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Top Five Dishes to Try in Greece… or Hamden
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, your palate is in for a real treat. Super fresh produce – oranges, tomatoes, and beans with rich cheeses like Feta and right-from-the-oven pita and flatbreads. Just plucked -from-the-Mediterranean seafood. Olive oil that was picked, pressed and bottled locally. No matter where you are in Greece – the capitol city of Athens, the Peloponnese, Macedonia or any of the islands – there are some traditional staples that you simply must try in order to fully embrace the culinary beauty of this diverse country. Best of all, they’re all available right in your own backyard – at Freskos in Hamden.
Here are the top five Greek dishes you should try:
Greek Salad – It’s always a safe bet to start your meal with a Greek Salad. Fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes, crisp, green cucumbers and crunchy green peppers. A judicious number of red onions, and a healthy amount of Feta. Kalamata olives lend salt, and some restaurants also garnish with capers. Rice-stuffed grape leaves is not uncommon – adding additional heartiness. The dressing is as simple as olive oil and vinegar, with a sprinkling of oregano. You’ll see Greek salad served over mixed greens in some locations, or the “village” version, served without the greens. No matter which you choose, be sure to have extra pita on hand to scoop up the last bits of cheese and dressing.
Gyro (pronounced “yee-ro”) – A gyro is a Greek classic. A warm sandwich of beef and lamb served on pita with red onion, tomato, tzatziki and fresh dill. Rolled up in a wrapper, a gyro is meant to be picked up and eaten. Be sure to have extra tzatziki for dipping – tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, and garlic and is the ideal condiment for gyros and a side of fries.
Souvlaki – Souvlaki is a style of meat marinated in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. The marinade is what makes souvlaki so special – locking in flavor and juices and making the meat fork tender. Choose your favorite: juicy chicken, pork loin, organic tofu or fresh, jumbo shrimp. Pro tip: If you can’t decide which souvlaki to order – order a few and share!
Taramosalata – This “Greek caviar” is a traditional dip, made from fish roe, olive oil, lemon juice and a starch for thickening – usually bread crumbs or potatoes. Some restaurants might include garlic, onions, peppers or vinegar in their taramosalata recipe. This mezze – appetizer or small dish – is served as a spread alongside some fresh pita.
Baklava – If you have room after a traditional Greek meal, enjoy some baklava for dessert. Baklava is a multi-layered pastry, where layers of crisp, flaky phyllo dough are filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with a sugary syrup or honey. Throughout Europe and the Middle East, you’ll find many variations – walnuts, pistachios, cinnamon and even a pinch of clove. At Freskos, we even go one step further with our baklava cheesecake – thick, creamy cheesecake filling layered atop crispy, traditional baklava. You have to try it to believe it!
Remember, you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to experience these authentic Greek treasures. You can find them right here in Hamden, at Freskos. We import our yogurt, olives, oil and our feta – and we source our produce locally, whenever possible. Authentic family recipes are used for our house-made dips and desserts, and our salads, pizzas, burgers and pita sandwiches are all made to order. Come in to Freskos for a true taste of Greek goodness. In Greek “freskos” means fresh!