Wednesday 28 October 2020

28 October

Greek National Day 2020

No parades by the local school children, no singing of the national anthem, no Municipal band, no speeches, no wreath laying, no traditional dancing in the square.  Because of the lousy weather, rain and thunder, there was no drinking of coffee followed by ouzo and lashings of fatty pork either.

There was a church service but only a few people are allowed into the church, wearing masks.  We didn't attend.  I presume the Mayor turned up with a few big-wigs.

We always fly the flag on National Holidays

Our neighbour's flag

Last year

 small boy waves  a gi-normous flag of the Hellenic Navy 

Sunday 25 October 2020

Greek BBQ

 A warm autumn Sunday.  What to do?  If you're greek, or otherwise, your mind turns to a leisurely day with friends, food and drink

We are still using, very carefully, our small summer bbq.  The fire ban isn't lifted till the end of October.  

The octopus gets hung out to dry.  I won't be hanging any washing out here for some time to come!

First the bread goes on the barbie

And then that octopus, or in this case some tentacles thereof.
First course is ouzo with grilled octopus.

Green peppers, brought by our neighbour straight from his garden
With bifteki

Seasoning for the chicken
Dried oregano, salt and pepper

Grilled peppers and village sausage
Peppers were skinned and deseeded and eaten as-is

You can see why it is called village  sausage, simple and homemade.  The mutton is roughly cut with small lumps of fat.  This one was very plain seasoned, just salt and pepper I would say.  Often they have cumin or orange zest.  The plainer the better, though sometimes you wish they had added a little 'something' to mask the aroma of the animal involved.

Fatsas (funny-face) waiting for his share of the sausage

There's no greek bbq without a greek salad

The barbie was lit at 11 and we sat and ate and drank and talked till 7 in the evening.  I don't think we solved any of the world's problems but we surely were able to forget about a few of them!

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Nature's Bounty

   Our precious pumpkin.  This is not going to be carved up for Halloween.  It will be sitting roasted on our Christmas dinner plates, hopefully

Our real (NZ) pumpkin is turning yellow.  Here it is still in the garden, balancing on a narrow wall.  A few days later in high winds it fell into the garden but thank goodness didn't break or suffer any cracks.  It's now on an outside table slowing changing colour.

This is the year of the squill.  These odd stalky flowers come up every autumn but never in such numbers.  Underneath is a huge bulb which we hang on our front door for good luck at Xmas

Two weeks ago we were given 5 litres of this years olive oil.
Olive picking has just begun.  The trees only produce olives every second year and around here it is, generally, a non-producing year so we were lucky to be given this.  

Many of the trees have a bug which bores into the olive and reduces the quality of the oil.  Normally the first oil press is a dark green.  Raw virgin oil!  This first press is not so green but it is thick and full of taste.

All the way down our mountain road the wild crocuses are appearing.  

Sunday 18 October 2020

Under the Grapevine

Paradise Taverna.
In the hills above Poros, this is our 'local'.

In the grounds is the private chapel dedicated to Agios Nektarios.

Agios (Saint) Nektarios lived and died on the next door island of Aegina.  He only died in 1920 so he's a very recent saint and  is known for his healing and multitude of miracles.  We have been to the huge church and monastery dedicated to him a few times.  His tomb is in a side room and if you're a believer then you put your ear up against the coffin and can hear him walking about.  So they say.  I'm obviously a non-believer 'cos I aint heard nothing.

Doesn't that look inviting.  A hammock slung under the grape vines with a view of the lights of the town of Methana across the waters on the mainland Peloponese

The tables all socially distanced.
The night we went there it was hot and sultry but here we found a slight breeze and a cooler and more comfortable atmosphere

The cooking here is traditional greek.  Besides the usual greek salad and tzatziki Kiki cooks rabbit and onions, rooster and hilopites (a greek makaroni) and the BBQ is always fired up to grill lamb, pork chops and sausages and the wine is their own or from Kiki's elderly mother.  

There is no printed menu.  The waiter reels off a list of sides and mains which you are expected to remember, but I never do.  Forunately I mostly eat the same thing, grilled bifteki (greek hamburger without the roll) and tzatziki.

For the finale homemade rose pelagonium liqueur. The alcoholic base is red wine

And a sweet made from grape juice. The juice has been boiled for hours until it is a thick syrup called petimezi. 

The sweet is made by Kiki, the cook and owner. It is a little sour and not too sweet. Called moustolevria

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Classic Greek Eating

This traditonal eating place  re-opened in the back streets of Poros
It is not a taverna or a ritsorante or a grill place or a bistro.  This new eatery is called a 'Mayerio', a Kitchen and has been in the same place, under various managements for many many years.

My husband worked here when he was a very young lad serving half kilos of wine and running errands.  Child labour.   Not unusual back then as the whole family from Yiayia to toddler helped run the business, as they do still in many places, peeling potatoes, sweeping, carrying heavy trays or for the toddlers just looking cute and attracting customers. It wasn't their family taverna by the way but the couple that ran it were childless and used the local children to run around.  K would work there before and after school till he went into the Naval school.

Little Chief Pot Scrubber

You can eat inside or in the alleyway.

The narrow backstreet where this cook shop is located.
Open from early morning to around 3 or 4, depending on customers, closed in the evenings and weekends

The years of grease and grime have been cleaned off and it has been given a face lift.  

Local wine served by the half litre in a traditional tin jug

A great pot of fassolatha, bean stew.  Their other speciality is goats foot and stomach soup, patsas

Giant beans, gigantes are finished, next to it pastitcio, baked macaroni

Kostas had the bean soup which prompted a loud remark from his grandaughter.  'You went out to eat and you had fassolatha.  Are you mad?'  No, just traditional to the core.

Friday 9 October 2020

Naked Joy Ride


We hit the headlines 

"A group of drunken tourists partied just a little too hard on the Greek island of Poros on Thursday.

According to reports in Greek media, the group of ten, all from the Netherlands, finished up their night of drinking with an illegal bus ride that leaves little to the imagination.

After coming across the parked public bus, the inebriated tourists broke in and took two trips around the island for some naked sight-seeing.

They ended up in the region called Monastiri, where a security guard spotted them and called the authorities.

Reportedly, the naked, drunken passengers fled the bus, leaving only the driver to be arrested for the unusual escapade.

Somewhat surprisingly, the rowdy group didn’t leave any damage to the bus behind them"

This is the bus that hauls fully clothed locals and tourists from Poros town to the Monastery and back during the summer.  Now it is the school bus.  I hope they disinfected the seats after all those naked behinds were sitting on them!

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Holy Bread

 The little church near us dedicated to St John had its annual service at the end of September.  Which St John it is we still haven't found out.  St John of the Fleas, St John of the Splitpea (Fava), St John the Baptist.  Every area has its own name for the saint as they do for the Virgin Mary, each name commemorating a local happening. 

The tiny local chapel, surrounded by cypress trees.

Because it is local I made a loaf of Holy Bread and 5 sweet loaves, representing the 5 loaves and fishes which fed the 5,000,  to take with us to the service.  

This is the Holy Bread with the stamp which is pushed into it.  The bread is called 'Prosfora' meaning 'that which is offered'.  The centre of the stamp has the engraved letters IC,XC NIKA which stands for Jesus Christ conquers.  

The bread is just the usual flour, yeast and water and is divided into 2 pieces.  One is placed on top of the other and then it is baked.  My bread turned out really well.

However the 5 loaves were a different story.  These are a sweet bread with red wine, orange juice and flavourings of mastiha and mahlepi.  I have made the bread before with great success.  This time the two loaves above turned out as they should and I glazed them with a sugar solution.  The other 3 stuck to the pan and had to be cut out ending up with great craters where half the loaf had refused to budge.

I didn't take these to the church but gave them out to friends and family.  They all tasted fine so they weren't a complete failure.

Lesson for the day - always use baking paper when baking sweet bread.

Saturday 3 October 2020

'Tea' Leaves

 A greek coffee is served in a small cup, think espresso size.  There will be 2 inches of coffee, and at the bottom, one inch of grounds.  If there's someone with a little imagination then it's fun to read the trail the coffee grounds leave.

Ideally you swirl the grounds around and turn the cup upside down on the saucer, turning it 3 times if I remember rightly.

K and I had our morning coffee at the cafe  and while the men were discussing fishing or soccor or something equally entrancing I took a photo of his cup.  No turning it upside down and swirling it around.

This is the photo I sent off to my daughter who does have a great imagination and something of a gift.  At the same time I put it onto our family Whatsap page with the comment 'what do you see?"

I could  see a wandering path and a couple of bug's eyes.  Not much imagination on my part.  A swift answer came back from Australia, 'I can see an empty cup'.  
Australia - one point

But my daughter's reply was equally as fast

Can't you see the kiwi??

And in case you can't

If this had been my cup I would have just presumed that visitors would be arriving again, sometime in the future.  But this was K's cup.  Does that mean a trip to NZ for him?  And where he goes then so go I

Hold your breathe folks and check this space ....