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GreeceAt this time last year I was discovering a small part of Greece. Beautiful landscapes, interesting history and, of course, tasty food. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately a trip to Greece is not on this year’s agenda. I’ve been eating Greek vicariously through Saveur Magazine’s Greece Issue since I got it a couple of weeks ago. Ottawa’s annual GreekFest got me even closer to the real thing.

Ottawa GreekFest

Flags at Ottawa GreekFest

Organized by Ottawa’s Hellenic community, the Greekfest runs for 10 days around mid-August every year. It’s true to its motto “Live a Day the Greek Way” featuring Greek music, culture, customs, and food, lots of food.

To avoid the crowd, David and I arrived around 5:30. Once on the festival site—admission is free—we let sight and smell guide us to the good stuff. We ended up under a big tent where typical Greek specialties were being prepared. For dinner, we chose roast lamb and an appetizer plate which included spanakopita, tiropita, tarama, tzatziki, dolmades, feta and olives. The food may not have rivaled dishes in Greece, but the friendly people, spirit and ambiance certainly did!

Loukoumades

Dessert: loukoumades (fried pastry with honey and cinnamon) and coffee frappé.

Then we went for dessert. Mmmmm loukoumades! I never had the opportunity to try them in Greece, so was delighted to get a taste at GreekFest. Loukamades are a fried pastry dough—much less doughy though than your typical doughnut—drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. They’re bite-sized morsels, light, sweet, and stickily delicious. It wasn’t long before the bees wanted some too. We couldn’t resist getting a frappé to go with the loukoumades. A Greek frappé is a lightly sweetened, frothy cold coffee made with instant coffee. Take me back to Greece!

Greek olive oil tasting

Greek olive oil tasting by Stavros Kalogerakos of Terra Foods.

After dinner, we participated in the olive oil tasting offered by Stavros Kalogerakos, owner of Terra Foods. Mr. Kalogerakos told the story of his olives, grown on his family property in Krokees in the Peloponnese and milled within 24 hours of harvest. This timely cold-press ensures that the oil retains its vitamins (A,D,E & K) and beneficial phytochemicals. What an oil. Rich green in colour, fruity, lightly herbaceous. It creates a light sting at the back of the throat, which Mr. Kalogerakos explained is due to those phytochemicals—they have anti-inflammatory properties. I didn’t need to taste twice before buying a bottle!

We ended our visit enjoying some traditional dance performances. All in all, a great Greek evening. Opa!

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