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The Greek coffee culture June 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Food Culture.
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Greek Coffee > A Coffee You Always Serve With a Glass of Water 
Every neighborhood, in every city of Greece, has its bastion of male comrade, the local kafenion or coffee shop. Unfortunately, most of the grand kafenia of old have been razed and supplanted by fast food chain outlets. The neighborhood places, with few exceptions, tend to be rather colorless store fronts, where retired or inexplicably idle men while away the time over a cup or two of Greek coffee, talking politics, gossiping, playing backgammon (tavli), or just plain hanging out, because there is nothing better to do.

Coffee used to have a much more significant, almost ritualistic, place in the popular (male) culture though. The grand kafenia had their coffee master, called tambi, who was versed in the art of making Greek coffee in the oldest, most traditional way: over an open flame, or over burning embers or over hot sand. He knew the preferences of every regular customer, for how one preferred his coffee told tomes about who one was.

The tambi would stand behind his counter and, depending on the order, would choose the correct briki, or coffee pot, a small vessel made of brass or tin with a wide bottom, a narrower top with a lip, and a long handle to facilitate holding it, while making the brew. He worked with his back to the room. To his right he kept the sugar and coffee, which for Greek coffee is a deep brown, silky powder. To the left, was the water faucet. He would measure out the coffee and sugar with a special flat, round spoon, add this to the briki with the desired amount of water, and stir the whole thing with a tiny, whisk-like implement, while it was heated. As soon as the coffee was ready, he would pour it with accuracy into the stout demitasse cup it is traditionally served it, making sure there is pleasant foam on top.

In the beginning of the 19th century up through the early 1960s, when the kafenia were the social centers of the Greek underground, there were at least 50 different ways to prepare the brew, or rather to order it, depending on one’s personal preferences for such details, as where on the surface of the coffee the foam was concentrated, or what proportion of sugar to coffee, practically down to the individual grains, one wanted. Such coffee connoisseurship and lore have all but disappeared today.

Now one is likely to get a cup of Greek coffee that shoots out of the nozzle of some big hulk of a machine in a modern cafe, where usurpers like cappuccino and freddo are also served.

But there is nothing to stop you from making Greek coffee at home. All you need is a briki, available widely, Greek coffee, sugar, if desired, a demitasse cup and a flame. The basic recipe calls for one teaspoon of coffee and one teaspoon of sugar per demitasse of water. Stir together over a low flame, until the mixture begins to froth up, but before it boils. At the moment it foams up, pour it into the cup and serve piping hot with a glass of ice water.

Frappe > No mention of coffee in Greece would be complete without paying homage to frappe. This is Greece’s own solution to iced coffee, and one that predates any of the yuppie brews now served in cafes the world over.

Frappe is the dynamo of Greek coffee drinks, an unlikely combination of instant coffee, almost exclusively the brand Nescafe, sugar, water, and milk. The instant coffee granules, sugar and a little water are either shaken together or beaten together in the glass until they form thick creamy foam. To this, cold water and ice are added. Finally, a few drops of milk, if desired, are also added. Frappe is served with a straw and the connoisseurs measure out the hours over elongated sips of this turbo-charged drink. You can order it everywhere!


All about Greek wine June 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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All About Greek Wine, a joint venture of twenty five of the most prestigious wineries of Greece, is dedicated to promoting top quality Greek wine in the North American market.

If you are a wine enthusiast don’t miss this opportunity to learn all about Greek wine. For more info visit >


The site covers extensive information on the Greek wine sector, Greek family-owned wineries, wine regions, native Greek grape varieties, history of Greek wine, harvest reports, current events, press and media coverage.

Greek Fest gives $5,000 to Christopher’s Challenge June 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Organizers of the Rochester Greek Festival will donate $5,000 to Christopher’s Challenge, a charity created to help fund blood typing to find bone marrow donors and to pay for other costs related to marrow transplants.

The charity was created in 1998 and named for Christopher Costello, a Webster teenager who received a bone marrow transplant on June 2, 1998, as part of his battle with leukemia.

Costello, now a senior at Webster Schroeder High School, plans to attend the State University of New York at Buffalo and study business administration.

The check will be presented to Costello and his mother, Kathy Costello, at noon today behind Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 962 East Ave., during the festival that runs through Sunday.

Since 1999, the Greek Festival has donated nearly $40,000 to local charities and children’s hospitals. Six other charities will get $1,000 donations today.

“The history of the festival is that we like to support children and families in the Rochester area. The Greek Festival has a very soft spot for children,” said Mary Gallis, a spokesperson for the festival.

Most of the donation will pay for a new entertainment system with video game players, a DVD player and a flat-screen television for children to use in the bone marrow transplant unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Christopher Costello is now 18, and his leukemia has been in remission about eight years.

“The only thing I really have is a lung disease that came from all the radiation and treatment, so I can’t be like a long-distance runner, but besides that, I don’t really have any limitations at all,” he said.

He plays on his school’s golf team and plays basketball and baseball on club teams. He also works with Christopher’s Challenge, participating in its fundraising events.

“I just think it’s a great cause,” Costello said. “It’s a great organization. People really need to get into the registry to make it easier for people to get donors.”

For more information about Christopher’s Challenge, go to > www.christopherschallenge.org.