I am still in Greece and now that all the Zelos goodies are safely on their way to the US, I can enjoy a short vacation with family and friends. I am very happy to be here and be able to visit places that I have never been to before or haven't been to for a long time.
Our first stop was to the area of Halkidikí, an hour to the east of Thessaloniki, where our unique PDO Tragano Greek Organics Green Olives come from. Halkidikí is just beautiful, with olive and pine trees reaching the turquoise, crystal-clear waters, and it's where I spent most of my summers as a child. While I've gone back often, this time I had a culinary surprise there - a very interesting appetizer with artichokes, sea fennel, grilled snails and a fresh lemon sauce. This is definitely one that I'll try to replicate when I'm back in Cincinnati! (If you're feeling adventurous already, try it yourself with Tragano Greek Organics Sea Fennel.)
We then visited Cape Sounion, south of Athens, where I had spent a few days as a young girl in a Scouts camp - no joke, we drove past the camp and there were still Scouts camping there! We spent time with friends, visited the inspiring Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the sea, and had a wonderful dinner in a very humble but delicious restaurant, one of the many like this that you find in Greece.
We left just in time for the island of Hydra, fifteen short minutes before the earthquake hit Athens last Friday. Fortunately there was little damage and no serious injuries, but it was a reminder that Greece is an earthquake zone. Hydra turned out to be just gorgeous - I had never been before so it was truly a lovely surprise. It is a very small island, with just 2000 inhabitants, no cars, just donkeys, beautiful architecture and a lot of history. Not only is it the birthplace of many heroes of the Greek Revolution, but a many mighty modern Greeks were born and raised here and it was the scene for several iconic Greek films of the '50s and '60s. As a result, many Greek and International celebrities chose to spend time here, including Joe Lennon, Eric Clapton and Leonard Coen, who also lived for a short time here, apparently looking for beauty.
Hydra is also very artful with so many beautiful exhibitions and events. I especially enjoyed a small exhibition by New York-based artist Kiki Smith at the old slaughterhouse-turned-gallery, by the DESTE Foundation.
And, of course, I enjoyed a lot of great food by the sea, both in traditional and more contemporary restaurants...it was all fantastic! I can honestly say that I didn't have a single disappointing dish the entire time we were there! It's true, I love Greek ingredients, especially the variety of veggies - just look at this smoked eggplant purée with sun dried tomatoes that I had for a snack while swimming in Hydroneta!
Last but not least, I've gorged non-stop on olives: black, green, Kalamata, pureed, sliced, whole, pitted. However you like them, they are always there, as a snack, as an ingredient to the omnipresent Greek salad, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! They are everywhere and I just savor each one of them like aIsavor every moment I spent in this beautiful, sun kissed country.
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