:: Preludes of summer are slowly but surely making themselves felt.
The need for scarf and jacket on the morning commute is disappearing and instead of watching the blooming dawn from my office, the sun has already risen when I step out the front door.
The heavy, entrancing fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle perfume the breeze through our back laneway, evoking memories of summers past and the balmy evenings can now be spent on the balcony with a glass of wine.
With the changing seasons comes the desire to spend less time in front of a hot stove and of being able to throw together fresh, simple meals from seasonal produce.
Greek cuisine is one of my favourite fares for its celebration of fundamental ingredients and lack of fuss.
Indeed, too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine. All that’s needed is a bit of love and olive oil, garlic, oregano and mint to elevate each modest element to godly status.
Hellenic Republic is a beautiful cookbook by George Calombaris, who runs the Melbourne restaurant by the same name.
It’s the place to experience traditional Greek tavern cuisine with a fresh twist, where traditional recipes from George’s family are served at a contemporary table. The food is just sublime, bursting with bold flavour and the love of cooking.
This is just one of the many delicious recipes from the Hellenic Republic cookbook.
100g dried baby figs
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 cinnamon quill
1 small bay leaf
water to cover
Place figs, honey, balsamic vinegar, pepper, cinnamon quill, bay leaf and cloves in a saucepan.
Cover with water and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently until tender and the sauce has reduced to a syrup.
Serve figs on grilled haloumi with the honey syrup drizzled over as part of a Greek meze.