I am spoiled. Although I am a native New Yorker, I’ve been living in Greece for more than two decades. That means that I am lucky enough to enjoy amazingly fresh, seasonal ingredients and the best olive oil in the world. When I travel to the US, about once a month these last few years, I am confronted with the vast difference in quality of so much American produce but more than anything else I yearn for the authentic, fruity, delicious flavor of really great Greek olive oil.
Now, I am happy to say, I’ve found it! It’s called Vrisi 36, a young company founded by Lou Moshakos, native of Sparta, land of the most astoundingly delicious, pungent, fruity olive oil in Greece. Lou was doing what so many Greek immigrants to the US do each time they visit their native land: He was bringing back a suitcase full of edible goodness: olive oils, local wines, great vinegars, and more. (I carry figs, cheese, herbs and honey in my suitcase, for example!).
Lou, an enterprising Greek success story who built a restaurant empire in the American South, put his business acumen to work on the goods in those proverbial suitcases! He parlayed his love of great regional Greek food products into a vibrant importing company and now brings a range of amazing olive oils, from the early-harvest, robust oils of Laconia to the fruity, herbal olive oils of Messinia in the Peloponnese (not far from his native Sparta), to sun-dried grape vinegars with no added sweeteners or coloring and innovative products like local mustards to the U.S. Flying Olive Farms, his import label, also brings in wines made with the historic, ancient Malagouzia (Malvazy) grape, native to Monemvassia, one of the most picturesque towns in the region.
Finally, if it’s something lighter than wine that quenches your thirst, Flying Olive Farms also imports and distributes one of the most beguiling Greek beverages: Mastiqua, a delicious bottled water flavored with Mastiha, the world’s most seductive spice, exclusively produced on the island of Chios.
As a chef, I am thrilled to be working with Flying Olive Farms and Vrisi 36 in the U.S. The company represents the absolute best of Greece: a farm-to-bottle concept built on the foundation of honest, robust Greek ingredients. For me, as both a chef and home cook who wants to feed her family pure, unprocessed, real food, Vrisi 36 has given me the opportunity to work with the very best Greek products.
As for the wines…it’s a Greek, indeed a Mediterranean tradition, and one of the secrets to my own Ikarian islanders’ legendary longevity, to enjoy great food with great wine, in moderation of course. That I can do this with wines of such historic proportions, produced with the renowned Malvazy grape, gives me all the more inspiration to create dishes that pair perfectly to these wonderful vintages.
Enjoy my new collaboration with Vrisi 36 and Flying Olive Farms’ wines and take a look at the products, outlined below.
Every week, I’ll be creating a delicious, easy, healthy recipe using one of the Vrisi 36 olive oils, vinegars and mustards, and will be pairing these with those ancient, crisp Malvazy wines from Monemvassia.