As you may have gathered from recent posts, I’m ever so slightly excited about the very first Wells Food Festival, which takes place this coming Sunday.
One of the many reasons I’m looking forward to this culinary extravaganza is the festival also marks the opening of a brand new foodie establishment in Wells.
Locals might have been wondering what’s been happening to the Sun Inn over the last few weeks. The pub on Union Street has been closed a little while and is currently being refurbished and transformed into a Greek idyll. Just in time for the festival, the pub will reopen as The Greek Taverna at the Sun, and as a big fan of Greek food I for one cannot wait.
I lost no time in catching up with the Sun’s new owner, Olga, who will be running the pub with her brother Yianni, to find out more about their plans.
“It is very much a family business,” Olga explains. “We want our customers to feel like they have just been invited to our house for a meal. Our mother will be the main cook because of course no-one cooks like a Greek mum! We believe that food is not just about what you cook, but that it always tastes better when you can enjoy it in a friendly, relaxed environment.
“We will be serving authentic Greek home-cooked food, good wine, cakes, ‘real coffee’, cocktails, and all the drinks you’d expect to find in a pub,” Olga tells me. “The Sun Inn will still be a pub but it will also serve quality home-cooked food. Outside lunch and dinner times, we’ll also offer meze (a selection of small dishes) that people can have with their drink if they don’t wish to have a full meal.”
Olga’s mother had her own restaurant back in Greece for over seven years, while Olga and her brother Yianni have run a small boutique hotel together. They clearly have heaps of experience, but what brings them to Somerset?
“My brother and I have both lived on and off in Wells for some time,” says Olga. “My sister-in-law lives here with her family and this is how we first discovered Wells. We fell in love with the place. It is a very interesting, small city surrounded by amazing nature. What we like most about it is that people are so friendly and make you feel like part of the family. We have been refurbishing the pub for the last three weeks and during this time it is has been amazing how many people have offered to help us.”
How does Olga think Wells will respond to their Greek food? Why is she so keen to share Greek cuisine?
“We love Greek food, not just because we are Greek, but also because we believe it is simple, healthy and delicious,” replies Olga passionately. “We know that British people love Greek food but what they get most of the time in the UK is Greek food cooked in a British way. We will be cooking authentic Greek food using local ingredients; we believe food tastes better if ingredients are sourced locally. Somerset has many farms producing excellent fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. To give you an example instead of buying sausages imported from Greece, we decided to give our traditional family recipe to one of the local sausage producers who will be making them just for us.
“Also the financial situation in Greece in the last few years has taught us a big lesson: supporting local businesses is the only way to keep the community ‘alive’.”
I asked Olga if she could give us a taste of the kind of food we can expect to find at the new Sun Inn, and she has very kindly provided her recipe for Zimaropitta.
“Because your blog is about lovely, tasty food that doesn’t take long to prepare, I thought we can make an easy pumpkin pie with feta cheese,” says Olga. “Simple, inexpensive ingredients you can mix together in one bowl and cook in the oven is my idea of healthy fast food. This is what this recipe’s all about. We used a marrow bought straight from the producer in Wells Market and local Somerset feta cheese from Queen Street Deli.
“I would serve it with some tzatziki (yoghurt garlic dip) and a green salad. You can replace the flour with any wheat-free variety for a gluten-free version.”
Zimaropitta – feta and pumpkin pie
1kg grated pumpkin (not any of the sweet varieties), marrow or courgette
3 eggs beaten
300g feta cheese, crumbled
250g self-raising flour
150g cornmeal (optional)
salt to taste (if your feta is not salty)
a little water might be needed to bring the dough to a porridge like consistency
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
The traditional Greek way of grating a pumpkin or a marrow is to cut it in half lengthways and use a spoon to scrape off the soft part little by little. Of course, it might be easier just to cut it to pieces, peel and use a box grater.
Then mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add some water if you think it is needed. It should have a thick, porridge-like consistency before you pour it into a buttered ovenproof dish. Bake in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
“There you go,” says Olga. “A piece of… pie! And a great way to persuade children to eat pumpkin too.”
Thanks so much to Olga for her delicious recipe. I can’t wait to give it a go myself, as I know this is just the kind of thing my family will adore. I wish Olga, Yianni and their mum every success with their new venture and look forward to seeing the newly refurbished pub when I come over for the festival at the weekend. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with what’s happening at the Sun Inn, do visit their Facebook page.
And if you’d like to find out what else is happening this Sunday at the Wells Food Festival, take a look at the website at www.wellsfoodfestival.co.uk.