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Australia and Greece – A shared love of seafood

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Of all the culture and tradition that unites Australia and Greece, one enduring passion stands out – the shared love of seafood.

Like Australia, the waters of Greece have long abounded with fresh sea fare and for centuries it’s been a staple of the Greek diet.

So let’s take a dive into the salt waters of seafood and investigate the shared culinary favourite that unites our sea loving nations.

Seafood in Greece

Seafood in Greek culture dates back centuries due to the lengthy coastline this small nation boasts. From  sardines to calamari, bass, bream and lobster, seafood has featured heavily in this Mediterranean diet, with a host of traditional recipes derived from Greek culture.

The love of seafood is part tradition and part convenience with historians noting fish was readily available.

Cooks Info explains:  “Greece just doesn’t have good pasture land for livestock, so meat was scarce. The Greeks loved fish, but low on the scale of their likes, and thus cheapest, were small fish such as anchovies and sprats”.

“Tuna, sea bass, grey and red mullet, grouper, were esteemed and expensive. They particularly loved eel; it could cost at least 12 drachmas (a small sheep might cost 10 drachmas.)

“Fish was easier to serve than meat, because to serve meat you first had to arrange to sacrifice it, and with fish you didn’t. The first tuna caught in a good year, though, would be offered to Poseidon.”

Where once there was an abundance of fresh fish and seafood readily available in Greece, now however seafood is increasingly rare and expensive due to the overfishing and demand on the waters of the Aegean.

Influence on Australia

Australian mainstays like fried calamari may well owe much of their popularity to Greek immigrants, but according to legend even the ever-popular barramundi was introduced to dining menus across the nation by Greeks.

Neos Kosmos explains historians Leonard Janiszewski and Effy Alexakis were conducting research for Macquarie University when they uncovered the following interesting tale: it was Greek immigrants who entered the marine and wharf labour avenues and introduced barramundi fish into the Australian market.

It came at a time when many Greek immigrants were plying their fishing kills in the waters around Australia, including forging links with the indigenous community who had long eaten this native fish.

“Barramundi fish was a main food source for Australia’s first peoples but at the time, Anglo Australians were far from interested in consuming it due to its muddy taste and difficulty to catch,” Neo Kosmos notes.

“For the Greeks, however, barramundi is just a seabass variation and super close to a fish extremely popular in the Greek cuisine, the platypsaro.”

After World War II economic opportunity beckoned and it was a Greek family who first sold barramundi to the southern market and ultimately ensured it was on the plates of athletes at the 1956 Olympics.

A love affair with barramundi began and it’s diminished little in the years that followed.

Contemporary seafood

George’s Mediterranean Bar and Grill continues this passion for seafood at our waterfront restaurant in Darling Harbour. We showcase some of Australia’s finest sea fare, using traditional Greek cooking techniques to highlight the fresh flavours on offer. Whether you seek prawns, baby snapper, or octopus, our love of seafood is yours to share.

George’s Mediterranean Bar and Grill is located on Kings Wharf at Darling Harbour, Sydney. Feel free to peruse our menu, discover our seafood or contact us to make a booking.

 

A Guide to Greek Food: Essential Herbs and Spices

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Known for its freshness and flavour, Greek cuisine is beloved across the globe. While regional variations and adaptions are always going to be found, Greek food in Sydney, Santorini or San Francisco has its defining elements. In traditional dishes, some hundreds of years old, local ingredients are lovingly prepared with essential herbs and spices to create delicious dishes perfect for any occasion.

 

The basics

Greek cuisine can be summed up pretty easily. Take fresh ingredients (meat, seafood and vegetables), add salt, pepper, herbs and spices and prepare using quality Greek olive oil. And the final essential ingredient? In keeping with the relaxed lifestyle, Greek food is all about simplicity.

 

Seasonings in keeping with this simplicity are used to enhance rather than change the flavour of fresh natural produce. Greece produces sea salt of a very high quality and it’s used to bring out the flavour of meat, fish and vegetables. And plain black pepper is a staple at meal times.

 

Add some herbs

Like much Mediterranean cuisine, Greek food has traditionally used freshly grown herbs and spices. Some of those frequently found in local dishes include:

  • Oregano – Oregano is a Greek cooking staple, adding flavour to succulent meats, baked vegetables, crisp salads and divine sauces.
  • Thyme – Also common in many Greek households, locally-grown thyme flavours cooked meats, olives and even Greek honey.
  • Mint – Refreshing mint is an essential ingredient in keftedes (meatballs) and salads, especially when paired with tomato.
  • Sage – Grown in the mountains, sage is a popular ingredient in Greek tea.
  • Dill – This delicate herb can be found in pitas, salads and dolmades.
  • Parsley – Another salad favourite, parsley can also be found in a variety of cooked meat and vegetable dishes, prepared as usual with quality, local olive oil.

And the spices

Spices used in Greek cooking aren’t of the burning hot variety, but they are used to add zest to a range of both savoury and sweet dishes.

  • Cumin – Cumin adds bite (without the burn) to meatballs known as soutzoukaki.
  • Cloves – Cloves are popular in many breads and sweets, and in stifado, a classic Greek beef stew.
  • Cinnamon – Another staple of the Greek pantry, cinnamon can be found in many meat dishes, sauces and tasty desserts.

 

And where to discover the flavour

Looking for a Greek restaurant in Sydney? At Georges, we pride ourselves on the quality and authenticity of our cuisine, presented in beautiful surrounds in one of Sydney’s most atmospheric waterfront locations. In keeping with traditional Greek cooking, our menus make the most of local produce. And what to try if you’re looking to discover the wonderful essential herbs and spices of Greek food? How about some of the following?

  • Hortokeftedes dumplings with fresh herbs and yoghurt.
  • Grilled haloumi cheese with compressed watermelon and mint.
  • Lamb ribs marinated in wild honey, thyme and almond sauce.
  • King prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry with lemon and dill aioli.
  • Award-winning Greek feta cheese with olive oil and wild oregano.
  • Lamb kefta with spices and tomato salad.
  • Slow roasted Greek lamb with lemon oregano potatoes.

Ready to savour the wonderful Greek flavours? Then why not book a table with us for a family lunch, romantic dinner or even a corporate function with flair?

The Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

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The Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

There is no doubt that what is known as the Mediterranean diet is pretty delicious – consisting of plenty of nice things such as fish, vegetables, fruit, grains, fresh eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, olives, and lamb. It is interesting, varied and colourful, with a wonderful variety of tastes and textures, as well as being nutritionally balanced.

It has for quite some time been considered by qualified nutrition scientists to be one of the healthiest diets around for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Some of its benefits may include increased longevity, lower risk of obesity and chronic disease, and even a reduced risk of Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.

Features of the typical Mediterranean diet

There really is no ‘prescription’ for the Mediterranean diet and as a rule no requirement to count calories or grams of this or that food group (unless your doctor says otherwise). In general, the diet looks something like this:

  • High levels of vegetables, fruits, legumes and cereals.
  • Moderate amounts of chicken, fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, and nuts.
  • Small amounts of red meat and sweets.
  • High ratio of monounsaturated fat (olive oil) to saturated fat – preferably 2:1.
  • May also include some red wine in moderation taken with meals.

For the best health benefits, the diet should also be combined with other lifestyle factors, such as moderate exercise.

What the research says

During the 20th century, rates of heart disease began to rise around the globe. But researchers noticed that while rates were high in the US and the UK, they tended to be lower in certain regions, such as in parts of Greece and Italy.

As a result many studies have been conducted to see if there was a link between Mediterranean dietary factors, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other illnesses.

The five-year PREDIMED study in Spain

This study involved 7,447 subjects. There were two Mediterranean diet groups, one supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and the other with nuts, and a third low-fat diet control group. Some of the results included:

  • 39% reduced risk of stroke in the Mediterranean diet groups compared to controls.
  • 30% and 28% reduced risk of combined heart attack, stroke and death from CVD for the Mediterranean ‘olive oil’ and ‘nuts’ groups respectively.
  • Follow-up of 1,224 subjects after one year showed 6.7% reduced levels of the metabolic syndrome cluster of CVD risk factors.
  • Follow-up after five years – lower risk of death by up to 63% in Mediterranean groups.

Other studies

  • Lyon Diet Heart Study – involving 605 middle-aged subjects who had suffered heart attacks. Those put on a Mediterranean diet showed a 72% reduced risk of another heart attack or death compared to the controls.
  • Harvard Public Health study – showed reduced metabolic syndrome and risk of CVD in Midwestern firefighters by 35% in comparison to controls.

There are also plenty of other studies on the Mediterranean diet that have produced similar results.

What can you do?

Fortunately the Mediterranean diet – not so much as diet as a way of eating – is not boring or dull, nor will it leave you hungry. You can adopt it by swapping some saturated fat for olive oil, and including plenty of vegetables, legumes, delicious healthy breads, moderate amounts of feta or goats cheese, free-range eggs, fish, slow-cooked lamb, and of course some red wine and great coffee. Who said you had to suffer to be healthy?

There are lots of places to buy Mediterranean food in Sydney, such as at the wonderful markets, delis and supermarkets we are so fortunate to have. There are also plenty of fabulous Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in Sydney. Check out our dining menu at Georges Restaurant in King Street Wharf to see what we mean!

If you have any health issues, make sure you speak to your doctor before making dietary changes.

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The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits. You can find great Mediterranean food in Sydney to incorporate into your diet and improve your health.

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Did you know research shows that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest for helping to reduce the risks of heart disease and diabetes? Check out our article for more info.

Top Things to See and Do at Darling Harbour

Panoramic view of Darling Harbour at night

Sydney’s Darling Harbour is a buzzing precinct that draws visitors and locals alike. With shops, parks, animal attractions, museums, and a range of quality restaurants in Darling Harbour, there’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout the day and night. Here is our pick of what to see and do at Darling Harbour.

 

  • Sea Life Sydney Aquarium – Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is one of the city’s biggest and brightest attractions. You can walk through large glass tunnels as sharks swim lazily by (and overhead!) and marvel at the vast array of rays and tropical fish.

 

  • Wild Life Sydney Zoo – Tucked into a corner of Darling Harbour, this zoo is deceptively big. The space is divided into natural Australian habitats, such as the tropics, desert and rainforest. Here you can meet and greet koalas, and see wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, lizards, snakes and Rex, the resident crocodile.

 

  • Madame Tussauds – Like its international counterparts, this iconic attraction is home to a range of lifelike wax statues, with local favourites such as Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman among the famous faces.

 

  • Chinese Garden of Friendship – The perfect place to truly relax, the Chinese Garden consists of a series of meandering paths and arched bridges crossing serene ponds filled with golden fish. You can rest in a number of small pavilions by the water’s edge, or enjoy a tea in the traditional Chinese teahouse.

 

  • Harbourside – Harbourside is a multi-level shopping centre where you can find great bargains amongst designer clothing, shoes, arts, crafts and homewares.

 

  • Australian National Maritime Museum – One of our favourite museums, this is a great option for families or anyone with an interest in history. There are plenty of large exhibition spaces to explore, then step outside to discover a variety of moored vessels including vintage yachts, a submarine, a warship, and beautifully restored tall ships from the 18th

 

  • Darling Harbour dining – With a range of bars and restaurants overlooking the water, Darling Harbour is the ideal place to enjoy an evening meal or drink. And with plenty to keep you active throughout the day, you’ll need to take some time out for lunch as well. Georges Mediterranean Bar & Grill is the perfect spot for a leisurely meal. Located at King St Wharf on the city side of Darling Harbour, Georges offers an affordable menu of delicious and authentic Greek treats, and a relaxed waterside location.

 

With so much on offer, Darling Harbour is the perfect place to visit, whether you want to relax over a meal, marvel at some wildlife, shop, or simply wander round soaking up the atmosphere.

 

Lounge Menu

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Mixed marinated olives – 7.5
Taramosalata, sour dough – 9.5
Hummus, sour dough – 9.5
Melitzanosalata – grilled eggplant & feta – 12.5
Grilled Haloumi , compressed watermelon & mint – 12.5
Spanakopita: spinach & feta filo pastries – 12.5
Beef kefta, stuffed green olives, feta & spring onion – 15.5
Baked feta in filo with honey, oregano, sesame seeds – 15.5
Deep fried squid with zucchini fritters & lemon – 16.5
Stuffed calamari filled with mussels & prawns, tomato & basil – 18.5
Marinated octopus salad, cucumber, fennel, radish  – 18.5
Stuffed calamari, spinach, mussels, safron rice – 18.5

 

Char – Grilled Souvlaki

Served with grilled pita & tzatziki

Chicken souvlaki – 4 pcs – 22.5 / 6 pcs – 27.5
Lamb souvlaki – 4 pcs – 24.5 / 6 pcs – 29.5