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Lifestyle : A Taste Of Greece Special Report
1HERSA1 E018 Greece's No.1 Olive Oil the cheese that grills Virgin or extra virgin olive oil is a fundamental ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. According to scientific research, the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest and most suited for heart disease prevention and for slowing down the ageing process. Greek olive oil is the best! The Feta Cheese with the genuine flavour, the Greek values, the schooling of the traditional cheese making and the pure and authentic ingredients. All of the above make EPIROS Feta Cheese tasteful and proud of its brand name and origin. This is why EPIROS Feta cheese deserves to have a place in every home table, either plain or served with olive oil and oregano, baked in pies or on top of every salad. EPIROS. The Original Greek Feta Cheese. Products imported from Kebia Importex Pty Ltd 18 goodfood TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012 www.smh.com.au/goodfood Taste of Greece Put meat to the sword Prime cuts on skewers make for great traditional barbecue fare, writes Ellen Connolly. Time to grill . . . author Maria Bernardis; (left) her barbecued lamb dish . Photos: Edwina Pickles SPECIAL REPORT IN GREECE, GRILLING -- OR, AS THE Greeks call it, ''sti skhara'' -- is one of the most ancient methods of cooking meat. ''Back in the early days, the Greeks and Romans were always at war so one of the easiest ways to cook meat was using their swords as cooking utensils to skewer and grill the meat,'' says Greek cookbook author Maria Benardis, who also runs a cooking school in Sydney called Greekalicious. Benardis says the tradition lives on, with souvlaki (which translates to ''eat a little sword'') synonymous with Greek cuisine. ''It's not unusual to go to places in Greece and see two swords standing upright with fire right around it, slowly cooking the lamb for four to six hours,'' says Benardis, who returns regularly to the village of Psara where she grew up. She says it is wonderful to see the Greek tradition being recreated in Australia in the guise of a backyard spit, or by grilling a shoulder of lamb, beef patties or chops on the barbecue or in the kitchen. ''The Greeks are very big on using coals and flat stones because of the rocky, volcanic terrain . . . in modern times they developed the metal grill,'' she says. Benardis says people should not be intimidated by grilling a leg of lamb or a whole animal on the barbecue or over coals as it is an easy way to entertain. She recommends rubbing the meat with salt, pepper and a mix of dry herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary. ''Basting with lemon juice, olive oil and oregano is very important and it should be done every 30 minutes while it's cooking,'' she says. The meat can then be served on a platter with pita bread, tzatziki and salad. ''It's all about simplicity,'' Benardis says. ''We want the ingredients to sing. In Greek culture if someone is using too many sauces they are trying to disguise the ingredients -- it's off or not fresh.'' At Parkside Superior Meats in Hurlstone Park, butcher Peter Kefalouros does the preparation for customers -- they arrive with metre-long skewers on to which he threads the meat. The former chef has his own special dry marinade, dubbed ''Peter's lamb love''. A blend of salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, sugar and cinnamon, it makes the meat dark and crisp when cooked, with the sugar providing a sticky, caramelised texture. As to constantly basting the meat during cooking, the Greek-Australian is these days opposed to it, believing it ''washes away the flavour''. He says a Greek uncle converted him to a new method, involving beer, which he massages into the meat until it's absorbed. He then rubs a dry seasoning over it, waits for two hours and then slow-cooks it over coals. ''The beer turns the lamb dark on the outside. It just bubbles and juices by itself,'' he says. Kefalouros attributes his loyal following to the quality of his produce: lamb from Junee Abattoirs, and free-range organic pork from Otway Pork in Victoria. Greek chef George Calombaris from Melbourne's Press Club says it is worth paying for quality meat, adding ''there is nothing better than cooking meat over fire''. ''But it's all about control of the heat -- slow, low and long is the key,'' he says. And while Calombaris ''loves to turn classics on their head'', he says it is important to respect the ancient Greek traditions. ''It's fine to be modern and progressive in the way we think and cook,'' he says. ''But we must never disrespect the produce, the culture, the history, the tradition.''
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