Q: Is there any chance to get the recipe for tzatziki sauce from Olympia Kebob House & Taverna? That stuff is so good, I could eat it with a spoon.
— Carol Janssen, Godfrey
A: When George Nicholas opened Olympia 31 years ago, he imagined a casual take-out place. His customers wanted a sit-down restaurant with waiters. So Olympia became a taverna, the Greek term for a casual restaurant. (It's not a tavern, although liquor is served.) Pressed-tin ceilings, church-pew benches and a gleaming floor-to-ceiling bar add to the Old World feeling.
Olympia serves traditional Greek country fare, including casseroles like moussaka, pastitsio and spanakopita. General manager Jack Hickok says the restaurant is known for its gyro [pronounced YEE-ro] sandwiches; chicken and lamb kebobs on skewers; and house-made baklava, the Greek pastry made with thin layers of phyllo dough, walnuts and honey.
Tzatziki [pronounced tzod-ZEE-kee] is a basic Greek condiment, Hickok says. To meet demand, Olympia makes tzatziki at least four times a week. Each batch starts with 30 pounds of sour cream and is flecked with bits of green from the cucumber skin. It's pleasingly sharp with garlic and lemon juice.
A recipe this simple needs good-quality ingredients. Olympia uses a fortified sour cream that's not available to consumers. Full-fat Greek yogurt is a good substitute. Hickok recommends using a garlic press or a kitchen rasp for mincing the garlic. Never substitute garlic salt or garlic powder, he says.
Special Request is written by Kirkwood resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and "veggie evangelist" at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.