These words were uttered as we looked on in dismay (ok, and in my case, not a small amount of excitement) at the feast already laid out in front of us: hot, freshly fried tomato fritters, bowls heaped with classic Greek salad, a fava dip accompanied by thick slices of fresh bread, and chilled white wine to wash it all down. That hunger would be conquered tonight was not a question on anyone’s mind. After we had sufficiently gorged ourselves on the “appetizers,” we returned to cook our entrées for the evening. That’s right…cook. Because today, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a Greek cooking class!
After turning up empty-handed in my search for a Greek pastry class (with visions of dancing baklava and kataifi running away from me), I decided to explore the root of my love for pastry: my love for cooking. Though I’ve focused my attention on pastry in recent years, I’ve enjoyed cooking and “creating things” since a young age. Today was a perfect way to revisit that passion. I took this class, offered by Santorini Wine Tours, with two lovely young couples.
We first worked on creating the initial round of appetizers. First up, the fava dip. The word “fava” here is actually a bit deceptive, as, apparently (thank you Wikipedia), the Greek fava refers to the yellow split pea. We placed the peas, along with olive oil, onions, carrots, and seasoning into the large pot, where it cooked for over an hour, and was then puréed.
One of the sauces on top of the fava – onions caramelized using turbinado sugar and grenadine:
Secondly, we assembled our lovely Greek salads! This was a pretty simple process mostly involving chopping. I did, unfortunately, find out that my cucumber peeling skills are not quite up to par. However, I was able to remedy this by hiding most of the cucumbers under large chunks of feta cheese:
(Note the very nice cubes of cheese on my neighbors’ plates, and then my monstrous hunks of feta. Very me.)
Lastly, we worked on mixing the ingredients for tomato balls (tomatokeftedes). These fried bits of heaven – my favorite dish of the day – are comprised of tomatoes, onions, basic seasonings, and flour.
They’re dropped in olive oil to fry and…BAM! Emeril, anyone?
Perfectly fried, so hot they’d burn your mouth (though you wouldn’t care), and delicious to boot.
After working on these dishes – both creating and eating them – it was back to the kitchen for the entrée. This round, though, we mostly admired, wafted the smells, and took pictures as our lovely instructor, Dmitrious, demonstrated the preparation of the main courses.
Pork with Vinsanto (a dessert wine) sauce
Fish with white wine, lemon, and tons of fresh spinach on top to seal in the moisture
And…well, I think the pictures can speak for themselves.