This last month has whizzed by and from what I can remember, not much of it was spent in my kitchen. Except, early in the month kitchen prep was dominated by traditional foods for Easter. Being a movable feast, it only happens occasionally – like this year – that both Western and Orthodox Easter are on the same day. Naturally, we dyed eggs the typical crimson (representing the blood of Christ) on the Thursday before. The weather was lovely and the chicken basket with its eggs looked more at home roosting out of doors.
Friday was the day for Hot Cross Buns – remembering our Anglo-Saxon heritage.
But, the night was out of doors again for the Orthodox tradition of the candle-lit epitaphio at our nearby monastery. We’re waiting for the procession of the icon to begin.
Saturday was prep work for the Sunday feast. Kalitsounia (Cretan Easter cheese pies) were made this year using a softer dough than I made before. Much better, I thought.
By the time of the Easter feast we moved out of the kitchen again. Goat chops were barbecued outdoors on the grill.
The buffet table groaned with communal offerings, as seen after the hungry hoards made their first foray. Mine was the gigantes – giant baked beans – and the platter of cooked chicory (harvested from our garden) served with lemon wedges.
Then, almost immediately, we were off to the island of Chios for a short break. The kitchen in our little holiday flat – newly done inside a medieval building – sported these very popular handmade tiles I’ve seen in other places. I think they are manufactured in Rethymno, Crete. They seem to be a modern mix of older styles, mismatched – almost like patchwork – in an interesting way.
The only thing created in this kitchen was morning coffee. We were off exploring and sampling local cuisine – much of it flavoured with mastic, a hardened resin from the evergreen Pistacia lentiscus tree. These mastic trees only grow in the southwestern area of this island – and its resin is only harvested in this small corner of the world.
So, a lot of food flavoured with mastic was consumed – like the chicken pieces rolled in ham and cooked in a mastic cream photograped below. I’m experimenting with sauces at the moment based on our experiences, so perhaps there will be a post or two coming up.
Meanwhile, I’ve collected many photos of doors from the interesting mastic villages (known collectively as the Mastichochoria) where the ‘tears’ of hardened sap are harvested. My Doors of the Mastichochoria series is designed to give a little insight into the mastic growing area of Chios. (Plus, they serve as an outlet for a new hobby – door spotting). The village of Mesta has been posted, but others from Pyrgi, Olympoi and Vessa are in the works.
Just back from that wonderful break and adjusting to cooking in my kitchen again: supply of mastic included.