Greece: home to the original Olympics, ancient ruins, magnificent islands, the Gods, Homer, Democracy—and great food! I have been fortunate enough to travel to Greece several times, experiencing the mainland and a majority of the Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea Greek Isles. As diverse as the geography of Greece is throughout the country, the flavors and basic ingredients of Greek cuisine remain surprisingly similar everywhere. Ingredients such as Olive Oil, Onions, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Okra, Grape Leaves, Feta Cheese, Yogurt and Filo Pastry are fundamental to the structure of Greek cuisine throughout the country, while fresh Oregano, Mint and Dill Herbs, and Spices such as Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove form the distinct flavours found in traditional Greek dishes.
Greece’s steep, rocky terrain is more favorable to goats and sheep than it is to cows, and this fact has had a major impact on the development of Greek cuisine. Beef is rare, while Lamb and Pork, and of course fresh Fish, make up the staple proteins.
Likewise, Feta, Mizithra and Kasseri cheeses, all of which originated in Greece, are made not from cow’s milk, but rather from goat’s or sheep’s milk. Potatoes and to some extent barley are the staple starches in Greece, while yogurt and honey are produced on a large scale.
The capital city, Athens, is home to the amazing Acropolis and other ancient sites and offers many international and traditional restaurants. The Islands tend to be more relaxed, and offer many casual dinning options such as the Taverna, which serves up whatever is available fresh daily, including such dishes as the Gyro, Moussaka, whole-baked Fish, Greek Salad and other Greek classics. And let’s not forget chilled, locally made Retsina and other fresh Greek wines with dinner, as well as Ouzo and Metaxa for later! Many of my favourite places in Greece are in The Islands, including Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodos and Corfu.
Below is a sample Menu based on some of my favourite dishes found throughout Greece:
Mixed Appetizer Platter with samples such as Tzatziki
(Yogurt, Cucumber Garlic and Olive Oil), Taramosalt (Fish Roe),
Dolmades (Seasoned Rice wrapped in Grape Leaves), Spanikopita (Spinach & Feta wrapped in Filo) and Saganaki (Fried Cheese)
Avgolemono (Lemon and Egg Soup)
Psarosoupa (Fish Soup)
Moussaka (Ground Lamb and Eggplant Casserole)
Klefiko (Roast Lamb, bone-in)
Baked Stuffed Vegetables
Keftedes (Minted Ground Meat, usually Lamb)
Pastitsio (Pasta Bake)
Grilled Lamb Chops
Whole Baked Herb Stuffed Fish
Fried Calamari Rings
Rizogalo (Rice Pudding)
Karidopita (Walnut Cake)
Fresh Greek Yogurt and Honey