Wylde Simple Food Stories: Symi, Greece.
During travel restrictions, we’ve been transporting ourselves to our favorite places by cooking the dishes we’ve enjoyed there. Here is a little adventure and the recipes we discovered along the way…
We scrambled onto a rickety old boat in the port and chugged off around the headland. We’d heard about remote beaches accessible only by water the night before and we were intrigued. Besides, getting lost on purpose in new places usually results in discovering the unexpected, especially if you allow yourself to set the bar really low.
The Greek island of Symi is hilly. It’s in the far east of the Dodecanese, close to Turkey. Arriving into her port you are surrounded by colorful neo-classical houses stacked unfeasibly up the cliffs. This topography also gives her coves and beaches dramatic stone backdrops. It’s timeless.
The boat didn’t really stop — we just jumped on the skipper’s cue as he nudged close to the shore. After (hopefully) agreeing he’d come back for us later that day, we waded onto the beach. It was deserted. We stripped and dove into the emerald waters. Pristine doesn’t do it justice.
As we dried off we spotted a little gate behind the beach, leading to a path and what seemed to be a farmer’s dwelling. Our local friend had hinted that we could find food here, or at least that’s what we thought he said.
This wasn’t the kind of place that has a menu — you get what they have that day, a bit like visiting a relative’s home.
A weathered lady came out and beckoned us in with the smiling eyes and nod of Greek hospitality. She had three rusty tables under the shade of a large tree looking across the beach and cove. We sat down. She brought water and bread and asked if we’d like to drink ouzo, tsipouro, or beer. This was her only question. The food just came. This wasn’t the kind of place that has a menu — you get what they have that day, a bit like visiting a relative’s home. Ah, the freedom of not having to choose. We live in New York — have you heard yourself neurotically work through the menu options then personalizations of ordering a salad or coffee there?
Our host brought Greek salad, fava, and fresh fish. We devoured it.
Our host brought Greek salad, fava, and fresh fish. We devoured it. The ouzo buzz, salty skin, cicada symphony, and sensation that we had discovered a little of the undiscovered washed over us. We lay down under the trees and were quickly seduced into one of those deep, dreamy island siestas.
It’s impossible to capture in words the salt of the early morning swim, the first bite of a cold fig, late-night laughter and so much more that is Greece, so we are busy curating “The Wylde in Greece” — an island experience for a small group of our members next summer. For more information sign up at WyldePeople.com. Stay Wylde.
(Hint – it’s all about quality tomatoes and feta!)
- 4 large garden tomatoes, cut into irregular wedges
- 1 cucumber, peeled, then roughly chopped
- 1/2 a red or white onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 a green pepper, thinly sliced
- 16 Kalamata olives
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp capers
- 85g feta cheese, cut into chunks (barrel matured feta is the best)
- 4 tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp Greek vinegar
Mix, lightly season then serve with crusty bread to mop up all of the juices
Fava: (a superfood known to help with longevity in the Ikaria Blue Zone)
- 2 cups (~500g) dry yellow split peas, rinsed
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Paprika for garnish (optional)
- Place the split peas in a large saucepan with 5 cups of warm water. Set the burner to high heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Skim any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid, then add the red onion, scallion, and garlic. Return the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes
- Once the peas are tender, turn off the heat and add the olive oil and salt. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (or process in batches in a tabletop blender). Taste and add more salt as needed
- The fava will thicken as it cools. Serve topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika; provide crusty bread and/or sliced vegetables for dipping.
Wholefoods imports fish from Greece. We grill it and add a simple sauce of dijon, lemon juice and olive oil shaken together.
Ouzo or Tsipouro — sip it slowly over lots of ice and make sure to have your nap spot close by after.
Crispin & Margarita Baynes are founding members of The Wylde (@wyldepeople) a club that brings people together in interesting locales. To find out more sign up here or contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org