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How is the olive oil produced? October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Limassol, Food Cyprus.
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Oleastro is also a working organic press and in season you can watch as locals bring in their just picked olives to tip into one end of the pressing process. These will then be turned into olive oil, a process that takes around two hours to complete.

First the olives are loaded onto a conveyor belt, from where leaves are removed before the fruit is washed and electronically weighed. Then it’s on to the crusher, where the marriage of high tech and old fashioned is seen with the use of old mill stones.

After the crushing process, the olives progress to the kneading machines, where a cold pressing system guarantees the temperature does not exceed 25°.

The system used is entirely ecological as it uses two-phase centrifugal machines that use no water during the extraction system so the olive oil not only retains its unique flavour, holds its colour and aroma but there is no nasty liquid effluent in the form of waste water to dispose of.

The olive mash that is left at the end of the process is then mixed with prunings from the Oleastro groves to make organic compost for the trees, bringing to full circle the oil making cycle.

Careful storing of the olive oil is vital and here the stainless steel tanks are kept at 15-18°C to maintain the quality of the olive oil.

Oleastro Enterprises Ltd, 4603 Anogyra, Limassol, Cyprus.
Tel 99 525093,  99 565768, Fax 25 386982, http://www.oleastro.com.cy

Olive Mill and Olive Oil Museum > A nice day on four wheels

Between the beach and the foot of Troodos mountain is the village paradise of Anogyra.

The old ‘Monastery of the Holy Cross’ awaits to fascinate you as you enter the village. In the square of the village with the stone-built houses is always a ‘kafeneion’ open. 

Have you already seen an Oleastro road sign? As you leave the village, on the way to Pachna, you will find our House of the Olive amidst the olive trees overlooking the Episkopi bay.

Try our selection of olives and let our friendly personnel show you how the millstones mill again in the old familiar way.

Stay for a Cyprus coffee and find your personal little momento from Cyprus, our extra virgin organic olive oil products. Kopiaste!


Liquid gold October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Limassol.
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‘You plant vineyards for your children,
Olive groves you plant for the grandchildren’

It is coming up to olive harvesting time so we take a timely look at the crop that has meant so much to Cyprus down the years

For those who grew up in Britain during the fifties, sixties and seventies, knowledge of olive oil was probably limited to it being used to relieve ear ache. The sole purveyor of this remarkable liquid was the high street chemist who would have decanted it into a small but serious looking medicine phials.

It is not the most distinguished of introductions to what the ancient Greeks revered as ‘liquid gold’. Perhaps such a use is indicative of Britain’s position when it comes to competing in the international culinary stakes.

All that’s changed now of course with Britons as keen as everyone else to drizzle it over food, eat it as paste on bread, use it to cleanse and massage the body, while the wood makes for lovely furniture and some extremists even swim the chilly English channel covered in gallons of the stuff. If rubbed on wasp stings, olive oil reportedly prevents swelling and kills the pain, it has been used to clean diamonds, even bathing babies in olive oil was considered essential in order to boost the digestive system. Not useful enough? In earlier times olive oil was used to calm hemorrhoids. Olive oil is now used in cosmetics and medicines.

The ancients used it instead of charcoal, creating the first olive fuel during the Cyprus copper boom, as it was used in furnaces to help melt the precious copper. Bodies were known to have been preserved in it through the embalming process and for centuries this ‘holy oil’ has anointed a multitude of kings and queens.

For over 4,000 years it has also represented the essential aspirations of man, it has become a symbol of life, hope, beauty, peace and fertility.

So prized was this amber liquid that only a few merchants in ancient Greece were allowed to hold a licence to sell olive oil, and those that owned this precious piece of paper were the richest in the land. Instead of being awarded medals, Greek athletes competing in the earliest Olympic Games were each presented with five tons of olive oil and a special dispensation and license to become olive oil merchants. They then became exceedingly rich selling on their Liquid Gold winnings.

The Cypriots are privileged to experience at almost every turn the visual spectacle of hundreds upon hundreds of olive trees as they show off their silvery leaves when they shimmer and shake in the wind.

But for Lina and Andreas Ellinas, olive trees and their products have become more than something pretty to view, they are their livliehood. They have laboured long and hard to create the visitor attraction Oleastro, which is devoted to honouring the olive tree and its position in Cyprus history.

They have created a haven of peace and enjoyment coupled with some very gentle education close to the relatively unspoilt village of Anogyra.

Totting up the plus points for making a visit to Oleastro starts with the pleasant drive up there, once off the motorway and onto the Pachna road, there is a further 10km of road that meanders through relaxing countryside, passing the odd goat farm. Wild flowers abound, carob and olive trees dot the landscape and nowhere are there visible signs (as yet) of any developer’s concrete confections. This is one part of the island where locals have seemingly stood firm on their land and, like the olive groves that abound in this area, they seem intent on passing the land and olives on to their grandchildren.

The House of the Olive is set high on a hill just a few kilometers outside the village and it is here the Ellinas family has transformed what was once just a dream into a reality. After years planning and raising much needed finance, they have finally completed their long-term plans. They can feel justifiably proud as Oleastro is one of the island’s nicer visitor centres. The idea is to have visitors meander round the well laid out grounds, where, every few metres, they will encounter another interesting exhibit or written notice offering yet more information about the olive tree.

I, for one, had no idea of the amazing regenerative properties of the tree, that it can be sliced open, burnt and almost hacked to death, but there in front of me was such a (now rescued) specimen and, surrounding its burnt out shell fresh new shoots were already bursting forth in spite of the damage.

A visit to Oleastro offers a complete who, why, what, where and when of the olive tree. Did you know, for example, it is among the oldest cultivated trees in the world, having flourished long before even written language was invented?

An olive tree takes around four to 10 years to produce fruit, and another 20 years to become fully productive. Such was the value set on the olive groves that if any man was found to have cut one down on his land, he was immediately stoned to death.

At Oleastro there is a successful marriage of education and entertainment: children will enjoy playing in the (safe) environmentally-friendly play area, or go in search of Peter Rabbit who has been recruited as a permanent (albeit shy) olive picker. Little ones will also enjoy a short, gentle escorted ride around the paddock on one of the pair of resident Shetland ponies.

The well stocked Oleastro gift shop is the place to visit and buy goodies for any enthusiastic olive gourmet. On display is a huge range of different sized oil bottles, some glass others in attractive, olive-emblazoned, porcelain containers. They also sell their organic olive oil laced with different herbs and you can order special gift baskets (ideal for Christmas), where the oil is complemented by jars of carob honey, mini sacks of organic herbs, olive paste, balsamic vinegar and cakes of delicious olive-scented soap. On sale are pretty porcelain dishes, dinner plates, salad bowls, biscuit jars, oil and vinegar condiment sets.

Oleastro has opened a rather nice cafe for a mid morning snack (try the village bread, organic sliced tomatoes topped with a pinch of dried oregano and some local tiny black olive). It also does a Sunday buffet lunch (£6) of delicious, home-made dishes including Lina’s grandmother’s recipe for Tavas, using goat meat that has been baked for hours in the clay oven along with lashing of onions, served with bulgar wheat.

In a world of unreasonable use of chemicals in the general production of our foodstuffs, Oleastro is one place striving to help restore the ecological balance and, at the same time, protecting not only the environment but also our health.

Tel: 99 525093 or 99 565768. info@oleastro.com.cy, www.oleastro.com.cy. Open from 10am to 7pm daily. Entrance: £1.50 adult £1 for children.

Trilogy at Salonica baths October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Actress Chryssa Kapsouli personifies Ithaca.

The archaeological site of the Paradeisos Baths (Bei Hamam) in Thessaloniki is playing host to the complete trilogy by Dimitris Dimitiriadis “Ithaca – Ulysses – Homer,” as presented by the DameBlanche Arts company.

This work, which is being presented as part of a tribute to Dimitriadis’s overall contribution to the theater, comprises three monologues that focus on Ithaca, Ulysses and Homer in an original manner.

Ithaca, for example, is personified by actress Chryssa Kapsouli, directed by Sofia Karatza with sets by Maria Konomi, where the character, once given a voice, represents a journey taken by millions of individuals over time.

In “Ulysses,” performed by Argyris Xafis, the hero is ill-equipped to deal with the ordeal set before him and returns to a tepid welcome.

“Homer,” which is performed by the playwright himself and accompanied by musician Telemachos Mousas, is the final part of the trilogy, in which the writer portrays the epic author pondering the essence of his opus.

Performances run until Saturday.

Paradeisos Baths, (Bei Hamam), Egnatia Street and Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki. Shows begin at 9 p.m.

ERT Symphony pays tribute to UN in NY October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Hellenic Light Americas.
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The ERT National Symphony Orchestra will be conducted in New York by Steven White and Andreas Pylarinos.

In what is Greece’s turn to pay tribute to the United Nations, a concert titled “Poetry and Music” will mark the 61st birthday of the organization at New York’s UN General Assembly Hall on Wednesday, according to an announcement by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis at a press conference late last week.

“The hall of the UN General Assembly will be filled with the sounds and images of Greece,” said Bakoyannis, adding, “Every year one of the member states organizes a concert that symbolizes peace and represents the cultural heritage of each country.”

Greece’s concert will comprise melodies penned by Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Dimitris Papadimitriou and Dimitris Lagios to the poetry of C.P. Cavafy, George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, and performed by the ERT (Greek Radio and Television) National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven White and Andreas Pylarinos. The songs will be performed by tenor Rolando Villazon and Greece’s Foteini Darra.

The concert will be broadcast live, via satellite, around the world.

Bakoyannis also noted the contribution of the Onassis Foundation in making the concert possible, adding that: “Foreign policy has a very strong weapon; culture. It is extremely important that Greek cultural events take place abroad.”

A parade of portraits of the world’s greatest personalities October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Technopolis hosts Apeiron/Corbis Outline show as part of Photography Month

The faces of super-stardom may be familiar to all of us, but now they are all coming together in a parade of images titled “Corbis Outline,” at the City of Athens’s Technopolis arts complex in the central neighborhood of Gazi, starting tomorrow and running to November 19.

The tribute, which is jointly organized by photo agencies Apeiron and Corbis Outline, is part of the ongoing International Month of Photography and prior to its Athens showing, the exhibition traveled to Tokyo, Los Angeles, Milan and New York.

The Athens exhibition also marks the 60th anniversary of UNICEF, as well as the 25th birthday of the Corbis agency.

Corbis Outline is a photo agency that licenses contemporary celebrity portraits to editorial publications, specializing in stylized studio art and candid shots. Featured personalities are of world renown and include famous faces from many arenas: from actors, musicians and authors to scientists, CEOs, artists and more.

The group exhibition at Gazi will bring together a number of important portraits taken for the photo agency. These include photos of Madonna, Sharon Stone, Billy Idol, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Lui and Bill Clinton, to name but a few.

This exhibition is considered one of the highlights of the Month of Photography, an event which this year seems to be especially promising.

Delphic Oracle mystery October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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New research traces presence of gases beneath Apollo’s temple

The site of the Delphic Oracle is likely to have been chosen by the ancients because of the geological fault lying underneath it. The Oracle of Delphi was the most important in the ancient world. Its prophecies have gone down in history and mythology.

The Pythia, the priestess of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi during antiquity, is said to have delivered her oracles in a trance-like state, the possible causes of which have been the subject of much speculation over the centuries and, more lately, of scientific research. The latest work in this direction has been an investigation of the hypothesis that gases emanating from beneath the Adyton, a chamber beneath the temple where the priestess gave her prophecies, could have been largely responsible for her altered state.

«A close relationship has been found between the Oracle and the geological formation of the site,» said Giorgos Papatheodorou, an associate professor of geology at Patras University.

The Oracle of Delphi was the most important in the ancient world. Its prophecies, which have gone down in history and mythology, were based on the utterings of the Pythia as interpreted by the oracle priests, who reshaped her utterances into verse.

Ancient texts relate that the Pythia, sitting on a three-legged stool, chewed laurel leaves while inhaling the vapors that rose from burning herbs.

According to modern research, the Pythia’s state was affected by gases rising through the fissures in the ground of the tiny subterranean Adyton.

«We have traced methane, ethylene and carbon dioxide in the area where the Adyton is thought to have been situated. The presence of these gases reduces the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, causing a slight hypnotic state that could result in a frenzied or ecstatic state,» said Papatheodorou.

The research was carried out by an Italian-Greek team of of scientists over the summers of 2004 and 2005 and included Giuseppe Etiope and Paolo Favali of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, as well as Papatheodorou and his colleagues at Patras University. The results were published in Geology magazine and reproduced on many science websites.

Debate over the link between the Pythia’s state and the emission of gases was given fresh impetus in 2000 when a distinguished American geologist, Jelle Zeilinga De Boer, put forward the view that the temple was built over the intersection of two fault lines from which ethylene gases emanated. Ethylene, a sweet-smelling gas, has a toxic effect on the body’s nervous system and could have caused the Pythia’s altered state. Plutarch himself, who served as a priest at the temple in Delphi, referred to a sweet smell pervading the site during the prophecies.

«Our research did not confirm the ethylene hypothesis. We found no trace of ethylene in our measurements around the Temple of Apollo. Moreover, ethylene is mainly produced from bacteria, which is unlikely to have emanated from the limestone layers underneath the oracle site,» he said.

But as geological changes could have occurred since antiquity, Papatheodorou said that nothing could be ruled out.

«We made a scientific hypothesis that is a satisfactory scenario and should be judged as such. What is important is that the site of the oracle, particularly the Adyton, were chosen due to their geological substructure. The Oracle of Delphi is situated above a geological fault from which the gases could have emanated. The next step is to test for the presence of aromatic hydrocarbons which could account for the sweet smell referred to by Plutarch,» he added. It appears that the most famous oracle in the world still has a few hidden secrets.

Champion stunned by battler October 23, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Front runner and defending soccer champion Olympiakos’s perfect domestic record this season was spoiled yesterday by lowly Athens club Atromitos, which beat the leader 1-0 at home. But Olympiakos remains five points clear. Second-placed Panathinaikos completes Round 7 of play today against AEK at home and could narrow the gap to two points with a victory.

Olympiakos went into yesterday’s clash looking hungover by a midweek home loss against Roma in a Champions League Group D match that seriously dampened the Greek club’s hopes of making the competition’s next stage.

Also yesterday, Apollon Kalamaria hosted OFI for a scoreless draw. Xanthi, a poor starter this season following UEFA Cup qualification last season, was held to a 1-1 home draw by Kerkyra. Panionios defeated Larissa, 2-1.

In games on Saturday, Thessaloniki rivals Aris and PAOK, both midtable, played a scoreless draw loaded with yellow cards.

Cretan club Ergotelis beat Iraklis 2-1, and Aegaleo earned a 1-0 away win against Ionikos taking the small Athens club to third place.