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Festival glories of Greece May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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The recipe is quite simple > Start with 200 pounds of macaroni and 550 pounds of meat sauce. Add 900 eggs, 72 gallons of milk, 30 pounds of parmesan cheese, 200 pounds of onions, 400 pounds of potatoes and spices, including a pinch, that would be a 2-pound pinch, of granulated garlic.

There you have it. The recipe for pastitsio, for a party of thousands.

Friday through Sunday, the St. George Greek Orthodox Church will host its 34th annual Greek Festival at the church on River Road, a block west of Rutgers Stadium.

The festival features food, Greek folk dancing and music, and more food. The event serves two purposes, according to John Lyssikatos, who has served as festival chairman for the past eight years. “Number one, it’s a significant fund-raiser. It gives us operational funds we need. Also, we spread the Greek culture, the Greek traditions,” said Lyssikatos, son of Greek immigrants.

This week a staff of volunteers has been preparing the main dishes. On Tuesday, the kitchen was geared to make 63 trays of mousaka. Wednesday was pastitsio day. The baking of desserts and baked goods actually began in February. Two cooks were in their element Wednesday, including Nick Koumarianos, who recently sold the Willows restaurant in Green Brook, and Dimos Amaxopoulos, who took a day off from a Texas Weiner franchise he owns in Dunellen.

The two came to the United States, unable to speak English, coming for the same reason. “To do the American dream,” said Koumarianos. As many Greeks have famously done in the United States, they entered the restaurant business. “Food is part of our culture,” said Koumarianos. “We saw our mothers cook. We saw our grandmothers cook. We know how to cook.”

A benefit of the Greeks’ involvement in the food and restaurant industry is that most ingredients for the dishes served at the festival are donated. About 95 percent of the food for sale this weekend is homemade, according to Lyssikatos. Groups within the congregation often assign themselves one dish. Today a group of women with roots from the island of Crete, who meet in Highland Park, will be preparing plates of dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice).

Planning begins in November, with committees meeting twice a month in January and February, and weekly beginning in March. The festival is always held on the weekend following Mother’s Day, with plans for between 6,000 and 7,000 visitors this weekend. New his year is a Taverna Night on Saturday, with an outdoor bar and food stands open until 1 a.m.

The festival will held Friday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Admission is $2. Parking is available at Rutgers Stadium, where shuttle buses will be available.

More information is available at www.stgeorgepiscataway.org.

There’s more to olives than green and black May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Olives were a staple of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. They are now considered essential to recipes all across the world.

Raw olives contain a bitter chemical that makes them inedible, and cooking doesn’t destroy the harsh flavor. Only curing, whether in salt, brine, oil or lye, prepares the popular fruit for human consumption. Lye works quickly, so many of the varieties found in supermarkets or on pizzas are lye-cured. In part because each method changes the flavor of an olive, and also because olives can be cured raw or at any stage through ripeness, distinctly different flavors can develop, even from the same variety.

As olives ripen, their soft green color fades, first into a reddish brown and finally to black. Flavors mature over this period. More interesting and complex flavors emerge the longer an olive cures. There are hundreds of olive varieties, ranging in flavor from sweet and nutty to salty or bitter. Some of the most popular varieties include the famous Kalamata olives from Greece, cured in red wine vinegar and very dense in flavor. Mission olives are the black ones, found on pizzas and in cans, but not very fulfilling.

Be reminded that olives pick up bitterness when overcooked, so you typically add them to a recipe toward the end of the process. We also recommend, in this case, placing olives in the freezer for five minutes before breading. The flour-egg-corn flake combination will adhere better.

Fried olives
Ingredients >
430 grams black Greek olives
430 grams green Greek olives
100 grams cheddar cheese, grated
50 grams chilli peppers, chopped
350 grams corn flakes
150 grams plain white flour
3 eggs
500 grams peanut oil
Salt
500 grams mayonnaise

Method >
Remove olive pits.
Fill olives with a mixture of grated cheddar and chopped chilli peppers and set aside.
Crush corn flakes very fine, so the texture resembles semolina.
Beat eggs.
Prepare a small plate covered with flour.
Bread the olives the usual way: roll in flour, dip in beaten eggs, then roll in corn flakes.
Heat peanut oil to 190–220 C (375–430 F).
Fry olives until golden brown.
Use mayonnaise as a dip.

Cyprus Archbishop appeals to Moslem religious leaders May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Religion & Faith.
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The Primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II has appealed to Moslem religious leaders to exercise their influence on Turkey in an effort to help protect religious holy sites in Turkish military controlled and occupied Cyprus, pillaged for the past three decades.

Speaking on his return from Brussels, having attended a meeting of the three monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the Archbishop said his appeals were met with a positive response on the part of European Union high ranking officials, including the Presidents of the Commission and the European Parliament as well as the current European Council President the German Chancellor.

He said his call was addressed to the Europeans and the religious leaders, in particular the Moslem leaders. He explained that the cultural and religious heritage of Turkish occupied Cyprus is now on sale illegally in European and US markets, and stressed that items and religious relics must return to their lawful owners.

The Archbishop also asked the intervention of the leaders towards Ankara to allow Greek Cypriot Christians to go to the occupied areas in order to restore and maintain religious sites, abandoned or destroyed since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Cyprus to enter eurozone in 2008 May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Cyprus News.
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Cyprus and Malta received the green light to join the eurozone from key European Union institutions yesterday, clearing their way to adopt the world’s second most widely used currency next year.

The European Commission and the European Central Bank said the two small Mediterranean islands were ready for the euro, which is shared by almost 320 million people in 13 countries.

While Malta’s and Cyprus’s eurozone membership still has to be approved by EU Finance Ministers, EU heads of state and government and the EU Parliament, their backing is certain. To win the support of the ECB, both countries, which four decades ago shook off British rule and in 2004 joined the EU, had to pass tests on inflation, interest rates, budget deficits, public debt and currency stability.

Their average annual inflation over the last 12 months was below the euro-entry ceiling, set at 3 percent on the basis of price growth in the three countries with the lowest rates in the EU, Finland, Poland and Sweden, plus 1.5 percentage points.

Their interest rates were below the entry ceiling of 6.4 percent, their budget deficits are below the 3 percent of GDP threshold and debt is on a declining path.

Their currencies, the Cyprus Pound and Maltese Lira, have been stable over the last two years in the Exchange Rate Mechanism II, the currency stability test for joining the euro.

The two islands will add 1.2 million citizens and 0.2 percent to the eurozone’s 8 trillion economy. Their major industry is tourism.

The Commission and ECB recommendations will now go for initial endorsement by EU Finance Ministers on June 5. They will then be discussed by Parliament and EU leaders on June 22. On July 10, EU Finance Ministers will give the applications a final stamp of approval and set the rate at which the Cyprus Pound and the Maltese Lira will be exchanged for the euro.

Urban architecture boosted May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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mra_architects.jpg  A proposal for a residential complex by MRA Architects, Ravanos, Merminga, Sofos.

An architectural competition held in 2006 by two private companies, the construction firm GEK and the architectural magazine Domes, calling for proposals for residential and commercial complexes in the capital’s run-down Metaxourgeio district, provided a glimpse into the dynamic developments taking place on the contemporary architecture scene.

The Europe-wide competition was particularly successful, with 102 firms participating and three awards given, respectively, to: Katerina Tsigarida and Associates, and the firms of Torste Bessel-K. Diakomidou-N. Haritos and Y. Papadopoulos-G. Daskalaki. The third-place proposal will be the one to go ahead.

What makes the competition especially interesting is its rarity, especially in Greece. The response by such a large number of architectural firms illustrates the thirst in the field to participate in interesting competitions whose objective is projects related to urban life. The competition also highlighted the potential of the private sector, which can, and indeed has a duty to, undertake initiatives that will help to fill the void of the state’s neglect, which is especially marked in matters relating to urban architecture.

The GEK-Domes competition proves that much of urban residential architecture must pass into the hands of the private sector, as is the case in the rest of the civilized world. However, strengthening the architectural field via private initiative presupposes a sophisticated business culture that is sadly lacking in Greece. The competition for Metaxourgeio is one of the few exceptions, as it proved capable of drumming up significant interest, providing an inspirational example to architects and showing a new way of getting things done.

A recent publication, titled “102 X Metaxgourgeio” published by Domes, provides an assessment of the initiative and includes the 102 proposals which were submitted for the competition. Available at Papasotiriou Bookstores, the publication may encourage similar initiatives on other fronts and help to change an Athens that can no longer wait for manna from heaven.

Flisvos marina to open for yachts in June May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Tourism.
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Mooring capacity for 2,500 vessels, including large ones > the marina at Flisvos will have supporting infrastructure, catering and entertainment facilities, as well as several stores.

The fully renovated marina at Flisvos, southern Athens, will open in mid-June following five years of works, negotiations, arbitrations and other delays.

The investment for the development and operation of all the marina infrastructure has reached 45 million euros. It has been realized by LAMDA TechnOL Flisvos Marina, in which Lamda Development, the state Tourism Development Company (ETA) and Technical Olympic participate. The installations are to be operated on the basis of a 40-year concession.

The development consortium intends to turn Flisvos into a leading marina in the Mediterranean, capitalizing on its considerable depth and a mooring capacity for large yachts of over 30 meters. It has 2,500 mooring berths, half of which can accommodate large vessels.

In addition to a range of support services for yachts, the Flisvos marina will also have catering and recreation facilities as well as an area of 3,800 square meters for commercial use. The newly constructed buildings will host 36 stores, restaurants and coffee bars. Up to 90 percent of the commercial space has already been leased.

LAMDA TechnOL estimates that the marina will generate revenues of 8 million euros in the first year of operation, while the annual leasing paid to ETA will total 6 million euros. For this reason the operator does not expect any profits from the Flisvos marina for at least the first three years of operation.

Lamda Development CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis expressed particular satisfaction yesterday at the completion of the works to upgrade the marina, stressing that Attica had gained one more attraction for regular visitors of high standards. At the same time, however, he voiced disappointment over the considerable delay, saying “this is not such a big project to take five whole years of hard work.”

ETA President Emmanouil Kondylis stated that the marinas of Zea, Flisvos and Faliron represented the first efforts by ETA to enter into partnerships with private investors.

The Guerrilla Girls in Athens May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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They wear gorilla masks at all of their public appearances to conceal their identity.

Self-described as the “conscience” of the art world, the Guerrilla Girls will be in Athens on May 22-July 31 for a retrospective exhibition at the Hellenic American Union. Using caustic humour as their weapon of choice, the art group attack the deficiencies of the system that systematically places women and minorities in the margins of society.

Curated by Artemis Potamianou, the display spans 22 years of activism through huge prints-banners of the group’s most characteristic works, as well as selections of their most significant posters. The group was formed in 1985 in reaction to a painting-and-sculpture group show at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art where women artists comprised less than 10 percent of the 169 participants. Their works’ titles, such as Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get into the Met Museum? (1989) and These Galleries Show No More than 10 Percent Women Artists or None at All (1985), are telling of the girls’ campaign.

The group, which took part in The Experience of Art exhibition of the 51st Venice Biennalle in 2005, are also featured in a tribute show that is being held at the Tate Modern in London within the context of the States of Fluxus exhibition running through to 2011.

The Guerrilla Girls at the Hellenic American Union, 22 Massalias Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3680973. May 22 to July 31. Open: Monday-Friday noon-9pm; Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm; Sunday closed. Admission is free.