Sunday, May 4, 2014

Celebrating Mother's Day In Dallas

Of course - the most ancient references to Mother's Day  are (you guessed it) GREEK.  With the yearly spring festivals and fertility rites, also came a natural honor of maternal goddesses. During the spring festivals, the Greeks also honored Rhea, wife of the titan Cronus, and the matriarch of most of Greek mythology.

Nearby (in time and geography) in Rome, an annual spring celebration took place in a similar fashion, and moms were celebrated with an event called Hilaria, dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. The Roman version of the event was quite a celebration, and lasted three days and nights. It's rumored that the parties were too wild, and followers of Cybele were eventually banished from Rome.

In other areas of early Europe, early Christians celebrated "Mothering Sunday" during Lent (fourth Sunday) in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. Later, in the United Kingdom, the holiday grew to encompass ALL moms.

This Mother's Day, treat mom to Dallas' award-winning champagne brunch, and let her enjoy Mother's Day as it originated - GREEK!  Visit us for our special Mother's Day Celebration - at Ziziki's (all three locations).  Treat her to time tested family recipes, and an environment like no other! OPA!

Monday, April 28, 2014

An Authority of Greek Wines - Nico Manessis

We've found a true expert in the world of Greek Wine - and his name is Nico Manessis. He's the published authority on Greek wines, having published several books on the subject - and continuing to produce wine reviews, regional Greek wine education and news, and also making unique Greek travel videos along the Greek wine routes.

If you want to know what a true wine expert thinks of a particular Greek wine, breeze through his posts for real reviews and opinion on most Greek wines. For example, this excerpt from his review on Naoussa Diamantakos (read the whole thing here):

...Dark ruby. Slowly opens up to earth, sous bois. It then blossoms to strawberry scents. Cocoa. Depth. Tannins reminiscent of Renato Ratti's Nebbiolos, with increased volume, firework aromatics and an intense palate. "Sweet" strawberry and graphite on the bitter-almond, edgy, rich in glycerol finish. A highly strung thoroughbred. At this juncture, three hours of decanting, and all parts meet in harmony. Serve at cellar temperature. Best 2012-2018.

And with the review, you can find expert writing and opinion on the region, and in many cases - a video or photograph of the winery or area. If you're not a wine expert, or an expert on all things Greek - you will be after perusing his very informative and helpful site.

His book is several years old now, but we're pretty sure the content still holds true, and Mr. Manessis has made it very clear he's not slowing down on touring Greece and testing the wines to produce well-written and informative reviews on all things "Greek Wine".

If you haven't been able to get to Greece yet for a tour of your own, and you're a wine lover - you must check out Nico's site, where you can read up on the Greek wine regions, and view videos of exclusive wineries and wine tastings.

Learn more at Greek Wine World

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vegetarians Unite - GREEK STYLE!

Authentic Greek cuisine is rich with vegetarian options. I mean, Greek cooking is based on fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, herbs, spices, and olive oil - perfect for vegetarians (and often for vegans as well). However, unless you speak or read Greek, it can be challenging to seek out the authentic spots and interpret their menus.

Image from

Here are some of the most popular Greek vegetarian dishes:
  • Greek salad (cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and oregano)
  • Spanokopita (flaky spinach and cheese pastry)
  • Saganaki (a plate of melted cheese)
  • Pasta Napolatina (pasta with tomato sauce)
  • Cheese pastries
  • Dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with dill-flavored rice)
  • Olives, cheese and tzatziki (tangy yogurt…from where we got Ziziki‘s name from) plates

It is much more difficult to find completely vegan dishes (a diet eliminating all meat, dairy and animal products) as many of the meatless options contain cheese. However, hummus (chickpea spread) on pita bread is a naturally vegetarian AND vegan snack. Yigandes Plaki (gigante beans & tomato casserole) is a very popular dish during lent-Greek Orthodox observe several major and minor fasting periods throughout the year, including the Easter Lenten season. Meat (and products derived from meat), fish with backbones, dairy products, olive oil, and wine are not eaten.

You can’t forget about dessert, now! Baklava is a perennial favorite, a classic Greek pastry made with flaky phyllo dough that is layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling, and sweetened with honey or syrup. It’s sweet and very decadent AND vegetarian!

People in Greece, who eat a traditional Greek diet, have been known to live on average quite a bit longer than inhabitants of other countries. Greek food is tasty and good for your health and you won’t find a better combination than that. ZIZIKI’S RESTAURANT has a very healthy Greek cuisine, including many vegetarian dishes.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Olive, You Man! (All About Olives)

Recently we read a twitter exchange between some folks theorizing on how black olives become black when they start out green. One participant hypothesized that the olive was bruised. Seriously? Today we give you a bit of a olive education. After all, we can't have you Greek cuisine loving people out hypothesizing silly things with your Twitter friends.

First though, we have to tell you that the word olive refers to both the tree and the fruit of the tree. Much like the word pecan here in Texas. Olive trees are native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean and are of major agricultural importance in the region as the source of olive oil. Today olive trees are grown in temperate places all over the world, even California. In fact, the United States ranks as the twelfth biggest olive cultivator.

If you read any kind of western literature like Homer's Odyssey, or the bible, you'll find that olives are the most frequently mentioned trees and fruit. And you likely know that the phrase 'extend an olive branch' derives from the historic belief that olive leaves and branches symbolize abundance, glory and peace. In ancient times olive branches were given as offerings to Gods and powerful people. They even found olive branches in Tutankhamen's tomb.

Olives grow very slowly, which we think explains why we have so many colors of olives. You see, whether the olive is green, blonde or black, they are all grown from the same tree. They are just in different stages of ripeness. We suspect someone was a little impatient for a taste of olives and picked the fruit a little early. When that impatient picker discovered the tart and powerful flavor of the green olive they decided there was no need to wait for all the olives to ripen to black. Some could definitely be enjoyed sooner. Here at Zizikis we will be eternally grateful to that impatient olive farmer. We just can't imagine a world in which green olives didn't exist!

Olives should never be eaten directly from the tree due to their natural bitter flavor. Before eating, olives are fermented or cured to make them more palatable. Green olives are allowed to ferment before being packed in a brine solution. Black olives are not fermented, which is why they taste milder than green olives.

Generally, an olive's flavor depends on what type of curing or fermenting they under go. They can also be flavored by soaking in marinade or pitted and stuffed. Popular flavorings include herbs, spices, chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, and juniper berries; popular stuffings include feta cheese, blue cheese, pimento, garlic cloves, almonds, and anchovies. You can eat olives a million different ways...and here at Zizikis we do! Come on over the next time you get that salty olive craving. We know how to satisfy it! Opa!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red Eggs At Easter - A Greek Tradition

The Easter holiday is the most sacred observance in Greek Orthodox tradition, and many of the customs and practices in preparation of the Holy Days before Easter are common mainstays in Greek life.

Tied closely to the main faith of the country - the practice of dyeing eggs red on Holy Thursday and then being cracked and consumed on Easter Sunday is still very much a part of life in modern Greece.

From My Blog Love Greece:

Traditionally, Easter eggs are dyed throughout the Orthodox Christian world on Holy Thursday, and they are dyed red to represent the redeeming blood of Christ that was shed on the Cross, the white egg (before being dyed) represents the white marble tomb were Christ's body was laid after He was taken down from the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolises the sealed tomb of Christ.

On Easter Sunday, a ritual of the cracking of the eggs take place, with people tapping each others' egg, symbolising the 'cracking' of Christ's tomb and the bonds of death and His resurrection.For more information on this and other Greek customs, visit My Blog Love Greece

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lovin' Lamb

At Zizikis’s, we stick to traditional Greek dining—which is why we love lamb! OPA!

Often there is a choice of lamb on the menu and many just overlook this mouthwatering delight for whatever reason. But it's a shame - because it's not only a traditional Greek favorite - it's one of Costa's many specialties.

Nearly 6% of Greek agriculture is comprised of sheep and goats. Now that there are improved breeding strategies and hygienic standards, lambs are perfect for those who are health-conscious and are willing to pay a little more for it. Since is has many benefits, lamb dishes are nearly a delicacy  served on special occasions and in celebrations. Here is one great reason to give lamb a try:

Lamb is rich in vitamins! It's an incredible source of protein and meets over half of the daily protein requirement for adults. It is also rich in iron, making it quickly absorbed by the body.New studies reveal that the vitamin B3, found in lamb, protects against potential age-related illnesses and bone problems. Eating lamb can actually help you maintain strong bones and skin!

Next time you are at one of our Ziziki locations – try the Lamb skewered medallions or the stuffed Leg of Lamb gyro or possibly - our most delightful is the Stuff Lamb Loin.Visit us on or Twitter and let us know what you like best!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Think Of Greece - Think Of OLIVES!

When you think of olives, you imagine a little bowl on a bar counter, ordering a small bowl to go with your meal at a restaurant, or in your martini . They are also very popular because of the oil that they produce, but what do you really know about where they came from?

Olives are grown on olive trees that are native to the Mediterranean area. They are an evergreen tree or shrub that is very short, usually no taller than 50 feet. These trees are incredibly strong. Olive trees last for many years, but usually don’t start growing the actual fruit until they are about 6 or 7 years old. These trees are grown in abundance in the Mediterranean countries. There are about 18 million tons of trees produced each year with 95% of them being from the Mediterranean area.

Every type of olive comes from a different area, therefore there are not all kinds of different olive trees in one area. The different kinds of olives are Empeltre, Hojiblanca, Lechin, Picual, Cornicabra, Verdial, Arbequina, Picudo and varieties. There are also the most common olives in the United States, which are the black and green olives. Each one of these olives have a different taste depending on where they are grown, inside or outside, the heat, and the soil. These are all factors that change the taste of olives! Olives are harvested at the green stage but can be left to ripen which darkens their color and we get what we know as black olives.

Olives are used in a variety of ways. They can be eaten whole or cultivated into oil. In kitchens all over the world, olive oil is the most common cooking oil. It is also very common to have olive oil salad dressings. Just like traditional mediterranean kitchens, Ziziki’s uses olive oil for cooking too. For example- our calamari is lightly sautéed with olive oil, white wine, and lemon. Another favorite dish with olive oil is our shrimp, it is marinated to perfection with olive oil and herbs. If you are looking for a delicious appetizer that is sure to please your Greek craving the artichoke dip & pita bread should be your number one choice; it is even served with whole kalamata olives. You can also just order a few olives on the side with any of our dishes if you would please.

After all, the Ziziki’s menu would not be so perfect unless it served foods that were full of strong flavors, like olives and garlic. These are the backbone to the every Greek meal, So come on “oliver” and eat a "Big Fat Greek Dinner"!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wine: An Ancient Gift From The Gods

You would certainly know that the Greeks are completely and utterly responsible for the blessing of WINE; all kinds of wine!

Certainly, the Greeks are considered the creators of red, rosé and white wines - with the 'finest' wines being thought to have been from Thásos, Lesbos and Chios regions. The reputation of the wine, of course, depended heavily on the region it was produced. Less 'fine' and more 'in-the-homes' of the country folk was an atypical table wine made from water and the residue from squeezed grapes and lees.

Like ancient wine critics, the poets of the time wrote and sang, and passed tradition about their favorite wines, the flavors, the textures - and so, we're able to learn much from these texts.

Historically, most Greek wines were cut with water, because not doing so was believed to cause madness and even - death.  This was a true attempt to monitor overuse and remain civilized while consuming wine. Undiluted wine, or akraton - and only believed to have been consumed by 'barbarians' in the northern regions of Europe.

Different variations of different types of wine had medicinal uses, Hippocrates having been quite successful in treating fevers and convalescence and even using wine as an antiseptic. Outside of these therapeutic uses, Greek society - for the most part -  did not approve of women drinking wine; it is said that some Greek laws* actually restricted women to drinking water. Sparta was the only city where women routinely drank wine.

(*and as a sidenote, Ziziki's certainly does not approve of this ancient Greek law! NO-OPA-THERE!)

The Greeks were quite innovative in their methods for creating wine, from the process of crushing their grapes, to the experimental tests of producing a more-or-less acidic wine by harvesting premature grapes. Greek wine was often with honey and made 'medicinal' by adding thyme, pennyroyal and other herbs. No stone was left unturned when it came to testing new wine variants.

Dionysus, it is certain - is very proud. Visit us at Ziziki's to test and find your favorite from our exclusive selection of fine wines at one of our Dallas wine bar locations.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When in GREECE: Eat Mediterranean Salad

We get more than our fair share of recipe requests here at Ziziki’s. Of course - we can't give away our secrets but we can share a simple one! Still, if you’re looking to impress - this recipe is sure to put a smile on some faces.

Mediterranean Salad:
Hearty, robust, and delicious! All the stuff you dream about are in a Greek salad - tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, and sun-dried tomatoes - all glistening from a splash of oil. It takes only ten minutes to make this salad and it’s perfect if you’re looking to entertain a small group since it serves eight people.

3 cucumbers, seeded and sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
3 cups diced roma tomatoes
1/3 cup diced oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, oil reserved
1/2 red onion, sliced

In a large salad bowl, toss together the cucumbers, feta cheese, olives, roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons reserved sun-dried tomato oil, and red onion. Chill until ready to serve.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ode To The Artichoke

Ode to the Artichoke
The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention,
It built a small helmet under it’s scales... 

 ~Pablo Neruda, Ode To The Artichoke 

Do not let the thorny leaves of the artichoke discourage you. Within this member of the thistle family lies a treasure for the palate and a boon to the body. An important element of Mediterranean cuisine, and a native to the region, the artichoke is the edible flower bud of a thistle-like plant in the sunflower family and is eaten as a vegetable. It is low in calories and according to the USDA, one medium artichoke is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium as well as a natural source of antioxidants.

We love to eat artichokes too much to let them bloom, but if we did, we’d be blessed with a beautiful lavender flower. However, judging by its popularity in international cuisines, seems most folks feel that the taste of the artichoke heart in Greek salads and artichoke dips is a worthy trade-off.

Some interesting tidbits about artichokes include: 

  • Artichokes are one of the oldest foods know to humans.
  • Nearly one hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.
  • Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen in 1949.

Humm…if Miss Monroe ate artichokes, was that the secret behind her appeal? Quick, rush to Ziziki’s for your daily dose of artichokes!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Herodeion

No trip to Athens is complete without a trip to the Herodeion Theatre located at the heart of the culture center right under the Acropolis on Dionysiou Areopagitou Pedestrian Street. Also known as the Odeon of Herodus Atticus in Athens, The Herodeion is considered the first example of a complex of buildings dedicated to performances of the arts. The Roman philosopher, teacher and Politian Herodes Atticus built the theater in about 161 AD. The splendid, semi-circular amphitheater was dedicated to the memory of Herodes Atticus’ wife, Aspasia Regilla who died in 160 AD.

The 1,250-foot radius of the amphitheater originally seated more than 6,000 people. Various marbles and ceramic pieces decorated the original three-story wall of the stage. Marble adorned the enormous seating area; overhead, a wooden roof of cedar kept the elements out.

A renovation took place in 1950. Today, the Herodeion is the home of the Athens Art Festival, musical concerts, and classical tragedies. All this under the night sky and with exquisite acoustic experience built into the structure over two thousand years ago. So if you visit Athens in the summer, don’t miss out on a fabulous experience of Greek comedy and tragedy. Meanwhile, while you plan your sojourn to beautiful Athens, drop by Ziziki’s Dallas Restaurants for an authentic Greek dining experience - and the perfect flavor for your itinerary.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A True Greek Tradition - Horta

What is "horta"?

In Greek cuisine, Horta (HOR-tah), or "greens" are a common side dish, usually eaten cold and seasoned with olive oil and lemon.  Of course - horta, or 'greens' of this sort are found all over the world, from Africa to the deep-South of the United States.

Greens used range from typical cultivated veggies like spinach, mustard and turnip - to wild plants like dandelion, wild leeks and smooth sow-thistle.

These boiled greens are a staple in nearly every Greek household. These are easy to prepare, super-healthy, inexpensive - and you will really enjoy the clean, pure taste.

Like spinach, boiled greens wilt and reduce when cooked to a fraction of their original quantity. For four ample servings, one would typically boil approximately 3 lbs. of greens. Here's the details of a traditional Greek recipe for horta:

Greek Horta
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

• 3 lbs. curly Endive or any leafy green of your choice (Chicory, Chard)
• White vinegar (for adding to soaking water)
• 1 tbsp. salt
• Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp.)
• Fresh lemon juice to taste (juice of 1 lemon)
• Salt and Pepper to taste


The most important part is your preparation. Wash the greens well before cooking and trim any coarse stems. Discard any brown leaves.

Soak the greens in a clean and rinsed sink with plenty of water - and about a cup of white vinegar. Any sand or residue will sink to the bottom of the sink, while the greens will float on top. Remove the greens to a colander before draining the water.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add about a tablespoon of salt to the water. Carefully submerge the greens in the pot and boil for about 20 minutes or until the thickest parts of the stems are tender. Be careful not to over boil.

Drain in a colander and place in a bowl. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper (to your desired taste).

It's your choice! You can serve the greens warm, at room temperature or even cold. They're a very common side dish in real Greek cuisine.