What to bring back from Greece?
A friend of mine will be traveling to Greece in a few months & has offered to bring me back something!! I'm not very familiar with the country - the only thing I can think of is olive oil (but I can get really good stuff here too).
I'm drawing a blank. Any suggestions for a spice and/or small cooking accoutrement that is typical of that country? Thanks!
Thyme honey, capers, good oregano, an assortment of olives (from the market - not from a souvenir store), pistachios (although), soap (they make some lovely herbed olive oil soaps), ouzo. Depending on which island she visits - if any - some of them are known for their ceramics. I was in Greece last year and almost my entire suitcase was full of food-related items when I came home. Oh and I had a gigantic ceramic casserole as a carry-on.
I am almost out of capers. I must go back.
Honey of all sorts, dried oregano, dried spearmint. There is a store devoted to honey in the kolonaki section of Athens. A very well aged bottle of Metaxa (Brandy) We had one in a very fancy bottle that was expensive but oh so delicious.. Depending on where you live, lots of brands of ouzo are now available in US. Halvas- anothere yummy candy i think made with sesame, At least in Boston area, there is alot of good greek olive oil around.I had a really nice mortar and pestle made from marble that I used for years until it broke.
If you can find a store that makes fresh loukoumia (a kind of fruity pasty candy often with pistachio nuts or almonds) bring some home.
I second honey, cause it always has a local character. Pistachios from the islands are popular too. Ouzo, if you like it. Olive oil, but only if they knew it was something really special. Grape leaves, cause then you could make some dolmas. You can find them around here though.
I like packaged/canned foods. They're not the epitome of quality, but it's something that you absolutely can't get here, whatever it is. That may just be me though.
I always buy oregano and cumin there, Ilios brand. People always ask me to bring back the Greek red wine vinegar which for me is the most important thing to bring back. I use" Top" brand. I bring back Turkish delight (Loukoumi) for kids that like the Narnia books to sample. They have honey made from bees pollinating the thyme that grows wild there. You could get some pistachios grown in Aigina. There are at least 3 kinds of Halvas there. The Macedonian Halvas that you can buy packaged in the supermarket with either chocolate or almonds. This is a lenten sweet popular during the Orthodox fast but available all year. There is also the Halvas Farsalon, and you can buy semolina (simigdali) for making homemade halvas Asia Minor style, fantastic! They have honey sesame sweets called pasteli. You can buy Giocondas, chocolates with hazelnut and pralines, that are wrapped in a little Mona Lisa wrapper, or ION brand Noisettes. In some of the islands they make cookies form almond flour (amygdalota). Dolmades that are homemade are great but Zenith brand canned stuffed grape leaves are okay. Make homemade with an arborio rice. If you like espresso and would like to experiment with Greek ( Turkish) coffee get a packet of greek coffee perhaps Loumidis or Bravo and a small inexpensive Briki from a supermarket to make it in. Put the water and coffee and sugar to taste, in the briki, put it on the burner and as the mixture rises up take it off the burner and pour it in the cup to get the bubbles or foam that the Greeks want in their coffee. I can't stand it but I do not like espresso either. Another thing that Greeks love and serve to guests in small amounts are syruppy sweets made of such things as cherries or quince or even eggplant! that are bought in the supermarkets in glass jars. I used to keep them on hand precisely because I hated them and the Greeks loved them and I would never run out like I would of something like Baklavas or Ketaifi. This would be good to sample from there too but you would probably only want to get packaged in a box because the syrup can run out and be messy. Kali Orexi!