Thursday, May 18, 2017

INTERNATIONAL GREECE: Part 8 - The Dodecanese

The Dodecanese

The Dodecanese, meaning "12 islands," lie in the southeastern Aegean, along the southern coast of Asia Minor (Turkey). They include popular tourist destinations like Rhodes and Kos, as well as smaller, less-frequented islands, such as Karpathos, whose villages are almost untouched by modern civilization. 


The foods of the Dodecanese are more elaborate than those of the Cyclades. Rice and homemade pastas play an important role in the cuisine, as do tomatoes, which are used in all sorts of dishes, including stews and (along with ground meat) in traditional keftedes, the fried meatballs of Rhodes.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the Dodecanesian cuisine is the use of a wide variety of spices. For example, in the remote village of Olympos on Karpathos, breads and sweet Easter cheese tarts are flavored with an aromatic blend of coarsely crushed coriander seeds (grown and dried in the village), ground allspice berries, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and mastic or aniseeds.


Karpathos charms with its beautiful beaches and flavorful cuisine that features dishes like byzanti—lamb or goat filled with rice, entrails, raisins, pine nuts, aromatic herbs and spices which is then cooked in a wood-burning oven.
The dish traditionally served at weddings is hondros, or coarse wheat with meat. Hondros can be boiled in milk, for a creamy texture, or in water and then covered with browned onion and cheese just before serving.
The oddly-shaped hand-rolled pasta known as makarounes is particularly taste. They’re made from a long piece of dough cut into three-centimeter pieces which are pressed firmly with the fingers to form a recess in the center, then left to dry. The makarounes are then boiled and covered with browned onions and sprinkled with cheese. Psomomakarona, bite-sized pieces of stale bread that are boiled in salted water for a couple of minutes, are also served this way.
For a sweet tooth, try sousamomelo (sesame-honey) the traditional wedding treat. The fine local honey is also drizzled on kserotigana (fried dough strips), loukoumades (fried dough puffs), and tiganites (pancakes made with a dough-like batter) as well as baklava and alevria (dough rings with honey and butter).
Psilokoulouro, a type of bread ring, is more of a work of art than food. It is a large, round ring of bread in whose center twelve strips of dough are placed in a thatched design and the whole thing is dusted with sugared sesame seeds before baking. The famed Karpathos cakes are triangular pies with a filling of mizithra cheese, sugar, and nutmeg. Another sweet is zebilia, small crescent-shaped pies with a raisin and nutmeg filling that are dusted with white and black sesame seeds before baking. 
In Astypalaia, another small island of the Dodecanese, saffron threads gathered from the hills in late fall give color and aroma to the traditional Easter cookies and tarts, which are made with chlori, a wonderful local goat's-milk ricotta cheese.

The largest island is Rhodes. 

A popular appetizer drink is ouzo. (Also, throughout Greece)  It has a licorice taste.  Comes clear in a bottle but the usual way to serve is to add water to it which makes it turn cloudy and is served with MEZE or appetizer plate.

Main Dishes 



Wines/grapes native to this region: Muscat (from Alexandrian Muscat grapes), Samos sweet and Muscat wines, dry white and sparkling wines (mainly from Athiri grapes), dry red wines (from Mandhilaria grapes), crisp white wine (from Asyrtiko grapes), Visanto sweet wine (from partly sun-dried grapes), sweet wines called Liasto, and reds with dark color (from Mandhilaria and Monemvasia grapes)

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