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Back from Greece
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 6:57 pm    Post subject: Back from Greece Reply with quote

I can't say enough about the food in Greece. I just can't. Even my daughter, who likes about two things, said that it was the best food vacation she'd ever been on. Part of it must have been the setting. Small tavernas, often within 15 feet of the water, with no menus. Part of it was for sure the ouzo, which I grew to love, then depend upon as an essential part of every day. We would always have Greek salads, with tomatoes like I've never had anywhere and feta cheese that was always fresh but always slightly different depending on where we were, and olive oil that the Greeks admit is better than Italian olive oil. No vinegar; just the natural acidity of the tomatoes. We'd always soak up all the oil and dredge up all the feta with crusty bread. And then would come octopus, sometimes marinated and grilled, sometimes sun dried and grilled, or calamari, sometimes grilled, sometimes fried, but always spot on fresh. Or small fish that would be fried in hot oil, and eaten whole except for the heads and tails. And then there was the lamb and the sausages and the chicken and the things they could do with eggplant and zucchini. We loved the tradition of small plates. If we'd stuffed ourselves for lunch, we could have a very light dinner. The people were always so welcoming, and so proud of their culture and traditions. One day, my daughter and I went on a horseback ride. It was just the two of us and our guide. After about 40 minutes, we stopped at a small taverna for coffee. We got to talking, and the guide decided we should have some ouzo and some snacks. This at 10:30 in the morning. An hour and a half later, we decided maybe we should ride back home. Such a Greek horseback ride, and so much fun. Experiences like that remind me of how simple real pleasure can be. I wish I could quit work today too, and go back.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alas! I've only had Greek food in the US. But what strikes me is that the veggies are always so fresh and important. The meat, everything else is wonderful, but if you start by making your vegetables a celebration how far off could you ever get?

Welcome back!
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back, CB. Yes, food is great in Greece. Did you try Moussakas? ( my favourite)
How was the weather, how were the sunsets in Santorini over the Ouzo on a cafe terrace?
Your wise input was missed these lasts days on the forums.
Tell us more about the places you visited, pleeease!

No more war ( first we have to stop this one)
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chicago Bear -- Just last night I posted in these forums these words: "... the food that knocked me out the most was in Greece. Not just some of it, all of it."
My travels were years ago, nice to know it is the same! We spoke/read no Greek, so were led back into the taverna kitchen, and simply pointed to one or two of the wonderful smelling pots to choose our dinner. The lamb, the salads, omigod. Even now I order Greek feta from Murray's Cheese in New York. Most of my time spent on Corfu, Mykonos.
Oh your post nearly brings tears. Standing in the ocean in water to my chest--water so crystal clear I could see my feet with no distortion! And yes, the first taste of Ouzo a little shock, by the end of the evening our table held an empty bottle or two! I also remember yogurt there, a tartness and consistency I've just not had since.
They must know they have such a good thing, and it sounds like they still share it!


Last edited by gingerpale on Thu Aug 31, 2006 2:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We spent four days on Lesvos and another four days on Santorini. Lesvos is the third largest of the islands, only 10 miles off the Turkish coast, and is visited by the Dutch, the Danes, the Brits, your occasional Norwegian, but we never saw a single American during our stay. Our first night, we met a British couple (Jeff and Belinda) who live in Lesvos and run a website on Lesvos, at the restaurant that their daughter operates with her fiance. We hit it off so well that they took us to a tiny taverna on the beach the next night, where we ate everything that was brought to us out of the kitchen and made a serious effort to drink all of the white wine they had. During the three hours we spent there, two cars passed by on the road, it was that isolated, and yet it was right on the water in a magnificent setting. Another day, we had lunch at the Women's Cooperative in Petra, a small beach resort not far from Molyvos on the north coast of Lesvos. Here we tried the moussaka, the eggplant, the zucchini, the chicken, the lamb, the fish, and then asked the cooks to please come home to Chicago with us. Santorini was different, more strikingly beautiful because of the collapsed volcanic caldera and the towns perched on the cliffs above, with the stunningly blue sky and water and white houses. Unlike Lesvos, waves of tourists would flood through Fira and Ea off the cruise ships, snapping up souvenirs and taking pictures, and then receding back onto their ships for the night. Didn't matter. We found restaurants that were just as wonderful, though more crowded. One in particular--called the Ouzerie (specializing in a variety of ouzos)--had dishes that were quite skillfully prepared. We splurged on our own little villa in Santorini, and the first night, watched the sunset as we sipped gin and tonics and looked out over the huge expanse of water as it slowly turned from light to dark blue to black. Our 18-year old daughter loved the higher energy level of Santorini; us old folks loved the rustic appeal of Lesvos. We learned something, though. Even islands that are derided as touristy have plenty to offer, and the food is still spectacular even with the cruise ship people sloshing around the towns.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did I not say "TOMATOES!!!"? I did, I said it! I KNEW you'd love the tomatoes! Cool Cool Cool Cool

Your trip sounds brilliant. I was just talking this AM with friends about going back to Greece. You're spurring me on!

And welcome back!
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Susan in Italy



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 37
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chicago Bear! It’s great to hear from you again. I’m so glad you got the chance to experience Greece! I just love it and am lucky enough to have a Greek mother-in-law (no jokes! She really is great!Wink and a place to spend summer and sometimes winter holidays. Have you had the Epsa Limonada? I wish I could import it. The simplicity of the food at tavernas is so appealing (not to mention great for vegetarians and omnivores alike. We stay in a very remote village that, sadly is changing quickly but for now the older people live close to the earth. They taught me to pick delicious wild greens in winter/spring. Did you try them while there? they're called “horta” or “xorta” (cooked greens served cool in summer dressed simply with olive oil and lemon). The people in the village still have chickens and sell us eggs. In summers, we reach up and pull down figs, golden plums, wild blackberries and later, grapes. It’s Edenic. This past Christmas we dined on the most exquisite wild boar that a neighbor had hunted. I can’t say enough and would rhapsodize here indefinitely, but I’ll let you all go. Yassas!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautifully written Chi Bear! Your daughter is going to have so many wonderful memories for her later years.

Now---thumbs up or down on Retsina?
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susanna in Italia: Tell me what is this Epsa Limonada, because we did not know about it while we were in Greece, and now we have to go back. Didn't try the horta either, being so intent on Greek salads. I'm very jealous about your small village too. When I'm done with this day job, one of the most appealing prospects is to spend at least a month in a very remote place, to get to know the people and to feel like I belong there.
David: We gave the retsina a miss, because people kept telling us they had good local white wine. It was fine with the food, although how would I know anyway after ouzo.
Tomorrow's my birthday. It would make the day if each of you who sees this message finds someone special to you tomorrow, gives them a hug, and when they say, what's that for, you say, for this bear who lives in Chicago.
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Richard Leader



Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 77
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Greek food gets a bit of a hard time when it's compared to that of France, Spain or Italy. However, I love it - I love the fact that the menu looks the same in every joint you go in, but can be wildly different.
I love in particular the simply grilled lamb with oregano...

My favourite Greek meals in no particular order:
- Grilled fish in a beach-side taverna in Samos - it was described as 'Dad's catch' - the father of the owner would go out every day to catch something and then offer it as a mixed fish grill - and if you ordered it, he'd come out of his cigarette-smoke and cook it for you himself...
- A lovely dish of rolled lamb stuffed with feta and spinach in a bar in Athens on the hill on the way down from the Pathenon
- Full-on meze in a place in Corfu with some genuine(ish) dancing from the staff (once most of the tourists left, the locals came and joined in)
- The biggest octopus tentacle I've ever seen dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and washed down with iced rose wine... also in Corfu I think!
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Susan in Italy



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 37
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi David, I have to say “ne” (yes) to retsina probably because the first time I tried it people told me that most don’t like so I had low expectations and also because we were sitting outside of a local taverna in a non-touristy neighborhood and I felt included! So there was a lot of circumstance to my liking retsina.
Chicago Bear, Epsa limonada is just the greatest zingiest not-too-sweet lemon soda I’ve ever had. It comes in pretty glass bottles and goes down great over ice when it feels too hot for wine. I’ll be sure to give somebody else your birthday present, such a great idea! I need to spread positivity these days.
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi CB
You told us about Lesbos and Santorini, but I remember you talked also about Athens. Did you like it?

No more war , as from today!!!
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chicago Bear,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

I'll go one better for you and not only give all my special people hugs, but if I see any koala bears, I'll give them hugs too and tell 'em it's from a distant relative.

And don't scoff anyone. I know people used to think that we all had kangaroos in our backyards, and it was a bit of a myth, but earlier this year some people who live near me did actually have a koala in their backyard. I'll post the photo when I get home from work later this morning.

And a great big hug to you. Hope you have a great day.
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MuP Dog



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 1
Location: St. Martin FWI

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all . . . I just discovered C&Z last night and love it!

I was just showing a friend of mine the site when your "Back from Greece" thread caught my eye . . . and although I've never joined a forum like this before, I decided I had to join in . . . if for nothing more than to join Susan with a "ne" for retsina (my husband and I love the most basic brand, the one that comes (I hope it still does!) in a beer type bottle with a crown cork – Kortaki) and to wish Chicago Bear a Happy Birthday for tomorrow . . . I'll be issuing special birthday bear hugs tomorrow too. Great idea!

I lived and worked in Greece fifteen years ago, I meet my husband there (ps he's not Greek, he is South African and I'm English and we now live in St. Martin in the French West Indies with our five year old gourmet daughter who was born here) . . . and I knew we wanted to go back and visit again soon, but your posting has reminded me why! The smells, the tastes, the way of life all came rushing back. I'm glad you fell in love with it ALL too.

I must share a retsina tip with you all – we were introduced to this after a long, hot arduous hike up the hill behind a beautiful village called Parga – add a "splash" (large or small) of retsina to a bottle of "room temperature" water and it suddenly becomes the most refreshing drink you've ever had. The resin taste just does something special. I don't know what.

Also enjoyed the thread on "Childhood nicknames". I got mine MuP back in Greece and it has stuck ever since. But maybe I'll post more on that there . . . yassas
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MuP Dog: welcome to C&Z, and to everyone, thanks for the birthday wishes.
Simona: we enjoyed Athens too. But one lesson that I have to keep learning over and over again, is not to try to do too much in one day. Our first full day in Athens, we hiked up to the Acropolis, walked around, imagined what the site would look like without people and the scaffolding, then walked back down, had lunch, and went to the National Archeological Museum in the late afternoon. Bad idea to combine these into one day. We would have enjoyed the museum much more in the morning when we were fresh and able to absorb the really fantastic collection of what some have called the leftovers not stolen by the British. The other full day in Athens, we took a day trip to the Pelopenese with a driver who showed us ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplion (the first capital of Greece, until they discovered that the Acropolis was an incredible tourist draw and moved the capital to Athens) and Epidouris, site of the Greek/Roman ampitheater famous for its acoustics. It's fun to stand in the same place as Agamemnon hung out, but when our driver started talking about the way they cook and smoke pork in that region, he had my complete attention. And so we found a place where they had it on offer, and it could not be eaten without ouzo. Our hotel was in the Plaka district, and it was a little bit of an effort to find a restaurant that suited us. Many places are used to the tourist trade, and the quality is not the best. We found one really good place in the Psiri district, which seemed mostly to be populated by younger Athenians, and that's where I would go back.
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