hawaii to heaven

And now, the time has come for Athens to taste succlent and mouthwatering Hawaiian poke, cubed raw or marinated fish with soy sauce, sesame oil and usually rice and other condiments of choice. On tiny yet increasingly lively Petraki St near Syntagma Sq, chef Yiannis Kandylidis and his partners Yiannis Biniaris and Konstandinos Yiannoutsas have put on their best poke faces and are drawing the crowds with their creative – and healthy – delights. The set menu flavours I tried are succulent, clean, fresh, colourful and delicate, and the ingredients are fresh, seasonal, local and high quality, which adds to the health factor. Raw fish (except the shrimp, which was boiled), fresh herbs like coriander and mint, fresh fruit, caramelised, raw or crunchy onions, edamame beans, chillies and other punchy flavours make the experience pretty exciting.

I interviewed Kandylidis before diving into a variety of dishes created by him (click link below to hear our chat) and went again a week later on my birthday along with hubby and my preschooler for dishes we added our own touches – either is fully encouraged. The prices are between 5.5-8.5 euros for the small or larger portions and beers, lemonade and cocktails are also for sale. As the chef revealed in our interview (below), the autumn / winter season wll also see the addition of heart-warming soups and other dishes.

queen of herbal teas

PRODUCT REVIEW: ANASSA TEA

I’ve always been a major fan of fresh herbs – used to season foods, give salads the perfect flavour and steeped in hot water to make a heartwarming tea. Whenever I can, I pick my own, or just buy bunches at the local markets and traditional or bio Greek stores. The soothing quality of a cup of hot herbal tea in winter or iced tea in summer is delightful, and knowing that herbs have so many health benefits just adds to the pleasure.

 

Right now I’m crazy about ANASSA tea. To be honest it was their beautiful packaging that first drew me to their fragrant and tasteful blends. Starting with the outside, I liked see modern, sleek and minimal light grey metal boxes with illustrations of Gods; my favourite blend, Happiness, is represented by Pegasus, the divine winged horse, and contains a lovely and uplifting mix of savoury Mountain Tea (shown to have as many antioxidants as green tea), fine Mint, intense Sage and Lemon balm. Then upon opening the box, you’ll get an elevating whiff of aromatic herbs, and inside see something completely unique – a packet of biodegradable tea bags and a bunch of thin wooden sticks you can thread through them to rest on the top of your cup. And talking of cups they have even designed a glass mug with the word “δες” inside, meaning “see”, which reflects beautifully on the sides as you drink.

Anassa’s creators, Aphrodite Florou and Yanna Mattheou

Anassa (pronounced with an accent on the first ‘A’, and meaning queen in ancient Greek, but, cleverly, also meaning ‘breath’ when pronounced with the accent on the second ‘a’) was the brainchild of duo Aphrodite Florou and Yanna Mattheou, whose motto is: “Live Organic, Pick Greek, Enjoy thoroughly!”. Both with a solid background in managerial positions, they have successfully combined their love of nature, passion for medicinal and aromatic local herbs, and an inherent desire to work with 100% organic small producers around the country on fair trade terms with their marketing savvy and top of the range designers.

The herbs are handpicked and the clearing is done manually so as to preserve all valuable ingredients. They are then dehydrated in the most modern conditions in order to retain the aroma and vivid colours as well as precious essential oils. Apart from the multitude of information gathered about Greek herbs since ancient times in herbal bibles such as the Materia Medica, Mattheou  and Florou also worked closely with a scientific team in selecting the herbs they would be using and the blends they were creating. So here’s to a regular cup of their excellent tea!

DID YOU KNOW… Greece is endowed with 6,500 different species and subspecies of plants, 1,600 of them endemic, found now here else the world.

 

 

 


 

four seasons of fresh bio food

Souvlaki may still be one of Greece’s most popular and accessible (street) foods, yet for health-conscious foodies, Athens has become an increasingly easy and exciting place to live and shop in. Today, practically every neighbourhood in the city has at least one bio shop or food stores selling a decent choice of traditional, pure, healthy, ‘home made’ style foods. Then there are the weekly local laiki green grocer’s markets where if you do your research and talk to sellers, you can usually find ways to get the “good stuff” brought to you – fresh farm eggs, the best varieties of seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs, and more.

There are numerous by now for good quality and reliable organic produce in Athens, but one that has consistently remained popular throughout the years, and not by chance, is Tessereis Epoches (Four Seasons) on 30 Nikis St just round the corner from Syntagma Square. The substantial variety (over 3.500 products) of fresh, dried, frozen, canned and dry foods, as well as ecological household cleaning products and cosmetics, mainly from Greece but also from around the world, and the friendly, helpful and highly knowledgeable staff, serve to make it a highly desirable shopping destination.

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The bio store opened in 2004, when the bio food scene was still very quiet in Greece as demand was still very low – today, it’s always busy with people trying to tailor a better diet and healthier lifestyle for themselves and their family. The mini-market’s owner, Vassilis Souvatzoglou, who helps run the family business with his mother and brother George, says: “Our target goal was and still remains to rediscover lost essence of foods, and find out about new ones. We are a team of young people that are specialized in organic products and love what we do.”

At Four Seasons you’ll find fresh, seasonal produce by small producers from around the country, sometimes sold at delightfully affordable prices – locally-grown foods like rare mushrooms, avocados and kale in winter, huge bunches of asparagus in spring, strawberries, courgettes and more recently even Cretan papaya, mangoes and passion fruit in summer. Souvatzoglou says: “Daily we are offering small producers the opportunity to grow and provide their products to a larger group of buyers, while supplying our customers with some of the best that Greek nature has to offer.”

te3Souvatzoglou adds that he has witnessed a significant shift in how Greeks eat in the last decade: “Nowadays, people are searching for quality foods and are more cautious about what they eat. This outlook has led to the creation of a new scene in Greece.” Vassilis and his team make ongoing research into the food industry a priority, travelling far and wide to meet producers at the very places where they live and farm, seeking out quality produce. “We constantly travel around Greece and internationally to discover new ideas and healthy habits. Our main purpose is to promote healthy living and enjoy good food. That is why we always aim to be one step further and create our local food revolution.”