My Big Fat Greek Feast… at Perama
It is a rare occasion for a foodie to feel defeated by food… But for $50, David Tsirekas serves up a banquet that goes beyond satisfaction. It leaves a lasting food coma… So a few nights ago, I introduced Perama to my sister and a few girlfriends who have become instant fans.
It starts off slow with a trilogy of classic Greek dips and plentiful bread. There’s creamy taramasalata, a refreshing tzatziki, and a eggplant dip which is elegantly smokey.
Dips with bread: taramasalata, tzatziki and smokey eggplant
Small courses then began to roll out, starting with the epitome of Greek salads. Chunky pieces of tomato, cucumber and olives were well dressed with EVOO and oregano. Topped with a handful of rocket, creamy feta and the crisp cut-through of red onion, the salad was vibrant and put many other Greek salads I’ve had in the past to shame.
The decor at Perama suits the food quite well – homely and comforting.
Interior of restaurant
The graviera crumbed haloumi cheese were sizable bites with a golden deep-fried exterior. I’ve always adored the squeaky texture and slight saltiness of haloumi but when deep-fried, it is just irresistible. Or that’s at least what I thought before the next dish arrived.
Graviera crumbed haloumi cheese
Move over crumbed halloumi ’cause barbecued halloumi is just so much more better! There’s a slight smokey aroma that complements the salsa of diced tomatoes and shallots and side of peppery candied figs. The dish is salty, sweet, slightly peppery and so addictive. It is a dish I’m sure I’ll try to whip up at my next BBQ… They were a beautiful inspiration of flavours.
BBQ haloumi cheese with honey peppered figs
I discovered zucchini fritters in Santorini and now every time I have them, that’s all I can think of! These moreish fritters are divine. Upon breaking the crisp seal, a creamy aromatic mixture is revealed, causing one to pause, admire and reminisce.
Unfortunately, I’ve always had a massive weakness for anything starchy and ate so many of these chips that I forgot about the meatballs. The chips are conveniently named Rustic Grandma’s Chips which I think summarizes it all.
Rustic grandma’s chips and meatballs
Now, I’ve been introducing the next dish as the highlight of any visit to Perama, so beware.
The pork belly baklava isn’t a combination you’d fantasize about but upon taking the first bite, I knew straight away that it was what foodie dreams are made of. It’s nothing fancy but just bloody good. The crackling is rich and crunchy and inbetween each crisp layer of filo pastry are moist pieces of pork belly, intertwined with a sweet caramel of finely chopped dates and pistachios. Each stack of pork belly baklava sits on a piece of steamed green and a puddle of sauce. Imagine the temptations David and his team have to go through each day just to compile each piece!
Pork belly baklava
The chargrilled octopus is another favourite. I think it is quite hard to fault anything that has the perfect charcoal grilled flavour. Feeling rather stuffed at this stage, we begin to pace ourselves for dessert.
Not usually a lamb-eater, David has outdone himself by converting me. I often prefer to avoid the stench of lamb but this slow braised shoulder is soft and full of flavour and has become a signature dish for good reason – the lamb is slowly braised with oregano, olive oil, wine and garlic and then chargrilled with a lemon, olive oil baste and served with baked oregano lemon potatoes and string beans.
Dessert consists of seasonal mini-bougatsa and caramel baklava ice-cream.
Bougatsa are custard parcels wrapped with filo pastry. They’re served hot with a dusting of icing sugar. The custard filling is sweet and is enhanced with the oomph of passionfruit pulp. The seasonal varients sees Perama switching out passionfruit for mandarin mid last year and mango earlier this year. I can’t wait to try all the luscious bougatsa flavours of the year.
The caramel baklava ice-cream on the other hand is frozen cold. There are layers of vanilla icecream, caramel and nuts which combine brilliantly in the mouth.
Mini seasonal bougatsa and caramel baklava ice-cream
And finally, because this tweet-up was from back in October 2009, David spoilt us with his Sydney International Food Festival sugar-hit platter. There was an apple and rhubarb rice pudding, an amazing chocolate wafer sandwich with peanut butter ice-cream and a slice of nutty kataifi baklava.
Oct 2009 Sydney International Food Festival (formerly Good Food Month) Sugar Hit platter
Tweet-up at Perama
Perama Greek Restaurant
88 Audley Street, Petersham, NSW
Phone: (02) 9569 7534