Feta Compli

"Greece" is the word.

I have just finished sampling Greek salads in the City, and I am thirsty. It’s mostly those kalamata olives—which serve as a reminder that the word “salad” actually comes from the Greek word for salt.

Speaking of kalamata olives, they acquire their flavor by being slit (ouch!), then “brine cured,” which means soaked in a “canning salt”/water mixture.

Another key ingredient in Greek salads is feta cheese. It’s made from sheep’s milk or a blend of sheep’s and goat’s milk; soft feta is sweeter, less salty, rich in aroma and less spicy, while semi-hard feta is saltier and spicier, having a stronger taste and aroma.

In addition to the olives and cheese, a typical Greek salad has a base of either iceberg or romaine lettuce, which is combined with tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced bell peppers and red onions. The dressing is usually a mixture of olive oil and either wine vinegar or lemon juice, plus herbs/seasonings like oregano and chopped parsley.

I was somewhat relieved to learn that Greek salads are actually eaten in Greece (unlike, say, Chinese food). Abroad, however, they do not contain lettuce. Hub’s, a suburban Greek-style eatery, must know this, as they offer a leaf-less “Greek village salad.” But their salads are too bland—as Leah and I agreed while continually shaking on extra salt and pepper during our most recent ritual lunch there.   Better quick-food Greek greens are at Panera’s; but I won’t again order the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich with it as part of the You-Pick-Two combo, as it’s basically a Greek salad on bread.

Somewhat disappointing was the Greek salad at the fancier Psistaria Greek Taverna in Lincolnwood, where the vinegar overpowers the dressing. This is also a problem at East of Edens, but at least you get a dollop of dolmades on your greens.

Sabrina and I love the Greek salads at Ceres, where the chef adds halved hard-boiled eggs and tosses the salads in a slightly sweet vinaigrette. Best of all, though, is Sopraffina’s Mediterranean Salad, where generous amounts of feta cheese are crumbled (not just cut into several big chunks) on greens that are lightly tossed in a tangy–but not too salty–Athenian lemon dressing. Opa!

Yours till the Grecian urns,

5 Responses to “Feta Compli”

  1. Charlene says:

    My mouth is watering. You got me at kalamata olives! But, the rest of the piece was so delicious, I just want to make a Greek Salad right now.

  2. Karen says:

    My favorite type of salad! I also recommend the Greek or Village salads at Dengeos, Mezza and California Pizza and of course, most of the restaurants in Greek Town. Nicely done.

  3. Seth says:

    I just had a Greek Salad the other night in your honor. You’re doing your part to help promote Greece’s economic growth! If Athens ever owes use any money, we can just request payment in feta and olives, please.

  4. Rett says:

    Une blog magnifique from the femme feta-lle of salades greques.

  5. Monica says:

    I am so pleased that NJL is back in the saddle. If any of you ever come to Stamford, CT, try Eos for great Greek food all around!

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