The best Greek food I’ve ever eaten was in Germany. Go figure. But of course, that’s probably because I haven’t been to Greece…YET. (Visiting there is first on my to-do list.)
There was a little restaurant called the Poseidon, full of every Greek kitsch you can imagine – statues of Greek gods, faux-crumbling columns, brightly colored frescoes of sea sides, whitewashed houses and blue skies, a model of the Parthenon…you get the picture.
But the food was amazing. Every Friday night, for the better part of two years, my partner in crime, Susan, and I walked from our apartment building, on the grounds of a German military artillery school, to the Poseidon and sat outside on the patio every time weather permitted (which in Germany, doesn’t happen often).
Each meal there started off with an ice-cold shot of ouzo, a Greek liquor with a licorice flavor. They said it opened your digestive tract. Then we’d usually get a slab of goat cheese, milky-white, salty, and dressed with extra virgin olive oil and some capers. I almost always ordered the dolmadakia – as an appetizer they were served cold, or they came baked in a rich tomato sauce as a main course. Dolmadakia are grape leaves stuffed with a combination of meat, often lamb, and rice. We’d sip on a kristallweizen (a light, crisp, German wheat beer) during the meal, and, at the conclusion of the feast, the waiter would bring a snifter of metaxa, another Greek liquor, on fire. You blew out the colored flame and sipped it, closing your digestive tract.
Recreating the ‘dolma’ at home is a little time-consuming, but once you master the art of wrapping the grape leaves, it’s a great date-night, dine in meal.
2/3 cup raw rice
1 (1 lb) jar grape leaves
6 small onions, finely chopped
3/4 lb ground lamb or ground beef, uncooked
1 tsp crushed dried mint
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Chicken broth or water
2 egg yolks
Do not cook the rice, but soak it in boiling water 5 minutes and drain in a sieve. Unfold the grape leaves and rinse under cold running water.
In a bowl, combine the rice, onions, meat, mint, parsley, seasonings and oil; mix together with clean hands.
Form 1 tablespoon of the mixture into an oval shape, place on a grape leaf and roll up, turning the ends in to seal; repeat until all the stuffing is used. Arrange stuffed leaves closely packed in layers in a small flame-proof baking dish.
Pour in the broth or water to cover; sprinkle with the juice of 1 lemon. Place a heat-proof plate on top of the grape leaves to weigh them down. Cover with foil, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour over very low heat. Let the leaves cool slightly in the broth and remove from broth, reserving the broth.
Beat the egg yolks. Add the juice of the other lemon to the yolks. Heat the yolk mixture, slowly adding some of hot broth from the dolmadakia while heating. Remove from heat, stir into rest of broth and let stand 5 minutes to thicken.
Serve immediately while sauce is warm.
Nutritional Information:Calories Per Serving: 286, Calories from Fat: 141, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 78 mg, Sugars: 2 g, Sodium: 1941 mg, Carbohydrate: 28 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 12 g