With the Olympic torch relay in the news, we’re beginning the build up to the excitement of the Olympics which, of course, began in Greece. If you want to capture a bit of the flavor of Greece, perhaps you might want to pick up some sweet Greek desserts, and in doing so maybe you will absorb some of their Greek passion.
I lived in Greece for over a year after graduating from University, in a little village northeast of Athens. I got the shock of my life one Spring morning when I woke up and found hundreds of men in shorts with numbered T-shirts running past my balcony. This was, of course, the real “Marathon run”, named for the town it started in near where I was living.
The run was started in 1896 at the modern Olympics held in Athens, in memory of man named Pheidippides, who in 490 B.C. supposedly ran the 26 miles (42,195 meters) to Athens to announce the victory against Persian attackers around Marathon. After uttering, “Rejoice! We conquer”, he unfortunately collapsed and died.
Greek Orthodox Easter is this weekend, so the bakeries below will be chock full of treats. If you want to pick up some authentic Greek sweets, please remember to say “Efcharisto (ef-gar-eestow) poli” for “Thank you very much” to the storekeeper who helped you.
Boulangerie Nouveau Samos, 4379 St. Laurent Blvd. at Marie Anne. Phone: 514-845-8033. Hours: Mon-Wed 7-8, Thurs-Sun 7-9. After more than 43 years serving the Greek community with their daily fix of breads (kouloura, karveli), this shop welcomes you, too, to enjoy the taste of Greece. Start with the spinach and cheese pies, but don’t forget to ask for toulombas, the bougatzes (flaky custard), karidopita (spice cake), melomakorona (honey) and gourambie (almond).
Boulangerie Patisserie Serano, 4136 du Souvenir at Mercantile, Laval. Phone: 450-681-7684. Hours: Mon-Fri 9-10, Sat & Sun 8-10. The names of the breads (karveli, couloura, horiatiko) and pastries (paksimathakia, kourambiethes, bougatses, frandsola, tifropites and of course, baklava) may be hard to spell or pronounce, but it’s easy to point to what you want, and even easier to feel when it deliciously slides down your throat. The pastries are made of chocolate, vanilla, almond, honey, walnut or pistachio nuts.
Patisserie Ambrosia Boulangerie, 4657 Samson Blvd. at 100th Ave., Chomedey. Phone: 450-686-2950. Hours: Sun-Fri 8-10, Sat 8-10:30. Tucked into the corner of the shopping center for 11 years, this Greek pastry shop catches your eye immediately with the koutaliou, colorful jars of fruits (sour cherry, fig, quince, grapes) in a honey syrup. The wonton-like diples looked yummy, deep fried with honey walnuts and cinnamon, or try the kataifi filo dough with walnuts, cinnamon and cloves. Traditional breads line the shelves: kouloura (circle with a hole), horigatiko (country bread) and a healthy whole wheat dry bread (good for dipping).