Archive for December 2010

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

December 23, 2010

Click here to learn how to say Merry Christmas in Greek…



We’ll see you in January 2011…

07 Naoussa top 2010 pick for Dallas Morning News wine panel

December 22, 2010

This just in from the Dallas Morning News

In the past year, The Dallas Morning News monthly wine panel has sampled more than 200 wines. Usually we’re hunting down something to match with a particular food, but sometimes we explore offbeat categories – such as the best gimmicky-labeled wines, in September. Here’s a roundup of wines that most impressed us in 2010…

2007 Boutari Naoussa (Red Wine), Greece

[Available at] Central Market, Big Daddy’s on Northwest Highway and Goody Goody on upper Greenville, Oak Lawn and in Addison)

Give this dry, medium-bodied Greek wine a chance – and uncork it half an hour before serving. It’s got a savory quality, rich, cooked dried-fruit flavors, and enough tannins and acidity to stand up to rich foods. A great partner for beef stew or even a bacon and grilled cheese sandwich.

—Tina Danze

Where Greece meets California cuisine delicious sparks fly!

December 17, 2010

This week, the Boutari Social Media Project blogmaster finally made it to Petros in Manhattan Beach, California, where owner Petros Benekos has crafted an irresistible pairing of “Hellenic and California cuisines.”

His fresh fruit salads, like the cantaloupe salad above, are sourced from his own garden at his ranch in Los Olivos, California. When in season, you’ll find figs and peaches (from what my server told me, it would be worth the trip back for either!). The ingredients were fresh and delicious but the thing that took it over the top was the drizzling of Greek honey, sourced especially by Petros for his restaurants (he has one in Los Olivos now, too).

According to my server, the bees responsible for this ambrosia feed on lavender flowers. “I could drink that stuff,” she exhorted, rolling her eyes in feigned delight. Waiter, waiter: I’ll have what she’s having!

I loved the Horiatiki flatbread with avocado to give it classic California touch…

You can imagine how much gyro I’ve eaten this year! While I’m still going to award my “best gyro of the year” to the Houston Greek Festival (where the Greek mama’s touch and love just gave it that extra special something), I can’t conceal that I INHALED Petros’ excellent interpretation of this classic Hellenic-American favorite. I don’t know how he does it, but it was light and devoid of the greasiness that weighs down so much of the gyro served in this country. Fast food can be so good when it’s prepared with some thought and care. I loved it.

I regret that I didn’t order it but the nice ladies sitting next to me allowed me to photograph their lamb tacos with sweet potato fries. How fun is that?

It’s not too much of a stretch to picture Tracie P and me sipping some Moschfilero by the sea in the very near future. 😉

—Jeremy Parzen (blogmaster)

451 Manhattan Beach Blvd #b110
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 545-4100

Highly recommended…

New Greek wine legislation unveiled

December 14, 2010

Markus Stolz (above) is one of the world’s leading experts on Greek wine today (photo by La Gazzetta del Vino) and his blog, Elloinos, is a top resource for current news from the world of Greek wine.

Please check out his recent post on new Greek wine legislation here.

As CMO (the EU Common Market Organisation) reforms begin to take effect, the Greek appellation system will be reshaped just as in other member countries.

Best Greek restaurant 2010

December 8, 2010

Above: There are many great Greek restaurants in the U.S. today, but Chicago restaurateur David Schneider (above) is arguably the category’s most vibrant young proponent.

It’s a tough call. I’ve been to so many amazing Greek restaurants in the U.S. this year, including Michael Psilakis’ Kefi on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (and I have yet to check out Petros in Manhattan Beach, California, where I’ll be dining early next week).

But looking back on a year of eating fantastic Greek food, from the homey family-run Greek eateries to the fast-food gyros joints, from the fine dining white-table-cloth venues to the hour-long waits for a table at the bustling seafood restaurants in Astoria, Queens, my number-one pick for best Greek restaurant in the U.S. is David Schneider’s Taxim in Chicago.

Taxim is named for Taksim Square, the center of the Greek district of Istanbul. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the underlying sociopolitical tension, the significance of the provocative metaphor will be immediately apparent. There’s a reason David didn’t name his place “Athens,” “Santorini,” or “Delphi”: he’s trying to take classic great cuisine into a new realm of culinary awareness and he succeeds gloriously.

The aromas and flavors of his kitchen are precise and balanced, pure and judiciously measured. And his wine list, while not biblical in length, offers a well-thought-out selection, including a wonderful however brief flight of rosé wines (something you don’t see in many Greek restaurants in the U.S.).

As much as I enjoyed my meal there (and talking to David about new trends in Greek cuisine today), the thing that impressed me the most was the level of attention to the restaurant’s décor and the venue’s glamor. As much as I loved Kefi in New York this year, I missed the high design and chic feel of Psilakis’ Anthos (and the ambiance of his first white-table-cloth in the City, Oneira; remember that place?).

As I’ve noted before here, Greek food and Greek wine in this country find themselves in a situation similar to that of Italian food and wine 20 years ago: I’m thrilled to see a young and vibrant restaurateur like David taking the category to the next level — with flying colors…

—Jeremy Parzen (blog master)

1558 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 252-1558

Highly recommended

Greek wine not just for Greek Restaurants

December 2, 2010

Above: The seared scallops paired gorgeously with Boutari Santorini at Naha, one of Chicago’s top destinations for fine dining.

Looking back over a year of tasting a lot of Greek wines and dining in a lot of Greek restaurants (and the many restaurants I experience for my work in Italian wines and beyond), it has occurred to me that the status of Greek wines in the U.S. is similar to that of Italian wines about 20 years ago. Beyond the myriad Greek restaurants in the country and the many Greek gastronomic communities, you typically don’t expect to find Greek wines in non-Hellenic contexts.

But more and more, I’ve been seeing Greek wines pop up on wine lists where you’d least expect it — or at least, you wouldn’t have expected it, even just a few years ago. Recently, I found Greek wines on lists authored by some of the country’s top sommeliers, like Aldo Sohm’s list at Le Bernardin in New York, and Francesco Grosso’s list at Marea, French- and Italian-themed, respectively, high-profile dining destinations.

Above: The cuisine at Naha is pan-Mediterranean and the sommelier and staff have found a number of excellent ways to “apply” Greek wines — in traditional and non-conventional pairings.

One of the more thrilling restaurants I got to try this year was Naha in Chicago, where the restaurant’s pan-Mediterranean menu and farm-to-table approach is complemented by Boutari’s Moschofilero, Santorini, and Naoussa.

Ultimately, it comes down to a very simple set of precepts: wines with balanced alcohol, flavors, and freshness will always win out as the top “food friendly wines,” especially where Mediterranean cuisine is served. After all, as much as you may like big, fat, highly alcoholic, concentrated, fruit-forward Napa Valley Cabernet, there are only so many charred steaks a human being can humanly eat in one year! 😉

500 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7188
(312) 321-6242

Highly recommended…

—Jeremy Parzen (blog master)

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