George's Bar and Grill
King Street Wharf
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone (02) 9295 5066
Fax (02) 9295 5033
Greek food in Australia doesn't have nearly the presence its Mediterranean counterparts such as Italy or even Turkey and Spain enjoy, despite sharing the unified qualities of simple, clean-flavoured dishes with an emphasis on seafood, good quality olive oil and lots of fresh salad ingredients.
You probably recall at least one bad souvlaki incident in your past and more than one crap "Greek" salad, complete with rock-hard fetta (Greek fetta should be creamy and made of sheep or goat's milk) and old Kalamatta olives.
Maria Benardis is a woman on a mission to change all that. Her tour de force attitude and passion for smashing Greek cuisine myths (rather than plates) was showcased at a recent Greek Festival dinner, held at George's Bar and Grill in Sydney.
Intended to give punters a taste of ancient Greece, the meal focused on historically documented ingredients, methods and philosophies, taken into the new world by Benardis' keen eye and carefully honed palate to create a degustation not just focused on recreating history but demonstrating the new heights of modern Greek cuisine.
Yes, there was lamb, souvlaki and "Greek" salad, but these are interpreted Benardis' way:
Mastic, a ingredient cloaked in mystery for its healing and subtly eucalypt properties, is infused into prawns, and then wrapped in crisp, web-like kataïfi pastry.
Swordfish souvlaki is infused with fennel seeds and grilled, rendering it fall-apart tender. This is followed by delicately pink fetta-rubbed lamb with pomegranate peppered dressing.
Not satisfied with creating new dishes for her catering company, Benardis also runs a cooking school and a culinary tour through the country of her heritage. Her goal is to educate and share her encyclopaedic knowledge of Greek food and culture with anyone who takes their food seriously or just wants to know more.
Check out greekalicious.com.au. for the details and you'll be yelling 'Yasou!' in no time.
(image source: greekalicious.com.au)