Monday, September 28, 2009

Taste of Crete

By Pat Tanner

Taste of Crete, a small store that opened on Route 206 in Hillsborough a couple of weeks ago, represents what is for me the most dangerous form of shopping. Esther Luongo Psarakis, the proprietor, stocks an intriguing selection of imported Greek artisanal foodstuffs that are all natural, often organic, and uniformly delicious. I go in with the intention of stocking up on hostess and holiday gifts but come away laden with delicacies that somehow never make it out of my own kitchen.

These include Taste of Crete’s award-winning olive oil, made from Koroneiki olives and bearing the European Union’s PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) seal; raw honeys in flavors like wild thyme, pine, and chestnut; jarred savories such as smoked eggplant spread; jarred sweet toppings in flavors like fig with ginger and chocolate in honey; and traditional cookies (naturally vegan and cholesterol free) named for and made using the recipes of Evangelia Psarakis, Esther’s mother-in-law.

In fact, Evangelia was the inspiration for the gourmet food company, which has been selling its wares via the Internet since 2004 and which has been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio. After marrying into this Greek family - and having, as she calls them, “two big Greek weddings, first in America and then in the mountains of Crete” - Esther and her husband would return to the family’s homestead each summer and from that – and Evangelia’s home cooking – the idea for Taste of Crete was born.

On my first visit I was introduced to an intriguing new taste sensation: sweet olive topping, intended for over ice cream and yogurt. Who knew olives cooked with sugar and lemon would be delicious? Unless I manage to give away my jar very soon, I just know I’ll find myself in my own kitchen dumping some over soft goat cheese and glomming it up with crackers.

Taste of Crete, 400 Route 206 South, Hillsborough. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat. Phone: 908.685.2035,

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