Lunch With George Calombaris

Sia & George CalombarisGeorge Calombaris has just released his new cook book, Greek and I went along to the book launch at Ecco Bistro to help celebrate. I’ve been a fan of George for a few years now, so I was super excited when he agreed to have an interview with me. Here is a youtube video of our conversation:

George’s new cook book is more than just a collection of recipes, it is a story book about his life and personal experience with food. In the book, George shares nostalgic moments of his past, some of his mum’s recipes and beautiful pictures of the food that make you want to jump in the kitchen and start cooking. There are also stickers inside the book which I think is pretty cool!

We got to try a few of the dishes at the book launch. George was in the kitchen with his team and they boys cooked up a lovely lunch for us all. Here are a few snaps of what we tasted:

Pickled Cucumbers (p.13 of the GREEK cook book)

To start we had bread, dip and pickles on the table. That is pretty standard at any Greek feast but as we all know George Calombaris likes to add his twist of flare and he will often change traditional recipes to be modern and unique.

The bread was a round koulouraki. It reminded me of the little stalls they have down at the ferry docks when you are travelling from Island to Island around Greece. The bread inspired me to take my own trip down memory lane and I felt all of the excitement from our European trip back in 2008.

The dip was Taramasalata and we added spoonfuls of it to the koulouraki. The tarama was white in colour and not the usual pink that we often see here in Australia. Around the table we talked about the difference between the pink and the white fish roe. Some say the white is the “original” tarama because it doesn’t have extra food colouring in it, but others disagree. I think I need to do some more research about this before deciding to change from pink to white when making my own tarama.

Then we had an argument with the waiter because he took the tarama away. Ok, ok, we know that all the bread was gone but gee wiz, doesnt this guy know that we put tarama on everything? If the tarama stayed on the table we would have added it to the main course and probably even the dessert. haha. Perhaps that is the reason why he took it away…

Soft Shell Crab (p.126 of the GREEK cook book)

I’m not a big seafood eater. I don’t think that this is something that I would attempt to make at home. However there are a few elements of the dish that are convertible to Thermomix so I might attempt it one day in the future. Apparently this dish is one o fhe biggest sellers at Gazi, which is one of George’s restaurants in Melbourne.

Cabbage Salad, Balsamic, Grated Kefalograviera (p.208 of the GREEK cook book)

Before the mains were served, the waiter put a few dishes on the table for us to share. They were sides. Typically in every Greek home the table is full of different meals. Everyone has an empty plate and everyone shares whatever is on the table. I like that this tradition was incorporated in to our “fancy” modern lunch.

Garden peas, cauliflower, almonds, lemon (p.202 of the GREEK cook book)

This dish is definitely one that I will be trying in my Thermomix! I can’t wait because it was so delicious to eat. Yum. That is all.

Burnt Leek, Almond and Feta Ravioli (p.77 of the GREEK cook book)

I was a little surprised to see ravioli on the menu (and not meat for the main dish). However George was talking about how his food is a reflection of his life. He also told us that his partner is Italian. Perhaps that is why he choose pasta as the main dish for us to eat? Lol. I am purely speculating here but George if you are reading this please know that I sell beautiful wedding stefana on my website: I can help you with all your wedding needs! 😉

Risogalo, Salted Caramel, Kourambiethes (p.226 of the GREEK cook book)

This is the very first recipe that I plan to cook in my Thermomix (hopefully next week). There are three elements to this dish so it might take some time to develop. First is the risogola (which is totally super easy to make in your Thermomix) but then you have the salted caramel sauce and the kourabethes to make also. I love this combination of flavours. Cant wait to try it.

Ari comes with me everywhere! He comes to my Thermomix demos, special events and parties, he comes to the coffee shop when I meet with friends, literally everywhere (except hot yoga, of course). Normally he is a darling angel and I love taking him out. However meeting George was a little bit different.

Ari is 5 month’s old now. He is moving around heaps and I feel like he is going to start crawling soon. He didn’t want to sit still. In fact, the only thing he wanted to do was scream at the top of his voice to show all the ladies how loud he can be. Needless to say, I have learnt my lesson and we will not be lunching again at fine dining restaurants. Thank goodness my mum was just around the corner and she was able to come and help me. Mum took Ari home and I stayed for the rest of the event with my friends.

Ok, that’s it from me, I’m off to go and try some new recipes from George’s book. I’ll be sure to post the photos on my Facebook page:

Let me know if you make any of the recipes too! I’d love to see your food photos.


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