local-kiwi-alien

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Parcels of Feta


We don't often eat out but when we do I always take photos of scenery and food.  Everyone groans, 'hell no, please, not another photo'.  I do try not to take photos of faces, except for the family album but sometimes they pop into the blog.  Makes it far more interesting if you can actually see who I'm writing about.

Few photos of me though!  I'm the controller of this blog and any photo of me must make you look young, mysterious (blurry).

No people, no faces in this post.  No mouths dripping with honey, melting cheese dripping off beards. 


At both the tavernas we've been to recently we've ordered cheese in phyllo (filo) pastry.  A very simple recipe.  



Another favourite place beside the sea.
Pizza.  Every base really is handmade.  The menu is quite small.  Half a dozen different pizzas, half a dozen salads and a few appetisers.  Cheap and well cooked and very friendly.

We came to give pay back.  The taverna owner is also the islands electronic expert.  He repaired the 'plaque' (if that is the word) for our washing machine.  It could have cost us many euros or even a new washing machine.  But it cost us nothing.  A pay back for other favours.  So we came to spend a few euros at his night job, the family pizza parlour




These little filo pastry parcels are filled with squares of the hard white Cyprus cheese, haloumi.  The cheese is simply placed on a sheet of phyllo pastry, folded up nicely and fried.  Honey and sesame seeds are sprinkled on before serving.  Salty and sweet.  Delcious



More commonly you will find feta cheese in these little parcels and sometimes it will be poppy seeds sprinkled along with the honey.

The feta cheese melts more than the haloumi.  Both are worth trying

cypress
or cyprus?

-  cypress is the name of the tree that grows straight and tall and is usually found around graveyards and churches here

 -  Cyprus is the name of the island in the mediterranean, invaded  by the Turks  in 1974.  The island is now divided by the 'Green Line', one half being Greek Cypriot and the other half Turkish Cypriot





Thursday, 16 August 2018

Holiest of Holy-s

We survived the traffic jams on the island, the lines in the supermarket, jostling crowds along the harbour.  15th August has come and gone and the end is nigh.  This Sunday should see a snaking line of cars waiting to board the car ferry and leave for wherever, we don't care.  There will still be crowds but slowly our island will return to its sleepy norm.  Kids go back to school in a month.

From now on departees will be wishing us 'kalo himona' (good winter) and 'till next summer' when they'll all come back again.

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary is mid-summer and a very merry fiesta.  Mary did not die, 'she went to sleep and was joyfully reunited with her son in heaven'.

All over Greece there are huge fiestas, especially on the islands.  Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Ikaria with its heathful aging population, party for days on end.

The Madonna has seen Greeks through many hard times, saved Constantinople from Barbarian hordes, delivered villages from Nazi slaughter, cured and healed, not only in Greece of course.



Churches on Poros were crowded for the morning service.  We went down to the waterfront for coffee before they emptied out onto streets and into cafeterias.  My sis-in-law appeared with a handful of holy bread and offered us a small piece.  It must be all eaten, not a crumb should be wasted.





In the evening we crossed over to Galatas by small boat to honour my daughter's m-in-law whose name day it is today.  Her name is Panagiota, the Greek version of Madonna.  


Poros from the water

There was an extended family gathering on Galatas waterfront.  So different from the hustle, bustle, noise and confusion of Poros.  We sat out among the flowers and shrubs at the tables of a souvlaki restaurant beside the sea on the other side of the channel.    There were few motorbikes or cars, no loud music blaring from cafeterias.

We ate kebabs, grilled sausages and pitta bread.  For those still on a fast there was kalamari and vegetables burgers to fill their pittes.  Some of the family fast strictly all through the year and because this celebration fell on a Wednesday they would not eat meat though fish was allowed.



Later we took the boat back to Poros and sat on the waterfront for an after dinner drink.

At midnight there were still groups of friends and families promenading along the quay.  By 1.30, when we finally left for home, tavernas had closed and put chairs up on tables, cafeterias had empty tables but the bars down the end of town were pulsating.

23/24th August is another celebration of the Virgin Mary.  It is the first memorial, 9 days after her soul ascended.  

Monday, 13 August 2018

Visiting Time

My grandson thinks the relatives from downunder arrive in relays every summer according to the luck of their draw.  Everyone puts their name in a hat and the lucky visitors for  2108............ my niece from Perth followed by my nephew and niece from NZ.  

Last year we had a different set of relatives, my older brother and his family, the year before that my younger brother.  Middle brother visits at will, weddings, baptisms, even the middle of winter. They've all been here with us many times over the years, in Piraeus, Crete, the island of Salamina and now Poros.

Their children are now coming separately on European holidays, combining Greece with France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia and of course London.  My niece  was visiting for the 4th time.  Our most frequent flyer.  It's a long way to come from downunder.  From NZ it is almost 24 hours in the air, besides all the waiting and transfer time, plus a couple of plane changes.  Perth, Australia is a little closer.





No need to pick her up at the airport.  She manages her travel from her iphone or whatever electronic device she owns and arrives as scheduled on the hydrofoil


Straight across the road to the T-Cafe for a greek iced coffee
Her cousins pop in to say welcome and arrange  the activities for the rest of the day.  Sunbathing, swimming, a siesta and eating
Fai, fai paidi mou............eat, eat my child, she will hear again and again


First night is souvlaki night
The most popular of greek food, except the greek salad
A 'healthier' plate of pork or chicken souvlaki on a skewer with piles of chips


Or a luscious pita wrapped around gyro, tzatziki and fried potatoes with tomato and onion

Poros is crowded and we were lucky to get a table for the 12 of us .
*15th August is fast approaching and the island is humming.  Even at midnight there was still a steady stream of people ambling downtown, kids full of energy chasing each other along the harbour and demanding icecream.  The parking area down by the car ferry was crazy full.  All the parking spaces were taken and cars were parked haphazardly wherever there was the tiniest space to squeeze into.



We  re-discovered another beach to hang out
Chairs and a table in the shade, beers from the canteen, a sandy beach (no stones) and the water just a metre away



Family BBQ time
Organised chaos
This is our summer-evening terrace
Sometimes we can see the lights of coastal Athens.  That night was a bit hazy but we did espy the rogue billy-goats gnawing on the olive trees next door



Kathryn has found this year that she can communicate with the whole family.  She always could but a lot of it was sign language and giggling 
The grandchildren all speak english now so she was at ease with english conversation and instant translation




The last day was spent at the beach again
Moussaka by the sea in the evening
drinks on the waterfront for her farewell


Adieu.  Till you return......

*15th August is Assumption Day and the most important day on the Orthodox calendar.  Greece closes down for this holiday

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Waterside Eating

                Poros Dining
                                       
                 In the Saronic Gulf , just out of Athens you'll discover the cosmopolitan island of Aegina, one hour away by hydrofoil, the tiny island of Agystri, a typical greek island in a nutshell, the spa of Methana smelling slightly sulpherous under the volcano and the Island of Poros, jewel of the Aegean.

           Our favourite dining places in Poros, where else,  are right on the water.   This is Sotiri's Taverna where we bring all our visitors for the obligatory sunset and real greek cuisine


We arrive early as the sun is setting along with the tourists.  By 10 the tourists have left and the serious Greek eaters begin to drift in.  

Kids run around the tables. Dogs are attached at one end to table legs or owners hands.  The inevitable taverna cat prowls the floor boards seeking discards and handouts.  


Food for foreigners.  Red wine and rosemary 'jus' makes its debut this season




Bouillabaisse
Greek fish soup?  No.  My traditional person was eager to sample this, one of his favourite meals.  Unfortunately there wasn't much traditional about the bouillabaisse, neither French nor Greek I imagine.   

Greek fish soup is, traditionally, served with a plate of carrots, potatoes and zucchinis which have been boiled in the 'jus' and a chunky piece of the fish as well with lots of lemon juice and olive oil.  Some of the vegetables had been pureed into the soup to make it thicker and there were no vegetables or fish served on a side plate with that essential lemon and oil dressing.  Nothing.  Just the plate of soup.  A complaint was put into top management of course and as we are the best of customers we were not charged but they lost a star and a 'K star', far superior to that Michellan medal




We should know better than try the 'specials board' but once again it was seafood at a reasonable price.  Of course we knew from the beginning the sword fish would be frozen, the dorado from the fish farm and the prawns very small and fried.


Here is the seafood platter.  Huge.  More than enough for two people.  It was good.  The slice of swordfish was juicy and with lots of salt, oil and lemon.  The dorado was delicious, though I hope it did not come from our fish farm underneath the sewage plant.  The shrimps were well fried and crispy.  There was a generous portion of kalamari (squid) as well, half a dozen steamed mussels with the necessary olive oil and lemon juice, some small fried fish which we ate whole, heads, bones and all, some marinated anchovy and steamed vegetables. 

A greek salad was superfluous but visitors would no doubt enjoy it.  The wine was cold and we didn't get charged for an extra half kilo 

Peace reigned 


One of three taverna cats.  Waiting their due. 







Monday, 6 August 2018

Maniana.....water metre saga

13th June  ... 2018

The saga of our water metre.  After ten years our water metres are going to be replaced and sited outside our front gates, with new piping coming down from the top of the road.  The work begins ...............

13th June



A little digger came along and dug a trench from one end of our road to the other, only about 100 metres



Three weeks later.  The trench now has a pipe going through it.  The road is narrowed and the gravel a little treacherous.  We filled in a piece of the trench so we could get in and out of our gate without me stumbling and landing head over ar**.

The old lady next door is collected by her sister who now refuses to drive down to the house.  She parks at the top of the road and the two women have to lug groceries and rubbish up and down by foot.



A curtain of foliage covers Vaso's entrance way and behind it is an overhang of bougainvillia and jasmine which narrows the road considerably.  Gravel and a hole on one side, a forest on the other, not a place for little old ladies to negotiate






Orange cones  warn of a big hole where the main water connection is sunk
Our big station wagon only just makes the turn without me scraping the sides and banging the mirror


A month later. 
 We have been parking our bikes on the other side of the road but the rocks over there are wearing the tyres.  Grandson fills in more of the trench so we can park outside the house and fills in our neighbour's bit as well so she can reach the road without breaking her leg


Meantime the wildlife is getting caught in the trench-trap.  A poor tortoise fell and got stuck.  Alas,  the blow flies had found him before us.

27th July,  all the local big-wigs were cornered after the fiesta in the church across the gulley .   The very next day the trench was filled in And the road was swept to clear all the gravel and rubble.

31st July the trench was officially closed up with concrete and 1st of August some sort of tap or metre was joined to our house supply.

3 August another truck came along and a serf cleared all the sand leftover from the concreting.  There were no bags of concrete left.  They disappeared 'miraculously' overnight.  Anything left out is fair game in this neighbourhood.  We all know and usually take precautions.



Overall a job well done, well finished anyway.

I will suggest we cut a ribbon and have a street party.  K will love that!




Thursday, 2 August 2018

Byways

Alley-ways, byways and many flights of steps


The green door at the top of these steps leads to the house of an aging english actress.  One of many ex-pats owning houses here




This small road is very very steep and there is a sharp right turn just in front of that open window.  I would hate to live in that house.  Any trouble with your brakes and you'd end up in their kitchen sink


On the right is a small white church.  Chapel maybe is a better description. The lane is too narrow for cars but motorbikes scoot down here easily





This is a short cut from the church to the harbour, pedestrians only.  Not for high heels though.






Steps, steps everywhere
Steps to carry your shopping up, and everything else for the house
Steps to carry your rubbish down


No wonder all the old ladies have bent legs and sore knees
They are all very fit though and clamber up steps like mountain goats leaving me puffing and sweating behind.  I have to stop every few yards and 'admire the view'.


                                                         

You can never get lost.  There is always the sea sparkling at the
end of the alley way.  However, if you're looking for that white house with blue shutters where your friend is staying then you might be in trouble!








Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Summer Dining Under the Silvery Moon

An evening with our elderly neighbour Vaso and her family.
They come from Athens to visit their family home, help Vaso with the grapes, bathe in the waters of the Saronic Gulf


The table was set out in the courtyard overlooking Vagiona Bay


Surrounded by jasmine and 'ancient' greek pottery



Vaso sits at the head of the table smoking and drinking and talking




Under the light of the full moon
Yes, that tiny dot is the moon, the night after the eclipse. In actual fact it was huge and very bright


On the table, spetso-fai, sausages and peppers stewed with tomatoes



The inevitable greek salad, no longer with her tomatoes
She has given up her summer garden. Her daily work at the moment is in the small vineyard. Winter it is the olives . She does most of the pruning, weeding, watering by hand


Stewed okra/ladies fingers, called bamyes in Greek.  Sounds like a word with turkish roots.
Okra stewed in tomatoes is a popular summer dish, especially now as there is a strict fast from 1 - 15 August, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Greece's biggest holiday




Cold watermelon to finish the meal and clean the palate

We sat around talking and drinking till almost 2am even though they all had an early start the next morning. The water pump for the grapes has broken down. 

It was a cool evening with no mosquitoes to drive us indoors.