Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Olives, beer, stilton and dessert

We (traditional people) have already salted and enjoyed the first olives of 2017.  The olives are picked a handful at a time, selected one by one, black with just a touch of green, no blemish or 'dako' (olive disease).

These early olives are best for salting while they are still firm and barely ripe.  Each one is bashed with a hammer to break the skin.  They are then soaked in water for two days, with a change of water morning and evening.  This removes a little of the bitterness.  Then they go  in a jar, bowl, plastic or glass with a couple of handfuls of  coarse salt.  After two days the olives are ready for eating.  By traditional people.  They are far too bitter for me.

that's the way they like them
they like them

Eat them with the salt or give them a quick wash under the tap.   

 My sister-in-law has begun harvesting her olives and should take the first dozen or so sacks to the oil press this weekend.  She and her son are beginning the harvest by themselves and are only picking a couple of trees a day.  If the trees are laden and the harvest looks lucrative they will employ workers to help finish the job.  They have a couple of thousand trees but not all trees have enough fat olives worth picking.  Times and weather have changed the harvest.
 It is still very early in the season and most olive growers are waiting for a good rainfull before picking so the olives are plump and full of oil.  

Early harvest oil is rich and green,  Hopefully we'll get a bottle of this first press which will be guarded and used with love on fresh salads. 

At the moment there is no rain forecast so it could be mid November before the harvest gets moving.

Blue stilton, an English treat for Christmas.  This cheese is available from LIDLS supermarkets and only around the 'time to be jolly' season.  We get a pot every year.  I'll be on the lookout next time we venture across to the mainland, down the coast, up the mountain, round the corner past the Mycenean tombs, under the Venetian castle.

VAP Zythos brewed on the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese.
Pale lager.
Economical and refreshing on a hot summer's day

Bougatsa  -  custardy cream wrapped in filo pastry and covered in icing sugar and cinnamon.  A specialty of the northern capital of Thessaloniki, in the largest and most populated region of Greek Macedonia.

These are usually bought piping hot in the morning from 'bougatsidika', bougatsa shops, and eaten out of the wrapping paper.  They are also made with cheese and minced meat fillings.

I've never made one from scratch.  This one was in the freezer and a perfect dessert for young hungry teenagers.  30 minutes from freezer to table, sugar and cinnamon included in the package.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Memorable Food

Food fit for a wedding feast, or the celebration of 12 years of wedded bliss at the little cafe near the monastery.  

Not our anniversary, our daughter's.

Beer, ouzo and a variety of suitable snacks, some brought in plastic containers, some provided by our friends, Nektaria and Meleti, who run the Monastery cafe.  

A whole fish, scaled and gutted, and cooked in the oven covered in thick slices of tomatoes, sliced onion and capers. 

 No plates provided.  Everyone has a fork and spears a piece to eat from the communal dish in the middle.  Paper napkins are always on the table to wipe away the juices.  This is the greek way of eating.   Anything juicy is mopped up with a piece of bread.

Olive stones are thrown over the wall or into the garden.


Mussels with rice, lots of ouzo or raki for flavour and fresh parsely.  This is the perfect meze for ouzo.  

Nektaria's spicy blue cheese dip.  Blue cheese and lurpak butter.  I thought it was cream cheese not butter.  It was very nice but the dish disappeared down the other end of the table.

Lurpak is expensive but it tastes like real butter should. The cheapest Greek butter is from the island of Corfu (Kerkyra) and tastes of the sheep whose milk it was made from.

Greek sushi.  A fresh tuna or a tuna sort-of fish, sliced, marinated in lemon juice with a little olive oil.

This is another good meze for ouzo.  

Friday, 13 October 2017

A month of Sundays 1)

This last month we have had a family celebration on every Saturday or Sunday.  

- A family celebration of good health, the end of a round of hospital visits

- An annual neighbourhood party

-  A name day and a birthday

- A farewell to a ship's captain going back to sea


-  A wedding anniversary celebration on a brilliant autumn day. 

Only one of these was held at our place so I was saved a month of cooking and cleaning, although we did cook and carry down some of the food.

1. A wedding anniversary

 Ouzo and beer under the chestnut trees near the Poros Monastery

Peace and quiet except for half a dozen noisy kids and a yapping dog.  

Good healthy beer, and lots of it.  VIOS 5, organic beer made in Athens

We're doing our bit to make Greece great again

A few beers and you're gonna to have to get rid of all that extra liquid.  The toilet here is down the road, up the track covered in autumn leaves.  

Others drank ouzo, from the 2 litre bottle

Very little traffic at this time of the year.  The road ends just round the corner and this big tourist bus had a tight fit and an extremely tight turn.  The visitors couldn't go up and visit the Monastery.  Loukas the monk had closed up for his siesta

Half a dozen bikies roared up and very politely sat in the road so I could take their photo.

Children and dogs played in the road

The food will be on the next post

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Hot Peppers

Most of the garden is dry and brown.  Lettuces, roka and a few herbs will be going into the vegetable plot in the next few days.

A pot of red peppers.  I was sure these were just ornamental.  How to find out?  Bite into one.  My lips are still smarting.  We'll have fresh red hot chili peppers for our bean soup this winter.

This white bougainvillia always flowers at the very end of the summer.  All during the fierce heat the plant is a glorious green but no flowers.  It is in full bloom right now.  A magnificence of white 'snowballs'.

 The full moon this month didn't keep the fish from biting.  Our fisherman fed neighbours, friends and family with his catch-es.  Lots of tuna but also a variety of other good eating fish, baked, fried or marinated.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Back Streets of Poros

One of the narrowest parts of the road.  I have followed many a big van down here watching them squeeze through literally with an inch on either side.  I knocked off a few wing mirrors coming down this road but thankfully there is also another approach to our old house so the car survived anything worse.

Dimitris taverna, a taverna whose story goes a very long way back.  It used to be called the 'butcher's shop' taverna.  The butcher's shop was owned by Dimitris' father who opened the taverna next door specialising in freshly cut steaks.  For a while he had an english butcher working for him who taught him to cut steaks the english way.  This was a great advantage during the 80's and 90's which were golden years for English tourists.

Then son Dimitris took over and he has such a happy clientele that he closed the butcher's shop and concentrated on the taverna.  He has 9 children who helped out from a very cute age.  They have now grown up and virtually run the place.  They expanded over the road and the best tables have a wonderful view of Poros by night.

Whenever you're lost in these backstreets just walk down the next lot of steps.  You'll end up on the harbour.

There is always a church somewhere in the background.  This is one of the big three, dedicated to Saint Constantine and his mother Saint Helen.  Wouldn't like to live in one of these houses next door.  The thunderous clanging of the church bells must make the chandeliers swing.

A very green and bushy plant covers the outside wall of this house and almost reaches the other side of the road

When you need work done and gear moved in this part of town you phone George who comes along in one of his tiny little trucks and does the hauling.  

Just beside our old house.  This bougainvillia has been trained across the road and is in full bloom .  Gorgeous.  It must be the most photographed piece of scenery on Poros just now.

Pruning it in February however is a job for heroes.  The thorns are long, tough and very sharp.  The amount of foliage that has to be cut away fills a couple of those small trucks.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

People Watching

Always time for a coffee

Wherever you sit down the first thing to be served  will be a glass of water, or in a posher place they will ask if you'd like a bottle of mineral water

The hydrofoil comes in from Hydra

It's Sunday so there is a crowd of city slickers waiting to return to Athens.  They all crowd onto the Flying Dolphin (hydrofoil), next stop Piraeus harbour

Next arrival, the big Flying Cat (catamaran) comes in from Piraeus, bringing a new load of visitors

Two island hoppers make their way to the catamaran.  They're on their way to their next island, either Hydra or Spetses

You can't see it in this photo but just above the black stripe near the waterline there is another black line from oily residue.  A tanker sank just outside Piraeus harbour leaking thousands of tons of mazut (fuel oil).  The pollution has befouled the southern beaches of the island of Salamina and caused an oil slick which has spread up the coast of Athens,  putting all beaches out of limits

 On a very hot morning the big fans in the cafe brought us a little air.  

This yacht sailed by flying a black and white Canadian flag.  
Anyone know why it is black and white and not red and white?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Island cruise with the kiwis Episode 3

A cruise around the harbour on a water taxi.  Bring your own coffee, beer and meatballs provided

Loading up the family.  Our very own, Kyriakos, Captain of the the Socrates at the helm

We sailed through the main port, passed the Navy School and the waterfront tavernas.  This is one of the best places to dine in the summer, right on the water.  There is a private jetty if you want to come in by speed boat or even row out from your yacht

These two houses have their own private grounds, private beach and jetty.   

We sailed out to Teachers Island (Daskalio)  but they were preparing for a wedding in the tiny chapel and we couldn't land.  The kids took the opportunity to leap into the deep blue sea

Sailing back to Poros and through the strait again on our way to Monastery Beach,  This is the waterfront church of Evangelismos (Annunciation)

Another house right on the sea.  This one is too close for comfort.  I imagine it has a bad case of rising damp.

The water sports platform at Askeli beach.  Water ski, fun on the 'banana', sea kayak, parasailing.  The sea was getting quite rough by now.  We tried to tie up at one of the little jetties so niece and nephew could run up to their hotel and grab their togs/bathers/swimming costume.  No luck, the waves were just too big.  We continued on, rocking and rolling around the bay

Safe in the sheltered Monastery Beach the kids were let loose and used all their pent up energy dive bombing the rest of us from the roof of the boat

Time for beer and meatballs and great slabs of home made cheese pie to finish off the day.

  We made it back safely, riding the crests and being dumped into the troughs back across the bay and round the corner into the much calmer passage through Poros town.