Cookbook road test: Mazi: Modern Greek Food
Mazi means ‘together’ in Greek. It’s the name of the authors’ restaurant in London’s Notting Hill, which has “Greece’s sharing tradition at the very core of our ethos”.
Christina, who’s lived in the UK since 2002, swapped a career in fashion and music PR to do something that she cared deeply about. In the book’s intro Christina writes, “it always upset me that there was not one single place I could recommend to friends when they asked where they could find a good Greek restaurant” – and she and Adrien set out to change that.
Recipes in both book and restaurant hail from across Greece, with tomato-flavoured ladeni bread from the Aegean island of Kimolos and pastitsada, a chicken dish from Corfu, as well as a number of dishes from Christina’s native Thessaloniki. Many have a twist; so stuffed vine leaves come with yogurt dip spiked with wasabi.
Quality of the recipes
I eventually settled on two traditional recipes: lamb fricassée and bougatsa, a filo pie filled with crème patissière, to which I’d developed an addiction during visits to Greece. I was attracted by the spring-like flavours of the lamb dish – fresh dill and parsley and braised cos lettuce, thickened with avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce at the end.
My arms ached as I walked home from the butcher, musing that the 2kg of lamb called for in the recipe seemed a lot for six (the delicious. food team says 900g–1kg of lamb to feed six). There was no way my domestic Le Creuset could brown that much lamb in one go without steaming – so I did it in batches. Apart from that, the recipe was dead simple, although I suspect the photo above was taken before the avgolemono was stirred in. Flavour-wise, the dish was spot-on – and would serve 10. Fortunately I have greedy neighbours..
Mazi’s bougatsa is filled with a crème patissière flavoured with orange and lemon zest. The baking bougatsa smelled just like an Aegean holiday and a Greek friend confirmed it tasted “properly Greek”. Again, the portions were very generous; the recipe says it’s for eight but I’d be in a sugar coma if I ate an eighth of it. I was once more grateful for greedy neighbours.
Photography and design
The food shots by Nicolas Buisson are warm, sunny and simple and the location shots of Greece and Mazi restaurant hit the right note.
Who’s the book suitable for?
People with healthy appetites or with a (very Greek) need to feed. Purists might not like some of the modern twists, but there’s plenty to satisfy traditionalists too.