Christmas for each person represents something different. Often it includes a lot of food, music, festivities, decorations and large gatherings. The annual Semeli Christmas dinner couldn’t miss any of these. The Semeli family invited us to an unforgettable pre-Christmas get-together organized by the AMVYX team for all the friends, colleagues and partners at an amazing house in downtown Athens.
The house was decorated to the point, and in such a warm and welcoming way. We were offered tea or coffee upon our arrival and of course Panettone, and Greek Christmas sweets, cookies and a cheese platter with dried fruit. The whole experience was accompanied by the rich variety of Semeli Wines.
Our chef for the night – yes for once it was not me cooking- was Dimitris Kontopoulos, a well-known chef who is responsible and has curated the menu of Scala Vinoteca restaurant in Athens. The house had an open plan kitchen; therefore, it gave us the opportunity to wander around the kitchen and see the preparations and chat with the chef. The starters were passed by while we tried the Aetheria wine, a dry white wine which is a blend of locally grown Chardonnay and Malagousia. As amuse-bouche we tried a smoked Nori leaf with tuna tartare and a confit duck with jamon Bellota croquette with parmesan. The presentation was exquisite as you can see in all the photos. Very sophisticated, extremely good service from all members of the team and nice combination of flavors.
After we were seated at the long table which was decorated and everyone had name tags at their seat we tried the Thea Mantinia wine. A dry white Moschofilero from Mantinia, with aromas of herbs, ripe dried fruit, such as papaya, mango and yuzu, and hints of green fruit. In the mouth the full body and crisp freshness dominate, supported by aromas of bergamot, citron and yuzu, with a very subtle sweet aftertaste. As a starter we had Amberjack ceviche with citrus fruits sauce and pickled vegetables which was served in a tin can that resembles the ones that sardines are sold in. Very clever and the yellow beetroot was very interesting. In addition to that, we were served parmesan and truffle “stones”, which were put in a tray with real stones.
The main dishes were served with the Spondee red wine. A dry varietal wine with Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We first had a grilled lobster risotto with fresh truffle which was heavenly. Then a Grilled suckling pig (French cut) with rhubarb chutney, and a leek puree, a whole corn fed chicken supreme with baby potatoes and truffle and finally a thinly sliced grilled Challans duck with caramelized chicories and an orange blossom sauce. Finally, the dessert was an almond nougat with white chocolate cream and raspberries ice cream sorbet which was also divine. With it we had the Nemea Grand Reserve a red Argiotitiko wine from Nemea. Dense and round on the palate. Velvety and graceful tannins, rich alcohol with noted acidity that provides balance.
Overall the pairing of the wine with the intricate menu Dimitris Kontopoulos had prepared was exquisite. It was such a great opportunity to witness a well-known chef working outside his territory and preparing such a dinner for so many people. It is these moments that I am happy for what I am doing and lucky to have these opportunities and collaborate with like-mined people. Working with the Semeli team these pasts months I has gotten more and more interested in wine and I would like to build my knowledge around wine varieties and the continuously growing Greek production. The night was rounded up by a stand-up comedian who was very pleasant and made us participated in some interactive games. I might be in Berlin while writing this article but thinking about the moments if that night and looking at the pictures I do get a feeling of Christmas and this warmth I felt this night. Thank you Semeli family!