Lunch with… KORA’s Vasilis Mitrakas at Damm27

It’s a sunny Wednesday lunchtime, and I am about to meet Vasilis Mitrakas, the co-organiser of KORA: The Mediterranean Feast, for lunch at Damm 27. The bar-bistro is situated in Causewayside, just off the Meadows, and boasts an impressive continental brunch and lunch menu – perfect for our lunchtime interview.

KORA is a brand new food event coming to Edinburgh on the 2nd and 3rd May 2020, at Assembly Roxy at Roxburgh Place. Inspired by Mediterranean street markets and food festivals, Vasilis tells me that KORA’s aim is “to offer a one-stop shop for everyone who wants to get in touch with the Mediterranean culture”, and it certainly seems set to do this, with nine local traders of Mediterranean goods, and live music providing a fusion of sounds and tastes from the Mediterranean.

Tell us more about the event, what inspired it?

KORA is inspired by the fact that many cities like Edinburgh are bursting with Mediterranean culture, whether it is restaurants, supermarkets, residents or visitors! It’s an event that will bring all aspects of the culture together, celebrating the community that Med culture creates. Originally from Greece, Vasilis believes that KORA will be a great event for anyone, but particularly those from Mediterranean countries currently living in Edinburgh to re- familiarise themselves with their culture,or have the chance to show their culture off to their friends.

How will this event be different to others of its kind?

KORA is not going to be a food ‘festival’ like we are used to. Describing the event, Vasilis calls it “a fusion between Mediterranean street markets and food festivals…that’s what makes it different, it’s more of a bazaar experience”. Feasts in Italy, Greece, and Turkey are all different in their own way, but focus strongly around good food, music, and people. KORA is no different. Traders from around Edinburgh will have their own stalls selling their goods (check the KORA Facebook page for a list of them), so for the first time you can enjoy them all in one place.

You’ll be able to pick up hard-to- find products from other vendors’ stalls, and as well as amazing food, there will be live music played throughout the event. Possibly one of the most important parts of this feast is the idea of bringing people together; there will be large tables and benches so people can enjoy the food and atmosphere, mingle, and get to know even more about different cultures.

After both struggling to choose something from Damm 27’s incredible menu, I chose the Onglet Steak and Confit Tomato (£11), and the Roast Squash, Sage and Gorgonzola Risotto (£8.50). Vasilis goes for the catch of the day, which was Pan-fried Mackerel with Pickled fennel and Beetroot salad (£11)(all pictured on the right).

Shortly after ordering, the food arrives, and it certainly looked the part.

The delicate presentation of the dishes looked so inviting that we had to pause the conversation for a moment and take some time to dive in and appreciate them. Whilst eating, Vasilis wants to highlight another important part of Med culture: the diet. Well known for its health benefits, the Mediterranean diet can contribute to a healthy, balanced lifestyle, something which everyone strives for.

The feast will showcase the Mediterranean cuisine and diet in all its glory, while enabling the attendees to come away with products and skills that are essential to having a healthy diet. An incredibly important aspect of this diet is about knowing where your food comes from and how it is made, and KORA is the perfect place to gain this valuable knowledge.

As well as this, an important aspect of this diet for Vasilis is the community side of it and people coming together, exactly what KORA is about.

What should we be most excited for?

Vasilis of course replies “the whole thing!”, but he says that “the most exciting and innovative part of this event for me has to be the workshops being held”, an element which sets KORA apart from other events of its kind.

There will be two different workshops to try across the weekend for feast- goers, providing the perfect opportunity to learn how to make Mediterranean delicacies. But in general, Vasilis genuinely seems to be excited to see all of what makes up the culture of the Med come together in one room – I think it’s going to be pretty special.

What’s in store for the future?

Vasilis would love for this to leave a lasting impact on the Edinburgh food scene, due to the interest they have received from local traders wanting to take part, and also attendees, they are hoping that KORA will not be a one-off event, potentially taking it around the country and holding it more frequently in Edinburgh too!

Check out KORA’s Facebook Event page for all of the essential details, and to register your interest! KORA also has a great Instagram page, where they post a dish each day from a different Mediterranean country.

Tickets are only £3 for general access, but a different ticket will need to be purchased for the special music event on the

Saturday evening at 7pm. Particularly for students or families looking for a day out (children under 12 go free), this is an event not to miss out on, a wholesome weekend spent immersed in Mediterranean cuisine and culture – I couldn’t think of anything better!

Image Credit: Lottie Tiller

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