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Greek yoghurt and lemon loaf July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >
125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 lemon, rind finely grated
2 eggs, separated
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup milk
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
For the Lemon icing >
2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
2 teaspoons butter, melted

Method >
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line base and sides of a 7cm-deep, 10.5cm x 20.5cm (base) loaf pan with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends.
Using electric beaters, cream butter, sugar and lemon rind on high speed until pale and creamy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine yoghurt and milk in a jug. Fold flour, almond meal and yoghurt mixture, 1 at a time, into butter mixture.
Using electric beaters, beat eggwhites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the eggwhites into batter. Gently fold in remaining eggwhites. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Reduce oven to 160°C and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make lemon icing > Combine icing sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and butter in a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Drizzle lemon icing over loaf. Sprinkle with lemon rind and serve. Serves 8.

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Marinated Greek olives July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >
1/2 lemon
600g Kalamata olives
500ml (2 cups) olive oil
1/2 tsp dried Greek oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 dried bay leaf

Method >
Use a zester to remove the rind from lemon. Alternatively, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Use a small sharp knife to remove the white pith and cut the rind into long, thin strands.
Place the olives in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Combine the lemon rind, oil, oregano, pepper and bay leaf in a large jug. Pour the oil mixture over the olives and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to develop the flavours.
Remove from the fridge 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl to serve. Serves 8.

Notes and tips > You can make this recipe to the end of step 2 up to 1 week ahead. Carry out step 3, 1 hour before serving. Dried Greek oregano is available from supermarkets or delicatessens. If it’s unavailable, you can use regular dried oregano instead. You will need to reserve 200g marinated olives for the Greek salad.

Anna’s Restaurant > Greek menu a local treat July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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When was the last time you found yourself truly excited about eating a meal out?

My dining companions and I entered the completely transformed Minit Mart off Three Springs Road, now known as Anna’s Greek Restaurant and Bar, not knowing what to expect. A sky blue ceiling with shear gold fabric gathered around the lighting fixtures and deep blue accents were both inviting and intriguing. The Greek music that played all evening added to the ambiance.

Our intrigue escalated into giddiness from the moment we began deciding what to eat. It’s almost as if our taste buds knew we’d be experiencing something traditionally Greek, unique and delicious, no matter what we ate. Our senses were overwhelmed with appealing choices.

The excitement sustained throughout the meal when we were served two Greek appetizers chosen at the recommendation of the wait staff. The spanakopita was homemade, crispy filo dough filled with spinach and spices. It was a light and appetizing starter served with a tangy cucumber and sour cream sauce called tzatziki. This sauce is also served complimentary with pita bread, so you’re sure to be introduced to the truly traditional Greek influence right from the start.

The croquettes Santorini were a mixture of tomato with peppers, onion, oregano and mint, breaded and lightly fried. The spices that surrounded the vegetables offered an appealing rush of taste, no dipping sauce needed.

The motto on the menu says: Good food takes time. Our main dish choices would have been well worth a wait, but we didn’t have to wait long at all.

I choose a Greek salad, curious to see if the American version of Greek salad that’s on many a menu is anything close to a traditional Greek salad. I was pleasantly surprised at both the similarities and the differences. The salad was served with Kalamata olives, cucumbers, green pepper and feta cheese. The difference was that it also included tangy capers piled on top of a large wedge of feta cheese, a welcome change to crumbled feta. The salad was served with olive oil and white vinegar that I sprinkled over the top. Primitive, but I appreciated choosing the ratio and amount to my liking.

The oven-roasted chicken breast in lemon sauce was a table favorite, especially because it was served with flavor-saturated roasted potatoes. Sharing was at an all-time low for my dining companion, who usually says, “You have to try this,” basically because the oregano and garlic coupled with the subtle lemon flavor created an entire meal that was delicious.

The tenderloin in Madeira sauce and mushrooms also delivered excitement and flavor to everyone at the table. It was a fork-tender pork filet served with French fries, rice, raw vegetables and cabbage salad, cooked cabbage with a taste somewhere between the mildness of coleslaw and the tangy kick of sauerkraut.

The menu is a plethora of food that, for me, is now a must-try, like four-cheese rigatoni served with a blend of mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere and feta cheeses, as well as Greek specialties like moussaka, youvetsi, briam and fasolakia. The chef has been in the United States for less than a year after owning and operating a successful restaurant on Santorini island in Greece.

Anna’s Greek Restaurant & Bar, 535 Three Springs Road, Bowling Green, 846-2662, www.bggreek.com

Canadian restaurant offers authentic Greek experience July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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A new downtown restaurant is serving up authentic Greek cuisine in a festive atmosphere

“It’s an authentic Greek food restaurant, or experience. We have belly dancers. We have the Greek band playing on weekends. We break plates,” said Nikos Korolis, who owns Koutouki Taverna with Simon Papadopoulos and Yiannis Psalios. “We try to give the feel like you’re in Greece when you’re here.”

Koutouki Taverna, which seats about 200, opened at the beginning of May on Third Avenue South. After just a few weeks, Koutouki is busy, with Saskatoon diners flocking to the white and blue-themed restaurant.

“The word on the street’s been out there, and people are pretty excited about it. It’s something new in the city,” Korolis said.

For some diners, the name Koutouki may be familiar. That’s because the Psalios family owns several other Koutouki locations in Alberta, three in Edmonton and a new restaurant in Leduc, and has been featured on the Food Network television show, The Family Restaurant.

“They’ve done two seasons already, and they’re deciding on the third season right now, which, if they do, will be filmed in the fall,” said Korolis. “And, if that happens, we’ll probably do about three episodes here.” Korolis and Papadopoulos play in a Greek band called Tharos. They met Psalios, a Cyprus-born entrepreneur, through the band, “because he’d always call us down to come play,” said Korolis. The band also did the music for The Family Restaurant.

“We called Psalios up and we said, ‘Look, Saskatoon’s booming right now, and we should open up a Koutouki in Saskatoon. Do you still want to invest some money and do it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ He jumped on the plane. The next day he was down here,” Korolis said.

Koutouki Taverna serves a variety of Greek dishes, including roast lamb, dolmades, stuffed vine leaves, spanakopita, spinach and cheese wraps and calamari, deep fried squid, as well as baclava, honey and nut pastry, and bougatsa, cream tart, for dessert.

Papadopoulos said opening the restaurant is exciting, and he’s glad he and Korolis have the opportunity to play live music in a Greek setting. He said customers are responding well to Koutouki’s energetic atmosphere.

“It’s a type of place where you’ll get to meet the people that are sitting next to you. You’re not only going to eat, you’re going to get dragged up to dance and have a shot of ouzo and enjoy a fun-filled dinner, rather than a sit-down dinner,” Papadopoulos said.

Koutouki Taverna is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.

KOUTOUKI TAVERNA, 119 Third Ave. South, Telephone: 244-4777.

A shortage of Spartan swords July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Greek Culture Heritage, Movies Life, Tourism.
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There’s a shortage of swords in the City of Sparta

Merchants from Athens to Thermopylae are also concerned about a scarcity of spears as they prepare for summer visitors obsessed with the hit film 300, the gory recounting of the 480 B.C. clash between Spartan King Leonidas and his archenemy King Xerxes of Persia.

“My Spartan sword maker died a few weeks before the movie opened,” laments Theodoros Tzamalas, whose shop, Greek Souvenirs, has been the main retail outlet for Spartan battle gear in Athens since 1940. “Until 300, there was no rush for Spartan swords,” Tzamalas says from behind a counter cluttered with strap-on sandals and miniature-soap Parthenons. “Our Leonidas sword was lightweight steel, cost 15 euros and was archaeologically correct,” he adds. “Now hundreds of people are specifically asking for them and I don’t have any.”

Greek Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, the highest-ranking Spartan in the government, says he’s aware of the 300 weaponry crisis and its cascade effect on Greece’s economy. “The movie’s lesson is: Fight for your country, even if it’s a losing battle, and have enough swords and hotel rooms on hand for tourists,” says Doukas, squeezing lemon on a clearly un-Spartan lunch of broccoli spears in his office.

Not enough swords is a problem for Despoina Stratigis, owner of Synergies, a cultural tour company in Sparta. “Last season, I put visitors in touch with Spartan cheese makers,” she said between slicing wild asparagus in her home and fielding calls from U.S. and European families seeking to retrace Leonidas’ march from Sparta to Thermopylae. “Now everyone wants a sword maker. We don’t even have an original sword in our Museum, and there’s only one sword maker left in Sparta.”

That would be Costas Menegakis, a 42-year-old Greek-Canadian blacksmith who specializes in horseshoes and hasn’t made a sword since 2005.

“It was a Viking sword,” Menegakis says, sitting atop an anvil alongside his charcoal-fired forge and brandishing a homemade French rapier. “I’m ready to make Spartan swords, 80 euros,” he adds. “I pound swords and spear tips from steel, but if someone wants an original poured in bronze, I can do that.”

No matter the model, Menegakis guarantees his hilts are the real deal. “Many were made from goat horns,” he says. “We have lots of goats in Sparta. The hills are filled with them.”

Global interest in Spartan swords has also caught the eye of local police inspector Panayiotis Skaras. He has spent the past eight months trying to discover who hacked off the 25-pound, 5-foot sword from Sparta’s towering bronze 20th-century statue of King Leonidas. There are no leads, though Menegakis says he suspects a “band of Gypsies.” Cafe gumshoes suggest the robber was an Athenian envious of Sparta going to Hollywood or Persian pranksters out for revenge.

Whoever the culprit was, Sparta Deputy Mayor Metaxia Papapostolou recently had a replacement sword fitted in Leonidas’ hand before the onslaught of tourist buses reaches the southern Greek city. She says the perpetrator won’t be shoved into a pit, unlike in the movie. “Sparta doesn’t plan on launching any invasions over this,” Papapostolou promises. Instead, the city is investing 8 million euros to refurbish the crumbled tourist sites.

“Our big attractions are the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia and the Olive Oil Museum,” Papapostolou says. “We’re staging ancient Greek plays in the ruins of the outdoor theater. Trouble is, Spartans weren’t theatergoers; the Athenians went to plays,” she bemoans. “We Spartans did things for real, and many other Greek cities are jealous about what the movie’s popularity has brought us.”

Greeks rally outside Parliament July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Greek environmental demonstrators rallied outside Parliament, cycled through nature trails and sent thousands of protest e-mails to the government.

Sunday’s action was not part of Live Earth concerts around the world, but was held to protest damage to the Parnitha National Park caused by a recent wildfire. The blaze destroyed thousands of hectares of pine, fir and oak forest on Mount Parnitha, near Athens, between June 28 and July 3. Protected species of deer, turtle, snakes and other animals were also killed in the fire or forced to scatter.

Several thousand demonstrators, blowing whistles and chanting «shame on you,» gathered outside Parliament, at Athen’s Syntagma Square, on Sunday afternoon, some holding up pieces of burnt trees from Parnitha forest. «This time, people have really had enough … we need more greenery in Athens,» said one of the protesters, who was waving a green flag. «Look what happened other times … forests burnt down and houses appeared in their place.

Earlier Sunday, cyclists gathered at Parnitha, about 20 kilometers north of the capital, other protesters with cell phones and digital cameras took pictures of the burnt forest, and bloggers continued a mass e-mailing campaign to government agencies.

Protesters are demanding tougher forest protection laws, arguing the government mishandled the Parnitha firefighting effort. They also claim rapid urban expansion in the capital has been allowed spread across southern Attica region at the expense of the environment, recently aided by large infrastructure projects built for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Greater Athens is home to around 4 million people, or more than a third of Greece’s population.

«There is a genuine interest from the public about the environment that we’ve never seen before,» Constantinos Liarikos, of the conservation group WWF, told The Associated Press. This protest started spontaneously, with some young people exchanging text messages on their cell phones, and it grew from there in a totally grass-roots way … We are simply backing this effort, Liarikos said.

The Parnitha fire broke out during a June heat wave across southeast Europe that saw temperatures reach 46 C (114.8 F) in Greece and killed more than 40 people in the Balkans and Italy. Greek firefighters had been battling wildfires at the rate of 100 per day, when the blaze swept across the Parnitha National Park and surrounding forests.

The WWF group said more than half of the 3,800-hectare protected forest was destroyed in the fire. It wants that protected area to be expanded eight-fold to include surrounding forests, and to impose an overnight traffic ban to protect roaming animals. «Right now the animals are scattered and scared, they don’t know where to go. Lots of cars passing through the forest, especially at night, will only make this worse,» Liarikos said.

The world’s first derivatives contract July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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It all started with the ancient Greeks.

When Thales the Milesian, a philosopher and astronomer, foresaw a bumper olive crop, he put down deposits on all the oil presses available for hire. The harvest turned out to be as good as he forecast, allowing him to charge local olive farmers a fortune to sublet the presses. He proved that philosophers can indeed be Kings.

It was 540 BC, if Aristotle’s account is to be believed, and Thales had signed the first derivatives contract, in fact, a call option on the use of oil presses. There are but a few small steps from Thales’ pioneering olive oil contract to today’s credit derivatives, hedge funds and modern financial markets.

Financial innovation has been with us since long before the industrial age. It represents the lifeblood of capitalism and progress, and is one of the main drivers of the astonishing wealth of today’s economies.