As part of our series seeing how people in Brixton celebrate Christmas and New Year through food and drink, we spoke to Spyros at Parissi who is Greek:
What’s your top Christmas cooking tip?
Keep it simple! Make sre you enjoy the day and the company of the people you share it with instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
What’s your failsafe Christmas recipe?
My failsafe dish is a stuffed chicken for meat eaters and stuffed tomatoes and peppers for the vegetarians. The stuffing is actually the main focus of the meal for us! We do two versions: one with rice, currants, pine nuts, chicken livers (if not veggie), cubes of fried potato, breadcrumbs and parsley. This gets stuffed inside the chicken. The other one is made from chestnuts, onions and pinenuts and goes into the little pocket of space at the side of the chicken’s legs or stuffed in the big tomatoes or red peppers.
What do you recommend to drink?
We usually drink wine with the meal, although there is nothing especially traditional. Easter is the bigger celebration in Greece and we have more dishes associated with that. We do celebrate New Year with gifts and a feast of chocolates, almonds and desserts. We make finikia which are a kind of orange biscuit or melomakarono which are like Middle Eastern style sweetmeats soaked in syrup and cinnamon. Desserts are more important to Christmas than drinks.
What was your worst Christmas meal?
Any meal where you can’t share the food with other people. In Greece, the ethos is about sharing food as a way to extend friendship and a wide welcome. This style of exchange is part of our culture where everyone eats the same rather than individually. Although a meal involving overcooked sprouts would come a close second!
What do you eat or drink after the festive indulgence?
After we’ve indulged, we eat dishes made with dried pulses to soothe us. They aren’t heavy, but all still warming and nutritious. My favourite is chickpeas baked in the oven with orange, rosemary and leeks. We then serve the leftovers with tomatoes, rice and feta.
What’s your favourite comfort food for winter?
My favourite comfort food for cold weather is something like homity pie which has a pastry base filled with potatoes, onions and mushrooms with cheese and cream. This vegetarian dish was made famous by the Cranks’ cookbook in the 60s. I also love fresh fruit or vegetable juices such kale, apple and pear with a little bit of ginger to wake you up! We should be serving our own juices very soon in fact!
Parissi is at 76 Atlantic Road. Open from 8am to 11pm for breakfasts, patisserie, meals and wine and cocktails.