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Eat With True Greek Spirit

3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper, or freshly ground black pepper to taste

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1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Sea salt

Pierce the eggplants with a fork twice near the stem.

There are 3 possible ways to give the eggplant the smoky flavor this recipe requires: If you have a charcoal grill, cook the eggplants over the coals until the flesh is tender. If you have an electric stove, place 3 layers of aluminum foil on a burner set at medium heat. Place the eggplants on the foil and let them cook, turning them frequently, until the skin is crisp all over and the flesh is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Or if you have a gas stove, hold each eggplant with a barbecue fork over the flame or place it on the broiler pan and broil until the skin is crisp, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until the flesh is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Peel the eggplants while still hot and discard most of the seeds. Chop the flesh. Finely chop the pepper and mix with the eggplant.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggplant and pepper with a wooden spoon, adding the oil and vinegar a little at a time. Add the garlic, chili pepper and parsley while continuing to beat. Season with salt. Taste, and add more vinegar if needed.

* NOTE: To roast bell peppers, adjust the broiler rack about 5 inches from the source of heat. Broil the peppers, turning them carefully, until the skins blacken and crack, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 minutes. The skins will come off easily. Peel the peppers, discarding stems and seeds.

Per serving (based on 8): 157 calories, 1 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 62 mg sodium, 3 gm dietary fiber

Michael Franz's Greek Food and Wine Suggestions>

DISH: Domata Me Kopanisti (Blue Cheese and Tomato Spread)

WINES: Gaia (Peloponnese) "Nótios" 2003 ($16) and Costa Lazaridis (Macedonia) "Amethystos" 2002 ($20) were both excellent with dish, harmonizing beautifully with its flavors while also matching its texture.

DISH: Tzatziki Me Maratho

(Yogurt, Garlic, Cucumber

and Fennel Dip)

WINES: The 2003 Santorini from Gavala Vineyards was wonderfully harmonious with this dish. Other successes were the 2003 Malagousia from Gerovassiliou (Epanomi) ($21) and the Kir-Yianni (Amyndeon) "Akakies" 2003 ($11) . With the single exception of Skouras (Peloponnese) "Mediterranean Red" 2003 ($8), we did find that the food's flavors were obscured by the red wines, though this wouldn't be a problem if the Tzatziki were served as an accompaniment to meat.

DISH: Garides Saganaki(Shrimp Baked in Tomato Sauce With Feta)

WINES: Kir-Yianni (Amyndeon) "Akakies" 2003 ($11), a dry rose, could handle the richness of the cheese without overriding the delicate flavors of the shrimp. The Strofilia (Anavissos) 2003 ($16.50) was the runner-up.

DISH: Domatosalata Horiatiki (Country Tomato Salad)

WINES: The acidity from the tomatoes and the vinegar worked best with three wines made from the Moschofilero grape: Skouras (Arcadia) 2003 ($15); Boutari (Mantinia) 2003 ($14), and Kotrotsos (Mantinia) "Erasmios" 2003 ($10). The Akakies Rose worked well, and the cheese in the salad can help balance the tannins in a light red such as Gaia (Peloponnese) "Nótios" 2003 ($16) or Skouras (Peloponnese) "Mediterranean Red" 2003 ($8).

DISH: Melintzanosalata (Eggplant Caviar)

WINES: Whereas the Akakies Rose was nearly perfect with the Garides Saganaki, it was simply perfect with this in all respects: Weight, intensity, texture and flavor. Several red wines also worked well with this, most notably Skouras (Peloponnese) "Mediterranean Red" 2003 ($8) and Costa Lazaridis (Drama) Chateau Julia Merlot 2002 ($21).

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