Fall is most definitely approaching here on the island. Cool nights make way to perfectly warm days. Summer produce is fading as the fruits of autumn begin to ripen. Sweet grapes dangle from their vines and the wild fennel blossoms have gone to seed. With the passing of each day, the busy season is coming to a close. Summer is almost over and as a reminder to take some time to fully soak in this shift in seasons, I was inspired to make this roasted grape & fennel olive oil cake.
There is a feeling in the air here that is difficult for me to describe in words. September is the month that I came to Greece with my hubby for the first time 11 years ago. So there is a certain nostalgia that I feel being here again during this season. From the way the light of the sun glows to the smell of the sweet night flowers that infuse the breeze, my heart aches with gratitude to be here re-living those memories that I hold so dear. And now that we call this village home, we have been granted the privilege to make new memories as we settle into this sacred place that captured our hearts all those years ago.
As many of you reading this may already know, I made an announcement on Instagram last week that I am styling and shooting a cookbook for the most famous restaurant on our island! The owner of Agnanti approached me to help them put together a collection of recipes and images from our village as a tribute to his family’s food legacy and I could not be more honored to bring their story to life through my photography! This project has left me extremely busy, which explains my absence from the blog, but I squeezed in some time to share this roasted grape & fennel olive oil cake with you guys because the grapes are at the peak of their season here and I was feeling especially inspired to create something with them.
This cake is a variation of a pistachio cake that I made for a food photography workshop that I hosted in Point Reyes in 2017. This cake was received so well by the attendees, many of them telling me it was the best cake they ever had! This time around, I made some changes to reflect ingredients that are local here in our village: almond flour instead of pistachio, olive oil instead of butter and ground wild fennel seeds instead of rosewater – and the result was just as good as the original (which I have yet to share here on the blog).
Roasting the grapes allows them to soften a bit and release some of their glorious juices. The flavor of fennel is an intriguing addition to the grapes that I absolutely adore. Wild fennel covers our island and is a foundational ingredient in many of the local recipes. The scent of wild fennel alone is enough to remind me of everything I love about this island, so incorporating wild fennel into this dessert makes me feel especially sentimental.
Sweet and fragrant, this roasted grape & fennel olive oil cake is my tribute to the transiton between seasons here on the island. When I eat this cake I think about the joy I feel each day to wake up in this quaint village that is filled with a distinct peace that permeates the atmosphere. With each bite, I feel deep gratitude for all that our village has given us and with the turning of the season I am reminded to make the most of what remains.