0 comments on “A Chef’s Guide: Mapping Culinary Greece
 

A Chef’s Guide: Mapping Culinary Greece
 

Olives_from_Crete

By Director of Culinary Enrichment & Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly

Lindos Bay, Rhodes, Greece

 

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to explore many places in Greece, meet the locals and be invited into their homes and restaurants to share a meal. When most think of Greek food, they immediately think of gyros and spinach pies – both of which are delicious – but there’s so much more to the cuisine of this country, which is one of the most diverse and ancient in the world.

In Greece, it’s difficult to separate cuisine from lifestyle, which is why traveling here is a must for anyone who considers themselves a culinary explorer. Below, I share a glimpse of what makes the various island regions so distinctive and special.

THE DODECANESE | Considered the heart of Greece’s gastronomic history, these islands are home to a traditional cuisine that reflects the meeting of cultures that occurred here long ago. The proximity of the islands to Constantinople and Spice Road means the cuisine has been influenced by the Levant, so the dishes feature a rich variety of spices and worldly influences. You’ll taste notes of coriander, allspice, anise and cinnamon in everything from meat dishes and bread to tarts and cookies on islands such as Patmos and Rhodes.

Baklava

 

Dish not to miss: Baklava

IONION ISLANDS | Due to the strategic seafaring location of these islands, they have been occupied by the Romans, Venetians and Sicilians over the centuries, so you’ll notice a strong Italian influence on these decidedly Greek islands. One of our guests’ favorite dishes from Corfu is pastitsio, a baked pasta covered with ragù and béchamel sauce.

Dish not to miss: Sofrito, a typical Corfiot dish of beef or veal cooked in a garlic wine sauce

THE CYCLADES | Here the elements have clearly influenced what will grow. For example, Santorini is in the crater of a volcano so the soil has a very high mineral concentration. Likewise, the island not only produces some of the best wines, they also grow delicious tomatoes. Cycladic islands such as Mykonos are also famed for their sausages and preserved meats, along with capers and sundried tomatoes.

Dish not to miss: Tomatokeftedes, or tomato fritters

THE PELOPONNESE | In these lands, olives and citrus are in great abundance and the landscape is dotted with vegetable gardens and orchards. Locals often add oranges to their sausage and lemons to their tomato stew. The fresh grilled fish with lemon and herbs that you’ll find at neighborhood restaurants and taverns in destinations such as Gythion and Monemvasia is divine.

Dish not to miss: The catch of the day

CRETE | As the southernmost island, Crete is the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet and is a true culinary mecca. To this day, the island has maintained a very traditional cuisine. In fact, one of the most typical foods, paximadia, or barley rusks, was once kept in shepherds’ pockets for long mountain journeys with their sheep and then later dipped in water and eaten with feta.

Dakos – Barley rusks topped w/ tomatoes, oregano, and olives.

 

Dish not to miss: Dakos, which are rusks topped with fresh tomatoes, local oregano and olives

The best way to get a behind-the-scenes look at the culinary traditions of these famed islands? With one of our Culinary Discovery Tours™, of course. I hope to see you at the markets this summer!

1 comment on “A Local’s Guide to Bordeaux
 

A Local’s Guide to Bordeaux
 

Curated by Senior Culinary Director Eric Barale

Discover expert tips from our Senior Culinary Director, Eric Barale to experience La Perle d’Aquitaine just like the Bordelais. From the top local spots for uncovering the best wine and cheese to where the locals in-the-know dine, read on for this Frenchman’s favorite tips to savor La Belle Bordeaux.

 

SHOP

JEAN D’ALOS FROMAGER-AFFINEUR
4 Rue Montesquieu

This highly respected fromager has developed special relationships with many small local producers in order to offer a range of 150 kinds of cheeses. Tour the cellars, or “cheese caves,” and sample some new unfamiliar cheeses. Once you’ve selected a few favorites, pick up a baguette and enjoy an afternoon like the locals at the nearby Jardin Public.

EAT

LA GRANDE MAISON
10 Rue Labottière

The dream project of French wine magnate Bernard Magrex and world-famous chef Joël Robuchon, La Grand Maison is set in a revitalized 19th-century mansion with interior décor
inspired by Napolean III. The dining room features Christofle, Baccarat tumblers and classic French dishes complemented by seasonal offerings. Not only are the dishes local, the
ingredients are too.


 

VISIT

ROUTE DES CHÂTEAUX
Le Médoc

A drive along the classic Route des Châteaux, quite possibly one of the most desirable stretches of wine country in the world, is a must while in Bordeaux. The Medoc wine region
boasts several legendary appellations, so you really can’t go wrong wherever you choose to stop along the way. These appellations include Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-
Julien, Margaux and Pauillac.

Santé to new adventures in Bordeaux this summer!

0 comments on “A Local’s Look at Greece, Part 2
 

A Local’s Look at Greece, Part 2
 

By Captain Dimitrios Flokos

As many of you know from my last post or from meeting me on board, I was born in Volos and have called Athens home for a long time. In my last post, I shared some suggestions on how to enjoy the country as the locals do and really soak up the culture. This time, it’s all about one of my favorite topics – Greek food. Read on for my favorite dishes, drinks and local restaurants.

 

EAT LIKE A GREEK
One of my all-time favorite dishes is called Gemista, which is a dish of vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini and green peppers stuffed with rice – this is really traditional, along with moussaka, a delicious layered eggplant and meat dish. Of course, one of Greece’s most famed dishes is the Greek salad, and this you will find on every family’s table in Greece and in every restaurant. We really do love it. This simple dish shines with tomatoes, feta, olives and cucumber, usually a sprinkle of oregano and is always drizzled with some local extra virgin olive oil. I am also a big fan of dolmades, stuffed grape leaves or cabbage leaves – depending on the season.

 

TRADITIONAL LIBATIONS
Of course, no Greek dish is complete without a delicious glass of wine. If you are in the north, I suggest you try a nice red wine from Naoussa or Nemea and if you are in the south, of course you should go for a fresh white, like Assyrtiko on Santorini – one of the best in the country. Also keep an eye out for Tsipouradikos, especially in Volos and Crete. These traditional spots are known for tsipouro, which is a traditional pomace brandy typical in rural and island villages. In these locals’ spots, with each ouzo or tsipouro you order, the waiter will bring out a small meze for the table to share. It’s the perfect way to sample the local cuisine and culture – but beware, tsipouro is potent!

AN UNFORGETTABLE EVENING
If you are looking for an evening you’ll never forget in Athens, make reservations at Dionysos. This modern Greek restaurant is an Athens institution and has become known around the world for both its iconic views of the Acropolis and its delicious Greek cuisine. About 12 years ago, the founder of Oceania Cruises, Frank Del Rio, and his wife, Marcia, came to Athens and this is where we dined with evening views of the Acropolis. Try the lamb with the potatoes, the moussaka or the catch of the day. Pair it with a good glass of Greek wine and you can’t go wrong. This is simply one of the most exquisite ways to close your visit in beautiful Athens, the world’s ancient capital, and end your journey on a high note.

I hope you’ll include Greece in your spring and summer travel adventures this year!

3 comments on “A Local’s Look at Greece, Part 1
 

A Local’s Look at Greece, Part 1
 

By Captain Dimitrios Flokos

When you sail to Greece, they say you sail to the land of gods, myths and heroes. And that couldn’t be more true – when you sail into the Aegean Sea and you see the wide open skies and deep blue sea dotted with islands, you can sense the deep heritage and history of many millennia the land carries with it.

I joined Oceania Cruises at the very beginning in 2003 and have had the opportunity to sail to many gorgeous and remarkable places during my career and with my wife, Denise. After all of these travels, I have to tell you that there is no land as enchanted as Greece. What sets Greece apart are, yes, the masterpieces from ancient times that are on everyone’s travel lists, but also the culture, the people and the cuisine. Greeks practically invented hospitality. There is something about the ambiance that you will notice, the way Greeks interact with each other, the way they welcome you, that is particular to the country.

Born in Volos and a long-time Athens local, I have some suggestions on how to enjoy the country as the Greeks do and make the best of your time.

 

AN OLD FAVORITE
One of the places Denise and I always go to shortly after arriving back in Greece is a small restaurant in the center of Athens. It’s just off Plaza Kolonakiou in the exclusive neighborhood of Kolonaki, which has many restaurants and cafés that are perfect for taking in the afternoon. One of my favorite restaurants that I have been going to for years and years is called Tops. It’s a place we gather with friends at and has delicious Greek food and the best service. They are truly friendly here – so sit back, relax, and enjoy a slice of Greek culture.

 

ATHENIAN DAYS
I grew up in the center, so for me, it is a must to see Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of Athens which sits on a hillside in the shadow of the Acropolis – it has a village feel to it and is filled with great restaurants and shops. Monastiraki is another top choice – this lively area is known for iconic landmarks like Hadrian’s Gate, along with a sprawling market. Taking a stroll through the National Gardens is a nice treat – often you might come across an outdoor concert. From here you can visit Syntagma Square where you can watch the changing of the guards. Just before dusk, I recommend you visit the rooftop of the Grand Bretagna for a cocktail to watch the sun set over the Acropolis.

Stay tuned for my top culinary recommendations, favorite restaurants and more next week.

1 comment on “Made in Spain: A Chef’s Look at Iberian Ingredients On Board”

Made in Spain: A Chef’s Look at Iberian Ingredients On Board

By Fleet Corporate Executive Chef Franck Garanger

 

High-quality ingredients travel from market to galley to inspire the big flavors of our traditional small bites and regional Spanish dishes on board. Having spent many years in Valencia now, I’ve cooked and learned and lived the culinary ways of Spain. I love this country for so many reasons but one of them is that it has such a high quality of food because of the passion and respect Spanish people have for food. You see it everywhere you go – in the markets, in the restaurants, and in the neighborhood tavernas and tapas bars too. They have a great knowledge of what exactly is good food and when to eat it.

The variety of Spanish ingredients is immense due to the varied climate, topography and geography of each region. For example, Galicia in the northwest has incredible fish and seafood and is one of the best sources of beef in all of Europe. País Vasco, or Basque Country, is recognized for its incredible quality of tapas, called pintxos here. Valencia is celebrated for its rice fields and paella, while Andalucia is known for its use of spices and vegetables due to its geographical proximity to Africa. Traveling around Spain, you really see and taste the distinctness of the regions in their dishes and wines.

After cooking many, many pans of paella, tortilla española and pots of gazpacho, I feel…almost Spanish – almost. Many of the most beloved Spanish foods are really quite simple and rely heavily on drawing out the natural flavors of fresh, classic ingredients. Here are some of the Spanish ingredients I love most that we use on board to capture the flavors of this vibrant country.

Castilla-La Mancha Saffron
Prized as the most expensive and elusive spice, our saffron is cultivated in Spain’s heartland, noted for its ideal climate, and harvested by hand. On board, we use saffron for paella of course, but also risotto, bouillabaisse and several sauces for fishes.

 

Marinated Olives
When you’re in Spain, it’s likely some olives will appear with your drinks. A staple of Spanish pantries everywhere, olives pair with everything. My favorites that we serve on board are the large green manzanilla variety and arbequinia.

Jamón Ibérico de Bellota
Recognized as the finest in the world, this exceptional ham is cured for up to four years and comes from an ancient breed of acorn-fed pig found only on the Iberian Peninsula. You’ll see it in markets and grocery stores across Spain and aboard our ships – it’s a culinary tradition Spaniards are very proud of, and once you taste it, you’ll understand why.

 

Piquillo Peppers
Grown in Northern Spain near Lodosa, these small red peppers are perfect for roasting, which gives them a rich, smoky-sweet flavor. These are traditionally stuffed with potatoes and bacalao (cod) or béchamel. We also blend them in savory sauces.

Manchego
The pronounced nutty flavors of this Castilla-La Mancha cheese is made exclusively fromraw or pasteurized Manchega breed sheep’s milk and has been produced in this region for thousands of years. Enjoy it by itself or for one of the most classic pairings, try it with dulce de membrillo, a traditional quince paste, and Marcona almonds.

 

Pulpo
Everyone from school children to Spanish grandmas love octopus, especially pulpo a la gallega, a signature Galician dish. This is a soft-cooked large octopus and gets its unique flavors from three simple ingredients: paprika, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. On board, we serve pulpo a la gallega during our Spanish buffet at Terrace Café.

Next time you are on board, look for featured Spanish dishes on select menus at Terrace Café and The Grand Dining Room. Buen provecho!