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Harissa made by Chef Eliot Ramirez at Terra in Greenport. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

“Terra” refers to dry land, often discovered after a rough sea voyage. It also represents strength and growth. With its sleek and sexy makeover, Terra, which opened Labor Day 2023, is the moniker for the café and cocktail bar at the Greenporter Hotel. Offering La Colombe coffee and pastries in the morning and inventive cocktails in the evening, Terra’s kitchen is now under the helm of Chef Eliot Ramirez, a native New Yorker and recent North Fork transplant, bringing with him a menu that embraces Mediterranean-style fare.

“I have a dream of offering the best falafel around,” the International Culinary Center graduate declares of the bar menu, which is just rolling out. “Hummus is hummus, but you can dive into a little more than that.”

From a young age, Ramirez was immersed in the culinary world, working alongside his father, a 30-year career chef, and climbing the ranks to sous chef in renowned Upper West Side eateries. His love for interacting with customers and hospitality drew him to the Greenporter’s sounding of their maritime bell in search of a chef.

“I’ve always wanted to come out here,” recounts Ramirez. “I had been thinking about it for a few months, found this job listing, and decided to pull the Band-Aid and quickly move.”

While preferring to make everything from scratch — “I feel like there’s more control that way, you can kind of play with the nuances of certain flavors,” he says — Ramirez intends to bring a more modern-style approach to Terra, most likely inspired by his French cooking background.

This versatile recipe for harissa, a typically North African style paste made here with roasted Fresno peppers, garlic and carrots, is a perfect example of ditching the jarred for homemade. The slightly sweet but tangy sauce is complemented by a base of toasted cumin, fennel, coriander and caraway seeds, making it a somewhat spicy accompaniment atop hummus or spread over roasted chicken. “Or a whole fish with good skin on it,” the chef suggests.

One major prep tip from Ramirez? Try not to burn the spices while toasting. “Burning them will ruin the whole thing,” he reiterates. “Toast them over low heat till they are nice and fragrant.”

Chef Eliot Ramirez and his harissa recipe. Photos by Doug Young

With summer just beginning, grilling is undoubtedly on the radar and a perfect excuse for making this harissa recipe at home and experimenting with pairings. In need of inspiration? Stop into Terra as the menu unfolds. “We are going to dive into the local scene and tap into the markets and farms,” promises Ramirez, who mentions implementing an “overnight slow roasted lamb flatbread with special house-made sauces.”

Terra chef Eliot Ramirez’s harissa

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Serves 2 cups


  • 1/2 lb red peppers
  • 5 Fresno peppers/red jalapeños
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Slice garlic head in half length wise, top generously with oil, double wrap in tinfoil and roast until caramelized
  • Toss carrots and both peppers in olive oil and roast in oven until soft and charred about 25 minutes
  • While the veggies are roasting in a small pan, toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds over medium heat until fragrant, set aside to cool, when cool enough to handle grind into powder in a mortal pestle or spice grinder
  • When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, either chop finely into a paste or blend in a food processor
  • Add the spice mix, lemon, salt/pepper and olive oil until desired taste and consistency
  • Enjoy with things like hummus, roast chicken, or fish!
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