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Lifestyle : A Taste Of Greece Special Report
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Cuisine! G5460198AA-291012 CMB SEAFOODS firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 458 Bunnerong Road, Matraville 458 Bunnerong Road, Matraville Specialising in Oysters live or Specialising in Oysters live or shucked and Australian Seafood shucked and Australian Seafood Direct supplies from Direct supplies from Australia’s Leading Farms. Australia’s Leading Farms. We are open to the public Mon, Tues, Wed from 7am – 2pm Thurs, Fri from 7am – 5.30pm & Sat from 7am – 1pm Any enquiries can be made to To m or Anthony on 9694 1591 G5491433AA-291012 iG5407033AA-301012 19 goodfood The Sydney Morning Herald Taste of Greece Sweet memories Traditional biscuits remain a big hit with expats seeking a taste of home, writes Ellen Connolly. Old methods . . . Menia Kyriakou at her Carlton store, Prestige Patisserie. Photo: Steven Siewert SPECIAL REPORT Where to buy biscuits ● Greek Cakes by Eleni, 914 Anzac Parade, Maroubra, 9349 1800. ● Prestige Patisserie, 2-4 Jubilee Avenue, Carlton, 9587 3437. ● T.I .M . Products, 407 Enmore Road, Marrickville, 9557 5877. ● Trianon Cakes, 289 Homer Street, Earlwood, 9558 3347. M OST MORNINGS WHEN FANOS Papacharalambous swings open the doors to his Maroubra shop, he finds himself pausing for a minute as he is transported back to his childhood in Greece. ‘‘I remember that smell. It never leaves you,’’ the 62-year-old says. Papacharalambous started his apprenticeship as a pastry chef in Kyrenia in northern Cyprus in 1967 and Greek biscuits were the first recipes he was taught and mastered. In those days there were no mixers and the process, making five kilograms daily, was done by hand. ‘‘When you’re young, you don’t care. You just do it,’’ he says. ‘‘We would pour the flour out on the table and mix it there and cut them.’’ More than four decades on, Papacharalmabous, who emigrated to Australia in 1975 with his wife, Eleni, produces about 15 kilograms of biscuits a week at their shop, Cakes by Eleni, assisted by modern technology. Eleni, who her husband describes as the ‘‘power behind the pastry’’, says the most well- known Greek biscuits are kourambiedes, melt- in-your mouth vanilla shortbreads with crunchy almond pieces, covered with icing sugar. ‘‘There’s not a lot of sugar in the mix so most of the sweetness comes from the icing sugar,’’ she says. In a crescent shape, kourambiedes are traditionally served at Christmas, with the heavy dousing of icing sugar mimicking snow, but in Australia, Greek bakeries serve them all year. The crescent shape, thought to have been introduced during the Ottoman rule, remains popular, but some adapt it for Christmas to make shapes such as stars and trees. Also found in every Greek home at Christmas are melomakarona – honey biscuits baked with cloves and cinnamon, then dipped in honey syrup and garnished with walnuts and honey. ‘‘They are brilliant with coffee because it’s a real flavour burst,’’ Eleni says. The owner of Prestige Patisserie in Carlton, Menia Kyriakou, has the same philosophy of baking Greek biscuits – to retain the old- fashioned recipes and methods. She says the old recipes provide constancy to Greek Australians, with customers travelling from all parts of Sydney to buy her biscuits. ‘‘They are handmade with no preservatives, all natural,’’ she says. ‘‘They’re like the ones your mother used to make. A lot of my customers want to remember the taste of Greece. ‘‘The koulouria my mum would make would smell all of the house. We didn’t have a lot of cakes back then – only for special occasions.’’ A growing number of non-Greeks are being introduced to the sweet treats because some are gluten-free. Among the treats are amygdalota, yo-yo-sized almond biscuits that are baked either round, twisted or with sesame seeds. These days they are served as small gifts at weddings or christenings, says a co-owner of Trianon Cakes in Earlwood, Arthur Efthymiou. ‘‘People now order large batches of them . . . so they can hand them out after the church service and before the reception – as a little snack,’’ he says. ‘‘I have 100 to do for this Saturday for a christening.’’ He says older Greeks prefer the biscotti-like paximadia, because they ‘‘are dryer and less sugary’’, ideal for those with diabetes. At the long-established T.I.M . Products in Marrickville, manager John Karamanlidis says the secret to the business’s success is quality ingredients, and respecting the traditions and recipes of old Greece. ‘‘The owner only uses Australian almonds,’’ he says. ‘‘Our recipes have been handed down from Greece. There’s nothing modern about it.’’ The business, which began as a small cake shop in 1967, comprises a large wholesale bakery that distributes to stores, supermarkets and cafes across Australia, as well as a store for customers. ‘‘We just delivered a shipment to Wellington, New Zealand,’’ Karamanlidis says proudly.
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