Human relationships are diverse. But they can age like good red wine. This is what was circling in my mind the other day, after three dear internet friends had left Marathon.
We spent some wonderful time together, meeting in person for the first time after some four years of internet-relating.
The three friends are in alphabetical order: “J”, a writer and journalist. “K”, a professional in a vitally important industry. “N”, an engineer in one of the most important sectors of the economy.
“J” is Greek, but lives abroad. The fact that she was in Athens gave us the opportunity to meet! Unusually, she brought with her a book written by another author, because she liked it and as she said “I do not like to give my books”.
We started with an incredible appetizer: “K” created miniature “dolma” (stuffed parcels) with vineleafs, accompanied by a light but tasty sauce.
This is not a dish, it is a handcrafted artifact.
The miniature size ensures that this is not suitable for the “stuff your mouth” enthusiasts. It requires contemplation, careful observation of the physical object, prior to its consumption.
While caressing it in the mouth, it unleashes steadily and slowly the wonderful but restrained flavours of the vineleafs and the minced meat with rice stuffing.
Although I liked the sauce, I preferred to enjoy the “dolma” as a parcel of restrained joy and beauty.
“K” surprised me I must confess, because she is a very successful professional with a full schedule and a wonderful family. I never doubted the cooking talent, but the fact that she invested so much time in preparing the dish, is something I will never forget.
My fishmonger gave me some relatives of the red mullet, called “koutsomoura” in Greek. They were tiny, and straight out of the sea.
Before cooking them, I placed them in a water solution of coarse sea salt for one hour.
I fried and served them whole, without gutting them. No lemon, no salt.
I confess that I ate the whole thing, bones and the rest. Incredible sensation.
A cocktail of the flavours of the sea.
Para-singing Sinead: “Nofish compares to you”
My butcher supplied me with two legs of lamb, weighing three kilos in total.
I rubbed some coarse sea salt over the flesh, stuffed it with rosemary and two chilly peppers and roasted it in the oven.
The meat was lean and tasty, with firm texture, but not tough. I noted something rare for a lamb, there was no “greasy” aftertaste.
It was accompanied by stuffed aubergines baked in the oven, a variation of the “Imam Bayildi” recipe.
Sweet, tasty, but restrained, the aubergine developed a taste that lasted long and accompanied in an ideal way the robustness of the lamb’s flesh.
What a pair!!!
With the “dolma” and the fish we enjoyed a bottle of Torricella 2008 by Barone Ricasoli. A mighty chardonnay of 14 degrees, with a kick that can counter even red meat, exhibited amazing smoothness.
Wwith the meat and the aubergines, a Catalan red from Priorat, Embruix 2003 by Vall Llach, a Grenache blend, gave a memorable boost to the taste of the food, and helped me maintain the memory of it.
The concluding part was the sweet part, that started with sour yogurt made of lamb’s milk served with caramelized figs (with their skin).
A treat from the island of Andros, small pastries made with almond paste. gave a more firm texture to the sweet part.
We concluded with sweet custard pie, called “galaktompoureko” in Greek, a treat kindly brought to the team by “N”.
The intense pleasures of the food and drink were marvelously enveloped by the smoke emanating from Upmann puritos.
“N” was also the one the steal the show at the end, when she gave to each one of us a gift to remember our meeting.
Thank you “J’, “K’, “N’, until the next time…