We’re big fans of Christine Cushing’s line of tomato sauces, roasted peppers and bold Greek olive oils. She’s doing a tasting of her products tonight at the Drake Hotel. She’ll be serving up juicy Greek meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, eggplant stuffed with manouri cheese and she’ll be also be offering a tasting of those delicious olive oils. It’s all free and it starts at 8pm.
We caught up with Christine for a quick interview about Greek cuisine…
We’ve seen a big trend in Middle Eastern food in Toronto restaurants recently, do you think we’ll see the same with Greek cuisine soon?
I have been predicting a Greek cuisine revival for a little while now and I think it’s time. There are several more funky, Greek restaurants popping up in our city but in many other parts of the world like Australia, they have been a leading trend for years. These are lively, modern eateries serving delicious, simple food that’s perfect for sharing and celebrating, which is what Greek food is all about.
What is it about Greek olive oil that makes it different from Italian?
Greek olive oil starts with completely different olive varieties than Italy so right away you get a completely different flavor profile. There are many olive varieties in Greece but the most common is called Koroneiki and in the Peloponnese, where my oil comes from, this olive flourishes in the rugged mountains. The tasting notes are very fruity, grassy, green banana and green apple with a beautiful peppery finish. The koroneiki olive is more balanced with very few bitter notes at the end. As a result it’s a more versatile oil than some of Italy’s more intense and very robust oils. This oil is ideal for baking with chocolate and citrus fruit but can also stand up to an anchovy and Dijon mustard in a Caesar salad. It also features one of the highest levels of polyphenols among all the olive varieties in the world.
You have a line of oils, roasted peppers and tomato sauces, do you plan to add more items to your list?
Yes, I am always on the search to expand my artisan product line but only with products that are made with the best ingredients, by hand and are an exceptional experience to enjoy.
What are some dishes that you consider absolutely essential to the perfect Greek feast?
We have a saying in Greek that you can never have too much food and my family takes that seriously. Here are my must haves at a Greek feast :
Tzatziki made with real strained yogourt and more garlic than you can imagine
Pastitsio – is a Greeks style lasagna with a creamy béchamel topping. You cannot eat just a single piece
Some kind of boiled green, like endive or dandelion with lemon and olive oil
Roasted Greek lemon potatoes , with little crispy edges but tender and lemony inside.
Some people insist on lamb chops on the grill but it could also be a perfectly grilled fish or calamari
Some kind of pita or savory pie- spanakopita or tiro pita.
A Village Greek Salad, if and only if it’s summer otherwise just romaine with fresh dill and olive oil
That sounds delicious and totally puts us all in the mood for the Greek tasting tonight. See you at the Drake Hotel! Here is Christine’s recipe for Greek Spiced Meatballs,