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FOLLOW A FOODIE: The comforts of the Mediterranean diet

FOLLOW A FOODIE: The comforts of the Mediterranean diet

  • January 24, 2021
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Join Mark DeWolf, SaltWire Network’s creative director of food and drink, in our Follow A Foodie newsletter as he follows his taste buds across the East Coast. Subscribe here.

In a recent newsletter I predicted Greek wines will become the darling of sommeliers in 2021. I’d also love to see our chefs and foodies take a deeper dive into Greek cuisine. Despite the rich Greek culture found in many communities across Atlantic Canada, our exploration of authentic Greek cuisine is often limited to souvlaki, moussaka, and a scant few other dishes. The Greek table is amazingly rich and reflective of the diversity of the Greek landscape. 

Greek-style leg of lamb is a dish I’ll often pull out for a homey dinner party, and I would love to try chef Marianna Leivaditaki’s giant beans with celery and smoked pork belly recipe, a recipe recently published across Saltwire Network. While these dishes are representative of Greece’s mountainous regions, it is the food of Athens and its southern islands that many of us associate with Greek cuisine.

With an abundance of seafood, Greece is a pescatarian dreamland. I love Greek-inspired Calamari, but not the deep-fried kind we find at most restaurants. Be inspired and try stuffed squid, such as this recipe for Kalamaria Yemista (stuffed squid). It will expand your perception of what calamari can be.

Born in Chania, Crete, Marianna Lievaditaki was brought up in her family's seafood restaurant. - PostmediaBorn in Chania, Crete, Marianna Lievaditaki was brought up in her family’s seafood restaurant. – Postmedia

Pizza and the tomato sauce challenge

Mark DeWolf puts a lineup of popular jarred tomato sauces to the test. - Mark DeWolfMark DeWolf puts a lineup of popular jarred tomato sauces to the test. – Mark DeWolf

According to we are at the tail end of National Pizza Week. In my mind, pizza is more than just a dish, it’s an obsession. With obsessions come strong opinions. Admittedly, I sit on the Italian side of the pizza fence, favouring thin crust Naples-style pizza or hefty North American styles. So with visions of homemade pizza, I set out to discover what is the best tomato sauce to put on my next pie. Homemade, of course, is the best, but when it comes to jarred versions, I was surprised to discover my favourite emerged from the most unlikely of places. Discover my recipe for homemade pizza dough and my pick for the best value jarred tomato sauce. You might be surprised to know where you can buy it.

Pizza wines

The first rule of pairing wine and pizza is to not overthink the pairings. - 123RF Stock PhotoThe first rule of pairing wine and pizza is to not overthink the pairings. – 123RF Stock Photo

No matter how you slice it, pizza and wine are delicious together. Some sommeliers take a deductive approach of figuring out the flavour in a wine that matches the flavours of their favourite slice. Others, me included, prefer to think of the combination of pizza and wine as a less contemplative pairing. In my mind, the best pizza pairings are simply wines that you can gulp while you enjoy a slice and watch the game.

1. Simple is sensational

When it comes to thin-crust Naples-style pizza, my go-to wine will always be an Italian red. The simpler the better. Basic Chianti, Sicilian Frappato and Northern Italian Barbera are my preferred thin crust pizza selections.

2. Southern Italian reds

For fuller-style meaty North American style pizzas, you need a little more substantial weight in your wine selection. Big fruit-forward Primitivo-based wines from Southern Italy deliver plenty of fruit, heft and rarely any pretention of complexity. Even more substantial alternatives are the Aglianico-based wines of Campania. The wines are made from grapes grown in vineyards often just a short drive from Naples.

3. Rosé bubbles

Bubbles may seem like an unorthodox choice but consider there is a yeast-like quality to the Traditional Method (Champagne-style) versions of these wines that absolutely matches the crust of pizza. Add in that the carbonation and high acid nature of these wines cleanse the richness of cheese and you have a winning combination. These are best with thin crust styles; especially those topped with a white sauce or mushroom-rich pizza options.

See you next week when we’ll offer more great food and drink recipes. Until then, keep following your foodie dreams. 

~ Mark DeWolf

Mark DeWolf - SaltWire fileMark DeWolf – SaltWire file

Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He’s a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. Watch Mark whip up seasonal plates in his video series, In a Jiffy, and go deeper with food trends and kitchen challenges weekly

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