Just in time for summer, lockdown in Melbourne has finally ended! To celebrate, we've teamed up with Melbourne’s Hellenic Deli to plan the perfect Hellenic-inspired picnic.
Hellenic Deli is the Greek heart that has been beating in Queen Victoria Market since 1972. Owners Anna and John Kikidis specialise in authentic Greek produce, which makes their stall at QVM a standout. And with QVM right around the corner from the Hellenic Museum, why not immerse yourself in a totally Hellenic day!
Pack your bags and make your way into the city
Stop 1: Arrive at the Hellenic Museum for a 10am opening
Stop 2: Walk to QVM to grab your items for lunch
Stop 3: Arrive at the park ready for your summer picnic
We interviewed Anna from Hellenic Deli to create a personalised shopping list for you. This is what you’ll be wanting to pack in your picnic basket:
Dolmades: You can’t go past this staple appetiser. Vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs are arguably one of the most iconic Greek dishes, and they're vegan! Perfect for every picnic guest.
Kalamata pitted olives and stuffed saganaki olives: Anna and John only import authentic Kalamata olives which come to Australia in brine or their own juices, before being hand stuffed with a variety of fillings. They recommend stuffed saganaki olives to complement the sweet flavours of handpicked sun dried figs. Delicious!
Tzatziki: Hellenic Deli’s yoghurt, garlic and cucumber dip is deliciously true to tradition, and lovingly handmade. For more dipping variety, pair with avocado sea salt lemon dip and enjoy with capsicum and crumbly feta. There are a variety of feta cheeses to choose from at the stall, with our favourite being goat feta!
Crusty bread: Tear it off in chunks and dip it in extra virgin olive oil, or pile it with delicious toppings. A good crusty bread goes with everything and is a picnic must-have.
Cheese: Cheese is central to so many cuisines around the world. For the dairy lovers among us, Anna recommends two cheeses to go in your picnic basket; an exquisite goats cheese which is smooth in flavour, and Kefalograviera, a popular Greek cheese traditionally made from sheep milk that is salty, nutty and piquant.
Sweet Treats: Any good meal is rounded out with something sweet. Anna recommends adding two classic Greek cookies, Melomakarona (gently spiced honey) and Kourabiedes (melt-in-your-mouth almond butter), both typically eaten around Christmas – so, perfect for an Australian summer picnic! While many Greek sweets lean towards honey and spiced notes, lovers of richer flavours will enjoy Hellenic Deli’s sesame chocolate halva, a homemade vegan delight.
Wine: Finally, no picnic is complete without a little vino. In fact, Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, and wine drinkers love it today just as much as they did 6,500 years ago. You might want to round out your lunch with a Greek red wine such as agiorgitiko, mandilaria, limniona or xinomavro, or a Greek rosé for a warm sunny day.
Pack Your Bags and Pick a Park!
Come prepared with a few extra items from home, decide which park you'll be reclining in and voilà, you’re all set for your Hellenic-inspired picnic! For a fully kitted and comfortable day we suggest packing your picnic rug and chairs, water, cups, cheese knives, serviettes, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, a portable speaker, and a book, game or activity to enjoy with company. For an idyllic inner-city park, we recommend Flagstaff Gardens – very close to the Market and Museum! – or for a slightly longer trek, you can visit the equally lovely Fitzroy, Carlton or Alexandra Gardens.