Sesame Sweet: Making Pasteli in Amorgos
George Vassalos is a beekeeper, farmer, master distiller. He lives in Lagkada, in the center of Amorgos, at the southern end of the Cyclades, and which was made famous by the movie Le Grand Bleu (1988). We were lucky enough to be at his farm recently when he made pasteli using his own thyme honey and sesame grown in Chalkidiki.
To make it, Vassalos cleaned his work surface using a sponge dipped in sweet red wine. Then he weighed out an equal amount of sesame and honey. He heated these together, constantly stirring, for about a half hour to bring out the flavor in the sesame, checking the taste and consistency after 20 minutes by allowing a small spoonful of the mixture to cool.
Once Vassalos has determined that the pasteli is ready, the mixture is emptied out onto the table. Using a piece of wood, which has been cleaned with sweet wine, Vassalos hits the slab of honey and sesame repeatedly to spread it evenly into a rectangular slab. He then sprinkles it with cumin seeds, which is unique to Amorgos pasteli.
After it has cooled down completely, the pasteli is cut into small diamonds and then each piece is placed on an individual leaf from lemon, bergamot and bitter orange trees. The finished product is trimmed and covered in plastic wrap. Pasteli are sold everywhere in Greece from supermarkets to delis to bakeries, and they are also usually offered as a gift at weddings and celebrations.
- Tags: Cyclades