Monday, July 26, 2010

Big fat dinner vs. lean and modern

Further to my waxing endlessly on my love of Greek food...

In 2008, one of the chef's in the Blushing Hostess stable of dream chef's, Michael Psilakis, created a menu for a modern green dinner party for Bon Appetit which, according to my research, is accurate in flavor but light on the actual meal, which should involve, perhaps, three or four tons more food than the Chef called for. Obviously, this is geared to the American audience of the magazine but, I am hopeful that including a lot more food here would make it perhaps more authentic and the kind of meal that begins at 2 pm and ends at 2 am. Because, those are my absolute favorite. I fear this might be the sort that begins and 5 and ends at 8.

The Modern Greek Dinner Party
Chef Michael Psilakis, for Bon Appetit

Smoked Salmon Tarama with Pita Chips
Dried Fig Slouvaki
Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries, and Capers
Sun-dried Tomato and Garlic - Crusted Lamb Rack
Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Garlic with Swiss Chard
Spiced Fresh Orange and Honey Sorbet

This is relatively light for a Greek meal. Where is the table full of little bites? Meatballs? Cheese? Vegetables? Honey pastries? Puddings?

Comparatively, here is the menu provided for a dinner by another writer:

The Summer Buffet
Rosemary Barron

Black Olives and Lentil salata
Beet Salad with Allspice
Cucumber Salad with Honey and Vinegar Sauce
Country Bread
Pita Bread
Potatoes in a clay pot
Islands Greens Salad
Nut Pastries with Fragrant Honey Syrup
Honey Cakes

Now, this second menu is more my style for authenticity as well as creating the feeling of a great feast in progress. But, choose your weapon.

Now then. To go with the small-bite (mezethes) portion of either menu, be sure to find a good bottle of ouzo, it is available in all broad-minded package stores these days. I like it cold, plunged into an ice bin in the freezer even. It takes a little of the edge off. The best ouzo's, and really the only ones Greek's will recommend, are from the island of Lesvos. Ouzo is anise-licorice in flavor, and like absinthe - which it stepped in to replace when absinthe was prohibited - it is often mixed with cold water and a couple of ice cubes which causes the drink to become milky white. Or as I say, drink it as cold as you can stand it and eat as much as you possibly can. If the day is 110 degrees in the shade in Greece, this will make ever so much more sense.

"The key to drinking ouzo is to eat snacks known as mezedes. These keep the effects of the alcohol from overwhelming you and enable you to sit and drink slowly for hours in a profoundly calm state of mind where all is beautiful and life is fine. In the villages where life is slow ouzo is partaken day or night."

Whether this dinner goes big-fat or lean-modern, if you are not serving dinner in your beflowered courtyard then the all-white suggestion here will help to best show off the colors of the food.

In a nod to the favorite patriotic color of Greece, you might consider a few winking blue delphinium tucked into the centerpieces.

A few thoughts for a long, ouzo drenched evening. Enjoy...

Photo credits: Bon Appetit, 1&2., 4.

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Karena said...

Love, love Greek food, this entire menue looks and sounds delish!

My girlfriend Mary Pappas ahs a Greek Restaurant in downtown San Diego....Athens Market, if you visit it is well worth it!!

Mommy Mayhem said...

The Crusted Lamb Rack sounds so good!! I would really like to attend those kind of all day long meals! The table was set beautifully I love white on white you are correct I would add a pop of color on the flower arrangements as well!!