A Greek Food Experience

Loukoumi's Taverna & Greek Restaurant Blog. The famous across New Yorker's place now shares Greek traditional recipes and health information for the Greek kitchen.

The Hidden Parts of Traditional Greek Cuisine Part-2

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Local Cuisine: Ionian

In the Ionian, you’ll find many culinary influences from the 400 years of Venetian occupation. Corfu is famous for dishes like pastitsada, beef or cockerel stewed with pasta, tomatoes and a touch of spice – hot paprika – not found in the rest of the islands. But thick tomato sauces, redolent of the sun and enriched by garlic and herbs, are common to all of them.

Peppery ladotyri cheese and nougat from Zakynthos, lentils, and salami from Lefkas make good souvenirs that will fuel memories of your Ionian holiday. While there, keep your glass filled with Kefalonia’s dry white Robola and smooth Verdea on Zakynthos.

Local Cuisine: Aegean

The amazing delicacies that come out of the Cyclades belie their dry appearance. Many of them support small cheese producers, whose gravieras and fresh cheeses rarely travel beyond their shores. They are also famed for their wonderful sausages and preserved meats, sundried tomatoes, capers and almond-paste confectionery, not to mention that the octopuses hung out to soften in the sun make a spectacularly idiosyncratic island scene.

Try some charcoal grilled, with a bowl of pungent kopanisti cheese, some fava (mashed yellow chickpeas), tomato or courgette fritters and mild summer greens and you won’t want anything more; especially if you have a bottle of Santorini’s white assyrtiko or red mavrotragano to hand.

And most of all Crete, the island that gave the world one of its healthiest – and most delicious – ways of eating. Wild greens in abundance, the best olive oil, fresh fish and heavenly cheeses. As soon as you land, you’ll smell the herbs growing on its hillsides – oregano, thyme, rosemary, and dittany – blended with the salty air from both the Libyan and Aegean sea. Just the appetizer for what you are about to discover on your culinary odyssey.

 


Local Cuisine: Epirus, Thessaly, Peloponnese

Heading north to Thessaly, you’ll discover the secrets of its local cuisine, those of the plain, the breadbasket of Greece, and those of the herdsmen, who put their flocks out to pasture on the mountains that encircle it – producing exceptional meats and cheeses. Organic vegetables are in abundance, the charcuterie from small farms is always of the highest quality and, for those with a sweet tooth, there is sticky halva from Farsala.

This is the home of potent tsipouro, drunk by the thimbleful on every and any occasion. To the west, mountainous Epirus boasts no industries but has a rich gastronomic tradition pared down to the essentials. Take its pies, for example; perfected by nomadic shepherds or farmers, these pies exemplify rural cuisine at its finest. The ingredients are rudimentary: wheat and/or corn flour mixed with a drop of oil bartered from the lowlanders or butter from their own flocks, combined with a handful of wild greens plucked from their doorstep and a smidgen of cheese.

But try one piping hot from the wood-burning oven and you’ll remember it forever. A pie like this is a meal in itself, a single concentrated portion of Mediterranean mountain goodness.

Hop down to the Peloponnese, the land of the olive and the citrus. The endless orange groves of Laconia, the Argolid near Epidaurus and Mycenae and proud Mani, where they add oranges to their sausages and lemons to their tomato stews. The Argolid also produces the best artichokes, while Leonidion hosts an aubergine festival each summer.

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The Hidden Parts of Traditional Greek Cuisine Part-1

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The rural and urban cooking of each region is a small but important piece of the puzzle called Greek cuisine. Until fairly recently, most tourists knew of only a small number of standard dishes – moussaka, tzatziki, Greek salad, stuffed vine leaves, baklava – without realizing that each corner of this incredibly varied country has its own specialties.
The local larder and recipes are a product of the landscape, its fertility, crops, pastures, proximity to the sea, connections with other cultures – Italians, Anatolians, Slavs to name a few – and so much more. But some threads connect them all: they obey the seasons and they are bursting with genuine tastes.

Culinary Influences in Greek Cuisine

Greek cuisine is a mosaic of flavors that tells the story of Greece’s rich cultural and culinary history. While herbs – thyme, oregano, basil, mint – are used extensively in Greek cooking, the presence of spices is part of the Byzantine heritage and a testimony to the great influx of Greeks from Asia Minor. To them we owe such popular dishes as moussaka, imam baildi (stuffed eggplant), all the syprupy fyllo pastries in the baklava family, meats seasoned with cumin, and many many more.

In the local cuisine of the north, you may even come across emblematic dishes from the Pontus – brought by Greeks from the Caucasus – such as piroshki, a warming soup (sorbas) of bulgur and yogurt, and little pies called pisia filled with anything you can imagine. Pontic cooking is a celebration of a lost homeland, and so is the food of the refugees from Smyrna (now Izmir), who fled in a hurry in 1922 with only the clothes on their backs and their music and their recipes in their hearts.

With their arrival in Greece, followed later by many Greeks from Constantinople, the country inherited a vast repertoire of recipes from a culture that was more sophisticated than the mainland’s, with new seasonings, spices, and preparations. Carefully kneaded meatballs (keftedes), cumin-scented soutzoukakia (meatballs with tomato sauce), atzem pilaf (lamb with rice and a multitude of other rice dishes) and dolmadakia (stuffed vineleaves and a whole range of stuffed leaves and vegetables) are a mere sample.

 

 

By now, these treats have been absorbed into the mainstream cuisine, but you’ll find them especially in tavernas in places where the refugees first moved, in the Athenian neighborhoods of Palio Faliro, Nea Smyrni, Nea Ionia and, of course, in Thessaloniki, that great melting pot of cultures. There, in addition to foods from Asia Minor, you’ll find Sephardic Jewish dishes, specialties from the Balkans and plenty of marvelous seafood, such as pilaf with ultra-fresh mussels, shrimps in tomato sauce and scores of little dishes which all go down a treat with a little ouzo and friendly company.


Local Cuisine: Macedonia

The whole region of Macedonia is a bountiful garden. Vast orchards with trees weighed down with Edessa cherries, peaches, apricots, and apples; fields purple with Kozani’s saffron crocus; vine-covered hillsides around Naoussa and Drama, producing divine red and white wines. Then there’s Grevena’s magic mushrooms, Florina’s flaming red, sweet peppers, and the delicious beans and pulses of Kastoria and Prespes, where the bean fields extend alongside the magnificent lakes.

In the north, you’ll find game raised on special farms, excellent sausages and preserved meats like pastourma, hearty soups, and stews that are perfectly complemented by the local red wine – xinomavro – which rates among the best in the world. In summer, on the rugged shores of Halkidiki, where the pine woods reach the water’s edge, you’ll succumb to the irresistible riches of the sea, freshly-caught fish and shellfish prepared to perfection whether at your luxury hotel or at the humble taverna on the beach.

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Greek Island Cuisine Part 3

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This summer dive into a sea of flavours and aromas! Greek cuisine is ideal for warmer days, as it combines the benefits of the so-called Mediterranean diet with the unique taste, colour and flavour of its basic ingredients. Discover the culinary treasures of the Greek land, such as juicy fruits and vegetables, nutritious pulses, fresh fish and seafood combined into delicious dishes which will satisfy even the pickiest palate. Choose the menu that suits you best and get a taste of Greek summer!

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Greek Island Cuisine Part 2

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Chios is a hospitable island all year round and offers a world of images, colours, tastes and aromas. The mild Mediterranean climate in combination with the island’s rich soil yields quality products that are used to create a range of unique local dishes. Welcome to the land that boasts beautiful medieval villages, extraordinary beaches and the lovely Chios town that open-handedly gives savoury mandarins, home-made liquors, ouzo, spoon sweets and the famous mastic. Let’s travel together to this magical island and taste Chios’ particular dishes that will definitely make a lasting impression on your taste buds.

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Greek Island Cuisine Part 1

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On your journey around the Aegean Sea, you are bound to be overwhelmed by captivating scents. This is a region of countless gastronomic discoveries: delicious white or tomato sauces, tenderly cooked pulses, home-grown vegetables, bread and rusks with a robust flavor given by the local wheat and barley varieties as well as the flavourful fresh goat cheese compose a mouthwatering cuisine.

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Greek Pulses a Vegan Super Food

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What are pulses

Pulses are dried fruit of an entire category of plants who belong to the family of legumes (Leguminosae) and took their name from the characteristic lobe that protects the seed during its formation and maturation. It is one of the key ingredients of Greek Mediterranean diet, as also a memory of our childhood, because of the persistence of Greek mothers in the consumption of pulses from all family members.

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Greek Food and Cuisine of Greece Part 2

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The fish dishes are the best ones as Greece is a country surrounded by the sea and fishing is a main factor of the Greek agriculture. But fish dishes are the tricky ones for the foreigners and tourist because in many Greek taverns the fishes are spelled wrongly and many west and north European tourists don't know so well the fishes of the Mediterranean.

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Greek Food and Cuisine of Greece Part 1

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The Greek food throughout its history and continuing today is for the Greeks a philosophy, they know that what makes a perfect feast is not just the food but also the good company. Food is nearly always prepared with the tastes of the guests in mind, should the dishes be roasted or fried, light or heavy? Much of the conversation at the dinner table centers amicably around the food. The freshness of the fish, having just leaped from the sea; the vegetables newly dug from the ground or picked from the vines of the local farmers. The host will want to proudly point out how they have attempted to provide the best and freshest produce for you to enjoy.

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Greek Epiphany Traditions and Foods

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In Christianity, the period starting from the 25th of December, the day of Christmas, till the 5th of January is called the Twelvetide, meaning the twelve days of Christmas. During this festive season period, the annual celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ takes place, which is concluded with the commemoration of His Baptism in the Jordan River at the day of the Epiphany.

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Greek Olive Oil Benefits

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Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil in the world and boasts a total of 16 different PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) varieties of olive oil.

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The Epirus Cuisine

Epirus’ is the north-west part of mainland Greece. Epirus has a very particular terrain, the mountainous areas, the sea, the climate and a centuries-old history have all played a part in creating countless dishes and tasty combinations that make up the local cuisine.

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A Greek Gastronomic Experience

Greece is a country blessed with a rare Mediterranean beauty, which unfolds in an extraordinary diversity of land and seascapes, opening your horizons to every possible kind of experience, not least gastronomical. Forget that the Greek sun and sea are there to put the finishing touches on our beaches. Think instead of the delicious things they produce, from the copious quantities of miraculous olive tree to the lowliest mollusc. 

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A Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Greek Food

There is no argument that Greek Food is a blessing for any Vegetarian or Vegan. We put together a list of the most popular vegetarian and vegan dish so have no fear that you will starve in Greece.

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Travel to Greece to Discover a Mediterranean Flavours Without Leaving Your Kitchen

When it came to food, the ancient Greeks revered three things: bread, wine and olive oil. They also stressed the importance of civilised, convivial eating – sitting down around a table to share a meal – which, like baking bread, fermenting grapes and pressing oil, was considered one of the signs of a civilised society. These days, not much has changed. Bread, wine and olive oil, along with fresh vegies, are the cornerstones of Greek cuisine. Known as the Mediterranean diet, it’s considered to be one of the healthiest models for eating.

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Greek Christmas Traditional Cuisine

Christmas is a very important festival in Greece and traditionally food plays a major role. This is a good chance for families to come together over the decorated table and try Christmas food prepared by the housewife. The traditional Christmas celebration lasts for 13 days, from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6th, the day when the baptism of Jesus Christ is symbolically celebrated.

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A Greek Wine Tasting Experience

The Greek vineyard is rich with a multitude of varieties and a limitless spectrum of choices.

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Traditional Greek Cuisine & Benefits for New Yorkers

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More than 60% of New Yorker's are not going to cook dinner tonight, and if you are one of them you just had a scent memory of all those delicious aromas arising from that Greek restaurant near your office. Is Greek cuisine a healthful meal choice? As with any restaurant, Greek or otherwise, there are healthy choices and less-than-healthy choices on the menu. Some of the Greek classics such as gyros, spanakopita, dolmadakia, and fried squid can be loaded with sodium and fat. 

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Health Benefits of Greek Cuisine

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Many people don’t realize that Greek food is some of the healthiest food that you can consume. Haloumi, souvlakia, baklava…there’s so much to love about Greek cuisine, including the significant health benefits that go along with a Mediterranean diet. Recent studies have shown that this eating pattern can reduce your risk of dementia and reverse symptoms of depression and anxiety. It also helps in preventing heart attacks and promotes a generally longer life. Opa!

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Clasic Greek Dishes

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Greece has long been a family holiday favourite with its beautiful blue waters, child-friendly beaches and abundance of flavour-packed fare. Make sure you sample all the country has to offer with our pick of delicious dishes…

Don’t leave Greece without trying…

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Greek Cuisine – A 4,000 Year Old Culinary Tradition

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Greek cooking is fun for many reasons. The fact that some recipes have existed for thousands of years always creates excitement among those who are preparing Greek food – most of us have been exposed to some aspect of Greek history while in school, but it is even better when we get to eat something instead of study!

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About Us

Loukoumi is the child of Chef/Owner Kostas Avlonitis, who is credited with opening one of the first Greek restaurants in New York City.
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