I am on the hunt for some “STUFF”
,and I can tell you it isn’t easy to get your hands on. Prices have rocketed trough the roof recently, and I heard prices from 7 up to 11 dollars per ounce, ( 25 up to 30 euro per 100 grams ). So we are talking serious business here.
I am strolling the streets of Utrecht, in the centre of Holland close to Amsterdam. A variety of mostly foreign looking persons occupy the Amsterdamse Straatweg, is this really Holland? Suddenly my nerves are alert as I spot a potential shop, and I give it a shot. After some scanning from both sides, the elderly man call in his wife who retrieves the goodies from under the counter. The price hits me like a sledge hammer, 350 dollar per 1000 grams, ( 270 euro per kg. ). I am allowed to taste a small sample. I settle for 0,35 ounce, about 10 grams, and because she likes my face she seals 1 gram extra in the small plastic bag. As a souvenir I take a photo of the owner, “Nikos Rigakis” as he poses before his merchandise.
Once on the street again I wonder about what I just bought, a little bag filled with white translucent Christals called Mysticha. By now I know what it is and where it comes from. At the Greek island Chios, in the Mediterranean sea close to the Turkish mainland they grow a special type of tree for over 2500 years. The “Pistacia lentiscus” or Mastic tree, family of the Pistachio tree, is pampered for 10 years before it gives its highly priced rasin. The flavor is unique, and for centuries a medicine for tooth decay and ulcers, ( tandbederf en maagzweren ). As harvest started this year mid august the cuts in the bark released the “tears of God”. How sad is it that only three days later a firing blaze took out 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of the vegetation, in a week time.
As we know Greece and the Greek people are under great economical stress, and this devastating fire on Chios will set the population back in time. We owe a lot to the Greek ancestors, the Olympic games, the marathon, philosophers as Plato but most importantly the birth of our democratic system! So I want to plea here for the Greek and their culture. Lets support this wonderful land and these wonderful people by buying Greek products like Metaxa, the Greek version of cognac. Golden olive oil or Dolmadakia’s wich are nice little packages of soft rice wrapped in wine leaves. Enjoy Greece at home, eat a piece of your home made KALO BRAMA CAKE, and then smash the plates you always disliked and dance together.
The kalo brama or honey cake is from Cyprus and here you will need the Masticha or Mastic.
For the cake
1 cup olive oil (240 ml.) – 5 ounces of self-rising flour (300gram) – 1/2 cup slivered almonds (110 gram)- 1/2 cup raisins (110 gram)- 4-5 mastic crystals pounded to fine powder – 1 cup sugar 230 gram) – 3 eggs – 1/2 cup orange juice (120 ml.) – 1/2 cup milk (120 ml.) – Zest of a 2 whole orange
Beat olive oil and sugar until white
add in eggs one at a time, the powdered mastic and the orange zest
Mix in another bowl the milk and the orange juice and add this slowly to the mix, alternating with flour
Coat the raisins and almonds with some flour and then add them to the mixture
Put the mixture in a buttered and floured baking dish.
Bake for an hour at 180 C/350 F and then let it cool completely on a rack
For the syrup
1 cup sugar – 1/2 cup water – the peel of 1 whole orange
Boil over moderate heat all ingredients together for 10 minutes
Dispose off the orange peel
Pour the syrup over the cold cake
For the decoration
2 mastic crystals pounded to fine powder mixed with 3 tbsp powdered sugar
Dust over the cake after the syrup has been absorbed
Flavors at its best after 24 hours, mastic is more pronounced , mmmmm
Roast the almonds, grind after cooling down, and at these instead of the whole almonds
Like to hear how you ate the cake and danced,
Reipe from http://www.notjustgreeksalad.com
Nicos Rigakis store you will find at the – Amsterdamse Straatweg 88 – Utrecht – the Netherlands