BY BARBARA ROLEK
Listen to Barb Rolek at 8:10 Friday mornings on AM 1420 WIMS Radio, or visit www.wimsradio.com for a live feed.
Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna in Chicago’s Greek Town pulled out all the stops at a recent dinner co-hosted by premier dining club ChicaGourmets!
Owner Yanni Melidis plied guests with appetizers of tiropitaka (flaky filo triangles stuffed with feta cheese), beefteki ala Smyrna (mushrooms stuffed with ground beef, marinara sauce and cheese), and eggplant iman (braised eggplant with feta cheese).
We had a little break with a salad of chopped romaine, tomatoes and olives in the style of the Isle of Crete. But then it was on to the big guns – honey-roasted leg of lamb with orzo, yiaourtava (chicken breast with pasta and yogurt sauce), and sepia (cuttlefish similar to calamari with spinach).
Each course was presented with a Greek wine from Stellar Imports and Diamond Importers. Melidis, an expert on the diverse ethnic groups that have contributed to the unique cuisine of Greece, gave commentary on the food and libations throughout the meal.
Desserts included chocolate baklava and bougatsa (custard-stuffed filo pastries dusted with cinnamon-sugar) and scrumptious butter cookies, all from Artopolis Cafe, a sister business to Pegasus, at 306 S. Halsted St., and owned by Maria Melidis.
In addition to wowzer desserts, Artopolis is known for housemade artisan breads, wood-fired pizzas, crunchy salads and specialty coffees.
Guests received a gift bag of Artopolis’ fabulous stone-ground, hearth-baked bread, recipes of the dishes served, a small carafe of Ouzo, and a bottle of Greek olive oil.
ChicaGourmets!, celebrating its 10th anniversary and founded by Don Newcomb, hosts more than 70 events like this each year for its 400 members. The group has dined at the likes of Quartino, Va Pensiero, Smoque, Naha, 160 Blue at deep discounts off regular menu prices. The Pegasus dinner, for example, was $59 per person.
Yearly membership dues are $40 per household. To see what’s coming next, visit www.chicagourmets.org or call (708) 383-7543.
Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna
When: Open at 11 a.m., noon on Saturdays and Sundays
Where: 130 S. Halsted St., Chicago (free valet parking)
FYI: (888) 558-2637 or (312) 226-3377 or www.pegasuschicago.com
Saganaki, Fried Cheese
1/2 pound haloumi, kefalotiri or kasseri cheese
All-purpose flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* Cut cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices, 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Dredge in flour.
* Pour olive oil into a frying pan to a depth of 1/4 inch and place over medium heat. When oil sizzles, place cheese slices in pan a few at a time and fry, turning once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
* Use a slotted spoon to remove and place on paper towel to drain briefly.
* Arrange on warmed plate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with wedges of lemon.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
SOURCE: Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna