Friday, 20 April 2018

Lunch in the Lemon Grove

An after-Easter luncheon amongst the lemon trees.
We were invited by one of K's many cousins to join them, friends and family for a barbeque to finish off the meat not cooked at Easter.  What a wonderful invitation.  All I had to was put a bottle of wine in a bag as a present, dress casually for the Sunday afternoon get together on the terrace and turn up.

Cousin M owns a large white house in the old river bed.  The house is surrounded by lemon and olive trees planted many, many years ago by his father.  Years ago we used to go and help them pick the lemons and crate them for market.  A very scratchy job but there were always loads of volunteers.  Now the lemons remain on the trees till they drop.  There is no longer money to be made from lemons.  Those that can be sold must be pip-less, big, round, a bright yellow, no blemishes or runts are wanted.  

This year the trees are drooping with large lemons but still there is no market.  We often take a bag or two but our own trees are loaded this year and so are our neighbours trees.  We just received a bag full of huge juicy lemons from Fani next door.  I have baskets and bowls of them scattered around the lounge.  It is time to juice them and make bottles of juice to freeze and make lemonade during the summer. 

The patio is paved with marble, there is a covered built in BBQ, outdoor sink and gas oven.  The table, a large slab of marble, is shaded by yet another spreading tree, this one a carob.  Shade is most important in this sun-seared country.  First find your tree and then build around it.

For us this is elegant living.  Long stemmed wine glasses, a real bread basket, red napkins  .... and a plastic tablecloth but bright and cheery

The two grill chefs discuss the size of the steaks

We are protected from the road and the stares of strangers by a wide strip of lemon and olive trees.  The green and yellow of the trees and their fruit  are a refreshing background

This cat is blind but follows the smell obviously and was rewarded with a pile of  meaty bones.  He grabbed them one by one and was off into the forest above.   If he banged into something on the way he just sidestepped and continued on

This one came a bit closer but didn't stay long.  He spent most of the afternoon running off  intruders bold enough to invade his territory

Dessert, a plate of lemon slices eaten with salt, for those that wanted to refresh the palate.  I went for a bowl of icecream and fresh strawberries!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

By the Sea

After our seafood lunch on Palm Sunday at Methana we came back along the beach of Vathi. deserted in the winter but still with three or four fish tavernas open, selling once again fish from their own boats, greens gathered by the women and everything homemade including the wine.

This family are cleaning shellfish from the sea beside them.  They sat on a couple of boxes with their ouzo, a glass of water and a knife to open the shellfish.  From sea, to hand to mouth all washed down with a sip of aniseed flavoured ouzo.  A perfect Sunday afternoon for some

We came across an even more pleasant taverna right beside the sea, with tables under the shade of  a spreading tree.  We stopped for coffee but next time it will be a plate of fish and a greek salad.  Simple, cheap and fresh local food and wine

Looking back along the harbour road

This little church has a popular fiesta.   K remembers when he was just a boy and all the family from Poros, Methana and villages inbetween would gather here.  They all came by foot bringing food, water and bedding piled onto a donkey or carried on their backs (the women's backs).   The families slept out under the trees and enjoyed two or three days of celebration and rest from their hard daily toil of herding the sheep and goats, loading donkeys, gathering olives, figs, walnuts and almonds

Today K gathered handfuls of wild fennel to bring home and use in our salads and lenten dishes.  Fennel is similar to dill but has a strong aniseed flavour, almost as though you have added a few shots of ouzo liqueur to your cooking

Another church.  We turned off the road to visit a little bay which is popular for swimming in the summer

Deserted in the winter but I can see its attraction in the summer,  The church courtyard is completely shaded and there are built in tables and benches along the walls.  A perfect picninc spot  ... if you get there first

There were words written across the road in several places.  Someone must know what it's all about but complete double-dutch to us (all greek to you).

Basically it says 
You, with exchanges  became 'rouf'


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Summer's a-coming

Never mind your poppies and your chamomile, your cuckoos and your swallows

This is the first sign of summer

An octopus (or part of it) hanging out to dry and a BBQ  all ready to be fired up!

Octopus and ouzo on the verandah

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Good things

Poppies, fields of poppies  

I pick handfuls and spread the tops with seeds and petals around the wilder part of my garden in the hope they'll appear outside my window next spring

They look like a white daisy but are much smaller and closer to the ground

Little beds of chamomile are appearing in the fields as well, sweet smelling if you crush a little.  Time to pick and dry some for next winter

Swallows are swooping round the house at dusk.  Too fast for me to photo

Monday, 9 April 2018

Greek Glenti

Glenti  (γλεντι)    spree, party, revelry

The beginning

Dancing comes naturally as music and  wine move  spirit and  body

Lamb off the spit, sleeves rolled up for the carving, machete in hand

First the wire and bolts are removed

The head is off

Brain removed and the delicacy 'demolished'  by Elli

Second sitting of the 'dining room'
A bit more relaxed now.  Half the guests have left and a bit of the mess removed.  Time for a more restful glass of wine

The end. 
We thank you sheep for your sacrifice on this most important day in the greek calendar of feasts and fiestas.  This  was  the most tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned of lambs.  Well done boys

Till next year ......

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Saturday ... almost there

Roll on Sunday night when it will all be over!

I left the cleaning of the front entrance and my verandah till the last day and it darn well rained today.  At least my plants will like the extra moisture.  And the balconies can be organised later. Tomorrow thankfully is supposed to be warm and sunny.  I really would not like to have 20 people tracking in dirty wet footprints from outside.  We will eat outside.   Fatty spit roast lamb (or goat?) is best enjoyed outside in rustic surroundings.

We have a house full tonight.  One daughter and family come up and help prepare  offal and lamb for the spit and cook the midnight soup.  They all go off at 11.30 for the resurrection and bring  the holy light to the house.  I stay and set the table and finish off the soup with its egg and lemon sauce.

Chopping up lamb liver, spleen, heart, kidney and sundry digestive organs to add to the mayeritsa (easter soup)

Inside this roll are big chunks of liver, spleen, kidney and sundry innards.  They are all covered by a thick layer of intestines which have been turned inside out and cleaned to get rid of any unsavoury residue

Our elderly neighbour brought in a plate of koulourakia with a handful of tinsel covered choccies.  She and her sister have many years baking experience and make the best biscuits, with the flavour of the fresh (sheeps) butter they always use

The soup is simmering, the kids are running wild, the dog is scratching on my newly cleaned windows to get out in the muddy back yard and the men are enjoying a raki after their hours of elbows in offal.

Midnight service and breaking of the fast still to come.

More tomorrow of course.  Don't want you to miss out on our feast

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Good FrIday

An overcast day with light showers.  As it should be on a day of mourning.  Christ was taken down off the cross in big city churches and small village chapels all over the country.  Church bells tolled the slow death knell all day long.

This is a day of strict fast, for most.  Our lunch was boiled potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber with a little vinegar and some bread. I had oil on my salad though, sinner that I am, and I had milk in my coffee.  No alcohol is consumed in our house on Good Friday.  There is a story there which one day I may tell. Let me just say that in years gone by much, much alcohol was consumed on this day.

Monastery entrance with its tall cypress tree

Looking into the courtyard

At 6pm we made our way slowly up to the monastery weaving through lines of cars and roads lined with tourists and city slickers making their way into town.  The Monastery holds its services earlier and we went to take part in the first parade of Christ's bier.  Even me, though I was extremely wary on the uneven stone steps.  Wouldn't want to tumble down those.

The bier was beautifully decorated with white and purple flowers

Tonight we hold plain brown beeswax candles with a plastic holder to catch any drips.  This one is years old and had to be reinforced with a few leaves to hold the candle in place.  Small boys take great delight in these plastc holders.  If they're held in the 'right' way they can catch on fire.

My night photos do not turn out well.  It is dusk and the procession of  the faithful holding their candles and following the bier goes down the hill to the beach before coming back up the road and into the church again.  I stayed up the top this year.  The priests chant almost the whole journey and a very scratchy, squawky and elderly speaker box sends the intoning out to those at the rear

It was still early so we drove slowly through the crowded roads down to the parking on the harbour.  Poros is bulging.  There can't be many empty hotel rooms or beds this weekend.  The harbour parking was jam-packed.  We parked further away and walked.  

Everyone was out for the candlelight parade of the four churches.  Every few steps we stopped to greet friends and relatives and wish them a 'Kali Anastasi", Good Resurrection'.  One of our grandsons was an altar boy and the youngest grandaughter a flower bearer.  Their father got in line to take his turn at carrying the heavy wooden platform

Poros harbour lit up by the candles of the faithful.  On the harbour road in the middle of town the four churches meet, each with their flower bedecked bier.  The procession from the big harbour church is brought by sea on one of the big fishing boats.  There is a short service in town and then they all return to their churches.  Many peel off to look for an empty table at a cafe or taverna for an ouzo and some seafood.

I limped back to the car with a sore knee.  I must have knocked it a little yesterday.  I also have some bruises in wierd places.  

Tomorrow is a busy day with all the final preparations for Sunday's feast.