Welcome to a Greek-themed culinary experience

Thursday, July 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Roasted eggplant with feta cream cheese, Napolitana sauce with a drizzling of olive oil. BELOW: Grilled prawns, avocado mousse and dollops of orange essence. Photo/NAILANTEI NORARI

Authentic food of Greece origin is all about the big, bold, earthy flavours, seasonal greens and fresh meat and seafood. Get yourself to this Movenpick Hotel-based restaurant and treat yourself to their selection of Mediterranean cuisine.

Every once in a while, I am invited to take part in culinary experiences. I always oblige as I believe that every event or experience has something new it could teach you.

So I was recently hosted at the Altis culinary experience at The View at the Movenpick Hotel in Westlands.

The food menu was drawn from Greece. We would start off with cold starters, which one could pair with freshly made bread. One was supposed to pick either a cold or hot starter.

Since I hate choosing and really love food, I picked all the starters. I started off with the first cold starter that was grilled prawns dipped in avocado mousse that was made with the Altis olive oil, and a side of orange essence.

The prawns were fresh and meaty, with the avocado mousse, adding a welcome layer of creaminess that was balanced out by the citrusy zing from the orange essence.

The second cold starter was antipasti, a Mediterranean platter that had octopus paired with several sauces.

While the secret of the sauce is in the pudding, the secret to any good meal is in the sauce.

The briny taste of the octopus paired really well with the hummus and Halloumi cheese dip.

The hot starter was a veggie option made with roasted eggplant, feta cream cheese, Napolitana sauce and a healthy drizzle of olive oil to tie everything together.

Seafood nirvana

The main dishes would arrive soon after with the compliments of the head chef Arisi Athanasiou.

He would take us through the cooking processes and proceed to urge us to enjoy the three main meals he had painstakingly prepared.

The beef moussaka made by layering potatoes, eggplant, rich tomato beef bolognaise gratin with béchamel sauce was very delicious.

The layers were fluffy and soft such that they gave easily to the pressure of the fork. 

The dish could, however, have been better with just a bit more salt. It is so hard to add salt and seasoning to layered dishes as you cannot get all the layers with one dash.

White snapper grilled in olive oil and paired with lemon grass creamy sauce and zucchini was a crowd favorite.

My personal favorite was the trilogy of sea food that consisted of grilled king prawns, calamari, tilapia and some herby rice on the side.

The dish came with a side of lemon caper sauce. The thing with seafood and fish is that you can never go wrong with lemons.

They intensify the flavours of the dish and make it more palatable. The calamari was mildly sweet and just the right amount of chewy without being rubbery, while the tilapia had the characteristic richer fish taste that we all love tilapia for.

The king prawns were huge-the word giant implies it-and delicious. We had to deshell them ourselves. Needless to say, I was in seafood nirvana.

Exploration of textures

For dessert, we had loukumades and semolina halva in olive oil. Loukumades are soft and airy Greek donuts, which are beautifully paired with toasted walnuts and chocolate.

Each bite was an exploration of textures as the crunchy exterior gave way to the fluffy softness within.

Semolina halva, is a Greek tasteful pudding that came toasted with walnuts and garnished with chocolate and halved strawberries.

The chef explained to us that the pudding was made by soaking coarse semolina flour in Altis olive oil then cooking it with a syrup till the semolina flour had absorbed all the syrup.

While the experience was meant to be a production to show the different foods one can make with Altis virgin olive oil, it left me with a deeper appreciation for Mediterranean cuisine and an even bigger desire to visit Greece someday and eat everything in sight.

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