Greek Food Tastes Great – Learn How to Make It With Greekalicious! By John Dunham
Last month the Advice Sisters were invited to attend a Greek cooking demonstration at the CoCo Mat mattress store in Soho. As someone who loves Greece, and adores Greek food, I quickly raised my hand to be the reporter at this event.
Normally, I’d question a cooking event at a mattress store, but CoCo Mat is a Greek company specializing in natural furniture and products, and their store features a venue (with a kitchen) that they use to promote Greek culture.
The event, Greekalicious, featured the cooking talents of Maria Benardis, an author and chef who specializes not only in Greek foods, but in foods with a heritage based in Greek antiquity. Most recently Maria put out an eBook including 127 pages of recipes passed between generations. “A Greekalicious Feast” is available on Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook and the Apple iBook store for iPad.
In 2014 Benardis moved to New York City to expand the Greekalicious brand and to share her wisdom and passion about Greek cooking across America.
The menu at the event featured a variety of delicious appetizers (or Meze) all based on traditional recipes. These included a spicy feta dip, faro stuffed mini peppers with feta cheese and an herbed yogurt dressing similar to tzatziki and dolmadas (grape leaves) stuffed with quinoa, pomegranate and feta.
Ms. Benardis also produced two pies, a very traditional Greek culinary tradition. In fact, every region and island in Greece makes its own traditional pie, resulting in hundreds of variations found throughout the country. The Greekalicious event featured sweet tomato pies from the island of Santorini and caramelized onion pies from Mykonos. I was particularly fond of the oysters on the half shell spiked with lemon, fish sauce and ouzo – they were sweet, sour and salty all at the same time.
Editors actually pitched in to help Ms. Benardis make some prawns which were infused with mastic, a resin from the masticha tree, which has been used as a chewing gum and flavoring spice since ancient times. The prawns were then covered with shredded filo dough and fried in olive oil. They were simply delicious. Try using mastic in some of your home dishes!
Greekalicious is spreading the word about Greek food and culture through a series of cooking classes (which will be held at Coco Mat beginning in July). Students will learn not only the techniques, but also the history behind the foods and each class will be followed by a full meal featuring wines from Greece. Greekalicious will feature organic ingredients where possible and the focus of the classes will be on simplicity and fun.
Greek food is so healthy, colorful, tasty food and fun, so learning how to make it at home for your family may not be the same as being in the beautiful Greek Islands, but it still makes life a lot more delicious!
In addition to the classes, Ms. Benardis and Greekalicious offer private cooking demonstrations, and catering, and sell a variety of products based on her techniques. These include olive oil, and red wine and balsamic vinegars.
For more information on the classes and on Greekalicious in general go to www.greekalicious.nyc