It’s appropriate that an ancient fruit should have a close relationship with an ancient town. Both the pomegranate and Ermioni have been part of recorded history for millennium. Situated in the southeast Peloponnese, the Kranidi region of the Peloponnese is an agriculture powerhouse for Greece especially olives & pomegranate.
The annual Pomegranate Festival in Ermioni held the end of October featured delicious juices, liquors, the seeds, pomegranate inspired art and of course the fruit itself. But the whole town was involved especially the restaurants featuring pomegranate inspired dishes. In Greek mythology the pomegranate was known as the “fruit of the dead,” but it seemed very much alive in Ermioni.
Maria’s on the waterfront this weekend offered a tasty bowl of Greek yogurt topped with apples, thyme honey and pomegranate seeds for breakfast.
One of the more fascinating parts of the Festival were the cooking demonstrations by chef’s from the local area. One dish in particular caught everyone’s attention, and was his original. I would call it a “buckwheat risotto.”
Buckwheat Risotto – approximately 4 servings
- 1 & 1/2 cups buckwheat
- 2 & ¼ cups water
(Note: that’s the end of measurements for this dish. Simply increase buckwheat and water if you want more than four servings and play with ratios of honey and pomegranate.)
- Cook the buckwheat: Add water to the buckwheat, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes; Amount after cooking: 4 cups.
- thyme honey (at least ¼ a cup)
- generous handful of washed, dried and chopped cilantro
- juice of one lime
- olive oil (at least ½ cup)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound slivered pork loin in the honey mixture until buckwheat is cooked.
- 1 pound of sweet onions sliced
Heat a large skillet
- Thinly coat with olive oil and then add the onions and caramelize for 10 minutes.
- Then add the pork and marinade.
- Stir-fry for a couple minutes and then add at least one cup of white wine
- Allow the liquid to reduce by 1/3rd then add one Tablespoons dijon mustard.
- And add 1/3rd cup pomegranate liqueur
- Then add ½ to 1/3rd cup cream.
- Stir for a few minutes more add salt and pepper to taste as well as additional pomegranate juice or liqueur until sauce is creamy to taste.
Serve over buckwheat garnished with a good handful of fresh pomegranate seeds and, if desired a sprinkle of feta can be added.
The 2017 Pomegranate Festival coincided with the Greek national patriotic commemoration of Ohi Day celebrated throughout Greece, and the Greek diaspora on 28 October each year. Ohi Day commemorates the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum for surrender made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940.
Ohi Day is celebrated by honoring the youth of Greece, both in the thousands of young lives sacrificed during the bloody 20th century, but in the respect shown by the generations for each other. School after school band march in precision watched by all while towns honor with certificates those high school graduates granted admission in this ancient nation’s universities. The pomegranate may have been the “fruit of the dead,” but it nourished many. Greece understands that youth is not the future; it’s the present.
When you go: Ermionia is easily reached by high speed ferry from Piraeus. Or it’s approximately a 2 hour drive from Athens on excellent roads with some stunning views.
Disclaimer: the author was the guest of the Municipality of Ermonia, special Thanks to Mr. A. Laddas. Advance Rent a Car provided transportation to explore the Peloponnese. Accommodations by Fun In the Sun Travel and Tourism. Press arrangements were made through the MTCgroup
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