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French Delegation Enjoys Greek Cuisine, Plus 2 Recipes

The National Herald

(Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

The Enterprise Greece organization hosted French gastronomy and tourism journalists, food critics, and opinion makers for a culinary journey through Greece. The French delegation sampled the unique products and their use in Greek cuisine. Their “guide” was writer/chef, Dina Nicolaou, as they visited parts of Crete, September 24-28.

The aim of the trip, which is part of similar events targeting the French market, was to increase the awareness of the Greek diet in France as a healthy way of life and thus to increase Greek exports of food and beverages.

The first stop of the gastronomic trip was Eastern Crete. Traditional food production plants were visited. The delegation viewed traditional cheese-making, baked traditional bread, and tasted the traditional Cretan meat products. They were hosted by the Krousonas Women's Association and saw the process of producing local sweets and savory dishes.

The Aldemar Group, which hosted the journalistic mission, organized a tasting event. Guests learned about local wines and products, and tasted the local cuisine. During their stay in Heraklion they traveled to Knossos and learned about the history of Minoan civilization.

Finally, in Athens, they had the opportunity to learn even more about Greek gastronomy products. They also participated in olive oil tasting, visited the Athens market, and tasted the updated, modern gastronomy.

The National Herald Archive

French culinary experts and food critics visited Greece and participated in traditional food demonstrations. Photo: ANA-MPA

Greece will also be participating in France's major food fair, SIAL, to be held at the end of October.

The following recipes highlight Greek flavors for quick and delicious appetizers. Dakos, a traditional Cretan salad, is also called koukouvagia (owl) or in eastern Crete kouloukopsomo (puppy bread) since the base of the salad is dry bread that you might feed to a puppy, or barley rusk (paximadi) topped with the classic Greek ingredients, tomatoes, feta and/or mizithra, and fresh or dried herbs, like oregano. Olives and peppers are also added.

Dakos

  • 4-6 large round Cretan barley rusks (paximadia)
  • 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, grated, skins discarded
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup mizithra
  • 10-15 black olives
  • Greek dried oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper
Grate the tomatoes into a strainer over a bowl to allow some of the water to drain. Moisten the barley rusks with 4-6 tablespoons of the water, then place them on a serving dish or in a salad bowl and drizzle them with about half the olive oil. Top with the grated tomatoes, the onion- if using, the feta, mizithra, olives, about a pinch of oregano for each rusk, and grated pepper to taste.

Greek Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Greek green olives, chopped
  • 4-5 cups baby arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon Greek dried oregano
  • Greek sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the ciabatta bread into two-inch thick slices, brush with olive oil, and place the slices on a baking sheet. Bake until just beginning to brown at the edges, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, olives, arugula, and oregano with the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the warm, toasted bread slices on a serving tray and top each with some of the salad. Serve immediately.