Telluride Wine Fest: Sunday night Greek dinner at Bluepoint

Telluride Wine Fest: Sunday night Greek dinner at Bluepoint

by Dr. Susanna Hoffman

Sunday evening at 7:30 pm, Bluepoint Restaurant: Greece meets Telluride Farmers

Konstantine Jake and Me 028 Some three decades ago as an anthropology doctoral candidate, I decided that the sort of very abstract study that had only been done among remote tribal people could also prove true  among a  people with a long literate tradition. That gave a choice of only China, India, or Europe to conduct my research and, as a woman alone in those days, I chose Europe. That settled, I determined to go to what is considered the font of European civilization, Greece. As for where in Greece, after much reading, I fixed on a site I thought boasted a very long history, clear from Minoan times the island of Santorini. There were supposedly three thousand churches on the 16-mile island. Ah, what depth, what symbolism, I thought. Clearly this was the place for me. 

The study worked out, though as in the case of most such studies, not quite as I had envisioned, not so abstract but rather corporeally, but that is not the point here. The point is I fell in love. I became a “step-Greek.” I often claim that the villagers surreptitiously gave me a transfusion of olive oil, but in reality it was just the land and the people.

Though not at all like Colorado’s, the light is equally lucent. The earth wafts aroma to the point of rapture. Indeed, “aroma” is a Greek word which originally meant “the scent of newly turned earth.” And the Greek people are a wonderment. Greeks emote, they exude warmth and kindness, they wave their arms, they thoroughly embrace you. To this day, when I return they don’t hale me with a “hello.” They say, “why weren’t you here for lunch?” as if I’d left yesterday and forgot an invite. Immediately eschewing me, they want to know why I didn’t bring my children and the rest of my entourage. And Greeks they talk. In fact, they talk and talk. One of the reasons I love them is that Greeks truly understand the point of a conversation. It isn’t the topic being weighed. It is simply that you are having a conversation.

I joined in their lives so completely that when I was behaving well (that is, hanging out with the women), they called me “our” Susanna and when I was behaving badly (that is, hanging out with the men at the tavern), I was “our” foreigner.” Bad or good, it seemed, I was theirs. I learned everything about them in the age old anthropology technique, doing what they did, and that meant three things. Like most people in the world, Greek villagers spend their days on life’s key trio: gathering food, preparing food, and eating food. So do we, only we’ve abstracted it to money, objects, and connections.  I learned how to save precious water in my cistern while gathering capers, about dowries while cooking yellow lentils, and how to negotiate the price of tomatoes over dinners featuring at least six different dishes. On top of that, I learned how to judge the quality of a new wine while stamping grapes with my bare feet.

In Telluride, I’ve continued to live as Greeks live as much as I can. On my property I gather foods, not just buy them: dandelion leaves, mushrooms, wild strawberries, rose hips.   I cook foods with the sort of ingredients that are the heart of the Mediterranean diet from the diet’s progenitor, much as they taught me. My cooking is perhaps a little more refined. I use more of the wine, dry and sweet, Greeks have been pressing for 6,000 years.  I combine the components in more innovative fusions then they might. In fact I so admire their style and love their tastes (they have an incredible life span, practically no heart disease or cancer) at a certain point, I decided the best way to tell the story of Greece, its history, its people, its joy, was to wrap the stories around the food.

So I wrote a book–a big, fat Greek cookbook–telling about the cuisine and culture. It is called "The Olive and The Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking."                     

I wanted to show to my Telluride friends the incomparable foods of Greece and lead them to sample the truly marvelous wines. Many of their grapes are indigenous since their vineyards never suffered from phylloxera. Greek dishes can be made from Colorado’s own fantastic food. With this in mind I have joined with two good friends, Jake Linzinmeyer of the Bluepoint, Excelsior, and X-Café restaurants and Konstantine Drougos, importer of the incredible Greek wines that are being featured at the Telluride Wine Festival to present a dinner of Greek Meets Colorado food and wine Sunday night after the wine festival. The dinner is a combination of Blue Point’s regular farmer market dinner and recipes from my book, and almost all the foods will be what is growing locally right now, as Greeks cook. The lamb (of course: it’s Greek) entree is to be done kapama style with tomatoes, onions, cognac, wine, coffee, honey, and an array of typically used Greek spices.  There’s a filo pie filled with wild Greens and feta cheese, Greek spreads on pita, a giant bean salad with fried xaloumi cheese chips, and to end, a sesame cake, one of the products of Santorini, with olive oil ice cream and cherry spoon sweet. The produce is from Abundant Life farms, Kinikin Heights, Buckhorn Gardens, and Zephyros (which is apt!).  I will be there to sign books and wave my hands, along with Konstantine Drougos to tell people about the wine, and Chef Steve Kosanovick who will be cooking. The price is $45 with one glass of wine, and five more Greek wines for a supplement of $20. The time is 7:30. Hope to see you there, and to cook the simmering kapama at home, the recipe is below. It is perhaps my most made recipe. Seeking good lamb? Try Foxfire Farm at the Friday Farmers’ Market.

Kapama of Beef, Lamb, or Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil
31/2 pounds good beef (preferably cut from the eye of the chuck) or lamb (preferably cut from the leg) stew meat or 1 large 4 to 5 pound chicken, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into pieces
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1  tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons Greek Metaxa or other brandy
1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
3 tablespoons honey
1 piece (2 inches) cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
_ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1  cups tender parsley or watercress sprigs as garnish (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large non-reactive pot over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add as many pieces of met or chicken as will fit in one uncrowded layer and saute until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and repeat with another batch until all the meat is browned.

2. Add the onion to the pot and stir over medium-high heat until well coasted, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and wine and bring to a boil. Add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley, along with the meat and any collected juices meat juices, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low het until the meat is almost tender and the liquid is reduced, but not thick, about 1  hour.

3. Remove the cover and continue simmering until the meat is very tender and the liquid is thick and glossy, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaves and let the stew rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garish with the parley or watercress, if using, and serve.

Note:  For a sweet change I sometimes replace all or part of the honey with apricot preserves.

Wine pairings

The complimentary wine as people enter is a Savatiano Megapanos, 2008 (Savatiano is the grape, Megapanos the producer)

The flight of wines to follow consists of:

1. Aspoudi Assyrtiko Lakonikos (Asproudi Assyrtiko is the grape , Lakonikos (Sparta) is the region) Vatistas (the producer, 2007

2. Kiidonitsa, Vatistas 2007 (kidonitsa is the grape, Vatistas  the producer 2007

3. Aghiorgitiko Nemea, Haggipavlu 2006 (Aghiorgitiko (the grape) Nemea (the region), Haggipavlu the producer)

4. Xinomavro/Syrah, Kappa 2006 from Makedonia ( Xinomavro/Syrah (the grapes, a blend), Makedonia (the region) Kappa (the producer)

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