I know we are well into September (OK, it’s almost October) and I have this year had two Greek dining experiences. One was rather more prolonged: a week spent in Crete in the spring, which obviously did involve more than one meal. The other was this summer when I went with a friend to the Brother Marcus restaurant close to Borough Market in southeast London. Among the dishes we had then was the king prawns seared in garlic butter (shown on the home page) but, out of respect for the chronology and the home of the cuisine, we shall begin with the real Greek.

This is called kaltsouni – it’s a traditional hand-made Greek pie with lamb meat, mizithra cheese and spearmint…and it is absolutely delicious

The item you see above was something I sampled at the hotel where we stayed in Crete. It’s a bit like a mini Cornish pasty with rather more going on flavour-wise than with the estimable west country comestible. As you can see, one got served with two of them. I ended up eating four. For a while I did consider six.

At a small restaurant on a pretty back street in Chania, the sardines looked irresistible; served simply with just potato and a tomato dressing, they were wonderful

Greek cuisine makes considerable use of several staples. Among these are olives and, of course, olive oil. The latter is used in many dishes, olive trees being abundant throughout the mainland and the many islands. A wide variety of herbs are also regularly in play, such as oregano, garlic, cumin and coriander. There are multiple offerings of cheese as well, although I guess pride of place has to go to feta, made from the milk of sheep or goats and the primary ingredient of a traditional Greek salad.

At Brother Marcus, a main course of kataifi lamb croquettes with garlic yoghurt and burnt harissa butter proved worthy of having grabbed the attention

All considered, an al fresco meal at a Greek taverna in spring or summer is perhaps one of the most languidly enjoyable ways to while away a few hours on holiday. I am not pretending the impact is in any way the same when one is dining at an eaterie in the capital but the getting there and back is a lot quicker and likely to be more devoid of transport hassle. Having said all that, I will be duly thrilled the next time a trip to Greece is on the horizon…and the olive oil on my food comes from the country I’m in.

This was an interesting side dish on offer in Borough – bacon relish…it seemed to go well with everything on our plates (though obviously not if you’re vegetarian!)

So there you have it: a blog about Greek food and no mention of moussaka, souvlaki or baklava. And definitely no mention of the local coffee. I love Greece and Greek food, but I absolutely cannot drink that stuff. Oil belongs in a car sump, not on my table.