This dinner marked a special event. It was a celebration of the people who have impacted my life over the last two years while I have been in Portland. My two bosses who I am a graduate assistant for, good friends, and my beloved fiancé, Justin were all in attendance. There was a total of 18 people!
This event called for something extra special, so I planned a Greek inspired menu, to represent my heritage, but also incorporate our wonderful community's bounty. Thus, the dinner became a Greek Spring Dinner with mostly non-Greek ingredients, because the Pacific Northwest is NOT the Mediterranean. For this dinner, my wonderful roommates and future husband assisted me in preparing, cooking and cleaning.
Mezedes are always served at the start to a Greek dinner. I wanted to do something fun and turned the mezedes into savory doughnuts. Feta, fresh herbs and kalamata olive spiked dough was deep fried in extra virgin olive oil then topped with crumbled feta and fresh herbs.
Ouzo was poured into miniature ice glasses to have with the doughnuts. This opened up as a whimsical "ice breaker."
To even out the doughnuts, the next dish screamed salad all the way. Since a Greek village salad requires loads of fresh tomatoes and other summer vegetables that simply do not exisit until late summer in the Pacific Northwest, I went for a Spring Panzanella salad that celebrates the farmers markets hottest items at the moment: fiddleheads (yes, I fought off a few hipsters with a large Douglas Fir branch for these, but it was so worth it), baby asparagus, radishes, and duck and goose eggs. I added a Greek touch by shaving on kefalotyri - a sharp, nutty cheese.
This salad paired well with my lavender honey pale ale because it is also reminiscent of something fresh and clean.
Pastitsio, a classic Greek dish, got remixed with buffalo meat braised in chocolate stout. Oregon black truffles are back in full bloom so I shaved some right on top of the hot casseroles. Justin made his own version with extra spices to show some of his flava flav.
This dish was paired with a wine I have been saving for a special occasion: a 2004 Biblia Chora 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot blend from Kavala, Greece. The tight tannins of this medium body wine played well with the richness of the patstitsio.
Greek desserts are always crazy sweet and delicious. My favorite is galaktoboureko - thick custard wrapped in phyllo ready to shatter, but strong enough to withstand a syrup flood. Rhubarb is basically the only fruit out right now, and it is beautiful. I simmered it down and blended the deep pink fruit in with some custard. Tree blossoms are currently at the pinnacle of explosion so it was only right that I incorporated a blossom flavor into the mix. The rhubarb added a pleasant tartness to the dish while the orange blossom left a little refreshment.
Getting ready for pastitsio throw down action!
I would like to thank Foodbuzz for sponsoring this meal.