A Culinary Voyage Around the Greek Islands, by Theodore Kyriakou

21 August 2008 by
A Culinary Voyage Around the Greek Islands, by Theodore Kyriakou

A Culinary Voyage Around the Greek Islands
Theodore Kyriakou
ISBN 978-1-84400-604-5

Theodore Kyriakou is the Greek chef who lifted the food from his corner of the Mediterranean above the level of the local taverna in London. He has always been able to convey the tastes and spirit of his homeland on the plate and, a bonus, to write evocatively about them. He does so again in this new book, which takes as its culinary inspiration the food prepared and eaten in the Greek islands.

The book is structured around a voyage to the islands. It has fanciful chapter titling - "Perfidious Greek herbs", for instance - but get past this and you'll find the sections are refreshingly set out despite the fact that they deal with the culinary ingredients you expect in a book about Greek or Turkish cuisine.

There are chapters on breakfast, herbs, vegetables, crustaceans, slow-cooked meat and main dishes - dealing with familiar Med ingredients from yogurt, chickpeas, okra, tomato and aubergine to feta cheese, lamb, peaches, apricots, figs, pistachios, olives, squid and lamb. And spices like cinnamon.

On virtually every page, there are dishes that would sit well on any Med-inspired bistro or brasserie menu, with flavour matches that could easily be translated into more refined fare. Oven-roasted beetroot with a manouri cheese and yogurt dressing and fried whitebait is just one of many that draw the attention.

Where the book really scores and surprises, though, is with some less expected flavour matches and techniques. Check out green tomato ice-cream and intriguing recipes using pressed cockerel, veal cheeks, tender young goat kid and pot-roasted eel.

Don't gloss over the breakfast chapter - right from the first page there are intriguing flavour profiles on offer in things as normal as preserves, such as a peach-and-watermelon jam pepped up with a kick of chilli and given further texture with almonds.

Photography is colourful and underlines the recipes, successfully conveying the aromas and ingredients so that they waft out of the book at you.

This is a book which doesn't aim to be anything but rustic in its food, but which also contains plenty of inspiration for adventurous chefs wanting to experiment.

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