The Aegean Islands are a group of islands in the Aegean Sea near the mainland of Greece. I had the pleasure of tasting some of the cuisines that have been passed down for generations, with secret recipes exchanged from mother to daughter since the Neolithic era! Chef Argiro Barbarigou welcomed us to the James Beard House where she and many other fantastic chefs created a wonderful lunch showcasing these timeless recipes.
It’s always a pleasure to be invited to the James Beard House because when you’re there you know that famous, well known, hard-working chefs that love what they do and are some of the best at their craft are cooking for you. It’s an intimate setting that has an unmistakable energy and anytime you are there it is bound to be a fabulous food and wine experience. This one absolutely was a wonderful lunch where we enjoyed welcome bites of Fish Salad with Lemon and Herb Sauce, Fava Bean Puree with Caramelized Onions, and Htypiti, which is a spicy feta cheese spread with sun-dried peppers served on pita bread with olive oil.
After some passed appetizers, it was time to head up to the main event with much more food and wine pairings! We started off with the Ntomatosalata & Fouskoti, which is a tomato salad with black-eyed beans, caper leaves, fresh cheese, olive oil, and oregano. This dish is absolutely delicious and very simple; perfectly paired with the 2016 Santo Assyrtiko. Alongside the tomato salad was also Kakavia, a fisherman’s soup that is the most ancient soup, prepared with all chefs secrets.
Up after was one of my favorite dishes of the entire lunch, the Cycladic Revythada, which even though I am not… is also vegan and gluten-free. I was so surprised how much I enjoyed and devoured this dish because it’s made with Chickpeas (I’m not the biggest chickpea person, but I do eat them) mellowed to perfection by Chef Argiro’s secret cooking method served with a side of fish roe and spicy saffron shrimp. After this dish, however, Chef has turned me into a chickpea lover!! Alongside this dish was also a Lamb Fricassee, which is a staple in island cuisine, and also a traditional Easter meal. Both dishes were paired with another beautiful wine which was the 2014 Sigalas M/M “Mavrotragano-Mandilaria”.
To end the lovely meal on a sweeter note, 2011 Vin Santo was served and paired with Baklava Millefeuille, which is another secret recipe of chef’s and contains caramelized fyllo, a cream made from thyme and scented honey, mastic, walnuts, and Greek yogurt. This gastronomic region is interesting and unique and Chef Argiro really brings all her best recipes and makes them shine. I felt like I was in the Aegean Islands while dining at the James Beard House! Now, just to actually travel there to taste the cuisine and wines in the actual islands would be the icing on the cake!
If you’re seeking incredible views, gastronomic travel, and adventure, visit the Aegean Islands. This is a culinary destination not to miss where you can immerse yourself in the culture, meet the people, and have an amazing experience.