Richmond's Greek Birthday

Dolmas, Spanakopita, Olives, and AlmondsWe celebrated Richmond's 2013 birthday out on the beach with a Greek feast. Present were the usual foursome.

We had brought fixings for Gin & Tonics, but that was merely a precaution against the beastly heat and our ignorance surrounding the two Greek wines I had brought. Everything else was Greek in style, if not in provenance.

SaganakiWe opened the festivities with:

  •  Saganaki, a festive flaming cheese appetizer. This thriller is on the menu of every self-respecting Greek restaurant, and it always gets plenty of attention, but the restaurants cannot always get the right Kefalograviera cheese. I have had Saganaki made with provolone, with pecorino romano, and with other cheeses that I was unable to discover, but they clearly were not kefalograviera. 
    As with most of the ingredients for this feast, I got the cheese at Bahnan's Market in Worcester. 

Tomato and Feta Salad

We started the dinner with a salad of fresh plum tomatoes, diced and tossed with Greek extra-virgin olive oil, Dodonis Feta from {Bahnan's Market]], and fresh oregano from the garden. This simple salad is a staple in my kitchen as long as tomatoes are in season!

Then came a mezethes plate (Greek appetizers) of:

  • MezethesDolmas (stuffed grape leaves, vegetarian)
  • Spanakopita
  • Kalamata olives
  • Fresh almonds

These were served with a brilliant minerally-dry Santorini white wine. I had not had the Santorini before and was afraid it might be too citrusy for the food, but instead with was floral and mineral and crisp, perfect for the food and for the evening.

Locaniko Before we finished the Santorini, we moved on to the two hot dishes. The Santorini was also delicious with the:

Oktapodi KrasatoFinally we moved onto the main course:

  • Oktapodi Krasato, a very traditional Greek stewed octopus in red wine. Octopus is easy to make badly, but not so hard to make well if you are patient. See the recipe for more on this fascinating dish.

This was served with a Mavrodaphne sweet red wine. The wine, although sweet, is not a heavy dessert wine. It is light and summery, spicy and really a fine match for all sorts of hot-weather food (an in my opinion a welcome change from the omnipresent "sangrias" on so many menus today.

Ekmek We finished up with:

  • Ekmek, a traditional middle-eastern/Greek pastry made with Kadaif (a sort of shredded fillo) with a thickened cream filling and baptized with rosewater or lemon-touched simple syrup.

All of the food and both wines were good enough to have again, especially during the very hot weather. I may reproduce this menu in August when there are more fresh tomatoes for that salad.