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Classical Greek Theatre in Sicily May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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Ever since 1914, the Greek theatre of Syracuse in Sicily is the location for two months of classical Greek theatre.

The Greek theatre in itself is an extremely impressive structure, part of the Syracuse archaeological park, but the presentation of tragic Greek theatre brings the place back to life.

Last year more than 100,000 persons jammed the more-than-6,000 seats of this most impressive Greek theatre. The two alternating plays are held in the months of May and June. There are still some vacant places to be booked for June. The plays being presented this year are Sophocles’ Trachinie and Euripides’ Eracle. The actors are among the best in their field and the choirs are really special.

Syracuse at the moment is going through an incredible renaissance, especially since its approval as a Unesco World Heritage site. The set of the two plays make good use of the landscape of the theatre and part of the joy of participating is actually this very profound feeling that you are taking part in an event that took place there so long ago. It was very impressive to see young people filling the seats and the participation of such large numbers simply proof that when events are organised well, the people will participate even at a price.

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Galaktoboureko > Greek pastry with custurd filling May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup farina
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon rind
6 eggs
1 pound filo dough
1 pound sweet butter, melted

Gradually bring milk to a boil. Add farina and keep mixing until mixture thickens. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Slowly add egg mix into milk continually stirring. Remove from heat. Let cool for at least two hours or overnight. Keep refrigerated if cooling overnight.

To assemble > Place one sheet of filo dough on working surface horizontally. Drizzle filo with butter. Fold in half and drizzle with butter again. Place heaping tablespoon of mix onto filo (bottom center). Fold left side half way to center, then do the same to the right. Drizzle folded sides with butter and roll all the way. Lightly butter top and place on baking sheet. Continue until all rolls complete. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, then drizzle with syrup while hot.

For the Syrup >
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
Juice of one lemon and rind
1 cinnamon stick

Boil all ingredients until thick (approximately 20 minutes). Let syrup cool. When Galaktoboureko is baked, pour generous amount of cooled syrup over each piece and enjoy!

Get your Greek on > Opa! May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Annual food festival opens next week. One of the area’s most anticipated ethnic food events returns next week: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s annual Greek Food Festival.

The festival will run Tuesday through June 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at the church, 505 N. Washington Ave.

A bevy of authentic Greek dishes will be served, including gyro, pastitsio, moussaka, baklava, spanakopita and dolmades. The church will also be selling cookbooks featuring all of the festival’s dishes, including one for galaktoboureko, a dessert consisting of a filo pastry stuffed with a custard filling.

Tents will be set up outside the church for patrons who want to eat there, while takeout orders can be placed by calling 342-0566 or by fax at 342-9722.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s annual Greek Food Festival, Tuesday through June 9, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Church grounds, 505 N. Washington Ave. All proceeds benefit the church.

Greek Food Festival in South Stroudsburg May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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If you’re looking for a real community festival, we’ve got one. The Greek Food Festival in South Stroudsburg is under way and we can smell the mousaka and hear the Greek folk music from here. It runs through Sunday.

For the last 26 years, the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church has welcomed the local community to its annual spring food festival. From today to Sunday, the community is once again invited to participate in Greek culture and religion.

A big highlight of the festival are church tours, led by Father Theodore Petrides and are available for those interested in learning about Greek Orthodoxy and how it is practiced.

However, the food preparation for the festival takes time. The Greek congregation begins everything the first week of May. Both the men and women participate, with the women baking pastries such as baklava, which has layers of buttered filo, walnuts, and cinnamon, and kourambiedes, which are sugar butter cookies. The men prepare the main dishes of moussaka, layers of baked eggplant and potatoes topped with beef and bechamel sauce, and pastitsio, baked pasta topped with beef and bechamel sauce.

Everything served at the festival is made from scratch and cooked in the church’s kitchen. Members follow time-honored recipes, and the recipes for the pastries are available upon request. In addition, the church takes orders by phone and fax.

One of the fastest sellers has been the oven roasted leg of lamb, served with roasted potatoes, peas and a small Greek salad. Other things to look for include Olympian dancers, who will dress in traditional Greek costumes and perform folk dances from different areas of Greece. The public is invited to dance along with the group. There will also be Greek music and a kafenio, which is a Greek coffee bar.

Greek Festival > Today through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, noon to 8 p.m., Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, 135 Stokes Avenue, Stroudsburg. Phone: (570) 421-5743. Orders for take-out can also be faxed to (570) 421-0469.

Andreas Chronis > from Bayside, US to Athens, Greece May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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He signed a 4-1/2 year contract two months ago and has moved from his family’s comfortable home in Bayside to live alone in Athens. But for 18-year-old Andreas Chronis, the reality of being a professional soccer player didn’t hit him until Sunday when he stepped on the field for AEK Athens in a friendly against Portuguese powerhouse Benfica at Giants Stadium.

“The second I heard my name, a rush came and I thought, ‘Wow, this is actually happening,'” Chronis said. “It became official at the game.”

While it was just a coincidence, the match seemed to be the perfect coming-out party for Chronis, who just a few months ago was playing for Holy Cross HS in the CHSAA semifinals. But there he was, playing the final 35 minutes of AEK’s 2-1 loss to Benfica, which features superstar Rui Costa. And when he walked off the steaming hot pitch after his debut, Chronis was an instant celebrity. Fans begged and pleaded with him for souvenirs and he obliged, throwing his socks, shin guards and cleats into the stands. Although three Benfica players offered to exchange jerseys with Chronis, as is soccer tradition, he promised it to his family.

A few months ago, Chronis thought he had his future planned out. He’d graduate Holy Cross in May, play club soccer over the summer and then it would be on to Columbia University in the fall. There is certainly nothing wrong with that plan, but it wasn’t his dream.

“When I was younger, that was the team in Greece that I followed and I always said I wanted to go there,” said Chronis, who is a U.S. citizen, but counts as a Greek player because his father was born there. “But I never thought it would actually happen.”

That dream became a reality in a matter of a few weeks in March, when he flew to Greece to train with AEK’s second team after a family friend recommended Chronis to the club.

He initially garnered interest from several teams in Cyprus’ top division after scoring 12 of his team’s 16 goals in a tournament against other youth teams in March. Chronis impressed enough to earn a spot in a scrimmage watched by AEK’s coaching staff as well as its owner, Demis Nikolaidis, a former AEK star, whose uniform Chronis wore growing up. And once he scored in the scrimmage, AEK essentially offered Chronis a contract on the spot.

Included in the first-team contract was his own spacious two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a three-family house in Athens. Another incentive was the use of a car, but his father, Peter Chronis, said no. In part, he said, because of the reputation of drivers in Athens.

While he had to jump at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Chronis was also concerned about finishing high school, where he had a 93 average. With the help of Mary Anne Kelleher, a guidance counselor at Holy Cross and the school’s president, Joseph Giannuzzi, Chronis was able to take some online classes and he squeezed in the fourth quarter’s workload between training and adjusting to life alone in Athens. Should his work be graded in time, Chronis will be able to walk with the rest of his class at the school’s graduation Saturday.

Chronis will be home for about a month, and then it’s back to Greece to prepare for his first full season as a professional.

AEK, which finished second behind Olympiakos in the Greek Super League, has qualified for the Champions League and could play in a group with one of Europe’s biggest clubs. And come August, Brazilian superstar Rivaldo will be one of his teammates.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

Acropolis Rally begins today May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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Championship leader Marcus Gronholm hopes for second successive Greek victory

marcus_gronholm.jpg  Gronholm, who won the last rally in Italy, holds a seven-point lead in the standings over world champion Sebastien Loeb.

Finland’s Marcus Gronholm is hoping that a second successive victory in the Acropolis Rally, which starts today, will put him firmly in control of this year’s world drivers’ championship. The 39-year-old Ford Focus driver, who won the last rally in Italy, goes into what is traditionally one of the toughest rallies on the circuit with a seven-point lead in the standings over world champion Frenchman Sebastien Loeb.

“Victory in Italy put me back into the lead of the championship,” the twice world champion told the Ford website. “The next two rallies give me the opportunity to build on that lead. The Acropolis is traditionally a strong event for Ford, while the first event after the summer break in Finland is my home event so I really want to capitalize on those.”

The rally opens today with a super special stage on gravel at a specially constructed track at the Olympic Equestrian Center in Markopoulo just outside Athens. After that the cars will be flying around the dusty roads of Attica.

“It’s a hard event for both drivers and cars,” noted Gronholm. “The weather during our test this week was cold, muddy and wet. It is forecast to turn warmer and drier in time for the rally but in the shaded areas where the surface is often clay-based, mud patches may remain. That will be strange for Greece. My confidence is good and I really want to take the fight to Loeb as I did in Italy.”

Loeb, who is looking for his fourth consecutive world title, has already won four rallies this season, in Monte Carlo, Mexico, Portugal and Argentina. But he needs to bounce back after putting his Citroen into a ditch on the last day of the Italy race in Sardinia.

A 1-2 result in Italy for Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen means Ford goes into the race with a 21-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship it won in 2006. Hirvonen, winner of the rally in Norway, may be the one to challenge the big two. “If Marcus and Sebastien are battling for the lead, I want to be as close to them as possible,” he said.

European Jazz Festival back in Athens for all to enjoy May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Festivals, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Free and out in the open, European Jazz Festival, a big early-summer attraction, on until Sunday

This year’s festival includes a retrospective photography exhibition by Guy Le Querrec. The show features portraits, both public and private, of prominent jazz figures, among them Miles Davis.

The European Jazz Festival, being held in Athens for the seventh consecutive year, is back with an added feature for its latest outing, an extremely interesting photography exhibition co-organized with the photo agency Apeiron Photos.

On show as a parallel event at the festival, which opened last night and will continue until Sunday, is a retrospective exhibition showcasing black-and-white work by the photographer Guy Le Querrec. His show focuses on contemporary jazz history with both public and behind-the-scenes shots of prominent jazz figures. The exhibition opened several days ahead of the festival, on May 24, and will carry on for an entire week once the music has ended.

As for the festival, a popular event for locals and visitors since its inception seven years ago, its agenda features acts from 14 EU countries. The respective embassies and cultural institutes have contributed their support to the festival. Three acts perform nightly from 9 p.m. until midnight.

A major early-summer attraction, the festival, an open-air free-entrance event at Technopolis in the downtown Gazi district, has established itself as a pleasant happening that is equally appealing to jazz enthusiasts and passers-by there to catch some notes and socialize among roving crowds.

Tonight’s agenda includes Slovenian jazz-rock group Jazoo, whose activity, now slightly over a decade long, has produced a couple of sturdy-selling albums. They are scheduled to perform at 11 p.m. On before them will be Kelomat, an Austrian act known for its own form of traditional and improvised jazz which places heavy emphasis on the creation of unlikely sounds, reharmonization, and escape from conventional harmonic structures. The evening will begin with the Fran Molina Jazz Flamenco Group from Spain. The trio’s work will be accentuated by a flamenco dancer, Vanessa Rubio.

Tomorrow’s agenda will be headlined by a Portuguese act, the Mario Laginha Trio, with Sweden’s Nils Berg Quintet, and Denmark’s Thomas Clausen Acoustic Jazz Trio preceding.

Saturday’s entertainment includes the Trio Braamdejoodevatcher, a Dutch act comprising three idiosyncratic musicians whose heavily improvised work is gelled by a long friendship. The trio, comprising drummer Michael Vatcher, bassist Wilbert de Joode and pianist Michiel Braam, have released two albums to date. Also scheduled for performances Saturday are Hungary’s Szabolcs Olah Quartet and the Czech Republic’s Frantisek Kop Quartet.

The festival, which ends Sunday, will be closed by the Jeff Herr Corporation, a quartet from Luxembourg whose style ranges from relaxing dinner-jazz to more scintillating funky-fusion jazz. The final night will get under way with Samuli Mikkonen & 3 Henkea, featuring Mikkonen on piano, Sonny Heinila on saxophone, flute and ney, and Mika Kallio on drums. The Finnish band will be followed by Yanina Free Wave, a sextet from Poland.

Technopolis, Gazi, 100 Pireos Street, Athens, tel 210 3467322, 210 3460981, fax 210 3413228.