Thank you Anthony Bourdain...
if WE didn’t watch your show (even though it was a really old repeat) we wouldn’t have experienced the most scrumptious traditional Cretan breakfast!
The episode we watched was filmed in 2008, showing a small shopfront with a couple of tables, things have changed a little since then, there are now lots of tables and a big awning but the shop it self looks mostly unchanged. The food we can only assume has not changed as we certainly share Mr Bourdain's love for this little gem.
The food is Bougatsa Chanion. For the uninitiated, this traditional local breakfast is made by speciality shops, the shop featured only makes bougatsa, starting in the wee hours of the morning making them fresh daily until sold out.
It is common for the flaky pastry of the Bougatsa to be filled with semolina custard but here they make a savoury version, filling it with the local Mizithra cheese. The other stand out for this place is that they make the gossamer thin pastry by hand. We loved watching the owner rolling and then stretching the flour and water pastry by hand in front of our eyes, pretty incredible.
We ordered a serve with Greek Coffee. It was weighed & cut up and delivered to our table. Realising we were tourists we were instructed on how to eat it, basically a liberal sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon and then dig in.
Oh my! The pastry was so incredibly fine and crisp, the Mizithracheese salty and unexpectedly creamy & oozy.
The Cinnamon and sugar takes this already amazing pastry to the next level. Salty, gooey, oozy, sweet and savoury all at the same time. So good we quickly despatched the first serve and ordered another.
If you ever find yourself here in Chania, Crete make sure you try the Bougatsa. Bougatsa aside there are lots of other reasons to visit this beautiful Venetian seaport. Seafood to die for, delicious local produce awith a strong organic focus, amazing beaches, proud Cretan history and wonderful hospitable and friendly people. Yes we like Crete!
One thing we have learned about Cretans is how proud they are of their local produce and will promote and use it wherever they can. For example when visitng Olive Oil producers almost none of them export as they want the best for themselves.
I am writing to you from the teeny balcony of a 16th Century Venetian Home located in the old town of Chania overlooking the harbour.
WOW just doesn’t do it justice!
We have been touring Crete by car today after a dreamy few days on Santorini.
Plenty of stories there, but I just had to share my visit to a small cheese maker near a very old and traditional village called Sami.
It all started with a split decision to follow a sign that said winery, yes, I know no great surprise there. We had to manoeuvre our way through some extremely narrow roads, at one point Simon thought we should give up but we persevered up broken cobble lanes and then a few rutted dirt tracks through olive groves and finally vineyards.
When we pulled up Yannis (apparently the John of Greek Names) met us warmly and took us on a tour of his small bio-dynamic/organic winery and olive production.
He is the 4th generation to take the helm of the family run property. His Great Grandfather established the vineyards and olive grove in 1922, currently producing four delicious wines as well as olive oil which was absolutely amazing. The olives are picked by hand using a stick to dislodge them rather than machine Yannis explained this is more gentle on the fruit and therefore minimises the chance of undesirable flavours. He has a stainless steel tank of oil which he told us to stick our noses in, I was instantly struck with hypnotic smells of strong fruit and fresh cut grass. After touring his cellars and tasting a bit of wine (all in the name of education of course!), we had the chance to taste the oil and were not disappointed, just a beautiful example of single origin extra virgin olive oil. Words can only go so far, so I have purchased some and will have it in the deli for all to taste. Unfortunately he does not export or I would be stocking it!
Now, back to the cheese.
I asked Yannis for a recommendation on where I could taste traditional local cheese, he kindly directed us to a place about 15 kms away stating it was the best in Crete.
As we arrived to Stamatogiorgis we discovered a small cheese making facility with a local goat farmer delivering a few barrels of goats milk.
Surely a good tip from Yannis and things looked promising. Unfortunately said farmer spoke no English, he called a lady from the house close by however she also spoke no English. This was going to be interesting, but surprisingly we had some success with sign language, and we were away.
Compulsory shots of Raki followed, paired with knee buckling Cretan cheese. Unfortunately sign language didn't really help with the cheese names, and the wheels were unmarked. We firstly tried a semi-hard Graviera similar to the one we had tried in Athens, strong, herbaceous with a slightly nutty finish. Another that was aged, very hard from large wheels, the texture was somewhere between Pecorino and Sbrinz, the flavour was unique, again quite herbaceous and grassy, likely related to the nearby goat herds which graze the lush hillsides and mountains.
Finally we tried a small wheel which was matured with local herbs which we we could see s hanging and drying all around the place which they forage by hand from the surrounding hillsides.
We bought a few pieces to have with some local bread picked up along the way. What a great experience!
Tomorrow we are starting the day following the footsteps of the famous American Chef and now travel writer, Anthony Bourdain, kicking off with the amazing bourgatsa for breakfast. For those of you who, like me are fans of his show No Reservations, Tony is taken to this local artisan baker who has been making the Cretan speciality for years – more on that later, I can't wait!
Day two is full of Gyros, Graviera Kritis, Taverna, dolmades!
What a fantastic few days in Athens, we have fallen in love with this city. Spending countless hours wandering the streets immersing ourselves in the history & culture and of course the food.
Where do we start with the food??
The maze of back streets lead us further and further away form the tourist hot spots and we stumbled across a tiny shop with a beautiful kind Greek mama, who served us Gyros, as the store was so small we sat on the street enjoying authentic delicious Gyros and ice cold Mythos beer, it was the definition of "cheap and cheerful"
We navigated our way to the central food market and as with most European markets the quantity and quality of fresh produce blew me away. Stalls selling a endless variety of produce, from the rabbits easily identifiable with their fluffy tails still in place, the cheese, vegetables, seafood, small goods, nuts and herb stalls.
I met Maria who runs a stall selling Cheese. She insisted I taste her best Cheese – Graviera Kritis. A hard sheep's milk (sometimes mixed with Goats milk) cheese from Crete. Co-incidentally we will be spending a week Crete later in the trip so am planning on sampling more then! I learnt that it is one of the most popular cheeses in Greece. Maria's version had a strong sweet & spicy flavour, and had been aged for 12 months. We could not resist and bought ourselves a wedge, grabbed some olives, bread and enjoyed it on our rooftop terrace that afternoon.
Our final stop in Athens was at the base of the Acropolis with some friends from Stockton who were there for the day as part of their cruise! So fun catching up on the other side of the world. We had seen this lovely Taverna when we had been out & about earlier and decided to have lunch there. A delicious home style meal of dolmades, fish, lamb and octopus. Washed down with local wine and a shot of mastic to finish! OOOPA!
Woops I missed the turn off to Pork Ewe Deli and found myself on an Emirates flight to Dubai and then Athens, Greece. A delightful 21 hour commute! Seriously if you haven’t flown Emiratesbefore do yourself a favour and give them a go. Great service, comfortable spacious new aircraft and food that actually tasted like food!!
So here I am with my husband Simon, in Athens, WOW! We did mean to come here about 25 years ago when backpacking but ran out of money and ended up in London working in a pub. Any how that’s a whole other story. So I thought it would be fun to share our foodie adventures while we are here. As you can see I am sitting on the rooftop terrace of our digs looking at the Acropolis. Keep pinching myself, cant believe we are this close. We keep imaging the millions of people over the centuries who have walked these streets and looked out onto this view.
We started the day watching the sun rise over the Acropolis and seeing the city wake up. Our hosts had left us some amazing local produce which we feasted on for breakfast. Simple & delicious, fresh ripe fruit, thick creamy local Greek yoghurt drizzled with honey. YUMMO
Keen to explore we set out on foot wandering the streets close by and stumbled across a small square with the ruins of 2nd century Roman Bath and the cutest bakery you have ever seen. Turned out to be the best we saw all day, we should have know by the steady stream of locals getting all manner of breads, pastries, sweets and delicious Tiropita – flaky pastry breakfast snack filled with feta, cottage and cream cheese. Heaven! (Sorry no photo we scoffed it before we remembered! Just so you can see how good they I will make myself have another one and take a photo then!!)
Feeling very satisified we set off for a day of sightseeing & found some delicious street food along the way. More on that next time ….
Fellow cheese appreciators are going to want to get in on this one!
A weekend dedicated to cheese..
Cheese Lovers Festival June 17-18 at Sebel Kirkton Park and we are excited to announce we will have our own Pork Ewe stall representing all things tasty!
So don't miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in cheese, wine, beer and live music.
Some other things happening over the weekend
‘Fancy’ Cheesecake Competition
Cheese, Beer and Wine Workshops
Classic Cheese Lunch and Dinner with ‘The Big Cheese’ himself, Nick Haddow
Live music and kids entertainment
So meet some friends for a cheese platter, wash it all down with some wine whist listening to live music and exploring!
Eat, drink and be cheesy.
Learn more and book - http://www.cheeseloversfestival.com.au
Sam a foodie from way back, is most at home in the comfort of her kitchen, creating food for her family and friends.
Spending much of her career in the hospitality industry she studied the foundations of French traditional cuisine based on Escoffier’s techniques and approaches, igniting her passion in French and European fare.
While studying, her food of choice on a limited budget was a good hunk of cheese and a bottle of wine on the floor of her share house. Not much has changed these days except maybe the share house.
While living in Europe her love for food was further fuelled. Discovering hidden foodie gems in narrow cobbled streets, dining with the locals and eating amazing produce was hard to leave, sparking a desire to recreate this experience at home .
“Like many Australian’s, I fell in love with the European culture’s, the strong connection between farmer, family and food, which really translates into their quality produce”
“I have always taken pleasure hunting for produce that was unique, good quality and above all exciting to eat, dragging my family into countless deli's, providores & farms, It has been a life long dream to translate that passion into a reality. Being able to share my love and excitement for food with my customers is why I love what I do!”
When you open the doors of Pork Ewe Deli you are transported to Markets of Paris or Rome, the smells, the tastes and of course the feel, a local place where you feel welcome to take your time, immersed in cheese, charcuterie and exciting speciality European groceries.
A true Italian delicacy.
The roe from the grey mullet of Sardinia which is prepared by salting, pressing and drying for up to 6 months in cool well aired rooms.
It is prized for its delicate, fleshy flavour.
To really celebrate this ingredient, slice thinly and eat on some soft bread with a good quality olive oil.
It is also delicious in a simple pasta.
SPAGHETTI WITH BOTTARGA, PRESERVED LEMON AND CHILIES
2½ ounces bottarga
½ preserved lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 hot peppers, thinly sliced, seeds removed, or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 lb. dried spaghetti
½ cup chopped parsley
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat. The water should be as salty as the sea.
Remove the thin papery outer membrane covering the bottarga. Using a very sharp knife, cut 16 super thin slices of bottarga and set aside on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Grate the rest on a fine microplane into a bowl.
Remove the pulp from the lemon, discard any seeds and then chop the pulp finely. Slice the skin into thin strips, then chop crosswise into tiny dice (see picture sequence). Set everything aside until it’s time to toss with the pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and peppers over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender, about 4 minutes. Pour the garlic, peppers and oil into a bowl.
Increase the heat to medium, add the remaining oil to the pan and when hot, add the breadcrumbs. Cook, tossing constantly, until the crumbs are toasted and golden, a minute or so. Transfer the crumbs to a plate.
When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook, stirring constantly, until the water returns to a boil. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, depending on the pasta.
While the spaghetti is cooking, return the garlic, pepper and oil to the sauté pan. Add the grated bottarga and up to 1 cup of pasta water. Swirl it all around until you have a smooth sauce.
Scoop the cooked pasta out of the pot and dump into the pan with the bottarga. Toss well. Add the preserved lemon pulp, the diced lemon skin, the parsley and stir again. Add more pasta water if the mixture is too dry.
Serve immediately in warm bowls, topping with the breadcrumbs and a few slices of bottarga.