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Perk up the afternoon with a Greek frappé

November 4, 2010 |  6:00 am

Frappe2 I’ve had it on my to-do list for weeks, ever since I noticed my frappé supplies were dwindling, and last week finally made it to C&K Importing (otherwise known as Papa Cristos) at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Normandie Avenue. Feta cheese? Check. Mt. Hymmetus honey? Check. Filo dough? Check. But where’s the Nescafé? I asked, panicked. 

We moved it, the clerk said. It’s behind the counter.

“I’ve become addicted to frappés,” I explained.

“We make them here too,” she told me, “And about 4 o’clock, when I’m starting to droop, I’ll ask them to make me one and I perk right up.”

Same thing with me. To the uninitiated, frappé is a Greek obsession, a thick foamy iced coffee made with Nescafé, water, and, if you like, a little sugar and milk. We ran a story on the phenomenon in 2004, “When the Greeks Toss the Demitasse by London-based food writer Daniel Young. At the time, he and his wife, Vivian Constantinopoulos, had just  written a book on Greek café culture called “Frappé Nation.”  Published by Potamos Publishers in Athens, it is now out of print, but you might be able to turn up a copy used.

The recipe I use is from that article, though it's so simple you can hardly call it a recipe. I buy my Nescafé from C&K Importing because the one made for the Greek market has the bitter kick a good frappé needs. Young also says Nescafé from Mexico (sold at Von’s and other markets) tests well too.

To make a frappe, Young says to combine 1 rounded teaspoon instant coffee, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 cup water in a shaker, jar or blender. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds, or blend for 10 seconds in the blender, to produce a thick foam. Slowly pour the mixture down the sides into a tall glass half-filled with ice. Add 1/4 cup milk also down the side of the glass and top off with 1/4 cup water or more to fill the glass.

C&K Importing, 2771 Pico Blvd. (at Irolo Street), Los Angeles; (323) 737-2970.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo credit: S. Irene Virbila