Ave going 'Simply Greek' on Thursdays

Ave restaurant and bar is embarking on a culinary voyage throughout the Mediterranean from which Ave’s cuisine takes its influence. Every Thursday evening starting 5 November, a different region of the Mediterranean will be featured in the menu, with each theme running for a number of weeks.

We’ll be making our first stop at one of the most ancient of Mediterranean cultures, to immerse diners in the wonderful aromatic world of Greek cuisine.

Widely regarded as the birthplace of Western culture, civilisation, politics, philosophy, science and modern thought, Greece has a long and fascinating history. It is a massively varied country, with a lengthy coastline along four seas with hundreds of islands in archipelagos, and yet 80% of its land is mountainous. This is reflected in the culture, the people and of course the food and drink.

It’s a quintessentially Mediterranean diet, with fresh fish meals popular among vast arrays of traditional dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, gyros and dolmades; dips such as taramasalata, tzatziki and fava; and sweet treats like baklava, galatoboureko (a custard pastry) and loukoumades (doughnut balls covered in honey, cinnamon and walnuts).

Olives and olive oil are universal in the cuisine. You’ll see more goat and lamb than beef, due in part to the terrain not being conducive to raising cattle. There is a prevalence of herbs like oregano, mint, dill, bay laurel leaves, basil, thyme and fennel, and while these can be said to be common throughout the region, the level of spicing in Greek dishes is uniquely recognisable. Sweet spices are also favoured — and not just in sweet or dessert foods, but also on meats and in stews.

The drinks are regionally unique, too, although you’ll find parallels locally, such as the sweet, sticky and often deceptively boozy anise-flavoured Ouzo or sipping sibling Raki, which you can find throughout their Dalmatian coastal and Balkan neighbours.

Another staple is retsina — a 2000-year-old form of wine, made by adding pine resin to amphorae to avoid oxidation in ancient times.

For our "Simply Greek" evenings, which is what we're calling the first themed stop on our culinary voyage through the Mediterranean, we’ll serve some typically Ave bar-intricate mixed drinks to pair with the delectable dishes. We’ve made our own retsina into a wine cooler. Another drink takes inspiration from the Greek Pantheon of deities in "Triton," a local Poseidon gin-based Hellenic-blue concoction. We also worked with cucumber, dill and vodka, and incorporated the fresh acidity of Greek yoghurt into our "Tzatzini" cocktail.

Lastly, we mixed up the aptly monikered "Nektar," which takes the smooth vanilla toasted oak and ripe fruit flavours of Metaxa 7 star brandy and stirs them with a rich honey and sesame syrup, inspired by the traditional Greek pasteli bars, which we use as a garnish in this delectable sipper. ... Opa!

Jim Wrigley is the beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

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This article appears in print in the November 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

 

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