Ouzo – the Distinctively Greek Aperitif


Credit: Dominic Lockyer /

Like moussaka, Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, and Feta cheese, ouzo automatically brings on thoughts of Greece. Made from pressed grapes, berries, various herbs and spices, ouzo is Greece’s national drink.

How Ouzo Came to Be

The companies that produce ouzo each have their own closely guarded recipe for this drink, but in varying amounts, the ingredients include mint, wintergreen, fennel, hazelnut, and of course, anise. On October 25, 2006, ouzo became a product with a Protected Designation of Origin, and only Greece and Cyprus have had the exclusive right to use the name ouzo.

This drink was fist brewed in the 14th century by monks who were making tsiporo, which is distilled from the freshly pressed juice of grapes. This juice, also called must, contains the fruit’s seeds, skin, and even the stems. It is said that some of the wine brewed in the Mt. Athos monastery was flavored with anise, and eventually this version was named ouzo.

The anise in this drink made it similar in flavor to absinthe, a drink that was highly popular, particularly among the French in the 1800s. Like absinthe, ouzo has a licorice-like taste. When absinthe was banned in the early 1900s, ouzo became a natural substitute. The rest, as they say, is history. [Read more…]

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Treat Yourself to Feta, Fruit, Vegetables, and Wine

Feta combined with fruits, vegetables and wineAll cheeses have their own distinctive qualities, but feta, one of the world’s freshest cheeses, has a flavor all its own. It is basically a soft but compact cheese sans holes and the skin present in cheeses like brie and camembert. Usually sold in blocks submerged in brine, this cheese can range from sharp to very mild. This makes it ideal for mixing with fruits and vegetables. If you have been looking for a new way to serve your fruit or your salad with cheese, give this wholesome creation a try.

Telling Feta from Other Cheeses

People from all over the world can make “feta” cheese if they have the tools, the sheep’s milk, and the goat’s milk to do so. However, because the name feta is protected under EU laws as a PDO (protected designation of origin) product, the cheese they produce can’t be called feta unless it is made in the traditional way in the mainland of Greece or the island of Lesbos.

Most cheeses that claim to be feta are made of cow’s milk, and this cheese has to be made from at least 70 percent ewe’s milk and no more than 30 percent goat’s milk. By their very nature both have a flavor different from cow’s milk, and the cheese made from them is tangier. Moreover, the humidity, the climate, and the natural bacteria in mainland Greece and Lesbos contribute to the unique taste of feta cheese. [Read more…]

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