Saturday, 31 March 2012

Say (Feta) Cheese! -Eating in Greece

Have you ever had that feeling of just utter bliss and awe, mixed with a little sense of incredulity that such bliss and awe can exist?

I felt exactly that in Greece, watching the sun set over the horizon in Oia. We were freezing our asses off (yes, despite the sun. A case of extremely strong sea breezes, high altitudes, and over-optimistic clothing), wondering why the sun refused to set when it was already 730pm. Yet at the same time, not really caring that it's not setting yet, because the scene before us was just too beautiful. The sea, a few hundred feet below us, was so so blue, fading up into the skies, and that little glowing bubble of a sun was bathing everything in its rosy rays. And then I felt it again, standing at the top of the volcano in Santorini, watching the vast expanse of sea/sky and majestic islands stretch across my eyes. And then again, as I breathed in the salty-sweet air and felt the fine licorice-coloured sand between my aching toes at the black beach, though I may have been slightly disoriented after trekking more than 10km up and down the roads of Santorini following the crazy advice of the hostel owner.

All that worked up a giant appetite. We were two very hungry tiny asian girls in Greece.

Gyros/souvlaki, ultimate Greek fast food. Chunks of fatty lamb shaved off a rotating slab, topped with oily fries and wrapped in a toasted pita. Not my usual kind of food, but there's always an occasional place for artery-clogging yum in a healthy diet. Stressing about
"unhealthy" food is more unhealthy than just eating it.

Greece has a fabulous variety of appetisers/sides for sharing, much like the tapas of Spain, or the dimsum of Hong Kong, just that they were called mezze. Just for starters, we had

dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip), fried marrow balls, baked aubergine with tomato, horta (sauteed wild greens), the greek salad (see feta slab)

baked aubergine dish again, this time with sweet feta, and mini spanakopitas

large spankopita (spinach and feta pie)

fried Santorini tomato balls, fava dip

Looks pretty impressive, but often the dishes were really simple, giving attention to the ingredient itself, with nothing more than (lots of) Greek olive oil, herbs, and a squeeze of lemon to bring out the natural fresh flavours.

On the island of Paros, traditionally a fishing town, we of course had to order grilled seafood. At one place, the owner came out with the catch of the day on a plate, the mackerel still smooth and shiny and its eyes wide and glossy, for us to approve of its freshness. Without doubt, it was delicious later.
Mackerel, simply grilled with the aforementioned essentials, evoo/lemon/parsley.

More seafood! Shrimp and mussel saganaki, grilled octopus (I ate this for you, Susan :p ).

Aubergine (i.e. eggplant) was huge in Greece, I've had more eggplant the past week than I have had in a month, or months really, since the past wintry months haven't been the right time to find aubergines in the farmers' market. Everyone knows the Greek national dish, the signature moussaka, but there was also this amazing dish of aubergine rolls that can only be described as "wow".

Aubergine, stuffed with feta and herbs, fried in a light batter, then smothered with a rich tomato gravy and baked so the flavours and textures all melded together wonderfully

It was called 'Mama Mia'! Mama was a character herself, radiating warmth and cheekiness, exclaiming over every customer (all the ladies were "sex bombs", all the men were "my love"), much like a proud mama welcoming guests into her home. It was hard not to fall in love with her and her food. Actually, its hard not to fall in love with Greece herself. The gorgeous sights, the culture, the atmosphere, the combination of good food and greedy, giggly company.

Rice-stuffed roast peppers and tomatoes

Now stuffed and back in London, I'm already wondering where the sun went ):

General news: I'm killing mummyicancook's facebook page after my one week trial. Too much work for too few fans, sadly. Keeping twitter because it's, scarily, quite a lot of addictive, time-wasting fun.


  1. You make me drool with all the great food pictures. I wish I were there to experience the sun/food and beauty. Guess I will add it to my bucket list.

  2. Greece is certainly one of my favourite food destinations. On a warm evening, to sit in an island beach-side taverna and eat simple, but lovingly prepared, dishes, all washed down with a bottle of cool Retsina, is one of life's (reasonably affordable) pleasures.

  3. What a great time you had in Greece. Love your food photos, making me so hungry. I so enjoy your writing style.

  4. You have just made me supremely jealous. I adore Greece, beautiful place, beautiful people and most importantly beautiful food. Looks like you tried all the best that Greek tavernas have to offer, and with such lovely photography too, my tummy is most definitely rumbling!!

  5. I just adore souvlakis. So addictive. Actually I realise by looking at your pics, I really do love Greek food. Simple but delicious! Just watch out for the chips x

  6. Your trip sounds like it was amazing! This is such a happy-making post, especially with all the delicious food! And I'm terrible with Facebook--I have a page, but I never, never update it (which is pretty bad, actually). Maybe I should delete it too...

  7. Wow, Greece is looking beautiful. Just like I remember it. I love Greek food and you have just inspired me to make some very soon.

  8. Hi Shu Han,

    It sounds as if you had a great time and the photos of all that fantastic food is mouth-watering!! Too bad the weather here is now getting cooler and less sunny...

  9. I like you blog so much it has a fantastic information about Ancient Greece I like any articles in web talking about Ancient Greece,Ancient Greece for Kids,Map of Ancient Greece,Ancient Greece Timeline,Ancient Greece Government,Ancient Greece Food,Ancient Greece Religion,Ancient Greece Clothing,Women in Ancient Greece,Ancient Greece Art,Ancient Greece Gods,Ancient Greece Facts,Ancient Greece Geography thanks a lot ...

  10. sarah: i would recommend greece to be on everyone's bucket list! it was that amazing.

    cro: you summed it up perfectly.

    norma: thank you! I'm still trying to improve on my writing.

    alex: there's no way I've tried everything the greek tavernas had to offer, but I'm pretty pleased with what my tummy has conquered ;)

    yujia: HUR HUR.

    laura: we thought the gyros was better than the souvlaki though, but both were yum!

    kyleen: haha, well facebook takes 14 days to delete the page, just inc ase you change your mind..

    francesca: thank you! I hope to be making some greek-inspired food soon too!

    green dragonette: I KNOW ): what happened to the early summer??

  11. Your holiday sounds so delicious and relaxing! I have literally devoured this post's photos and your descriptions and I hope you will share with us all your cooking inspirations! I'm sure you have some ideas after such a feast ;-)

  12. oooh! I might be going to Greece in the summer and this is a fantastic preview!

  13. Made me salivate as I looked at all the food. My hubby's mostly Greek. Adding Greece to our bucket list:)

    p.s. I've nominated you on my recent blog post as my top 7 favorite Versatile Blogger! Feel free to spread the love, or just feel the warm fuzzies over the internet:)

  14. Wow, looks like a wonderful, delicious trip! I know you have a ton of fantastic memories from this one and it looks like lots of culinary inspiration!

  15. Wow! Look at all those delicious looking food! Greece may just be the perfect food heaven for me as I adore aubergines, can't get enough of them :)

  16. Incredible story there. What happened after? Good luck!