Although, Kali Orexi is dedicated to documenting and presenting traditional Greek dishes, one cannot deny that all cuisines, including the Greek cuisine, are in a constant state of evolution. In Greece and in the lands of the Greek diaspora, traditional Greek ingredients are used to create new flavour and texture combinations and if these dishes are well received, they will likely become traditional dishes in their own right in the future. Kali Orexi’s Christine decided to share such a dish with you and a little story that goes along with it …
As some of you may know, I recently took a trip to Greece with my family. We had not been to Greece for a few years and so we were all very excited about staying at our favourite hotel in Athens, Fresh Hotel; visiting our favourite restaurants, Restaurant Meteora in Kalambaka, Gardenia in Kastraki and O Platanos in Mykani; and enjoying our favourite past time, walking and exploring the Meteora. Our trip this year also included a twelve-day tour of the Peloponnese, taking in the glory of Ancient Olympia, the landscapes and beaches of Kalamata and surrounds, the ruins and ramparts of Mystras, magical Monemvasia, Neapoli and the awesome Kastania Caves and Nafplio with its Venetian vibe and its thriving artisan community. The Peloponnese was truly beautiful, with its villages perched on the sides of mountains, surrounded by endless olive groves and accented with cypress trees. It reminded me of Tuscany, but with complimentary views out to the endless, azure sea. Our eyes could not tire of the natural harmony of green and blue hues that surrounded us.
We enjoyed all of our Peloponnese travel destinations immensely, but one destination that truly stirred the heartstrings was Monemvasia. Although we arrived somewhat travel-weary to Monemvasia, our spirits were instantly elevated when we entered the fortressed walls of this magical town. Ersi from, ‘To Spiti Sto Kastro’ greeted us at the entrance with a porter and guided us to our accommodation – the well-worn cobble-stone pathways, lined by bars, restaurants and funky little ‘souvenir’ shops in charming stone buildings in rose, tan and sandy hues. In the centre of town is the platia – town square – with a beautiful, whitewashed church bordering to the south. Our accommodation was just a short walk beyond this church.
After a refreshing rest at our charming accommodation, we all headed out for a leisurely stroll and dinner. As we approached the town square, we could see a number of stylishly dressed people gathering and greeting a handsome young man who was holding a floral bouquet.
Immediately, I called out to Eugene, Kim (our friend) and the children, ‘There’s going to be a wedding. Let’s find a spot to sit and watch.’ In Greece, it’s customary for the groom and the invited guests to wait outside the church for the bride to arrive. It seems such a lovely tradition. The groom is kept company by family and friends, likely distracting him and relieving him of any nerves he may be feeling. The atmosphere is warm and buoyant. The love and affections of the couple’s family and friends, that have gathered to witness the couples nuptials, enhances this festive energy.
It’s always fun and even enlightening to people-watch when on holiday, imagining the meaning and the madness in their day-to-day lives, but people-watching shifts to a whole other level when wedding-watching on holidays! We parked ourselves on a balcony at Kanoni restaurant, directly overlooking the platia and enjoyed the ensuing spectacle.
The beautiful bride, resplendent in her glorious lace gown that looked both contemporary and traditional at the same time, arrived soon after, accompanied by her immediate family and serenaded by two fiddlers. The bride shared a sweet kiss with her groom and he presented her with a simple bouquet. Arm-in-arm, they entered the byzantine church of the platia and were then followed by the animated guests.
After a short while, the bride and groom emerged from the church glowing in their newly wedded aura, and were then dutifully showered with rice by the guests. The newlyweds took photographs with family and friends as the sunlight began to fade and soon enough, they strolled happily towards the evening celebrations and into their new life as a married couple.
As we enjoyed this joyous spectacle from the raised balcony of Kanoni restaurant, we ordered a number of dishes from the menu including baked feta wrapped in fillo, drizzled with honey and finished with sesame seeds and oregano. It was a delicious start to a very lovely meal. The warm feta oozed from its crispy, golden fillo pastry wrapping. The salt of the feta was balanced by the sweetness of the aromatic honey and all the flavours were enhanced by the generous seasoning of oregano and toasted sesame seeds. We savoured this gastronomic delight enthusiastically!
I asked our waiter if he would share the recipe with us and he generously obliged. It is a simple starter, requiring very little preparation, but you will be greatly rewarded by the sensation of flavours and textures in your mouth. Who knows, maybe one day this will become a popular, traditional Greek dish!
Traditional and delicious Greek Feta wrapped in fillo pastry, topped with honey, oregano and toasted sesame seeds.
For the fillo-wrapped feta
- 1 block feta – approximately 10cm wide and 7cm long
- 2 sheets fillo pastry
- Extra virgin olive oil
- toasted sesame seeds
How to… Make the fillo-wrapped feta
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Place two sheets of fillo pastry on your work surface – with one sheet directly on top of the other.
Cut a slice of feta, no more than 1cm in thickness, from the feta block. It is important not to cut it any thicker, as it will not soften adequately while baking.
Place the slice of feta centrally at the base of the fillo.
Wrap the fillo around the feta, using the entire length of the fillo.
Cut away excess fillo, leaving approximately 5cm on either side of the feta block.
Baste all the fillo with olive oil.
Fold the extra fillo lengths under the fillo-feta block.
Place the fillo-feta block on a baking dish and bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the baking dish and place on a serving dish.
Drizzle generously with honey and season liberally with oregano and toasted sesame seeds.
Serve and enjoy!