|iOS – the old hilltop town|
It’s exactly two months since I left home and I am sorry for the lack of input over the past few weeks. After our visit to the UK we took ourselves off to travel round Greece for a month (it was our 40th wedding anniversary – I really don’t know where all those years have gone?) – Crete, Ios, Sifnos, Syros and Athens (all wonderful!) – and are finally home to a damp, chilly and wintery Mullumbimby evening.
The homecoming was not too bad: we arrived, miraculously, with our luggage and all in one piece There were beautiful notes and pictures from our grandchildren to greet us plus a big bag of citrus from my friend’s garden. (I won’t talk about the box of mail – mostly the kind you don’t want in window-face envelopes). A quick inspection of the garden, in the dark with a torch, made me happy – there has obviously been a lot of rain, it was flourishing and I was able to pick enough veggies to make a quick curry.
To sum up the food in Greece – mostly wonderful – fresh, flavoursome, local varieties and produce, usually sold bare weight – because the locals demand fresh food for at least one meal per day. The tomatoes and bread were worth the price of the air ticket alone. There was fresh food everywhere. That doesn’t mean to stay there are not a lot of unhealthy looking locals – the standard Greek breakfast is 3 pieces of cake, 3 ‘frappe’s'(iced coffee) and three fags (smoking is a national pastime!)
Fresh is best – local produce on Ios
The trick to making a good Greek Salad – and believe me I have had plenty of bad ones outside Greece – is to make it with the best and freshest produce you can – that also goes for the olive oil and the olives.
Tomatoes – use ripe, but firm ones and cut into bite size chunks. Fresh from the garden is best.
Cucumber – the small, thin Lebanese variety with either the skin peeled or scored so that it will hold the dressing. No big, flabby ones please that are all seed. Cut into chunky halved circles.
Olives – firm, whole ones – no pitted ones please (or you loose most of the flavour)
Feta – sheep or goats is best – creamy, but crumbly (not rubbery or too salty)
Olive oil – extra virgin and fresh – not something pale yellow that has been sitting on the bench top in a clear glass bottle for ages or, heaven forbid, a plastic bottle.
Put a slab of feta lastly on the top (not chopped up in the salad!) and drizzle the oil over the top of this and sprinkle with the dried herbs and sea salt. Serve with fresh strong bread – essential for mopping up the salad juices. See previous posts on slow-bread making and Greek baked beans (gigantes) for a complete meal. Yamas!
yes, onion and garlic, as i state in the first step in the instructions (perhaps that should have been two instructions, on second thoughts)
ALSO: when adding the cuttlefish/calamari (theycan also be used instead), add a little bit of wine for a better aroma – and if you remember, 10 minutes before you think the potatoes and cuttlefish will be ready, add a dozen green olives and let them cook with the fish and potatoes, till slightly softened – adding olives to this meal is a very authentic way to finish off the dish
Thank you Maria, in my diary, next to entries about this meal, I had put ? fennel?- so my taste buds are amazingly in tact even after all that raki!. Do you add onion or garlic? I have wild fennel in the farden so yipee1
PS: fennel weed is like dill – it is a separate species from fennel bulb – dont use the ferny fronds of fennel bulb in place of maratha if you cant find it – they dont have the same aromatic value – ask a greek food supplies store to show you what maratha is
wow, you had a fantastic time, didn't you! your photos look so fresh, as if you are experiencing everything right this minute
the cuttlefish stew is made quite simply – porobably something like:
– heat some oil (cretans use a lot, not just a thin film to coat the bottom of the pot), saute onion and garlic
– add cuttle fish pieces and stir, then add potato pieces and stir to coat all with oil
– then add chopped fennel weed (maratha – the fern fronds, not the bulb) and some pureed tomato (or a tin of chopped tomatoes), and seasoning (salt and pepper)
– place a lid on the pot and let the cuttlefish cook away; you may need to add a little bit of water if you dont have enough liquids in the pot (try not to do this – cretan cooks like to get the olive oil/tomato juice mixture just right without adding any water)
– ready when the cuttlefish and potatoes are done to your liking, and in crete, that would mean it is quite soft