There is something about Greek food that I just cannot resist. Well, actually I digress, there is something about Feta Cheese that I cannot resist.
Originated in Greece, this salty briny, creamy white cheese crumbled into a big bowl full of crispy lettuce, crunchy cucumbers, green peppers and a handful of olives is my idea, a self-professed “sodium-enabler”, of paradise. Last night, I whipped up a variation on the ubiquitous salad by chopping up 3 cucumbers, tossing the cubes with a dressing made from red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil, and topped it off with large crumbles of feta cheese and a handful of chopped nuts. Salty, savory, crunchy and mouth-watering are just some of the experiences to describe this easy and delicious appetizer.
The Greeks are so protective over their beloved Feta that in 2002, the EU(European Union) designated it as a “protected designation of origin product”. According to EU legislation, only those cheese’s produced in the traditional way in areas of Greece (mainland and the island of Lesvos), are made from sheep’s milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat milk (not to exceed 30%) may bear the name of FETA. All else is to be called white cheese, queso blanco, or whatever else you want to call it as long as it is NOT Feta.
I have recently tried some variations on the original Feta and do not recommend them to my fellow Feta fans. My recent foray with a plastic tumbler of “herb infused Feta” tasted like feet, the “tomato and basil” version tasted sweet(?) and pasty and the Garlic feta tasted like well… too garlicky. I like my Feta plain and simple. Like former Jimmy Carter staff member, Bert Lance said so famously in 1977, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”
Food is important to most Greeks and it shows in the simple yet delicious food that is usually prepared in the spirit to serve large groups of friends and family (Has anyone seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding?). Tasty little mezes (small dishes), savory dips served with soft doughy pita bread, fresh grilled fish and seared octopus simply dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and a healthy squeeze of lemon and of course the ever popular Greek Salad are all perfect for the I LOVE FOOD DIET (just swap the pita for celery sticks, or cucumber slices).
Unfortunately my FAVORITE Greek Diner Socrates, closed 2.5 years ago. I have been on the hunt for a suitable replacement ever since. I am looking for “the old school” kind of diner, whereas you have the large comfortable booths upholstered in red or green vinyl, the menu that reads longer than most children’s books and the cashier, usually the daughter or the wife of the proprietor decked to the nine’s with towering big hair and big nails, (you can only trust family around the money!) managing the mostly cash transactions behind the counter. I miss the Boss yelling loudly in what I assume is Greek (it’s all Greek to me), to his kitchen staff and waiters.
If anyone can recommend a good “Old School” Greek diner preferably downtown, please let me know. Until, then I will continue to experiment at home with my Feta.
Chow for now!