There are always new adventures to be had, things to do, places to go, people to meet and so very much to learn. That is the great thing about life! Take my friend Yannis and his family who run a beautifully appointed café called Costa’s on a Dodecanese island. They are such lovely people and if I had not visited this island six years ago I would have never had had the wonderful opportunity of meeting them. Not only do they serve the very best ice cream milkshake (made from a choice of over 16 different flavours – mastic, tiramisu, caramel and of course chocolate to name but a few). According to my children Yannis makes the ‘bestest’ ice cream milkshake in the world! Let me clarify that by saying my children are fairly well travelled and have taste tested many ice creams, glaces and gelato so apologies to the Italians amongst you.
Being a health fanatic I try to resist yet find myself taking a slurp, with my children looking at me in great disgust resenting being deprived or separated from their beloved milkshake…even to the extent of the miniscule droplet that I steal of its deliciousness.
Yannis not only makes fabulous milkshakes but he has a terrific knowledge of this island and its secret treasures. And when I say treasure maybe you imagine a trunkful of glistening jewellery with stones, blood-red rubies and diamonds so bright that you have to put your sunglasses on to gaze at them. But to me treasure comes in the forms of food made with love and passion and tasting mighty fine. Yannis has this knowledge that I seek and I feel very privileged that he shared one of the items of my desire – Kouleria (Greek bread, a special recipe for this particular island). Having said that I am not sharing that recipe with you guys – but I will share his knowledge on a spice called mastic cultivated only in the Greek island of Chios…this is what it looks like: Mastic is a resin obtained from a tree. It has a very distinct flavour and has numerous uses such as in chewing gum, ice cream, soups and sauces, cakes and a special liquor in Greece called Masticatois. Mastic also has medicinal properties and can be used as an antibacterial and antifungal. It is also used in ointments for skin disorders and it is said that mastic is able to aid in the fight to lower cholesterol. All this and much more from a small tree – what an amazing world we live in.