Greek Treasures Found Near the Sea
By Leigh Cort
George Chryssaidis loves life in historic St. Augustine, where he knows everyone, similar to his hometown of Frixa, a small Greek village with a parallel heart and soul. Both local residents and visitors to the ?ancient city' feel as if they know George well too, always present at his restaurant from early in the morning for breakfast through lunch and dinner each day. Athena Café exudes the simple heritage of Greece, where checkered tablecloths and two long walls depict the Greek countryside, a place where hundreds of years and generations of family culture found joy in tending their olive groves.
George decided to pay tribute to his family and legacy two years ago by creating, bottling and now sharing Frixa Olive Oil with those passionate few who love to cook and enjoy his ancestors' gift. As Greek poet name it ?liquid gold'. ?To me, it's not about mass production and distribution of our village's best kept secret. It's a pleasure for me to share the story with local friends and patrons who care about eating and cooking with our rich and pure olive oil?.
Creating Frixa wasn't only a dream for George. An old school chum, Yeorgios Kostopoulos, worked closely with him to bring their premier olive oil to the U.S. While Kostopoulos handled the growing, harvesting, pressing and bottling of their outstanding olives, George spent a long year studying and implementing the tedious bureaucracy of importing, something that faces all new product developers. Their harvest produced an exclusive limited production, and they chose to bottle in 4 sizes: 250ml, 500ml, 750ml and 3 liter commercial size.
Along with the historic and mythological relevance of the Greek Goddess Athena bringing her magical powers to the Athenian citizens, St. Augustine's pride as America's oldest city pairs well with Frixa's significance. In ancient Greece and Rome, olive oil was the hottest commodity. It was believed that olive oil brought people strength and youth; infused with flowers and grasses, they produced medicine and cosmetics. Even the olive tree had a ?titanic' resistance, a vital force which rendered them nearly immortal.
Its magical culinary virtues bring a flavor, bouquet and color to each dish, something that George values in his restaurant. On days when he isn't sitting in his favorite back table at Athena Café, he's in the kitchen creating the meals that guests love time and again. He can turn olive oil from an everyday ingredient into a truly enjoyable delicacy. Whether it's a spinach pie, kabobs, roasted lamb, omelets or crusty home baked warm rolls dipped in Frixa olive oil with a sprinkling of oregano, he uses at least 20 liters a day.
George's wife Paula and teenaged daughter Rosalina are St. Augustine treasures too. He and Paula met twenty years ago when he cooked and she served tables in a restaurant in Buffalo, New York. Their dreams of running a restaurant by the ocean came true with Athena Café. ?It's in our blood; it's what we love? George says with pride, referring to his family that cook, work and stay close together. Today, George has expanded his hospitality holding to New Orleans where he is partners in Fritzel's European Jazz Club and The Alcazar Café in St. Augustine ~ not forgetting his namesake ?Georgie's Diner' in St. Augustine.
The Chryssaidis Family are truly people/people. They make close friends with their customers and there's always something ?going on' from weekly Greek nights, Frixa tastings or just old-fashioned conversation around a big table. What better place to start than in St. Augustine, where visitors have journeyed for centuries to find the quality of long life, pleasure in the sunshine and being near the sea. ?My ancestors would be proud to know we're continuing the tradition of abundance, glory and peace, the symbol of the olive tree.?
For more information:
Athena Café & Frixa Olive Oil
14 Cathedral Place
St. Augustine Florida
Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.