Our “Local Restaurant World Tour” returns with a look at Greek and Greek-American food. It’s cuisine that shapes Washington’s culture in obvious and subtle ways. From moussaka to spanakorizo, we trace the cultural and culinary traditions of our region’s Greek community, and learn about the local history of Greek food festivals.

Guests

  • Michael Psilakis Executive Chef, Gus and Gabriel (New York City), Kefi (New York City) and Eos (Miami); Author, "How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking" (Little Brown)
  • Aristotelis Chronis Co-founder, DCGreeks.com
  • Jimmy Charles Organizer, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church's Annual Greek Festival (May 14-16)


View Local Restaurant Worldtour in a larger map

Recommended Restaurants/Festivals:

Saint George’s Spring Festival (April 30- May 2)
7701 Bradley Blvd Bethesda, MD 20817
Bethesda, MD 20817

Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church’s Annual Greek Festival (May 14-16)
3601 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
202 333-4730

Plaka Grill
110 Lawyers Rd
Vienna, VA 22180
703 319 3131

Kellari Taverna
1700 K St NW
Washington, DC 20006
202 535-5274

Cava Restaurant
Traville Gateway Drive,
Rockville, MD 20850

Cava Restaurant
527 8th St. SE,
Washington, DC 2003
202 543-9090

Metro 29 Diner
4711 Lee Hwy,
Arlington VA 22207
703 528 2464

Taverna Cretekou
818 King St,
Alexandria, VA 22314
703 548 8688

Mourayo
1732 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20009
202 667 2100

Komi
1509 17th St, NW
Washington, DC 20036
202 332-9200

Zaytinya
1509 17th St, NW
Washington, DC 20001
202 638-0800

Recipes

Octopus, Salami & Apples With Anchovy Vinaigrette


By Michael Psilakis

A few years ago, I was playing around with ways to incorporate fat into an octopus dish, and I happened to have an Italian hero sandwich. I realized that the fat molecules in the salami explode on your palate and resonate for a while. This was a revelation! While the fat remains on your palate, anything that follows benefits from its residual afterglow. Here, the texture of the octopus is faced with the crispness of the apple and the fat of the salami. Then, this tartly acidic vinaigrette makes for an amazing juxtaposition on the palate. Salt, acid, sweet, fat. It’s an evolution that happens in your mouth and then telegraphs its message straight to the brain.

I always have an octopus dish on the menu, and this was the opening octopus dish at Onera, the restaurant that later became my flagship, Anthos. It got quite a lot of attention from the press!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 legs of octopus, braised, at room temperature

1 small green apple peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch batons

4 ounces thickly sliced lountza (salami, such as Genoa, may be substituted) cut into 1/4-inch batons
About 1/3 cup White Anchovy Vinaigrette

Extra-virgin olive oil<br>
Sea salt and cracked black pepper<br>
Small handful picked fresh mint<br>

Directions:

  1. Cut the octopus into rough chunks.
  2. In a bowl, combine the octopus, apple, and salami. There should be roughly equal quantities of apple and salami. Drizzle the mixture with some of the chunky vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Transfer to a platter or plates and drizzle with olive oil. Season with a little sea salt and cracked pepper and garnish with fresh mint.

Roasted Leg of Lamb


By Michael Psilakis

Butterflying the lamb gives you options that you don’t have with a bone. A good butcher will be happy to do this for you. Here, I’ve made a very flavorful stuffing from sun-dried tomatoes, which looks great when you carve the roast. Normally, I don’t see the point of mincing herbs, but rosemary, with its woody sprigs, is hard to eat. If you’re using it only as a flavoring agent, you can just pull the sprigs out at the end, but if you want to eat it — and lamb loves rosemary — it has to be very finely chopped.

Serves 6 or more if served family style

Ingredients:

For The Stuffing:

1 and 1/2 cups large, plump sun-dried
tomatoes
, roughly chopped

1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

1 teaspoon minced rosemary
3 small sprigs thyme, leaves only

1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano<br>
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard<br>
15 cloves Garlic Confit or 1/3 cup Garlic Purée, if you have it<br>
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil<br>
About 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper<br>
<span class="ingredient"><span class="amount">1 and 1/2 tablespoons </span><span class="name">red wine vinegar</span><br>

<p><em>For The Lamb:</em></p> <span class="ingredient"><span class="amount">3 to 3 and 1/2 pound </span> boneless leg of <span class="name">lamb</span>, butterflied to flatten, some of the fat trimmed off</span><br> Kosher salt and cracked black pepper<br>

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Garlic Purée, or 2 to 3
cloves Garlic Confit, if you have it
3 large sprigs rosemary
3 tablespoons blended oil (90 percent
canola, 10 percent extra-virgin olive)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the stuffing and purée to a smooth, thick paste, about 45 to 60 seconds. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing.
  2. Lay the lamb out on a work surface with the fattier side down. Season generously with Kosher salt and pepper and spread an even layer of stuffing over it, pressing the stuffing down into the crevices. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roll the lamb up in a spiral, seasoning the fatty side with salt and pepper as you roll. Tie in 3 or 4 places crosswise and 1 or 2 places lengthwise (twist the string around itself 3 times instead of just once before you pull it tight, so it won’t loosen as soon as you let go). Ideally, allow the meat to sit on a rack, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight, to dry the surface well and develop all the Greek flavors.
  3. Bring the lamb to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small roasting pan, whisk the reserved stuffing with the water, mustard, and Garlic Purée. Throw in the rosemary sprigs. Place a rack in the pan; the rack should not touch the liquid.
  4. Again, season the lamb on all sides very generously with kosher salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, sear the lamb well on all sides, using tongs and leaning the meat up against the sides of
    the pan to sear the thinner sides and cut ends. Transfer the lamb to the rack seam-side up and roast for about 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with the pan liquid. (When the meat is medium-rare — 140°F — a skewer inserted at the thickest point should feel warm when pressed against your lower lip.)
  5. Rest the meat for about 15 minutes. Slice 1/4-inch-thick pieces, drizzle with the pan sauce, and finish with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Optional: Peel and cut a few potatoes into rough wedges, toss with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and throw in the roasting pan.

To butterfly a piece of boneless lamb from the leg, lay the piece out fatty side down. Make 8 to 10 shallow cuts in the thicker parts, then open them out like a book and press flat. Your goal is a relatively flat surface, but don’t worry if it’s a little uneven — it will be concealed inside, with the stuffing.

Family Packs

Sometimes, a boneless leg of lamb is much larger than you want to serve. If so, make the most of it! Cut off a piece, freeze it, and use later for souvlaki, or in lieu of the venison in stew. Alternatively, you can put it through a grinder and have meat for a ragout for Open Goat Moussaka, Papoutsakia, Seftalia, or the Lamb Burger. Buying family packs for the home cook is always a great way to save money. Be sure you double-wrap all items to be frozen and label them with weights and dates.

Striped Bass Plaki


By Michael Psilakis

This dish is much better when made with a whole fish, but you could also use halibut tail or a big piece of cod. There are lots and lots of vegetables in here that meld with the garlic-herb-citrus “flavors and the delicious pan juices that develop as the fish steam cooks. Serve over rice or orzo to serve an even bigger crowd.

Serves 10-15 as part of a larger buffet

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pounds whole sea bass, black bass, blue fish, or weakfish, gutted and scaled, gills removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
About 1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
1 lemon, thinly sliced
6 large sprigs thyme
6 large sprigs rosemary
4 fresh bay leaves or 8 dried leaves
16 cloves, whole garlic, peeled
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 plum tomatoes, cut into rough wedges
2 Idaho potatoes, quartered lengthwise
and cut crosswise into big chunks
1 large zucchini, thickly sliced on a diagonal
1 Spanish or sweet onion, cut into thick julienne
16 pitted Kalamata olives
Small handful torn fresh herbs, such as
dill, mint, and/or parsley
1/3 cup capers
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons Garlic Purée
or cold, unsalted butter
2 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the fish well under cool running water. Pat dry thoroughly. Film a large roasting pan with the olive oil and place the fish in the center. Season liberally with kosher salt, pepper, and a big pinch of oregano inside and outside. Stuff the cavity with about half the lemon slices, 4 sprigs each of the thyme and rosemary, the bay leaves, and a few garlic cloves.
  2. Cover the fish with overlapping slices of the red onion, then top with the remaining lemon slices. Scatter the tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, Spanish onion, olives, and the remaining thyme, rosemary, and garlic around the fish. Scatter the fresh herbs and capers over all. Season the fish liberally with salt, pepper, and oregano, and pour in the wine. Cover the pan with foil, sealing well.
  3. Steam-bake until the fish is flaky and cooked, and all the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. (If you push a metal skewer into the center of the fish for a moment, then hold the tip against your lip, it should feel somewhere between warm and hot.)
  4. Discard the herb sprigs if you like, and carefully transfer the fish and all the vegetables to a big platter. Whisk the Garlic Purée or butter into the pan juices until melted, and drizzle over and around the dish. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the top.

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