Tag Archives: Greek Food

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

Greek Taverna and a Mythos Beer

Greek Taverna with a Mythos Beer:

I like Greece and I like Greek tavernas, they are almost always friendly inviting places and the food is inexpensive and good value and it rarely disappoints.

I like the carefree ambiance and the complete lack of formality, outside wooden tables and rattan chairs, check tablecloths, extensive menus and unhurried waiters. I like the cheap paper table covers so you can spill food and drink without worrying about disapproving looks or the laundry bill, I like the certain company of scrounging cats and I especially like those with live bouzouki players running through the familiar catalogue of traditional Greek music and always starting and finishing with the obligatory ‘Zorba’.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

On account of the weather Folegandros was a bit of a disappointment this year but unlike last year at least the ferries were running and there would be problem getting to Ios tomorrow.

The weather was so miserable so that after we had booked our tickets there was little to stay for so we left and walked back and as we did so it started to rain.  Only very gently at first but by the time we arrived back at the hotel it was hard enough to make us shelter in our room.

Then the situation got even worse because the only shop in the port was closed for the afternoon and so was the hotel bar so we were stuck in the room all afternoon without any beer.  It rained for nearly three hours and by four o’clock I swear the temperature dropped somewhere close to zero!  Finally it stopped and it started to brighten but there was still no sign of the sun and there were still dark and scowling clouds advancing from the east but at least we could see Sikinos again as the shroud of mist began to lift.

The rain returned and snuffed out what remained of the day like a candle, which wasn’t a big surprise but at least we had wine now and later we caught the bus for the second time today up to the Chora and on the way we glimpsed a sliver of blue sky but before long the rain came sweeping back in. 

We ate at the same table at the same taverna that was luckily under cover because the main square was a sad place tonight with usually lively tables all empty and getting a thorough soaking.  What is usually a colourful vibrant place was wet and dreary and the rain continued to fall.  Eventually we could no longer justify occupying the table when other people needed food and shelter so we paid and left but there was an hour to kill before the bus was scheduled to return to the port so we found a table inside a local taverna.

On the bus journey back the heavens opened and there was an electrical storm to entertain us.  Back at Karavostassis it was absolutely chucking it down and by the time we got back to the room we were thoroughly soaked.

I had had quite enough of Folegandros for this year and was glad to be leaving the next day.

My Personal Greek A to Ω – O (Omricom) is for Oύζο or Ouzo

Amorgos Taverna

I like Greece and I like Greek tavernas, they are almost always friendly inviting places and the food is inexpensive and good value and it rarely disappoints. I like the way that when you arrive and select a table you get invited into the kitchen to meet the chef, to carry out an inspection and to satisfy yourself about hygiene standards and then get to choose the food.  I like the carefree ambiance and the complete lack of formality, outside wooden tables and rattan chairs, check tablecloths, extensive menus and unhurried waiters. I like the cheap paper table covers so you can spill food and drink without worrying about disapproving looks or being presented with the laundry bill, I like the certain company of scrounging cats and I especially like those with live bouzouki players running through the familiar catalogue of traditional Greek music and always starting and finishing with the obligatory ‘Zorba’.

Greece has a culinary tradition dating back thousands of years and over the centuries Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences.  Greek food is best kept simple because too much refinement is generally considered to be against the spirit of Greek cooking and typical dishes include souvlaki, fried meatballs, squash balls, octopus, shrimp, squid, feta cheese, olives, stuffed vine leaves, tzatziki eggplant dip, small sausages and giant beans.  For the evening meal, Greek tavernas serve such specialties as moussaka made from lamb, eggplant and béchamel sauce, kebabs, pastitsio, a speciality of Corfu, that consists of lamb or goat meat with macaroni and tomatoes, stifado, braised beef with onions and paidakia, which is a delicious grilled lamb or goat chops.

My personal favourite is Kleftiko, which is a knuckle of lamb, cooked slowly and served with vegetables and rice.  In Greek, kleftiko means stolen meat and according to legend, this dish would be made with a lamb stolen from a flock as it grazed on a hillside. The thief would cook the meat over many hours in a hole in the ground, sealed with mud so that no steam could escape to give him away.  Nowadays, to recreate this, the lamb is sealed inside a paper package, which keeps the meat moist and traps its fragrant juices.

On the island of Ios in the Cyclades there is beach taverna, which serves possibly the best calamari in the whole of the Mediterranean.  The little place is delightful with a shaded terrace that overlooks the beach and the tiny bay and it is run by an old woman who probably should have retired years ago and it has a limited but interesting menu and with the sort of prices that I really like.   Going to the beach and the taverna is part of the Ios routine and everyday I can happily sit at the same table and have the same delicious calamari and dish of Greek salad.

Also on Ios in the Chora at the very top of the town next to a row of redundant windmills is a taverna called ‘The Mills’ with tables that sprawl untidily across the pavement and with table cloths flapping vigorously in a constant stiff wind that brings a slight chill to the evening air, so much so that local families who dine at the restaurant slip on warm woollen jumpers as a precaution.  This is completely unnecessary of course because the wind is simply refreshing and by no means cold enough for additional layers of clothing.  The nice thing about the Chora is that although it is a place for tourists it is also a real place where people live as well and go out together for dinner.  While parents and grandparents enjoy their food and wine the children, in their best clothes, play in a dried up flowerbed of red earth, chase the stray cats and generally have a very good time.

My favourite Greek taverna, however, without a shadow of a doubt was the ‘Boss Bar’ on the island of Santorini in 2004.  It was an untidy little place right on the beach at Perissa and on a fortnight’s holiday we dined there most evenings and when we felt obliged to try somewhere different, just for a change, we almost always wished that we hadn’t and went back there later for a final drink.  The ‘Boss Bar’ really had been an excellent place, the staff were attentive and friendly, the food was good, the beer was cold and the prices were reasonable.  It has taken me a while to get to the point of this story but there was always complimentary ouzo to finish the evening (except when there was complimentary melon which quite frankly wasn’t so good) but the place had my fullest recommendation.  On my fiftieth birthday a very substantial meal for nine cost only €85, I left a hundred, the owner refused such a generous tip, I insisted, and he completed our meal with at least €25 worth of complimentary sweets and drinks.

I returned to Santorini in 2006 but was devastated to find that it had gone, probably because the owner had been far too generous with the complimentary ouzo.

Island Hopping 2006, Naxos

Arriving in Naxos

I did my only important job of the day and got up early as usual, checked the sky and satisfied that the sun was shining sat on the balcony waiting for the others to join me.  I didn’t have to wait long and we had a breakfast in the hotel that was substantial and very good value at only €3 each. Joining us for breakfast this morning was the loudest cat in the world with a really shouting mew.   It liked the ham that Sally insisted on feeding it but not the children from across the road who kept on chasing it around!

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Tinos and a Greek Party Night

Having acquired a taste for using the ferries to visit other islands we took a trip during the second week to the intriguing little island of nearby Tinos, which is a secretive place that doesn’t feature very often on holiday itineraries.  As we approached the port we could see that not being a tourist island it wasn’t going to any special effort to become one and the harbour front was functional and utilitarian and without the ribbon of colourful bars and tavernas to which we had become accustomed.

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Greece 2009 – Ios, Beaches and Baptisms

Valmas Beach Taverna

We walked to the top and admired the views of the port and on the way down stopped to talk to some fellow travellers.  As we exchanged stories I saw what I thought was a lizard but quickly realised that it was a snake.  Olive brown and about a metre long it slithered by and disappeared into a tiny crack in the steps.  Later I asked Antonia who was surprised to hear of a siting in the town and told me that a local naturist had reintroduced these serpents to the island and that they were poisonous.  I am all for preserving the natural environment but that is just plain daft!

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Greece 2009 – Folegandros

Folegandros Chora

I woke quite early because when I am on holiday the first thing I have to do is check the weather, this is a huge responsibility and although it doesn’t take a great deal of preparation I can’t possibly slouch around in bed too long.  Usually this is a pointless exercise in Greece because the weather tends to be fairly reliable but this year was different and when I threw back the shutters this morning it was grey and overcast and it had been raining heavily during the night.

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Greece 2009 – Milos to Folegandros

Milos Speedjet

It was an unsociably early start in the morning because the bus and the ferry times didn’t coordinate very well and we had to catch the ten past seven bus to Adamas which left us with nearly three hours to wait for the ten-twenty Seajet to Folegandros.  We would have preferred a regular ferry but unfortunately none were available.  It was a sunny morning but to our dismay cloud was beginning to accumulate again and assemble into a thickish ugly smudge over the high peaks and mountains behind us.

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Greece 2009, Milos and The Plaka

Milos Plaka Pot

To lose a work of art is unfortunate but to lose three is careless and the island of Milos has the distinction of being famous for just that.  The statue of the Greek God Asclepius has been taken away to the British Museum (not Lord Elgin this time), Poseidon is in Athens but the most famous of all is the statue of Aphrodite, or the Venus de Milo, which has been taken away to the Louvre in Paris.  All over the island archaeologists still search for the missing arms but it is unlikely that they will ever be found.

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Greek Tavernas

Amorgos Taverna

I like Greece and I like Greek tavernas, they are almost always friendly inviting places and the food is inexpensive and good value and it rarely disappoints.

I like the carefree ambiance and the complete lack of formality, outside wooden tables and rattan chairs, check tablecloths, extensive menus and unhurried waiters. I like the cheap paper table covers so you can spill food and drink without worrying about disaproving looks or the laundry bill, I like the certain company of scrounging cats and I especially like those with live bouzouki players running through the familiar catalogue of traditional Greek music and always starting and finishing with the obligatory ‘Zorba’.

Read the full story…