In Greek, the grape harvest is called trygos. During the trygos, from late August to November this traditional pudding, made from moustos (grape must) will be made at home or you can find individual portions in little plastic dishes in bakeries and supermarkets.
Moustos is the unfiltered and unfermented juice from freshly pressed grapes. It has many culinary uses in Greece from moustalevria to petimezi - grape molasses syrup, pies, bread and the very popular Moustokoulora, which are grape must cookies.
Moustalevria is a simple, very traditional pudding and the texture sits somewhere between thicked cream and a gelled dessert. It can be made in a variety of ways, in some homes petimezi is used instead of moustos to a sweeter, more concentrated version. The most traditional way involves tying up a small amount of wood ash in cheesecloth and placing it in the boiling moustos to draw out the impurities and clarify the pudding.
The first time I tried Moustalevria was at Varsos in Athens. This grand patisserie is a culinary landmark found in affluent Athenian suburb of Kifisia. I particularly loved Varsos' traditional charm - it looks like it hasn't changed since 1950.
Varsos is all starched white uniforms, decorative high ceilings and mosaic floors framed with pink marble. The huge industrial fridges, which look like the original ones, are emblazoned with brand names in gorgeous 1950s fonts. The set up at Varsos, is also very "are you being served?" style. Each staff member is assigned to a particular counter from whipped cream and meringues to tsoureki. The purchasing system is also completely traditional: you order, the server notes the price on a ticket and you pay at the seperate cash register - then you get your treats. What I really loved at Varsos was the fantastically retro greenish-grey serving wear - best Greek coffee cups ever, if you have a penchant for retro.
At Varsos we tried the Moustalevria, a traditional krema and a piece of galaktobourkeo - they were all extremely delicious. The moustalevria at a Varsos was dark and sweet, with a slight earthiness to it - topped with a thin layer toasted walnuts. The Greek coffee was also perfect with a thick kamaki, and it came with the obligatory tall glass of very chilled water. The delights we tried at Varsos were so good and they are not even Varsos specialities. If you want whipped cream, meringues or Tsoureki in Athens - then this is the place to go.
The grape juice used in this recipe makes a slightly lighter pudding than the one I tried at Varsos, but it is equally as flavoursome topped with plenty ot toasted sesame seeds and an extra dusting of cinammon.
2 cups freshly made grape juice
1/4 cup very fine semolina
1/4 cup of Greek honey or raw sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinammon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
Toasted sesame seeds, walnuts and cinnamon to serve.
Step 1. In a saucepan add the grape juice and honey or sugar and mix well until it dissolves into the juice.
Step 2. Place saucepan on the stove on a low heat and add the semolina a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend thoroughly. Stirring continuously, bring to the boil, add the spices and quickly reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly until it thickens to a creamy texture.
Step 3. Remove from heat, allow the mixture to cool a little and add it to serving glasses or bowls. Place these in the fridge and allow to chill completely. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds or walnuts and a dusting of cinammon.
Varsos Kifissia S.A
Kassaveti 5 Kifissia
145 62, Athens, Greece
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7am - 1am; Sat 7am - 2pm; Sun 7am - midnight