Last Thursday I had a glorious dinner at Prince Hotel KL.
I love Mediterranean food and to my delight Eccucino at Prince Hotel welcomes a Greek guest chef George Diakomichalis last week as they launch their GREEK MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE promotion from 10th – 20th May 2012.
Below: Chef George giving a quick demonstration on the art of making Baklava.
Not doubt I’m obsessed about food but I’m even more obsessed about food that are ordinarily out of my “reach”. Food such as these falls under the category of “authentic cuisine of other countries, only best savoured in their respective countries”.
While the trip to every country in the world will have to wait, I’m thankful to hotels like Prince who consistently runs promotions of different cuisines of the world in their dining outlets.
For this May, Greek is the theme and over the next 6 days at Eccucino, diners can look forward to indulge and smell the delicious aromas of moussaka, souvlaki and over 20 types of traditional dishes that are ancient Greece.
That was just the mains; while a whole lot more awaits at the appetisers and desserts tables.
A typical Greek Salad – Khoriatiki.
It is a salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, red onion, feta cheese and olives, seasoned with salt and dried oregano and finished with an olive oil dressing. Common additions include capers, rocket leaves, vinegar, lemon juice, and chopped parsley.
However, if you prefer to dress your own salads, help yourself to the fresh unadorned greens and the assortment of Olive Oils displayed.
NOTES ON OLIVE OILS:
For modern Greeks, olive oil is one of the basic necessities of life. Olive oil has been more than mere food to the people of the Mediterranean with its supposed medicinal properties.
Olive Oil Grades
• Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and has a superior taste. It is used on salads, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
• Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 1.5%, and has a good taste.
• Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as pure olive oil or Olive oil is usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil.
• Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 2% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
• Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil with the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in cooking.
Informative yes? I tried them all and crowned the extra virgin olive oil my favourite of the lot.
Next, a medley of lip-smacking dips to be eaten with the freshly made pita breads.
Gourmet olives, feta cheese and olive oils are available with abundance on the tables. Lovers of these will certainly see their money worth for this buffet. Myself was hooked on the fish mousse, a mighty blend of fish, herbs and chopped vegetables. A layer of sour cream (or was it yogurt?) was spread over the top and lastly dotted with capers and pickles.
It was the most addictive spread ever, and I wished I had remembered asking Chef George for the recipe!
Items such as the sweet and sour Okra (Bamies psimenes), Roasted Eggplants (Melitzanes aromatikes), Dolmades (Greek parcels of rice wrapped with grape leaves or vine leaves) and dips are Greek staples which I made sure to staple a portion of each. A variety of Feta Cheeses and Olive oils also took up a quarter of my stomach space!
Grape leaves stuffed with long-grain rice, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs and seasonings. It can be served as part of a mezze platter, finger food or simply enjoyed as a tasty snack.
Traditionally made with sheep or goat’s milk, it is an aged, crumbly cheese and has a mild salty, fresh flavour with slightly grainy texture. It can be used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, in pastries and baking and combined with olive oil and vegetables. It is an important ingredient in Mezedes platters, Horiatiki salad, and Spanakopita to name a few.
Some of the original spread of the daily dinner buffet were available at a separate section so that’s an option for those who may need an alternative to the Greek spread during this 10 days.
However, I urge you to try each and every dish on the Greek/Mediterranean table. It is very palatable to our Asian tastebuds really; and every dish has its own distinctive flavours punctuated with the aromas and aftertaste thanks to the herbs and spices used.
The soup (Fasolatha) was to me best described as our local dhaal, albeit a sweeter version. It was really tummy-warming though and I was most tempted to dip bread rolls into it.
It is often considered the national dish of Greece. This bean soup combines the healthiest parts of the Mediterranean diet, which contains a generous amount of vegetable and olive oil.
But since stomach capacity is limited, I focused on the mains instead. The Venezuelan buffet I had recently was good, but limited in choices. Here, the spread is quite extensive, and happily enough for me there were some dishes that I have not sampled before in other Mediterranean restaurants.
Eggplant with Tomato Pilaf. So tasty and marvellously perfumed with the mix of herbs and spices.
Pan Fried crab cakes with corn salsa, chipotle and lemon dressing.
This tightly packed with sweet juicy crabmeat is a hit! I went back for seconds and thirds. 🙂
Oven Roasted Potatoes with paprika.
Oven roasted potatoes are an healthier alternative for carbs, and so good when baked with some spices.
Stewed Chicken with Tomato Sauce. (Kokkinisto)
Kokkinisto means ‘reddened’ and describes a dish that has been slowly cooked in tomato sauce and red wine. It is one of the most traditional Greek dishes and is equally at home on the family dinner table or in a local restaurant. It is usually served with lamb, beef or chicken and it can also be served cold. Delicious!
Prawn Saganaki (Prawn and Feta Hotpot).
This was delicious! The prawns seems a bit “soft”; meaning not as firm and bouncy as it should be and gave an impression of “unfresh”. However, I love the taste of this dish. Regarding the texture, perhaps it’s due to the cooking method? After all, the prawns at the salads section were agreeably bouncy and fresh.
Lamb Souvlakia (Grilled Lamb Skewers).
Souvlakia – A popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. Can be served on the skewer, in pita bread or on a dinner plate. Souvlakia can be made with lamb, beef, chicken and even fish.
Slices of marinated lamb, beef, chicken or mutton stacked on a vertical spit and roasted. It is served as a sandwich stuffed into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and yogurt and has been sold on the streets of Greece for hundreds of years.
Vegetables with Rice and Herbs. So well presented no? As for the taste, what else can I say? Mediterranean rice dishes are always aromatic and so addictively palatable!
Revitha tou fournou (Oven Baked ChickPeas). Simple but delish!
Beef stifado ( Beef Stew).
Moussaka (Eggplants Baked with Minced beef and potatoes).
Seared salmon fillet with pesto beurre blanc and sun dried tomatoes.
The Greek has very unique desserts that veered away from the usual tarts, cakes and cream puddings.
A fried-pastry dessert drizzled with cinnamon and honey, sometimes called Greek doughnuts. Loukoumades are the oldest recorded European pastry and were ceremoniously awarded to the victors in the ancient Olympic Games.
It tasted like normal fried dough on its own though.
This milky custard was incredibly good. Non-cloying and just pleasantly sweet, it took everyone’s votes for the best dessert.
Baklava. I’m sure this is a familiar item to Malaysians by now.
A rich, sweet pastry made of layers of crisp filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. A very popular sweet with versions found throughout Greece, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Here is another Mediterranean specialty. I’m not sure if it’s just Greece because I had this before in Al-Amar, which is a Lebanese restaurant.
These chocolate coated almonds were addictive!
Custard filled shells with chocolate ganache.
Walnut shortbread with Citrus Honey.
I did mention at the beginning of the post that the buffet really offers a taste of Greece right? Overall, we were pleased with the selections available and the opportunity to savour Greek food right here in KL. And since it’s a buffet, I got to sample the whole spread and only went for seconds for items that were favourites of mine.
To round up our experience, we were served Greek wine and treated to a short Zorba’s dancing performance as well as an Ouzo tasting session by the Hellenic Society.
A short and informative session on Ouzo, a drink similar to Arack in Lebanon or Grappa in Italy.
I tasted Arack before in Al-Amar, Pavilion KL and I didn’t like it then. As expected, I didn’t like the Ouzo either.
But it is a manner of acquired taste, so don’t mind me. In Greece, Ouzo are typically served with appetisers and drank prior to a main meal. So if lunch is 1.00pm, then it’s Ouzo hour at about 11.00 am.
Ouzo is produced only in Greece via the distillation method. Other components that goes into the drink includes fennel, anise seeds, and Greece herbs.
Ouzo can be drank neat, on ice or mixed with water. Ouzo becomes cloudy when mixed with water,
It was a good evening with authentic Greek food, wine, dance and liquor; and not to mention the good company of the other diners. I had a good time absorbing and uunderstanding a little more about the beautiful country of Greece. I’ll definitely visit Greece next year, if not the year after. 🙂
For your very own Greek experience; details are as below:
10-20 May 2012
Children under 12 complimentary.
Lobby floor of Prince Hotel & Residence KL on Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur.
For reservations and enquiries, contact: +603 – 2170 8888.
Also, do check out the current All Things Sweet For Free promo entitles patrons to savour the above desserts (not all) on compliments from Prince Hotel for a minimum purchase of RM50/table.