This summer, Europe was chock-a-block with American tourists, visiting countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. So much so, that a couple of East End restaurateurs figured it was time to bring their respective food cultures from the latter two places to the South Fork — you know, to save you the late-season plane ticket.
On Thursday, September 28, get ready for the chef Alex Bujoreanu and his team at R.Aire restaurant at The Hampton Maid are doing a full-on Spain-Greece menu mash-up with chef George Giannaris of the Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant in East Marion.
“Greece and Spain are large contributors to the Mediterranean influence on gastronomy, and because of their geography, rely equally on the fruit of the sea as well as the land,” says Giannaris. “Both cultures have an ancestral respect for natural quality and frown on the industrialization of the ingredients used in their cuisines.”
Dubbed the “Four Hands Dinner,” the two epicurean friends are bringing the best of both cultures to the plate, starting with appetite-whetting, Mediterranean-skewed tapas spread, highlighting the flavors and textures of Bujoreanu’s Spain and Giannaris’s Greece. Later in the evening, comes the heady highlight: a succulent whole-roasted lamb alongside R.Aire’s renowned seafood paella, both prepared in an open setting where guests can watch the whole process.
While the complementary nature of these popular cuisines makes border-crossing sense, how a North Fork and South Fork chef found their own common ground might seem less intuitive, but it all happened at The End. Last year, Bujoreanu and Giannaris met at an industry wine tasting event in Montauk and became fast friends. Since then, they’ve incorporated each other into both their personal lives, getting together and cooking feasts for their friends and family — a professional alliance seemed like the next apropos step.
“Many times when I am asked, ‘What is in that dish?’ people are surprised by the minimalism of the recipe,” says Giannaris. “That’s where Alex and I truly connect. Our dishes draw from excellent, fundamental staples to create memorable flavors.”
Expect a convivial, communal setting where the Greek and Spanish wine pairings will flow alongside dishes like:
- maroulosalata (Greek lettuce salad)
- escalavata (roasted onions, eggplant, and peppers) with grilled bread
- baked saganaki with organic tomatoes
- grilled chorizo
- slow roasted La Caja whole lamb
- de marisco — seafood paella with shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari
- charcoal-baked fingerling potatoes with lemon and oregano
- housemade Hellenic baklava gelato
- tarta Santiago (almond cake)
“The Spanish and Greek cultures are very similar in their cuisines. Both use very pure and organic products with simple, traditional dishes,” says Bujoreanu. “It’s a very healthy way of eating, which is how both George and I prepare our dishes. We use the best quality ingredients we can get and prepare them in a simple way.”
Tickets for the dinner are $125, and reservations can be made here.