A Resolution For Greek Wine, A Recipe For Avgolemeno #WinePW8 @DOMAINESKOURAS

photo

Another Wine Pairing Weekend

This months Wine Pairing Weekend #WinePW we were asked to share a New Years Resolution about a wine or wine region we would like to explore in 2015.

I elected to learn more about the wines of Greece. My reasons are personal and are related to the passing of my step-grandfather who was from the island of Crete. Consider this post an homage in his memory.

Having chosen Greece as a wine region, I doubted I would find any Greek wine in town. I was wrong. Happily, unexpectedly, surprisingly, one of the local wine shops had half a dozen Greek wines in stock. I selected a white wine to pair with the Avgolemeno Soup I wanted to make.

Avgolemeno

Avgolemeno is a traditional Greek chicken soup with an egg-lemon sauce. A soup I grew up eating at my grandmothers home. I'll admit that I was not a big fan the first time I tried it. My step-grandfather laughed at the face I made tasting the lemon in my chicken soup. Then he squeezed even more lemon juice into his own soup. Today I crave lemon in my chicken soup and on my baked chicken. Avgolemeno was a natural choice for this wine and food pairing.

Searching online for recipes, I modified a combination of recipes written and in videos. Ingredients are similar from recipe to recipe, I used rice, added oregano, omitted onion and decided not to add cinnamon. Not everyone uses rice, many use Orzo which is a rice shaped pasta.

This year I hope to learn more about Greek wine and especially the wines of Crete. Avgolemeno will always remind me of my step-grandfather Emmanuel Brokos. I hope you try this recipe at your home and appreciate it as well as I do. Tasting notes for the wine follow the recipe.

photo
A delicious heart warming dish of Avgolemeno.

Recipe Avgolemeno (Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce)

Ingredients

1 whole chicken, cut in half (include neck and giblets)
12 cups cold water
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 leek, cleaned and quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and quartered
1/2 tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
3/4 cups rice (or orzo pasta)
1 lemon (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

In a large stockpot, combine the chicken, water and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; at boil reduce heat to medium simmer. Skim the foamy scum from the surface.

Skim the scum from the surface.

Add the leak, celery, carrot, oregano and bay leaves to the pot with chicken, cover and continue to simmer for one hour until the chicken is cooked.

Leak, celery, carrot, oregano and bay leaves added.
Strained for broth.

Remove the chicken from the broth (this is the soup stock) and allow the meat to cool. Strain the broth into another pot. As the broth cools you can skim the fat from the surface. Discard the carrot, celery, leak, chicken neck and giblets - they were just for flavor.

*Tip: I saved the carrot and giblets for the dog.

Remove skin and bones from chicken using two forks.


When the chicken has cooled to handle, separate the meat from the skin and bones (shred the chicken and discard the skin and bones). I chose to shred the chicken. Some recipe variations use chicken pieces and do not shred.

*Tip: I used two forks to easily separate skin and bones from the meat and shred the chicken at the same time. Use a large cookie sheet for this operation as you will need the room.

Return the broth to high heat, add the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the rice is almost cooked, about 15 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and reduce the broth to a low simmer.

*Tip: Remove the two eggs from the refrigerator before adding the rice. You want the eggs near room temperature before whisking.

Egg and lemon juice whisked with pepper.

In a  medium bowl, beat the eggs with the lemon juice and black pepper. Mixture should be slightly foamy and well blended.

Carefully, slowly, gradually add some of the warm stock to the egg and lemon juice mixture, whisking constantly, ladle warm soup stock until about 2 cups have been added. You want to carefully create the egg-lemon sauce without curdling the egg.

Egg-lemon sauce integrated with soup stock.

Pour the egg, lemon, stock mixture back into the pot with the chicken and rice. Add the lemon zest too if you have a lemon. Stir well to blend. Do not boil. Add one tablespoon olive to the soup and stir. Taste and adjust for salt if needed.

Serve soup with sliced lemon on the side and some crusty bread for dipping. Enjoy!

Tasty Avgolemeno dinner and twitter session.
Thoughts

I was happy with how well this recipe worked. It was very close to the Avgolemeno I remember eating at my grandmothers home. Unfortunately, I lost the beautiful lemon I purchased at the store and had to substitute bottled lemon juice. My fault for not paying attention to the lemon. The lemon flavor was pleasant and not intense. As I recall, my step-grandfather always had extra lemon on hand to spike up his soup. If you are not a huge fan of lemon in your soup then you should be happy with my recipe. Have some fresh lemon on hand in case you want to crank it up.

We enjoyed this warming, delicious soup at home over three days. This recipe makes a lot of soup. Serve for a large family or freeze half of it. It was better each day. The Greek wine I paired with this soup was a good match. See the following tasting notes.

More Greek Recipes

If you are looking for a good book of Greek recipes, I strongly recommend Culinaria Greece. It is full of regional recipes and beautiful photographs. It is a large book with wonderful anecdotes about Greece, folk remedies, herbs, regional foods and its many people. Highly Recommended.



photo


Wine Tasting Notes 2013 Skouras Moscofilero Peloponnese

Peloponnese is the largest wine making area of Greece. Its 22,000 hectares of vineyards produce annually 1,500,000 hectoliters of wine. 

Color: Silver Gold.
Nose: Savory with peach and orange blossom,
Palate: Honey, lemon, savory, it finished with orange yogurt cream. Gentle drinking, acid and viscosity showed restraint, nothing over the top.  Enjoyable sipping wine. Fun, almost elegant
After 45 minutes more intense and focused. Honeyed vanilla, with orange zest. Was a good match to Avgolemeno Greek soup.
Day two: Just as good. Reminded me of a Grüner Veltliner. Acid more present on finish with a lovely floral quality.
Day Three: Acid visible with a floral orange and rose water quality. Yum.

Thoughts: Paired well with this recipe. The acid and floral qualities became more obvious on day two and three. It was a good wine experience. Perfect for chicken and seafood. I would like to try this wine with green vegetables. Strongly Recommended.

photo
I strongly recommend the 2013 Skouras Moscofilero.

Fermented in stainless. Short skin contact, no malolactic fermentation, short aeging over fine lees.
Country: Greece
Region: Protected Geographical Indication Peloponnese (PGI)
Appelation: Nemea
Vineyard: Mantinia (2400ft altitude, 25 years old)
Varietal: Moscofilero 100% (pink skinned)
Closure: Nomacorc
ABV: 12%
Paid: $16.95
Learn more: http://www.skouras.gr/us/

Skouras Winery was established in 1986 in Pyrgela, Argos by oenologist George Skouras. Over the years, the demand for their terroir driven and estate-bottled wines has grown, in 2004 the winery relocated to a larger, more modern facility in Malandreni. Focused on indigenous grape varieties, the vineyards are planted with Nemea, Argolida, Arcadia, Mantinia, Roditis, Moscofilero and Aghiorghitiko, as well as Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Greek Wine Resources

Check out the New Years Wine Resolutions from my fellow #winePW bloggers!


Don’t forget to join us for our next Twitter Chat on Saturday, February 14th at 8 a.m. Pacific using hashtag #winePW.


The Greek Influence I Grew Up With

The reason I chose Greece and Greek wines for this post was because on Christmas Eve I learned my grandmothers 2nd husband, Mr. Emmanuel Brokos, had passed away in 2011. This was unexpected news to me. I was upset that no one had told me and very unhappy. At least he was buried besides my grandmother.

"Out in the dark blue sea there lies an island called Crete, a rich and lovely land, washed by the waves on every side, densely peopled and boasting ninety cities."
Homer Odyssey 19, 172-174

photo
Emmanuel Brokos 1929 - 2011.
Mr. Emmanuel Brokos

I never learned Greek, though I heard it spoken occasionally over many years. I was never close to my grandmothers second husband, Mr. Emmanuel Brokos. He was and remains an enigma. I am saddened that I was not there for his funeral. It would have been the least I could do for him, to say a few kind words.

He never shared any thoughts about his life with me. Only my grandmother whispered to us some of the events of his life, and only when he was not home.

Today I'm sharing with you the little I know about this man and some of the historical facts surrounding his life.

In September 1969 he married my grandmother. We were introduced to him for the first time when I was 8 years old. Soft spoken, reserved, a conservative man we learned that he preferred quiet, or out of sight children.

Grandmother and Emmanuel soon purchased a 1906 three story home in Aberdeen, Washington. It had changed hands many times. By the time they bought it, it was in disrepair with a vagrant living in the attic space. I'll be kind and call it a fixer-upper. It took a lot of his labor to make the first floor livable. My brother and I spent most of our summers in Aberdeen in that big old home.

Emmanuel worked for the Weyerhaeuser mill as an Electrician. He worked long hours and many weekends. Most often we only saw him for dinner or reading the paper after dinner. His values were old world, old fashioned, traditional values. One afternoon we were with our grandmother in her bedroom, she was telling us stories of growing up in Oregon, of raiding the neighbors watermelon patch late at night, and making us laugh. When Emmanuel came home for lunch, we learned that day that we were not allowed in their bedroom. At least not when he was home.

"According to Greek mythology, Zeus was born on Crete. Two caves high in the Cretan mountains contest the honour of being known as the birthplace of the greatest god of ancient Greece: the Dikteon Cave in south-central Crete and the Ideon Cave on the highest mountain in Crete, Mount Ida or Psiloritis."
http://www.explorecrete.com/mythology/zeus-birth.html

Over the years I learned that Emmanuel was from the Island of Crete and the village of Kritsa. His parents lived there and he would visit them every other year. Grandmother said he brought the first washer and dryer to the village for his parents. He loved them and took good care of them. On the family lands were archaeological digs. They could not dig on their own land without permission because of the numerous buried antiquities. Often he would return from his trips to Crete with a large bag of almonds his mother gave him to share with us. He would also bring back Feta Cheese made by a family friend in the hills outside his village. I grew fond of Baklava, Greek olives, almonds, Feta and a variety of Greek dishes that Emmanuel shared with us. Including Avgolemeno.

He was formal in manner and discipline. I learned table manners and how to show respect from him. I knew he was watching and he would promptly correct me if I did not behave well. We were rowdy kids. Later, when I was in college, I came to visit with a freshly pierced ear. He instantly told me that he did not approve of my earring and to remove it in his presence. I also recall a disagreeable summer morning, hungover, with head throbbing. I had come back to the house late, drunk and ready to drive off with friends to Seattle. He chewed me out thoroughly. And I knew I deserved it. That never happened again and afterwards, I began to make changes to my life and friends.

I know he wanted me to do well. He wanted me to have a good education and career. His way of showing this concern was by offering to pay for my college. But only if I went to Law School or became a doctor. A generous offer yes. But I did not want to be a lawyer nor a doctor, so I declined. He and I were never close. And our distance was equaled by how far we lived. When grandmother passed in 2003 we were there for the funeral. It was a moving Greek Orthodox service with a priest from Seattle. He spared no expense. It was the last time I saw him. We seldom corresponded. The last letter I sent him was December 2010. I did not receive a reply.

But who was Emmanuel Brokos?

Emmanuel Brokos was born October 7, 1929 in Kritsa, Crete, Greece to Nikolaos and Garyfallia (Skyvalos) Brokos. In 1940 the Germans entered Athens on April 27th.

"As early as June, 1941 the town of Kondomari, Crete was burned to the ground and the men executed as a reprisal for their defense of the island against Nazi paratroopers.  As the frustration of the occupying power grows, these acts are more common, eventually becoming an epidemic of violence against the rural population."

World War II Video - The Battle of Crete 1941
http://youtu.be/X3nm-UcMERo

Emmanuel never shared any of  his personal stories with us. It was my grandmother who told us that when he was a kid on Crete, he had seen terrible things done by the Germans during World War II. He saw people executed for no reason and a young woman shot in the back for asking for food. After the war Greece saw hunger and a bankrupt country. Violence and hunger assuredly has to deeply affect a person growing up in a war zone. It may also explain his quiet and reserved demeanor.

"Over 400,000 Greeks died during the Second World War, the vast majority civilians. The Jewish communities, the most ancient in Europe have been wiped out. Starvation and inflation are so bad that a loaf of bread costs 2 million drachma and people have traded property and homes for olive oil to keep their children alive... The country is economically bankrupt. There is little or no industry as factories have been destroyed and ports and cities are in ruins. The government is in chaos. The whole country has to be rebuilt. But first they have to fight a civil war."
http://www.ahistoryofgreece.com/worldwarII.htm

Grandmother also told us that Emmanuel left home and vowed never to live there again. Why? He was close to his sister. She had been engaged to marry a popular young man. Before the wedding she died unexpectedly and under suspicious circumstances. Emmanuel was never satisfied with the explanation about his sisters death. He swore he would never live there again. From then on his mother wore only black.

Emmanuel was an electrician by trade and served in the Greek Navy and also the Merchant Marines. He became a merchant marine after his sister died so that he could help his parents back home. He was also an electrician for the Greek royal family at the palace in Athens. He was mult-lingual and spoke at least 5 languages.

1967 "In December the King attempts a counter-coup which fails. He and his family escape to Rome. It is the end of the monarchy in the land of the Hellenes."
http://www.ahistoryofgreece.com/junta.htm

He moved to Canada before settling in Grays Harbor. In September 1969 Emmanuel married Claudia Wallace/Pollard, my grandmother, in Canada. She passed away November 6, 2003.

Grandmother shared with us that Emmanuel Brokos was a published Poet in Greece. She showed us his books of poetry, but all the words were in Greek. I have no idea what he wrote. In retrospect, I believe she was proud of her husband and wanted us to know what kind of man he was. A man of creativity, sensitivity, depth and pride who had witnessed and experienced tragedy.

I do know that Emmanuel was also an Artist. He made beautiful wood sculptures from found pieces of wood. Sometimes he would take us with him out to the coastal forest. He had scouted places where the timber companies had harvested trees. Among the tossed stumps were jumbles of roots, torn earth and chunks of trees. When he found an interesting twisted piece of wood he would smile and admire the shape. Back home he would clean, polish and stain the wood and mount it on a cut rectangular block. A couple of pieces I remember were: Hair Blowing in Wind and Jesus at Galilee. Beautiful, expressive pieces.

Emmanuel was an active member of the Greek Orthodox Church; and had served as president for the Order of AHEPA. He started a scholarship fund at Grays Harbor College on behalf of my grandmother Claudia and was involved with many charitable organizations, including Feed the Hungry.

On November 19, 2011 Emmanuel Brokos passed away unexpectedly at his home in Aberdeen. He was 82. He is survived by his niece Sofia Prokou of Athens, Greece and other nieces and nephews in Greece.

Sadly, he remains very much an enigma to me. I have never visited Crete or Greece. Perhaps I can become a little closer by experiencing and learning about their wines.

photo


"And as a child I was warmed
By the sun and by the constancy
Of life among flowers
Brushed by the cooling summer wind.

But my childhood ended that summer
As the birds, frightened, flew away;
And to my window
Came an invader with bullets
That put an end to song.

‘Come’ cried my mother, ‘we must leave here,
We must find refuge, come now
Your childhood is over.’
I cried as my childhood died.

It was all so long ago.
Today, halfway across the world,
I watch as we all grow old."

Comments