Bringing Cyclades Summer

to the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery

The July 5 lunch that concludes the 2015 Symposium meals is a mostly Vegetarian Greek / Mediterranean Feast conceived to communicate the richness of the region’s meat-less tradition.

Savor simple dishes bursting with flavor created with the best traditional ingredients combined with seasonal produce. Taste exquisite olives, cheeses, savory biscuits, along with surprising, hearty vegetable and bean salads that are flavored with my own spicy-fragrant condiments. A selection of seven award-winning Greek wines will accompany the meal which will conclude with three ‘spoon sweets’ --the best artisanal fruit preserves-- along with special Cypriot wedding cookies and an aromatic herbal tea brewed with wild plants gathered from the Greek mountains.

I am very grateful to Tim Kelsey, St. Catz’s head-chef and his team, and as always to Jake Tilson for designing this brilliant menu-card!

The exquisite wines that accompany the lunch (photographed on our table, on Kea):Alpha Estate red, Tsantali Rapsani Reserve red, Gaia 14-18h rose, Kir Yianni Akakies rose, Argyros Assyrtiko, Domaine Gerovassiliou white, Biblia Chora white. Thanks to Sophia Perpera for her invaluable help, and to all the winemakers for their generous offer!

! Note that some of the labels on the UK imported bottles might be different from the ones pictured here.

Panagis Manouelides is our main sponsor. He and his team at Odysea provided the much-praised Rovies Olives, their amazing olive oil, great pita bread, and the Greek capers for the Scallion and Caper Spread. The went out of their way to find the best Marinated Greek Anchovies I requested to accompany the Black-eyed Peas with Greens and Cherry Tomatoes with Toasted Olive Bread Crumbs. Odysea’a unsurpassed taramosalata is prepared from Panagis’ mother’s recipe, one of the best I have tasted!

Along with pita our bread basket has biscuits from Cyprus. They are produced and offered by Sergiou Bakeries, a family company that started in 1979 in Athienou village baking just the eponymous region’s very popular sourdough bread.

The delicious olive cookies, the plain crunchy rusks and the Pistachio-stuffed Wedding Cookies that conclude the meal are part of the rich Cypriot tradition faithfully recreated by the Sergiou family.

A truly Greek, thick yogurt and two very interesting cheeses: the creamy manouri, and an aged graviera from Naxos island are part of the dessert plate, along with three traditional ‘spoon sweets’ (fruit preserves). They are made every season using the best available produce; the fruits are cooked simply with sugar and lemon juice to thicken the syrup, following the time-honored technique of our grandmothers and mothers. We chose two of the most popular preserves, quince and sour cherry, and added the fragrant rolled bergamot peel, known to most of you as the citrus fruit that gives Earl Gray tea its haunting aroma.

Talking about tea, I thought of giving you a taste of what we, Greeks, call tea, or mountain tea (Sideritis or ironwort). “Scientists have suggested that the popular pronouncement of ironwort as panacea may have some basis in fact. Studies indicate a positive effect on many common ailments, 1" so now it has become one of the most-discussed herbal infusions in many parts of the world…

1 Tadić, Vanja; Jeremic, Ivica; Dobric, Silva; Isakovic, Aleksandra; Markovic, Ivanka; Trajkovic, Vladimir; Bojovic, Dragica; Arsic, Ivana (2012). "Anti-inflammatory, Gastroprotective, and Cytotoxic Effects of Sideritis scardica Extracts". Planta Medica  78 (5): 415.doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1298172

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