Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mamakas Greek Taverna: Modern Aegean Cuisine

Bringing a fresh sophisticated approach to Aegean cuisine in Toronto, Mamakas is a nod to heritage, history and family memories. Serving traditional mezze and grilled meats inspired by the authentic coastal Greek and Turkish cuisine that owner Thanos Vrettakos Tripi grew up with at home, Tripi’s entire menu is a reflection of his mother's recipes passed down through generations, including flaky spanakopita and whipped taramosalata topped with salmon roe. Derived from the Greek word "Mamakias" meaning mama’s boy, Mamakas is a tribute to family — even the hand-lettered on the front window is the same that was on Tripi’s grandparents’ first store in Athens which translates as 'we sell everything'. Large windows give the narrow, whitewashed room a bright sunny feel, strings of bare bulbs blanket the ceiling like stars and a long back-lit mural of 'karagiozis', traditional Greek shadow puppets dressed in ballerina tutus and chef hats, add a touch of whimsy. The food is sensational, traditional Greek dishes with a modern twist and designed to share. Each plate is thoughtfully crafted to evoke the way Thanos’ grandmother cooked, inviting guests to explore the Greece he grew up with through food, art and music — everything just as Thanos’ family has done through the ages.

The bright long and narrow white and blue interior

Our table in the front window of Mamakas

Our animated and friendly server opening our bottle of 2015 Thalassitis Santorini White Wine

The seasonally changing and always delicious menu at Mamakas



Delicious pitas made each morning in-house by Cora James

Fried Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with Mizthra cheese, mint and lemon

Xifias - Cured Swordfish with sea asparagus, shaved fennel, radish, dill and lemon

Mediterranean Sea Smelts

Okapodi - Grilled Octopus with Santorini faves, caper flowers and pickled onions

Imam Bayildi - Roasted Eggplant with tomato, onion, chili, walnuts and herb salad

Tiganités Patates - Handcut potatoes with kefalotyri cheese and garlic sauce

Whole Grilled Bream seasoned with latholemono, Santorini capers, lemon and caper leaves

Grilled Asparagus with grated kefalotyri and fresh lemon

Kotopoulo - 1/2 Roasted Mountain Tea Brined Chicken with potatoes, carrots, peas and fava beans

Ekmek Kataifi - White Chocolate and Yogurt Cream with preserved barberries and lemon sorbet

Baklava with walnuts, pistachios and milk + honey ice cream

Chris Kalisperas is the new chef at Mamakas

Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Pastry Chef Cora James, Mamakas

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped pistachios
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup honey
18 sheets Phyllo pastry, cut to the size of whatever baking tray you’re using
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick

In a medium pot on low heat, melt the butter. In a large mixing bowl, combine and blend the walnuts, pistachios, ground cinnamon, cloves and 1/2 cup of honey. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a brush, coat bottom of a 2-inch deep baking tray with melted butter. Place 1 sheet of phyllo in the tray and brush with butter, and repeat until you have 8 layers. Using your hands, spread half of the nut mixture over the phyllo, then add 5 more layers of phyllo and butter. Spread the remaining half of the nut mixture over top. Layer the final 5 sheets of phyllo and butter. Portion baklava with a knife before baking, to prevent brittle dough from shattering after. Bake in the oven until golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. 

While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup by combining sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks and remaining 1/4 cup honey in a pot. Bring to a light boil. Strain the hot syrup and pour over finished baklava. There will be an excess of syrup in the pan, but once cooled, the baklava will reabsorb much of the syrup. Cool before serving.

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