Friday, October 16, 2015

Parparoussis Dinner at Helen Greek Food and Wine


The exclusive Parparoussis Dinner at Helen Greek Food and Wine was held earlier this week. This was the first event of this type to be held at the restaurant which opened in Rice Village this past summer. Owner and sommelier Evan Turner invited Athanasios and Vasiliki Parparoussis to showcase their wines at this special dinner which he limited to 45 guests. The wines that were chosen for the meal are on his wine list and they are some of his favorites. He feels their expression of acidity and mineralty are the hallmark of Greek wine. 

Winemaker, Athanasios Parparoussis trained in Dijon, France. He has recently stepped back from the day to day operations. The multi-generation family-run organic winery is now overseen by two of their daughters, Dimitra and Erifili. The winery is located in Patras in the Peloponnese. The dinner featured wines produced from indigenous grapes of the region like the rare Sideritis variety, a pinkish skinned grape that had been used to create both a white and a rosé wine.

Importer George Spiliadis was acting as translator as needed. He talked about how the American interpretation of Greek cuisine is finally moving beyond moussaka and retsina and towards a more modern expression. This has had the effect of creating more interest in Greek wine. Evan Turner discussed how well the wines work with our own local seafood and goat cheese. 

Executive chef William Wright created a 6 course menu featuring elevated Greek cuisine inspired by Vasiliki's own recipes. The couple is known for their hospitality to visiting guests at their winery and they were very pleased to share their wine and food at Houston's newest Greek taverna-style eatery. This was their first trip to America; they were enjoying our city and they were surprised to see how green everything was here at this time of year. Their next stop is Boston so they will see some fall color before heading back to Greece.

The Menu

  • Purslane salad with Yukon gold potatoes, beet puree, candied beets, watercress, kalamata olives, lemon juice and feta cheese served with the 2014 "The Gift of Dionysus" Sideritis- a dry white wine with grapefruit aromas and flavors with a slight vegetal note and a crisp mineral finish.
  • Roasted grouper with local horta-style greens over a caper scented tomato sauce garnished with fried capers, oregano and olive oil served with the 2014 Petite Fleur Dry Rosé which was almost sweet seeming against the salty capers and creamy sauce.
  • Makaronia pasta with yogurt, tarama fish roe, green onions and lemon zest served with "Les Dons De Dionysus", a barrel fermented white wine blend of 75% Assyrtiko and 25% Athiri, the Athiri gives an added richness to the more lean Assyrtiko and the use of oak is very judicious with a mix of both new and used barrels.
  • Moussaka stuffed pumpkin made with feta and kefalotyri cheese, baking spice and bechamel sauce served with the 2010 Nemea Reserve which had a complementary spicy note.
  • Venison cooked in Mavrodaphne with baby fennel, carrots, leek and hen of the wood, type of mushroom, with the 2010 Taoe, a 100% Mavrodaphne red wine that is barrel aged for 2 years creating a dry, dense wine with blackberry, bay leaf, eucalyptus and black pepper, smooth, long spicy finish
  • Feta Mousse with olive oil and thyme shortbread cookies with wild berry spoon sweet served with Muscat de Rio Patras, a rich, naturally sweet wine with orange blossom and peach notes; an elegant pairing with the sweet and savory final course.
A fantastic inaugural wine dinner at Helen Greek Food and Wine, be on the lookout for more events like this in the future. You can also find the wines discussed here on the wine list to enjoy on any visit to this establishment. The restaurant is located on 2429 Rice Blvd. The dinner was priced at $125.