Back in Greece

After a few months away from the country, Vicky and I recently flew back to Greece, primarily to celebrate Easter, but also to investigate potential sites for our ecolodge, make new contacts and enjoy the fantastic weather (we left Frankfurt in the rain and arrived in Athens in glorious sunshine) and food.

Now, if you haven’t been to Greece at Easter before, let me explain what you can expect. You will eat amazing food. Then you’ll eat some more, and some more, until you think you’re going to pop. Expect to put on 2-3 Kilos over the few days that you’re here. The trouble is, there is so much variety that you will want to try everything, and the Greeks are so hospitable that they will make you try everything (in huge quantities) anyway, so you don’t really have a choice: sit back, loosen your belt a notch, and enjoy!

So, for the next couple of weeks you’ll read about  homecooked Greek food, Greek Easter traditions (and how much weight we manage to put on :) ). On our  first morning, Vicky’s parents greeted us with a delicious breakfast of country bread, koulouri (best described as a Greek bagel covered in sesame seeds) homemade jam from the lemon and orange trees in the garden, tahini, honey from the mountains where Vicky’s grandparents live, fresh juice and Greek (which is actually the same as Turkish) coffee.

Breakfast in Athens

Vicky’s mum is an endless resource when it comes to recipes, advice and tips for making preserves – she makes the most delicious jams, pickles, liqueurs, sweets, etc. Nothing ever goes to waste! So we’re learning and practising how to make them (and hoping to be able to share them with our guests soon!). We’ve also been reading this amazing book (thanks again Mary for the tip) which is full of clear, simple and useful advice.

For lunch on our first day we had fresh sea bream with peppers, both of which were grilled on the barbeque,

Sea Bream and Peppers

before being served with potatoes (also from the grandparent’s village), beetroot salad and lemons plucked straight from the tree.

Lemons in the garden

Sea Bream Lunch

I think the best way to sum up the Greek’s approach to food is to take fresh, simple ingredients, cook them with minimal fuss (a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, lashings of olive oil, a sprinkle of oregano and a squeeze of lemon juice is all you need most of the time) and then plonk them in the middle of the table and let people help themselves.

After lunch we went to see the rest of the family, which would inevitably involve eating more food of some variety, lots of kissing (the Greeks greet friends and family with a double kiss like the French) and drinking lots of coffee. Luckily for our waistlines, the food only turned out to be koulouria, Greek Easter cookies, which we had to help make before we could eat them.

Easter cookies

I have to admit that I was mainly taking photographs while Vicky’s auntie made the cookies, but I don’t think they would have been as tasty if I had made them.

Cookies

When we made it back for dinner Vicky’s mum had made us a traditional dish called Stifado: squid with potatoes in a tomato and cinnamon sauce. It’s perhaps not for everyone – I know a few people back home who wouldn’t like the thought of eating those tentacles – but it tasted amazing.

Stifado

To balance the meal out we shared a traditional Greek salad (note the lack of lettuce the Germans and English amongst you): nothing more than cucumber, tomatoes, onions, feta, olives, oregano and lots of olive oil.

Greek salad

So that was the first day out of the way. If things continue to go like this I certainly won’t complain :).

Tell us what you think!

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