Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.” This is the fourth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we devoured her classic Genovese Pesto. In this month’s installment, her megayacht is in Genoa and Victoria meets the magic of the classic Genovese pesto. If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the left sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.
This is Greece!
by Victoria Allman
“Are we there yet?” I whined like a six-year-old on Christmas Eve. We were racing from the crowded town of Oia to the fishing village of Ammoundi to taste the local grilled octopus that we had fallen in love with all over Greece.
“Almost.” Patrick was giddy with excitement too.
We were on the island of Santorini, high above the Aegean Sea and making our way towards it. Hardly noticing, we passed the blue domes and whitewashed walls of the buildings nestled into the side of the sunken volcano. The dramatic view over the caldera was lost on me. I could see nothing but the narrow steep steps under my feet as we descended. We reached the bottom and collapsed into the plastic chairs of the first tavern we came to, our stomachs growling. A man with shoulder-length dark curls approached with bottles of water in his hand. I smiled—my own Greek God.
We ordered Mythos beers, a plate of octopus, another of calamari, and an eggplant salad.
The Adonis returned with our meal. Famished, we ravaged the plates in quick succession. The octopus disappeared in seconds. I don’t even remember the calamari, it was gone so fast. I took a breath and leaned back from the table. The blistering Mediterranean sun blazed down, scorching my skin. Small wooden fishing boats painted bright red and green bobbed in the sapphire water. Rhythmic waves flooded the pebbled beach. It was quiet and peaceful, in stark contrast from the crazed mob overhead.
Relaxed this time, I picked up my fork to taste the eggplant salad. It was juicy and smooth in my mouth. I took another forkful to be sure. It was not bitter or biting like eggplant can be. This was sweet and velvety smooth.
“Yum.” The sentiment escaped my lips without me knowing. The waiter had returned, more beers in hand. “This is good, no?” I nodded and he started to explain. “We use white aubergines, from the fire.” He pointed to the wood-burning grill that our octopus had come from.
“They’re sweet.” I said. He smiled; the whiteness of his teeth shone bright against the dark olive-tone of his skin. “They grow like this, with the earth of the volcano.”
“You don’t add anything else?” I thought there had to be sugar.
“Of course! This is Greece. Lemon and olive oil, always.” He shook his head in laughter and retreated back inside the tavern.
I looked over my shoulder skyward. The crowds were gathering above to watch the sunset.
“How about another dish of that salad?” I asked Patrick, unwilling to leave our sanctuary and join the chaos. He nodded and smiled slyly. “And one more octopus?”
“Of course! This is Greece!”
Santorini Eggplant Salad
By Victoria Allman
Author of: Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean
2 white eggplants
1 onion, unpeeled
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Prick the skin of the eggplant and roast in a 400 oven with the onion and the garlic cloves for 1 hour until they are all soft. Cool and peel the garlic and onion. Peel the eggplant and place in a colander. Mash the eggplant with a potato masher to press out the juices. Place everything in a processor and blend until slightly smooth texture is achieved. Taste for seasoning and serve with cucumber slices, feta cheese, kalamata olives and pita breads.
Recipe and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman. Photography copyright Shalimar Orlanes (http://www.shalimarorlanes.com
Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.