Today we are speaking with Evangelia, founder and owner of the herbs and spice brand Daphnis and Chloe based in Athens. Daphnis and Chloe is a culinary herb and spice company for cooks who are looking for Mediterranean ingredients of the finest quality.
Did you know that Greece produces one of the highest quality cooking herbs? I guess if you’ve been to Greece you wouldn’t be that surprise as the freshness and aromatic sensorial experience says it all. While some of us back home have come across the oregano or thyme from our local supermarket, I can assure you that the herbs and spices from Daphnis and Chloe are more exceptional than anything you’ve ever had. Full of aroma and beautiful in nature, they will transport you the countryside and coastal areas of Greece.
What inspired you to launch Daphnis and Chloe and how do you hope it contributes to people’s limited understanding of Greek food – more specifically herbs.
When we launched Daphnis and Chloe in 2013, the specialty ingredient landscape was very different than it is today. Most people were thinking of dried herbs as a cheap, “emergency” alternative to fresh ones, and decent quality dried herbs were impossible to find even at well-informed groceries. Being raised by a family that has always been quite selective with produce, it was hard not to make a comparison between what’s available in stores, and what we grew up eating at home. You see, it was – and still is – quite typical for greeks, to buy certain staples in bulk for the year, directly from local farmers. Knowing that Greece is home to a wide range of remarkable mediterranean herbs, which have never crossed the narrow borders of their motherland, inspired me to start a company that could source such ingredients, and make them known to a wider public of good eaters. Now it terms of how we inspire people – I can only say that it’s always amazing to see the sparkle in the eyes of someone who is tasting our thyme or fennel for the first time. You don’t need to be an expert to understand how special they are – all you have to do, is taste them 🙂
Do you use any of the herbs more than the other? If so, why?
Well, I use a lot of oregano, because it is a staple ingredient in our local cuisine and I mostly cook Mediterranean! Our Aegean Isle oregano, is a personal favourite – it belongs to a local variety that grows in proximity of the sea and it makes a great finishing oregano.
Where herbs a big part of your life growing up?
Well, we’ve always used certain herbs for cooking, but I didn’t know a lot about them until I started Daphnis and Chloe
What are some other ways you would encourage people to learn more about the culture of Greece?
Visiting a place is the best way to learn about it, a country can have many faces depending on which part you’re visiting. But I know that many people will be curious about the islands, so I’d suggest an old book about life on the Greek islands in the 60s: it is entitled Honey from a Weed.
It’s out of print since decades, but you can still find used copies online.
Describe a memorable meal from your travels?
The Kalitsounia (small pies with wild greens or local cheese) that we had for breakfast at Milies, in Western Crete. Greek salad as they make it in Messenia: with peeled, ripe tomatoes and oregano, swimming in a pool of extra virgin olive oil.
Destinations on your travel bucket list?
I’m dreaming of returning to Kythira this summer.
Where do you vacation with your family in Greece?
My parents have a small house on Mount Oeta, where we’d spend our summers as kids. Nowadays they spend half the year there, they have a vegetable garden, dogs, chickens and a cherry tree. It’s our family meet up place.
Name a favorite Recuerdo (souvenir) that you brought back from a destination you’ve traveled to and that holds a lot of meaning for you.
The Fatima ring that I bought in Istanbul when I was about to start Daphnis and Chloe. It’s a good luck thing. 🙂
Note: Head to our shop to purchase Daphnis and Chloe spices!