There’s an integrity at the heart Greek Cypriot food.
A respect for tradition and ingredients and, at its heart, an understanding that meals are there to satisfy the diner rather than massage the ego of the chef.
But it can be hard to find Greek Cypriot restaurants that truly reflects these values for many seem to have become almost parodies of themselves, targeting raucous hen parties rather than customers wanting to savour the simple delights of this cuisine.
So perhaps it was no surprise that a Greek Cypriot pop-up called Yiayia Mama- literally ‘Grandmother Mother’ – packed out Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath on Friday night.
It was a venture by locally-based cook and food blogger Tim Phedon – the first of a series of pop-up evenings that he plans to host to offer Brummies a taste of the traditional Greek Cypriot recipes that he’s so passionate about.
Fifteen separate small(ish) plates were brought out during the course of the evening.
Nothing fancy. Nothing relying on expensive ingredients.
Just solidly good food with flavours and textures that were deftly judged.
Homemade bread, for instance, was scone-like with a beautiful crust.
Houmous was pleasantly textured, with a subtle background of tahini.
Finely-shredded white cabbage was glistening with oil and enlivened by the berry-sharp flavour of sumac.
Slices of courgettes were held together loosely by eggs in the style of an unset omelette.
Among the stars of the night were cubes of baked feta topped with nuts, herbs and honey that I’d happily eat time and time again.
Moussaka was a deeply satisfying rustic dish, proper comfort food.
A Greek custard pie gently with a prettily glazed filo crust and a rich filling fragrant with rosewater was heaven.
Here was a meal that made me long for Birmingham to have an unfussy, inexpensive Greek Cypriot restaurant or cafe where I could eat such food again.
But I’ll have to wait.
Tim, a third generation Greek Cypriot who was born and bred in Birmingham, doesn’t plan to hold his next pop up at Kitchen Garden Cafe until October.
Keep an eye on Tim’s social media channels
Instagram – @timphedon
Facebook – @feedtim