Honey & baklava
Even though this first tasty dish is a desert, thought I’d start off with a possible winner of the dishes to try in Greece!
Greeks are known for having a sweet tooth. Although I have to warn you, these little pieces of heaven aren’t for everyone but if you’re a sugar fan they are definitely worth a taste! The classic baklava is a start -layering honey, filo and ground nuts. Or try galaktoboureko, a sinful custard-filled pastry. Simply pour a lovely dollop of local thyme honey over fresh Greek yogurt on the side and it should be ready for consumption.
So yes, you’re right. Meat is easy to get your hands on in the UK, so why the need to try it in Greece?
Well, the Greek’s are masters of charcoal-grilled and spit-roasted meats. I promise, I’m not even the biggest meat fan but when I was over there I couldn’t get over how succulent and mouth-watering the dishes were. Even though we get the BBQ out from the shed in the summer, I’m not quite sure anyone could beat the skewered meat dishes the Greek’s produce.
Souvlaki is still Greece’s favourite fast food, both the gyros and skewered meat versions wrapped in pitta bread, with tomato, onion and lashings of tzatziki are worth a try. At the tavern you find local free-range lamb and pork dominate, though kid goat is also a favourite!
At first sight, I have to say I thought these were something from a Japanese cuisine, but after trying them the vine leaves incorporated with mincemeat definitely makes these little treats notably Greek.
Each region in Greece, in fact each household, has its variation on the classic grape leaf-wrapped rice parcel. Eaten as a finger food, some stuffed vine leaves incorporate mincemeat with the long-grain rice, others simply a heady combination of thyme, dill, fennel, oregano and pine nuts.
A very interesting treat and handy if you’re just feeling like a little snack or a mini starter before your main meal!
Yummy -you need to try this. Again you may have heard about it or seen in on a menu in the UK, but as always dishes taste better in the countries that they originated in.
Variations on moussaka are found throughout the Med and Balkans, but the iconic Greek baked dish is based on layering sautéed aubergine, minced meat fried with pureed tomato, onion, garlic, spices like cinnamon and allspice, a bit of potato, and then a final fluffy topping of cheese and béchamel sauce.
It looks like lasagne but in my opinion its way better!
Feta & other cheeses
Feta, it’s the most widely exported Greek cheese and often used in a Greek salad but when you’re in Greece don’t forget to give all the cheeses a go.
Even though we can find feta in our supermarkets here, it’s all about the experience of having some in the country it began in. You will find similar cheeses that are also worth sampling.
You can ask behind market counters for feta kept in big barrels, creamy and delicious nothing like the one in plastic tubs in markets outside of Greece. Or sample graviera, a hard golden-white cheese, perfect eaten cubed or fried as saganaki. At bakeries you’ll find tyropita cheese pie, at tavernas try salads like Cretan dakos which topped with a crumbling of mizithra, a soft, white cheese.
To sum up, get your Greek on!