi, this mouth-watering snack.

Cretan rusk, paximadi or dakos is the basis of the Cretan snack. It might seem confusing but dakos is the word for the Cretan rusk (paximadi) in Crete as well as the salad with it. Paximadi (or the dish with it) can also be found under the name of koukouvagia. Another brilliant version is the one from Kythera, ladopaksimada” (rusks baked with olive oil).

A rusk is twice-baked, dehydrated bread, in order to be maintained and eatable longer than fresh bread. It was considered a staple in Greece, especially for all those families who couldn’t knead daily. This product was essential to the diet of sailors, shepherds, farmers and all those who would spend a lot of time away from home. Consequently, this food is considered to be one of the first standardised products in Greece.

This tasty alternative to bread is flour-based of course, except that it is made mainly or exclusively out of barley flour. In addition, it has a high nutritional value; as it is rich in a number of vitamins of the B complex including folic acid and B6. As far as barley rusks are concerned, they are rich in magnesium, selenium, amino acids, fibre, phosphorus, silica, chromium and antioxidants. It has no preservatives but, it does have salt.

It is shaped either in thick wedges, rounds split horizontally in the middle, or into smaller crouton bites. Mind your teeth though, rusks are quite hard and must be softened with either water, wine, olive oil or broth before eating.

A secret for the best dakos you’ve ever had: sprinkle water on the rusks in order to soften them before adding the tomatoes. Make sure you use ripe, juicy tomatoes, grated over the rusks so it absorbs all the juice. Season and drizzle with some evoo. Finish the dish with crumbled feta or mizithra cheese (or a mix of both), a generous drizzle of evoo, some wild Greek oregano, Kalamata olives, capers or kritamo, if desired.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

But don’t limit yourself to dakos: add your rusks to salads and soups for volume, enjoy them with delicious yoghurt, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, great with a fried/ poached egg as well, a classic when combined with cheese or charcuterie; a product that is wise to keep in your pantry, always.

Find our Cretan barley rusks  at Borough Market and start your delicious story from there.

Learn the classic Dakos Salad recipe.

Photo credit: Psilakis N.& M., Kastanas I., O politismos tis elias-To elaiolado, Karmanor, 2003.