Archive for October 2010

Greek wine for Thanksgiving? The Canadians are a step ahead!

October 29, 2010

Photo via Vancouver Sun.

The Canadians have already celebrated their Thanksgiving (the second Monday on October).

At least one group of Canadian oenophiles served Boutari with their feast after the 2009 Moschofilero by Boutari was recently named a winner in Canada’s Wine Access magazine 2010 International Value Wine Awards.

Here’s what Vancouver Sun wine writer Anthony Gismondi had to say about Boutari Moschofilero:

In the case of turkey, you can’t go wrong serving red or white wine…

One of the most exciting categories was ‘White Single Varieties.” Names such as moschofilero, Gruner veltliner, fiano and assyrtiko may sound strange, but they sure tasted friendly. The big surprise was the interest in Pinot Blanc, and several showed well. The co-winners were Red Rooster Pinot Blanc 2009 with its bright nose of lemon and peach and similar flavours, and the refreshing stylish Boutari Moschofilero 2009 from Greece; both will make your turkey dinner special.

What are you drinking for Thanksgiving this year?

Barba Yianni (Chicago): some of the best Greek food I had this year

October 26, 2010

Above: The salad sampler at Barba Yianni in Chicago was one of the best I’ve had this year (Melitzanosalata, Taramosalata, Skordalia).

Sometimes the simplest and most pure things in life are the best. That was certainly the case when I had the good fortune to dine at Barba Yianni, an unassuming family-friendly Greek restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago earlier this year.

Above: The traditional roast seabass was fantastic and I loved the way it was garnished and dressed. Again, the simplest things in life are often the best, aren’t they?

Since I started working on the Boutari Social Media Project in April of this year, I’ve had the great fortune to eat at some of the best Greek restaurants in the U.S. (Chicago, New York, Houston, San Diego) and many of them take a fascinating haute cuisine approach to traditional Greek cuisine.

Above: There’s nothing like a perfectly roasted chicken. Again, simplicity and a perfect balance in seasoning made this dish stand out among the many Greek meals I’ve had since I began working on this project.

But one of the meals that continues to stick out in my mind (and those of you who follow my blog, Do Bianchi, know that I get to eat out in some of the world’s coolest restaurants thanks to my work) was the meal I had in April at Barba Yianni — a humble, warm taverna where I wasn’t expecting to have one of the best meals of 2010.

And it turns out I’m not alone: after he saw a Tweet about how much I liked my meal, my good friend Anthony, one of the biggest gourmets (not in size but in taste and experience) I know, wrote me to tell me how much he enjoyed his meal here when he was in town guitar shopping (Anthony is also one of the world’s top jazz guitar players!). He travels all over the world and let me tell you: this man knows good food.

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best…

—Jeremy Parzen

Barba Yianni Grecian Taverna
Chicago, IL 60625-2026
(773) 878-6400

Highly recommended

An idiot’s guide to Greek wine categories

October 24, 2010

Markus Stolz (above) is no idiot (photo by La Gazzetta del Vino). In fact, he’s one of the world’s leading experts on Greek wine.

Check out his Idiot’s Guide to Greek Wine Categories (“basics of Greek wine legislation”) here.

The Best Greek Wine List in New York? In the U.S.? The world?

October 20, 2010

In our humble opinion, there is no better Greek wine list in the U.S. than the one curated by this man, Kamal Kouiri, at one of New York City’s premier Greek restaurants, Molyvos in Midtown.

We’ve been to a lot of Greek restaurants this year: never before have we seen a Greek wine list with such breadth, balance, and passion.

At 25 pages, replete with verticals for the red and white wines of Greece, Kouiri’s list is a veritable encyclopedia of Greek wines.

Where many sommeliers use their lists merely to catalog their wines, the thirty-something Kouiri uses his for his patrons’ education as well. Here’s a paragraph lifted from his “intro to Greek wine”:

Wine has been an important part of Greek culture for over 4,000 years as the numerous archeological discoveries throughout Greece indicate. The ancient Greeks knew the nutritional value of wine well, as it became an inseparable part of their daily regimen. They loved to organize intellectual gatherings called symposia where they would eat and talk about philosophical subjects while drinking wine. Our ancestors also realized the important influence of the local ecosystem on the characteristics of wine. In recent years, the Greek wine industry has undergone tremendous improvements with serious investments in modern wine making technology. The new generation of native winemakers is being trained in the best wine schools around the world. What makes Greek wine so unique are the more than 300 indigenous grape varieties grown there, some of which have been cultivated since ancient times. Many of the world’s best wine critics agree that the distinct flavors come from these native grape varieties. Many well-known international grape varieties are also used in Greek wine making. This extensive variety of grapes together with the moderate Greek climate, plentiful sunshine, low average rainfall and soils of moderate fertility combine to provide an excellent environment for the production of high quality wines. The beauty about this land is that it provides distinctive geological cites, like Makedonia, Thraki, Thessaly, Epirus and Peloponnese in the main land, Kephalonia & Corfu in the Ionian sea, Santorini, Crete, Paros, Samos, Rhodes and Limnos in the Aegean Sea.

You can download a PDF version of the list by visiting the restaurant’s website here. Be sure to peruse the glossary at the end.

871 7th Ave # 4
New York, NY 10019-3923
(212) 582-7500

Highly recommended.

Chicago Examiner wine writer Thomas Caestecker on Boutari Nemea

October 12, 2010

Here’s what “Chicago Budget Wine Examiner” Thomas Caestecker had to say about Boutari Nemea on his blog Value Wine Chicago:

Greek reds are are also versatile, refined and display many of the traits associated with the more well-known grape varietals. The trouble is (as it is with many things) perception. If a wine is from Greece – even if it garners praise from stubborn critics – it gets pigeon-holed with Greek food. Conversely, a number of Italian reds have transcended the tiresome pairings with pasta and meat sauce, and are recommended with many classic recipes. So, it stands to reason that a fine Greek red shouldn’t always require spit-roasted lamb and pita as constant sidekicks.

In fact, the Agiorgitiko (St. George) grape has been cultivated into a fruit-forward, approachable red wine called Nemea – named for one of Greece’s distinct growing regions. It has the acidity to stand up to virtually any braised red meat, but can be served with roast chicken and more gamey poultry, too.

“Nemea is good with just about everything,” says Jim Siannas of Athens grocery in Chicago. “It’s almost like a Burgundy [or] Pinot Noir. And it just keeps getting better.”

A high-quality style of Nemea ($14) comes from Boutari. A medium-bodied red, it’s aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, and has dried cherry and plum flavors, plus some subtle notes of spice. It has good structure, yet is smooth and quite an easy-drinking red. It can be served with a savory Coq au Vin, or any slowly braised meat like short ribs, or a seven-bone roast.

It would also do just fine with any Greek lamb dish. But Agiorgitiko/Nemea is another example of an emerging European varietal: a regional mainstay with international aspirations. It’s not just for Halsted Street’s tavernas anymore.

Check out Thomas’ entire post on Greek wine here.

Fun photos from the Houston Greek Festival

October 12, 2010

Check out fun photos from the Houston Greek Festival last weekend over at our Facebook group page here.

Delicious pastitsio and loukoumades

October 9, 2010

The food at the Houston Greek Festival was so good that Boutari blogger Jeremy Parzen just had to go back for some more yesterday. The crust of the pastitsio was crunchy on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside, the meat sauce seasoned with just the right amount of cinnamon.

Jeremy’s better half, Tracie P, couldn’t resist the loukoumades either (above).

Congratulations to the organizers of this amazing festival for yet another year (their 44th!) of wholesome, delicious food, prepared by loving hands. Great folks, great festival. We’ll see you next year for sure!

The festival continues today and tomorrow…

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