This is the wall of a restaurant in Prague called V Zatisi. For some reason I was compelled to take a picture of all these wine glasses…probably because I love wine, and appreciated a place in Prague where wine was more celebrated than beer. 🙂
A lot of people ignore Greek wines but there are actually several award winning wineries here like Sigalas and Gerovassiliou.
Gourmet magazine included an article a couple months ago praising the wonderful Greek grape varieties of Malagousia and Assyrtiko.
This is an underground wine cellar in a picturesque side street of Athens.
Wine is one of my favorite ingredients to add dimension of flavor really easily. Any time I have a bottle of wine that’s been opened and a bit old, I save it to use in pasta sauces, stews, etc. I also find that drinking wine while I cook eases the stress of making everything perfect. 🙂
Cherries are in season now, so it’s a good time to share one of my simple recipes for them. I favor quicker recipes in the summertime since I want to be outside as much as possible!
Once they are in season it seems every house in Greece keeps big bowls of them fresh from Laiki, (the fruit and veggie market). Walking in the market in July, the bright aroma of cherries actually manages to stand out. The vendors let you taste a few to convince you of the great quality-the quality of which they take great pride, and rightly so.
Eating them plain and fresh at the beach is great. Our moms always shove food in our beach bags. They seem to be afraid we will starve for the 4 hours we spend there…none of us know why.
When I want to do something more indulgent with cherries, I go to this recipe: Pitted cherries stewed with a dessert wine and poured over mascarpone. The mascarpone tempers the richness of the cherries, and adds a smooth contrasting texture to the chopped fruit.
You can use whatever sweet wine you like, or even a liquor of your choice. But I have had really great results with Boutari’s Iouliatiko wine. It has a high alcohol content, moderately sweet, and bears aromas of dried fruits, nuts, cocoa, and coffee. (No they aren’t paying me to advertise. Maybe they should!)
It was recommended to me in a local bakery a year ago and I’ve been buying it ever since. It goes great with fruit and blue cheese platters, but my favorite way to use it is in the following recipe:
CHERRIES SIMMERED IN SWEET WINE OVER MASCARPONE
(6 dessert servings)
-3 1/2 cups sweet wine of your choice
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 pieces of star anise
-2 1/2 lbs sweet cherries, pitted and halved
-1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese (you can use cream cheese, but really its not the same. its worth it to get mascarpone).
-2 tbs honey
-1 tbs powdered sugar
In a saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, and star anise.
Simmer over moderately high heat.
Add the cherries and bring back to a simmer.
Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the cherries are just tender, around 6-7 minutes.
Make sure to transfer the cherries into a glass or stainless-steel bowl so the cherries don”t overcook.
In a bowl, smoothly mix the mascarpone with the powdered sugar and honey.
Remove the star anise from the cherries.
Place 1/4 of the marscapone in individual serving dishes and top with the cherries.
It is fast, impressive, and refined. It is a nice balance of sweetness due to the mascarpone. The juice from the cherry mix is syrupy and velvety.
This is my partner-in-wine friend Kelly and I enjoying our “wine trio” at P.F. Changs a year ago.
I will report on the famous Santorini wines when I return next week!