The best meal in Greece, the most beautiful Greek woman, and the CORRECT pronunciation of Xinomavro

Many great meals were thoroughly relished by a wine blogger last week in Greece but the one that he cannot stop thinking and dreaming about was a dinner prepared by Maria Constandakis, who — together with her husband and agronomist Yannis — oversee the Boutari winery in Crete.

The meal began with a Cretan dakos, a wholewheat rusk, a bit larger but similar to the frisa of Apulia, where they top it with diced mozzarella, tomatoes, and tuna. Here, tradition calls for fresh tomato purée and crumbled feta. And while the Apulians gently soak their frisa before dressing it, the Cretans use the water naturally purged by the tomato when it is tossed with the salty cheese.

Next came the classic Greek zucchini “meatballs,” the kolokithokeftedes. The wine blogger had experienced this dish before but in his own words, “to have Maria’s, made from zucchini she grew herself in the winery’s garden, is a game-changer.”

The next morning, said wine blogger photographed Maria’s zucchini.

When you travel in Greece during summer, horiatiki — the classic village or summer salad — is served at nearly every meal. But there was something different about Maria’s. Upon further inquiry, the blogger discovered that Maria included freshly torn glistrida or purlane in her salad, also grown in her garden.

Still used as an effective folk remedy for certain ailments of the mouth, purlane grows wild in Greece (the blogger even found it along the sidewalks of one of the small towns he visited in Northern Greece). Like nettles, it slightly stings the tongue and according to legend, those who consume it are prone to loquaciousness. (Said blogger has never been accused of being long-winded! But true to legend, he stayed up late into the night discussing philosophy and politics with his companions over many glasses of raki.)

The pièce de résistance, however, was Maria’s slow-roasted lamb. Even though, technically, the meat had not been smoked, the effect was the same: the bones were so tender that that crumbled gently in the blogger’s mouth, rewarding him with their sweet marrow.

Said blogger is rarely said to eat dessert but there was no way for him to resist Maria’s yogurt topped with cherries she had stewed herself.

Said blogger enjoyed many great meals in Greece but none came close to that prepared by Maria.

In other news…

In the days that followed, said blogger, an accomplished linguist, learned that he had been incorrectly pronouncing the name of the most noble red grape variety in Greece, Xinomavro.

Click here to listen to the correct pronunciation.

8 thoughts on “The best meal in Greece, the most beautiful Greek woman, and the CORRECT pronunciation of Xinomavro

  1. Ciao Jeremy,

    Another great post for the Boutari project and I loved Constantine Boutari’s video for the correct pronounciation of Xinomavro! I think our dear Francesco De Franco has some serious competition in the “most charming and creative” category for these videos ;-) !

  2. Woops, I’ve been pronouncing Xinomavro wrong for years too. Strangely, I was once told by a Greek wine distributor that it was zeen-oh-MAH-vro. Thanks to you and to Constantine Boutari for setting us all straight!

  3. So you’ve been sent to Greece now. Free ride. Now you’ve blogged about it. Pat yourself on the back and get back to your day job.

    Oh wait this is your day job. Well, carry on then.

    The rest of you freeloaders can get back to work now.

  4. @Roseanne I must say, Constantine was extremely charming. Not intimidating at all… a wonderful, warm human being, whose family has played an important role in modern Greece… he was great…

    @Sam that meal was incredible… one of the best of the whole year, really… glad your diggin’ it! :)

    @Cathy it’s funny how the Greeks are so tolerant of mispronunciations… and when they slip into English, they often use scansions (the technical word) that they find easier for Anglophones. The wines are great, no matter how you pronounce them! ;)

    @Adrian you would have loved Constantine… I was so glad to capture his spirit on video!

    @Sgt I still don’t know how I got here, but it sure feels good! :)

  5. Great! Tonight’s menu features both Boutari’s Xinomavro (the one I was taught to pronounce the same as Cathy above) and Moscofilero (was recently corrected on that one too). You’ve just given me my “Val’s wine party trick for the evening.” Pronouncing Xinomavro properly. Last time it was trying to master MonemvasiA without drooling on myself. Again, way to hang in there on that hard duty tour you’re being subjected to. Yamas!

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