by Rebecca Lee
Yassas! Pull on your comfiest jeggings ladies, today we are exploring the delicious world of Greek Food!
Thank you to my guide Anastasia, a lovely RDM with a passion for food and family. I met up with Anastasia in Earlwood. She promised to show me a food market that reminded her of her life in Greece where each Village and Town has a fresh produce market that shuts down a street once a week so that locals can purchase a bit of this and that – most importantly, its fresh and in season. We travelled to The Source Bulk Foods (TSBF) in Newtown so that Anastasia could show me. All are available in supermarkets and good delis, however if you can get out to TSBF- DO IT! (Word on the street is that one is coming soon to Rhodes…).
Key flavours include garlic, lemon, oregano, olive oil and honey for sweetness.
Throughout the year, followers of the Greek Orthodox Church “fast” to commemorate special occasions on the Church calendar, such as Lent. At this time, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided. The essence of Greek cooking becomes simple; pure grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Ordinarily I would now tell you about the dishes you could make with said key ingredients however… This is not a drill. REPEAT- NOT A DRILL PEOPLE!!! Get in the car pronto and set your GPS to 206 King St Newtown. Park wherever possible (check street signs) and look for GRK Traditional Souvlaki.
Dishes to Try:
Without hesitation, Anastasia immediately ordered the Mixed Grill ($32).
5 minutes later, the most mouth-watering platter, worthy of Zeus himself descended upon our table. The mixed grill consists of: salty roast pork and roast lamb, chicken and lamb souvlaki skewers, bifteki (a meat and herb pattie- like a burger) grilled halloumi, freshly cut chips and accompanied by freshly toasted pita bread, house made tzatziki, special sauce, freshly sliced tomatoes and onions. The mixed grill could easily feed 3 adults, or 2 adults and 2 kids – amazing value. I also tried a Greek Sour Cherry soft drink which was sweet and sour – a bit like Dr Pepper. There are other flavours, or of course the standard soft drinks are available.
What surprised me most was the bifteki. A sort of burger patty, rissole thing, made from beef, studded with mint, parsley and oregano. On its own it looked pretty ordinary but the flavours were amazing. Try it at your next bbq (recipe below), served with thick cut chips and salad. The kids will love it! I will most definitely be back to try the house-made yoghurt with sour cherry and Nutella pita. If this post is making you hungry and you haven’t the means to get to Newtown check out our review of Zeus Street Greek, Gladesville here. They even deliver!
Even though my stomach was bursting, we pushed on to Athena Cake Shop.
Athena Cakes has been in business since 1974 and for good reason. It’s classic Greek cakes and desserts are made on the premises daily. Pop in for coffee and cake, or pick up a box of baklava or bougatsa (custard filled filos). My dessert was a bit like a yo-yo. Creamy custard sandwiched between slices of sponge cake, and topped with chocolate icing. DROOL.
Lastly, we returned to Earlwood, to Miloway Wines which stocked a huge range of the all-important and quintessential Greek drink – Ouzo. This aniseed flavoured liqueur is regional, just like wine. Depending on where you are, your Ouzo will be flavoured slightly differently. Miloway Wines is also home to an immense grocery store, stocking everything from the Greek version of Nutella, to giant bags of dried herbs and camomile flowers, home-made frozen pastichio (a pasta bake topped with béchamel sauce), all sorts of religious paraphernalia and my new favourite – sour cherry soft drink.
After Miloway it was time for me to take my overstuffed tummy home. God bless the person who invented stretchy pants.
Recipe to Try at Home- Bifteki
You will need:
- 2 slices bread, soaked in water for 10 minutes
- 1kg mince beef
- 1 large grated onion
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
- Black pepper
- 1 lemon (to garnish)
- Squeeze excess moisture from the bread and discard the crusts.
- Mix together all the ingredients, in a bowl, by hand.
- Let this mixture stand for half an hour if you have the time.
- Make large, round, flattened hamburgers and grill under a hot grill, approximately 3 minutes on each side; or even better place them on an oiled grid and barbecue them approximately 5-6 minutes on each side, according to the strength of the fire.
- They should be slightly undercooked inside; turn them over once, but do not let them get scorched.
- Serve them with quartered lemons on the side of the platter, with some fresh salad.
Where we went: http://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au
Where we shopped: http://www.milowaywines.com.au