Trip to Limnos
An imaginary trip through wine and cheese tasting. The real one with physical presence is to come, hopefully soon!
‘Trip to Limnos’ (Ταξίδι στη Λήμνο in Greek) is the name of a dry white wine produced on the homonymous island of the northern Aegean Sea. Limnos (also spelt Lemnos), the place of the god of fire Hephaestus according to Greek mythology, is an island with wild, unspoiled nature, and long agricultural tradition. Among other local products, Limnos offers great wines, which are being made there since ancient times, and are based on Limnio, a local red grape variety. However, Limnos is mostly known for the sweet white wines, made exclusively from Muscat of Alexandria, a white grape that succeeded in growing in the poor, volcanic soils of the island. Lately, the aforementioned grape is used to produce also dry white wines, like this one.
I got a bottle of it months ago, and to be honest, I had forgotten it. The perfect excuse to retrieve and open it came after a visit to a local farmer’s market. There, while strolling through the food stands, I noticed inside a cheese canteen shop a big sign advertising a Greek cheese from Limnos.
That caught me by big surprise!
How is it possible a Greek cheese that is not widely known, coming from a small-scale production on a single Greek island, to make it appear in a typical German cheese shop!
Kalathaki is a soft and white cheese, similar to Feta, produced solely in Limnos under PDO status. It’s made mainly from sheep’s, and optionally a small amount of goat’s milk. It takes the name (kalathaki means small basket in Greek) from the shape it obtains after the cheese curds are stuffed into the characteristic traditional wicker basket, initially to drain, and then to ripen in brine.
I bought happily a piece of it and then it came to my mind the wine I had at home.
Now, cheese and wine can be already enough for a small tasting trip to Limnos but I felt cooking something with the cheese to accompany the wine.
Without a second thought, I decided to prepare some easy Greek-style small pies (pitakia), filled with kalathaki cheese plus some greens!
Pitakia with spinach and kalathaki cheese
The amounts make 6 pitakia, baked into a 16cm-diameter pan
500 gr white flour
260 gr water
5 gr salt
10 gr extra virgin olive oil
one teaspoon vinegar
- Mix all ingredients inside a bowl, and knead by hand for a few minutes until a coherent and pliable dough is formed.
(The dough should be soft but not sticky, very pleasant to work it by hand)
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces of ca. 60-65 gr each. Shape briefly each piece into a small dough ball, cover, and let them rest for at least 30 min.
500-700 gr spinach*
100 gr kalathaki cheese**
one big onion
extra virgin olive oil
* You can use any other greens or a blend of different ones
** You can substitute kalathaki with any kind of Feta cheese
- Chop and sauté the onion in olive oil for a few minutes, until it softens.
- Add the spinach or any other greens, and stir them under medium fire just for a couple of minutes, until they lose their volume. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down.
- Chop and add to the mixture plenty of fresh dill, and the cheese crumbled by hand. Season with salt and pepper, and give a good stir.
(Drain out any excess liquid before using it for the pies)
- To assemble the pies, roll out two dough balls (for each pie) onto a well-floured surface into disks with a diameter that fits nicely into the pan.
- Place the filling on top of the first dough disc, cover with the second, and press with your fingers (plus with a fork) around the edges to seal the pie.
(Imagine making huge ravioli)
- Bake each pie into a non-stick pan (slightly layered with olive oil) under medium to high heat, until you see brown spots appearing onto the dough bottom surface. Flip the pie and cook it also from the other side, exactly as you would do with a pancake.