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Greece is in the World’s top fifteen destinations July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Greece Is in the World’s Top Fifteen Destinations and Attracts 15 Million People a Year
Research and Markets has announced the addition of Travel & Tourism International – Profile of Greece to their offering.

In terms of tourism arrivals, Greece consistently ranks among the top fifteen destinations in the world, attracting some 15 million international travellers annually. While, the travel industry is increasingly facing stiff competition from other sun, sea and sand destinations in the region, especially Turkey, Athens has become a hot new destination (especially for city breaks), largely because of its greatly improved infrastructure, the upgrading of hotels and the expansion of the Metro.

The largest number of international travellers to Greece come from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, accounting for over 6 million arrivals annually. The majority of Greeks holiday within their own country. In 2002, almost 4 million Greeks took a holiday at home, compared to the 400,000 or so travellers who took a holiday abroad.

This country profile report is part of the Travel and Tourism International subscription. This series provides quarterly tourism profiles of destination countries. Each quarterly issue features six profiles, all providing a cross-section of countries either established or emerging as tourism destinations.

Vital to industry professionals who must accurately evaluate a country’s tourism prospects and capacity, each report pools together the most relevant market-based information and analysis.

The reports are compiled by a global network of industry analysts who provide market-based information as well as detailed, insightful and localised interpretation of facts and figures. Covering 24 individual tourism destinations over a 12 month period, each report provides an overview of a country’s: (more…)


Greek Culture > When the Greeks toss the demitasse July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes, Greek Food Culture.
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Ready to frappé? Take instant coffee, sugar and add cold water. Now shake for Grecian gold.

In the annals of Greek civilization, the so-called frappé is something of an overnight sensation. The first one (that we know of anyway) was concocted from sugar, cold water and a spoonful of instant coffee granules at a trade show in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, a mere 47 years ago, the equivalent, in Greek years, of a week ago Thursday. Yet this month, while the events in Athens are on everyone’s lips, the lips of Athenians will be on the upper ends of bent straws buried in tall, icy cold glasses of frothy frappé.

The primordial joys of java are hardly new to the gregarious Greeks. The nation’s high volume of cafes, in terms of both number and noise, demonstrates widespread affection for the Arabica-imbued rendezvous. The utter darkness and density of traditional Greek coffee, brewed on stove tops to the consistency of sand, reflects an ancestral craving for caffeinated conversation.

Frappés deliver much of the potency Greeks love, only in a cold and wet format calibrated to their hot and dry summers. Better still, a tall glass lasts much longer than a demitasse.

“The frappé is a long break from everything,” notes Elena Votsi, the jewelry designer who created the medals for the 2004 Olympics. “It prolongs the opportunity to talk.”

A frappé is simply instant coffee, sugar and cold water shaken vigorously together to produce a thick foam, then poured into a tall, ice-filled glass. Add milk, or not, as you like. The frappé formula is mutable: Cafes offer three levels of sweetness, gliko for sweet, three teaspoons sugar to one teaspoon instant coffee, metrio for medium sweet, two teaspoons sugar and sketo for unsweetened. Then there’s the milk factor, with or without. Me gala “with milk” invariably indicates evaporated milk, which produces a richer frappé, though whole and nonfat milk produce satisfactory results. The Athens-based fashion designer Angelos Frentzos likes his frappés blended sketo and horis gala “without milk” and with a triple dose of instant coffee. “Otherwise, you cannot understand the coffee taste,” he explains.

But even one rounded teaspoon of the Greek Nescafé packs a punch, which explains why Greek Californians seek it out at Greek House Importing (7856 Firestone Blvd., Downey) and Papa Cristo’s (2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles) or log onto to www.GreekShops.com, a Santa Monica-based importer. Papa Cristo’s will mix up a frappé for you too. While American brands lack the bitter bite the Greeks covet, just about any instant coffee will trap air when shaken with water and produce the frothy effect.

Yet not every Greek is a fan of frappés and what they’ve, er, foamented. “Personally I hate it,” says Nikos Dimou, the social critic and author of “On the Misery of Being Greek.” “Frappé has been the main marketing theme of Nescafé in Greece for decades. All that brainwashing definitely has changed the cafe culture in Greece.”

Novelist Amanda Michalopoulou does not view the change unfavorably. She compares the map-like forms left by the frappé foam on the sides of a glass to those left by a near-empty cup of Greek coffee turned upside down according to fortune-telling tradition.

“I remember old men in the typical Greek kafeneion, on the islands, sipping their frappés, and the foam staying in the rim of the glass and creating some beautiful compositions. It was a little bit of magic.”

Frappé > Recipe > Total time: 2 minutes > Servings: 1

Note: Because they dissolve well in cold liquids, imported Nescafé instant coffees are best for this recipe. Although they are slightly different, both Nescafé Classic and Nescafé Clasico, imported from Mexico and available at shops.

1 rounded teaspoon instant coffee

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup or more cold water, divided

1/4 cup evaporated milk or regular milk

1. Place the coffee, sugar and one-fourth cup water in a shaker, jar or blender. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds, or blend for 10 seconds in the blender, to produce a thick foam.

2. Slowly pour the coffee mixture down the sides into a tall (14-ounce) glass half-filled with ice. Add the milk, pouring down the side of the glass (so as not to dispel the foam), and top off with about one-fourth to one-third cup cold water to fill the glass.

Each serving (using lowfat milk):
64 calories; 2 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 33 mg. sodium.

Related Picture > Greek Cafe Scene > In Athens, diners choose frappe me gala (with milk), left, and horis gala (without milk), right.

See this picture (and more) at our Flickr Photo Gallery.

Moussaka, straight from Greece July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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There are many variations of the Greek moussaka, which almost always includes layers of meat sauce, eggplant, and white sauce.

But Petros Markopoulos, a small, unassuming man with a big, easy smile, makes a mean version. His rich dish begins with a bed of potatoes.

When Markopoulos moved here from Greece 14 years ago, he wanted to perpetuate the culinary traditions he was raised on and ”duplicate the foods from home.” At his 8-year-old restaurant, Ithaki Mediterranean Cuisine, Markopoulos insists that authentic Greek dishes like moussaka, pastitsio, another casserole of pasta, meat sauce, and white sauce, and baked lamb remain true to their heritage. He might fiddle with other recipes, tweaking them to appeal to American tastes, cutting back on frying and excess oil, but he leaves the classics alone. Especially when he got his recipes from his mother.

In Greece, says the restaurateur, moussaka was once made only in the summer. That seems incredible when you consider how rich and layered the dish is, and what ideal hearty winter fare it makes. But summer is the season that produces fresh eggplant and ripe tomatoes, another common ingredient. Because these days the vegetables are available off-season in Greek cities, just as they are here, the dish is now made year-round. Markopoulos, too, offers moussaka in summer and winter, served in individual clay pots.

Markopoulos has two secret ingredients: dry sherry in the meat sauce, which, he says, adds a little sweetness and helps cut the richness of the meat, and Greek mizithra cheese in the white sauce, also called bechamel, its saltiness and dry texture offset the creamy mixture.

This many-layered dish has several components, so it’s time-consuming, but the various elements, even the entire dish, can be made in advance.

Ithaki Mediterranean Cuisine, 25 Hammatt St., Ipswich, 978-356-0099.

A taste of Greece > A book and a recipe July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Food Recipes.
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In her book, “The Glorious Foods of Greece” (Morrow, $40), Diane Kochilas writes that clay-baked chickpea soup from Sifnos “is one of the simplest, most delicious dishes in all of Greece.”

Chickpea Soup from Sifnos Island

Since Kochilas’ recipe calls for a covered earthenware pot, I adapted it to the more common Dutch oven. I have found this to be a wonderful method for cooking not only chickpeas, but virtually any dried beans. It is particularly successful with small white beans such as cannellinis. When the beans are fully cooked, simmer off some of the liquid to make a bean stew to serve over rice.

1 pound dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Soak the beans overnight in ample water to which you have added the baking soda. (Alternately, heat the beans, baking soda and ample water in a large pot. When the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let chickpeas soak for at least an hour.) Drain, rinse and drain again.

2. Place the chickpeas, onions, olive oil, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven and cover everything by 3 1/2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chickpeas have softened slightly, 45 to 50 minutes.

3. Transfer the Dutch oven to a 350-degree oven and bake, covered, until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours, depending on the age of the chickpeas. The chickpeas should remain whole and not distintegrate, but the soup should be thick. While the chickpeas are baking, check the water content occasionally and add more water, if necessary, to keep everything from sticking. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Giant souvlaki set to grab chunk of history July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Food Greece, Greek Taste Local.
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A Patras taverna owner has attempted to set a new world record by making a gyros souvlaki which will weigh some 1,850 kilos and will need 300 kilos of herbs and spices for added flavor.

Costas Dasios began setting up the structure to roast the meat. It involves a 1.73-meter stainless steel skewer surrounded by 72 grills and powered by a 4-horsepower motor. A 2-ton natural gas tank will provide the fuel for the effort, which should see Dasios enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

The current record was set in Cyprus by Lebanese restaurateur Sami Eid, who cooked an 1,814-kilo gyros souvlaki made from some 2,150 chickens.

Dasios has set up his structure in Patras harbor and started cooking the meat at 9 a.m. for around four hours. The souvlaki will be cut into portions weighing 100 grams.

Go Greek for salad days of summer July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Serves 8

1 head leaf lettuce, iceberg or lettuce of choice

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup thinly sliced cucumber

1 cup thinly sliced bell pepper

4-ounce package feta crumbles (tomato-basil preferred)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Wash, tear and pat lettuce leaves dry. Place in large bowl with tomatoes, olives, onion, cucumber, bell pepper and feta.

To make dressing, combine remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl and mix well. Pour over salad and toss well.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 329 calories, 32 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 316 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 85 percent of calories from fat.


Serves 8

1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, coarsely chopped and dried

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

1 cup finely chopped curly parsley

1/2 cup green salad olives

4-ounce package feta crumbles

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons dried dillweed

Toss lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, parsley and olives in a large serving bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour feta mixture on salad and toss well. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 175 calories, 16 grams fat, 8 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 17 milligrams cholesterol, 324 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 76 percent of calories from fat.

Wine > Fikardos 2004 July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Theodoros Fikardos harvested grapes for the first time in 1988 – there was just enough to fill up a barrel. His interest in wine making, though, grew year by year. Through the 90s Fikardos managed to become an established winemaker not only in Paphos and Cyprus but abroad as well. Wine connoisseurs from Finland especially enjoy his wines.

Theo believes that the essence of great wine lies in vineyard work. He starts from the year before his harvest, inspecting the vines to decide the quantity they can bear and thus how they should be pruned.

Everything has to be in balance to get ripeness. Harvest date is crucial. He works alone studying the art of winemaking – never afraid to admit his mistakes and learn from them. More importantly, he listens carefully to those with more experience. And he taste wines from other wine makers, other regions and other countries.

I remember 1996, when he ventured with Chardonnay, which was a big gamble. The result might have put many winemakers off trying again. But not Theo. After three years he managed after three years to produce quality Chardonnay worthy of this noble grape. This is Theo Fikardos, a winemaker who never gives up.

The winery is situated at Mesogi industrial area on Paphos’ outskirts and has a yearly output of 300,000 bottles. This output is made of twelve main brands of wine. In whites we have a successful blend of Xinisteri and Semillon grapes and the aforementioned Chardonnay. He also experimented with Riesling and Semillon varietals, but these were not available on the tasting.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Mataro are the two grape varieties used extensively by the winemaker in reds and rosés. His winery is one of the best on the island, equipped with the latest in winemaking technology. The investment in technology is an ongoing process. he has a passion for wine-tasting and objective evaluation. He is a consummate professional well-respected among his fellow professionals.

Tasting Notes
2003 Amalthia, Xinisteri-Semillon, Alcohol Volume 12%, Price £2.50

Theo realised Xinisteri might improve by blending. Therefore a few years ago he experimented by choosing one of the main white grape varieties of Bordeaux, that of Semillon. Harvest for this grape variety is as early as August, whereas for Xinisteri in early September. The vineyards are planted in Tsada and Stroumbi villages.

Youthful yellow-greenish colour, slightly effervescent, herbaceous green apple fruit, vegetal, lime and wild flowers appear on the nose and on the palate. Fresh still, high in acidity from the Semillon grape, the aftertaste cuts a bit short. Served between 6°C and 9°C try this wine with the green salads, tomato and feta cheese, asparagus as well as fried Mediterranean fish.

2003 Alkisti Chardonnay, Alcohol Volume 12%, Price £4.10

Chardonnay is found in Letymbou and Stroumbi villages and is harvested in early August. This is unoaked Chardonnay with a pale yellow and greenish colour. Fresh Chardonnay on the nose, with ripe yellow and white fruit and with compelling notes of citrus fruit and particularly that of pineapple. Lemons and grapefruit crowd the round intense and concentrated palate, with notes of chalky minerality. The high acidity sustains at the aftertaste. Serve at 10°C seafood cocktails are the perfect match to this wine along with asparagus, artichokes and salads with nut dressing.

2002 Xilogefiro, Chardonnay fume, Sur-lies, Alcohol Volume 11.5% Price £5.05
Harvested in mid August the Chardonnay grapes come from Stroumbi village and after gentle press and fermentation the juice is kept in oak barrels for nine month on their lies. Deep gold colour, a result of oak storage, discreet oak aromas are mingled with lemon, apple, melon and honey fruit to make a delicate yet complex nose. This is supported on the palate with grapefruit and green apples on the long finish. Interesting wine served at 11°C ideal for fish with rich sauces or roast veal with light cream sauce, cheese and grilled white fish like turbot and Dover sole. Ageing potential for two more years at least.

2003 Ayia Irini, Semillon-Xinister, Alcohol Volume 11.5% Price £2.50

A slight sweeter version that that of Amalthia with grapes from Stoumbi and Polemi villages. The Semillon is higher in volume than Xinisteri and is harvested in mid August, a bit late than the Semillon used for Amalthia, mainly for more concentrated sugar to add to this medium dry white. Yellow greenish colour, grassy, orange peel, herbaceous mixed with blossom aromas of white flowers on the nose. The palate is vibrant with mouthwatering acidity with a hint of sweetness – tropical and citrusy with a firm mineral structure. Try this at 6°C to 9°C with mild coconut curries.

2003 Katerina Xinisteri-Semillon, Alcohol Volume 11.5% Price £2.50

Grapes exclusively from Stroumbi – Semillon harvested at early August and Xinisteri in mid September. A touch more yellow than the Irini, candied lemons, warm honey, ripe white fruit on the palate – reminiscent of visits in fruit markets, the palate is mouth coating, powerful with grapefruit and beeswax, intense and lengthy finish. Try this with creamy curries and pork with rosemary and plums.

2003 Iocasti, Mataro, Alcohol Volume 14%, Price £2.50

Most of the rose wines that I personally like are made from red grapes. Mataro comes from Kallepia village and is harvested in late August. Pale ruby colour, this wine is clean fresh and fruity. Wild strawberries and raspberries on the nose, the palate is even more interesting soft structure on tannins, berries style with a slinky finish. Try this at 9°c with gammon ham, mixed meze particularly with grilled lamb chops.

2003 Valentina Cabernet Sauvignon and Mataro, Alcohol Volume 13.5% Price £2.85

Late August harvest from Stroumbi and Kallepia villages. Good combination of two red grape varieties to make a rose wine with medium body. Paler than the previous this is a medium sweet rose with intense scents of ripe berries, cherries and pink roses. Sweet fruit and soft structure on the palate, seductive black cherries and spice notes on a seductive finish. Roast duck with cherries, most sweet and sour oriental dishes and as an aperitif served at 9°C.

2002 Ravanti Mataro, Alcohol Volume 12.5% Price £2.50

Kallepia’s Mataro grape is the basis of the next two reds from Theo’s collection. Ravanti has a light ruby red with lifted sour cherries and forest floor undergrowth on the nose. The palate, fresh plums and raspberry fruit with undertones of spices, and a bit of leather. Good acidity, a bit restraint on tannins that affects the aftertaste. Served at 17°C, try this wine with barbecued meat particularly lamb.

2001 Achilleas, Selected Mataro, Alcohol Volume 13%. Price £3.15

Selected Mataro from a late August harvest from vineyards in Kallepia. Plumy red colour, with herb and spices hints and baked damson fruit on the nose. The palate develops into ripe succulent fruit, pepper overtones, leather and firmer tannins in the mouth. An herbaceous full-bodied blend wit reasonable length. Serve at 17°C will blend better with rich meat stews and roast turkey as well as barbecued meat.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alcohol Volume 12%, Price £4.40

Theo’s red wine collection continues now with a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal from Stroumbi and Polemi villages, harvested in mid August. This unoaked Cabernet has a ruby red colour; the Mediterranean climate and mineral rich soils encourages the ripe cassis and stony aromas of the wine. Leafy and intensely blackcurrant on the nose, round palate full textured and concentrated, it possesses a firm tannic grip, leathery with a good finish. Served at 17°C Cabernet’s ideal match is red meat particularly with rich mushroom or green pepper sauces.

2001 Leonardo Cabernet Sauvignon-Mataro, Alcohol Volume 14% Price £5.40
A blend of a Bordeaux and an Rhône type grapes, but harvested form Stroumbi and Kallepia respectively. Theo’s is using 50% American oak and 50% French oak, this wine is still young and musty, ink purple, with aromas of dried herbs and flavours of vanilla (the wine is kept in the barrels for 10 months), juicy redcurrants and cherries. The same characteristics on the palate, it has also has a pronounced tannic structure which encourages short to medium-term cellaring. Interesting combination, this is a vintage to review in the future. Served at 17°C other than red meats try also with cheese and char-grilled game.

2001 Leonardo Cabernet Sauvignon, Alcohol Volume 12% Price £5.50
A more typical claret form Stroumbi, robust, ripe cassis, blackcurrant fruit, mint, cedar, toast appear on the nose and gravely minerals, leather, pencil lead and ripe silky fruit on the palate. Medium-bodied another wine to be tested in the future, since it has the same ageing potential and food combination as with the other Leonardo.

Finally for all members of the wine club there will be three lucky winners at the end of May. The prize three bottles of Andessitis red from kindly offered by Kyperounda Winery.

Editor’s Note: Prices mentioned above are in Cyprus Pounds.