Monday 30 April 2018

Greek Salad Festival

The greek salad festival is not a celebration of the greek salad loved and eaten by most tourists.  This greek salad is know to us as a 'country salad' (horiatiki salata).  The salads in this festival are created by greek chefs with  'produce of the greek earth'.

The good old greek salad
tomatoes, cumber, green pepper, onion, olives, oregano, feta and lots of extra virgin olive oil (greek of course)

21 semi-finalists are dreaming-up and constructing original salads with fresh fruit and vegetables.  7 finalists will 'battle' it out on May 4. 

The first round was held in Kalamata, home of the kalamata olive.  Fruit and vegetables which thrive in this hot climate,  described as 'treasures of the mediterranean', are to be utilised by young chefs  to improve and promote greece and its gastronomy (greek word - gastronomia).  Gastronomic tourism is the next step they hope.

Chefs will use local olive oil, olive paste, olives, vinegar, dried and preserved specialites which are found all over the country.  Lots of olives I presume, black, green, salted and pickled, capers, sun-dried tomatoes which are in fashion now.   Cheeses white and yellow, cured pork and all those seasonal vegetables.

What's in season now.  Lots.  We're inbetween winter and summer so there is still beetroot to be found, spinach, lettuces red, green, wrinkled or not, a few artichokes at the end of their reign, some early beans, tomatoes and cucumber.  Strawberries are everywhere, very cheap and lemons, lemons, heaps of lemons.

Some dill, greek yogurt, along with that extra virgin olive oil, the juice from those lemons and you have the makings of something spectacular.  The tourists will gobble it down. Traditional  greeks will look at it all with doubt and ask for their beetroot with garlic sauce and their spinach in a pie.

Friday 27 April 2018

Poros - the last of the winter scenes and a very happy occasion to celebrate

The last of the photos taken of the island in winter mode

January/February 2018

Coming in on the hydrofoil.  Turning around the lighthouse point to catch the first glimpse of picturesque Poros in the distance

Poros under a cloudy sky.   The view from across the straits on Galatas

A musical afternoon in the main square on a warm winter's day

A seaside taverna closed up, waiting for the sun to shine again, the tourists to arrive

High Street Poros on a cold wet winter afternoon.  The tree on the left has bitter oranges and on the right in the blue tub is a leafless bougainvillia 

Looking down to the blue Aegean

Therese on the right who took all these photos and always promotes Poros wherever she is.  Life time local-alien Catherine on the left

April 27 2018

Temperature is about 27oC today.  Hot, too hot for the end of April.  Is this a sign of a hotter,sweatier summer. I hope not.

I was amazed last night on a ride through town to see people wandering the streets, tavernas half full, cafeterias humming, shops open late.  The tourist season has started.  The last 10 or more years it was mid June before we noticed  the island filling up.

Grandkids started swimming a month ago.  Water is freezing.  Kids never notice the temperature of the water.  They dive straight in, come out yelping and screaming and dive back in again.

I'll take my first dip in July!

Today is our 39th wedding anniversary.  20 around the outside table.  Music and happy noises and an excited yapping dog. Grilled meat with lashings of tzatziki and greek salad. Icecream to finish off with festive chocolate sprinkles and caramel sauce.  

Na zisoume!  (Long life)

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Aust and NZ

ANZAC Day  (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) April 25th

New Zealand and Australia remember all those who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Dawn services are held in both countries and there are remembrance ceremonies in cities, small country towns, hospitals. schools and institutions.

All the blog posts from downunder this morning  included memories, dedications and ceremonies attended.  My brother in Australia attended the dawn service with my sister-in-law, as they do most years.  In Athens and Crete there will be wreath laying at the Commonwealth war cemetaries.

My cousin Jennifer wrote to me about her memories of ANZAC day in her small rural NZ community after WW1

"...... reading from a book called " women at War  
 Describing the effect the war had on the women and families left behind. And I shall remember Harry, Frank, my father, and the many families of our district who gathered together on Anzac Day in the middle of the fruit season. One day off  between January and May.We dressed up on Anzac Day, made wreaths of ferns and Autumn flowers, and went to the service at local Mapua. After lunch, we had the afternoon off, regardless of what day of the week it was. 

Here there will be brass bands, the Sallies (Salvation Army) will play...."

The programme for ANZAC day service, 2015, at Aotea Village where Jennifer lives

Look at the poppies around that doorway
Residents have knitted and crocheted over 2,000 poppies

Harry was my father, served in the Fleet Air Arm (a branch of the British Royal Navy) in WW11 and spent months in Greece towards the end of the war helping the Greeks to dig out and capture the last German forces on the Greek islands.

Frank was his brother, killed at the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.

Her Father, Richard (Dick ) Little served in the NZ Army in the Western Desert.

My Uncle George also served in the NZ Army and was captured in Greece when the Germans invaded.  He wrote his memoirs which I am trying to get hold of.  They are in the NZ Army archives.   I would love to read about his participation in the Greek campaign.  He visited me soon after I arrived in Greece on a journey around the areas he had fought but of course back then I was young and in love and wasn't interested in his tales.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders field

Written at the battlefront at Ypres, Belgium, May 3 1915


Fields of Rembrance Botanical Gardens
Wellington New Zealand

5,270 white crosses

Sunday 22 April 2018

A Re-emergence

A beautiful warm Saturday and Sunday and suddenly life is bustling again, people are emerging, moving, feeling a stirring in the air

Poros was dressed all in its best with bunting along the waterfront for the celebration of a local saint, St Leonidios. We don't have a church dedicated to this saint but his icon is in the islands 'cathedral' and is paraded around the town on 18th April.  My grandchildren got dressed up in their Sunday best and went along with all of the islands school children to honour the saint

A truck full of wooden bicycles was parked along the waterfront for sale or for hire I don't know.  They are reputed to sell at around 1600 euros.

The pastelli seller was back on the island.  Pastelli is a mix of honey and either sesame seeds, hazel nuts or pistachios.  They are mixed together and left to harden.  This lady seller came all the way from over the other side of the country near ancient Olympia.  The family make the pasteli themselves with their own honey. We bought a big (not the small one I photo-ed) container for 5 euros

Balloons were out for a child's birthday party being held at this waterfront cafeteria

Further down the harbour sailors from a private yacht had taken down a sail and laid it out flat on the quayside for repairs

The Touring Tourist School is on Poros this weekend
Free seminars are held to advise local business people in the tourist industry.  They update on what's new, give them information on what today's tourist expects and demands and give them ideas to expand their business

'You will depart refreshed with greater enthusiasm and passion for tomorrow'

and with a certificate to frame and hang on the wall

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