The food and nectar of the gods
Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Pomegranate Arils and Syrup
By Josee Brisson
In Greek myth, Hades, god of the underworld, abducts Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Zeus, chairman of the board of gods. Demeter begs Zeus to compel Hades to release Persephone. Zeus complies, on the condition that she eats nothing in the underworld. But Hades tricks poor, starving Persephone into eating six pomegranate arils (seed coverings). And so she must remain in Hades for six months of the year, during which time all green things on earth cease to grow.
Pomegranates are among the most ancient of cultivated fruits. In Syria, Egypt, and India, they represent fertility and abundance. In the Koran, pomegranates grow in the gardens of paradise.
Originally from Cyprus, halloumi cheese is popular in the Levant, Greece, Turkey, and now in North America. Made from goat’s or ewe’s milk, it is mild, firm, and salty, and is used especially in cooked dishes.
The sweet, juicy tartness of pomegranate arils, like little jewels popping in your mouth, perfectly contrasts the saltiness and density of the halloumi in this dish fit for Greek gods and goddesses.
Serves 2 people
250 g of halloumi cheese (also called halloum and hellim)
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 handfuls of pomegranate arils (seeds)
8 large mint leaves, chop just before serving as the leaves will darken
Freshly cracked pepper
Cut the halloumi cheese into equal cubes. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan and carefully drop in the cubes of halloumi, taking care not to splash the oil. Cook each cube until golden brown on all sides. Remove the cubes and drain them on paper towels.
Arrange the warm cubes of halloumi on two of your prettiest plates. Drizzle with pomegranate syrup and season with cracked pepper. Sprinkle the chopped mint and pomegranate arils, and serve immediately.
Pomegranate Cocktail, the nectar of the gods and goddesses
2 oz. of pomegranate juice
1 1/2 oz. of vodka
1 1/2 oz. of Aperol
4 large mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
Sparkling water or soda water
Small mint leaves for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, add mint leaves and lemon juice, and muddle with a spoon to release the mint’s essential oils. Add 4-5 ice cubes, pomegranate juice, vodka and Aperol. Shake until the shaker is too cold to handle.
Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large wine glass filled with ice cubes. Top with sparkling water or soda water, and garnish with mint leaves.
Photographed by Josee Brisson
Josee Brisson is passionate about food and an avid student of archaeology, mythology, history, literature, and the arts. She trained as a professional cook at École Hôtelière des Laurentides, in Sainte-Adèle, Québec. Among other food projects, she collaborated on two cookbooks with world-renowned food and wine expert François Chartier, and started a Chef at Home service. Josee is also a translator, researcher and social media community manager. Her first cookbook, L’Apéro: Appetizers & Cocktails, was #1 Best Seller in Appetizer Cooking at Amazon. Here’s a link to Josee’s book.