Last week I hosted a dinner that was inspired by the local cuisine of the island of Santorini. Otherwise knows as the “Jewel of the Mediterranean”, this island has weathered the Greek economic crisis with consistent visitors to the island. People love the beauty of this rock that shoots out of the Aegean, it’s varied beaches, the white-washed homes and last but not least, its local cuisine and fabulous wines.
The dinner was supposed to be seated on the terrace of the Burroughes Building but Canada’s humid summer reminded us that we were far away from arid Greece. The dinner was moved indoors but no one complained, a relief from the heat, in fact.
My first trip to Santorini was back in 1988 but the local cuisine of the island remains vivid in my memories and I shared such delights as Santorini tomato fritters, grilled octopus with fava (split pea puree), in season vegetables, Greek cheeses and of course, fresh fish. In fact, I had a special order of Selonda sea bream (tsipoura) coming in from Greece! A big thank you to Selonda for sponsoring the dinner.
The entire meal was complemented with wines from Santorini’s Argyros Estate, meticulously paired by Toronto’s Kolonaki Group, distributor of many fine wines and spirits from Greece. Dry whites, a Santorini red and best for last… Santorini’s unique dessert wine, Vin Santo.
All in all, over 50 pints of tomatoes were prepared, Ontario zucchini blossoms, 50 eggs, 3 kilos of Feta, 5 kilos of ricotta, 6 litres of Greek olive oil, 8 large octopus, 65 lbs. of imported Greek sea bream, over 300 shrimp and over 60 bottles of Greek wine!
A big thank you to the folks at the Burroughes Building, who sponsored the dinner by providing the event space. My warmest thanks to Jackie Syrett for providing the decor for the evening and also her Greek extra-virgin olive oil from Adopt a Greek Olive Tree. A special thank you to Krinos Foods Canada for furnishing an array of cheeses, organic Greek oregano, tomato paste and yogurt…all used in the menu.
Next up was Santorini tomato fritters. The island has little water and produces cultivated on the island merely gets the morning dew. The result, super concentrated and sweet dwarf tomatoes. These fritters are a specialty of the island.
The final appetizer were Zucchini blossoms with yogurt sauce. In Greece, zucchini blossoms are stuffed and in this case with mixture much like what goes into a stuffed pepper. I topped this Greek specialty with a creamy garlic yogurt sauce and a dusting of sweet paprika.
Paired with 2011 Atlantis Argyros White
First course was Grilled octopus with Santorini Fava Patremeni…with a twist. In Greek, fave are actually split peas and on Santorini, their PDO product is considered some of the best. Grilled octopus is quintessential Greek and my twist here was to grill and pair Ontario garlic scapes with the fava.
Second Course was shrimp saganaki, another Greek taverna classic. My version includes sliced mushrooms, ripe, rich tomato sauce and topped with crumbled Feta and grated Saganaki cheese.
The main was grilled sea bream with a side of Briam (baked vegetables)…a Greek ratatouille if your will. The fish was seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon zest and grilled, then topped with a ladolemono (oil/lemon) sauce. The sea bream from Selonda was some of the freshest I’ve tasted. Our guests echoed this sentiment.
Dessert was another island specialty – Melitinia Santorinis with Petimezi drizzle. I made these individual fluted ricotta tarts and topped them with my housemade cherry tomato spoon sweet – another Santorini specialty. The final touch? A petimezi (grape molasses) reduction.
Enjoy the slide show below and I hope you all enjoy the summer ahead. I will soon be off to Greece for some well-deserved R & R and I’ll return in September with more food inspiration. My next Greek Supper Club is scheduled for October 9th and the focus will be on a city whose food scene I have intimate knowledge of – Thessaloniki!
Early bird seats are now on sale for this event and for a limited time you save some money if you buy your seats now.
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