This dish comes fromÂ one of the most striking areas of Greece and we’re not talking about a Greek island or drop-dead gorgeous beach. I’m speaking of the Vikos Gorge, located in the northwestern province of Epirus.
The first time I passed through this part of Greece was in 1988, on my way to the island of Corfu, on the Ionian coast. I recall roads that hugged steep cliffs, a region lush in green and forests, a dramatic vista of Greek nature. The Vikos Gorge lies in the North Pindos mountains and the area is called Zagori and the some-forty villages are called “Zagorohoria”.
The Vikos gorge attracts Greek and foreign hikers and of partiular focus today are those who have an interest in hunting for wild mushrooms. I recently watched and enjoyed an Australian-produced series called “Feast Greece” and in one episode, the Vikos Gorge and the Zagorohoria were featured.
A cooking segment was also inclueded in the segment which featured this meze of mushrooms. Vassilis Katsoupas returned to his home of Epirus after coming to Canada to study and attain his MBA from York University. Some twenty odd years in Canada were enough for him and at long last, he’s back in the Zagori Gorge, providing educational and culinary treks seeking mild mushrooms.
Vasilli also owns & operates a taverna called “Kanella & Garifalo” (Cinnamon & Clove) and that is where many weary and hungry hikers can stop off to relax, enjoy and dine on a menu made solely from local ingredients.
This dish is inspired by Vassili’s mushroom dish. I used a combo of white button mushrooms, Cremini and King Oysters. This is a sample dish to prepare and the addition of Ouzo (anise-flavoured Greek aperatif) is subtle. If you cannot find Ouzo, anise seeds, Pernod or some Sambuca will do the trick!
Before I get to the recipe, I’m sending this dish out to Mary of the blog, “En Direct D’Athenes”. Mary is a French woman who’s resettled in Athens. Her blog is in French but with the help of online translation services and French school teachings here in Canada, I can read and enjoy Mary’s wonderful dishes.
Mary’s blog proves that food transcends borders and language, the senses we all rely upon to enjoy food being the only language. Please do visit Mary’s blog. She has a Google translator on her site and she would be delighted to hear from you in either French, Greek or English.
Vasilli’s Mushrooms With Ouzo
(one appetizer portion)
About 2 cups of assorted mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
4-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 shot of Ouzo
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of creme fraiche
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- In a large skillet or cast-iron pan, add your olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add your mushrooms and toss to coat them well. Season with a little salt and stir occasionally for about 3 minutes (add some more oil if needed).
- Cover, reduce to medium and allow to simmer and release their juices for another 5-7 minutes. Add the Ouzo, stir in and reduce for about a minute.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, add your creme fraiche and and stir in to heat through and coat your mushrooms. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add the chopped fresh parsley.
- Serve warm as an appeetizer/meze with some toasted homemade bread.
NOTE: Can’t find creme fraiche in your neck of the woods, this recipe has come in handy many times.
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