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Hearts in Athens February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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12-02-08_heart.jpg  A new Public Art Event is currently on show in Athens.

Hearts in the World introduces a new Public Art Event, inaugurated with Hearts in Athens 2008, where painters, sculptors, graffiti artists, designers and other aspiring creators are welcome to participate and submit their Heart design (Pop, Graffiti, Abstract or Landscape art etc.).

Hearts in Athens is where Art abandons the closed spaces and is transported into the street, under the sky, without entry fees, without walls, without roofs.

More than 60 hearts, in large size, sponsored by the business community and painted or sculptured by established and upcoming artists but also eminent personalities of the city, will be exposed in pre-selected, busy parts of the city.

Multi-coloured, red, white, luminous, sculptured, romantic, in Love artistic hearts used as a big canvas or transformed into other shapes, will climb into the lamp posts, will swim into water fountains, will fill the streets and the squares of Athens.

We will admire them, we will love them and we will judge them.

We will touch them and they will touch us with their sensitivity and their messages.

Strolling by, we will fancy them, we will stop to take a picture of them, we will look for them throughout the city.

Related Links > http://www.heartsinathens.gr/index_en.html


Fnac to open new outlet in Athens in April February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Shopping.
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French retailer Fnac is preparing its second outlet in Athens and making plans for a third while looking for premises in Thessaloniki, with a view to eventually creating eight to 10 stores across Greece.

12-02-08_fnac.jpg  The new outlet in Athens will open in Glyfada in early April in a four-story building with a total surface of 2,000 square meters, an investment of 3 million euros.

According to estimates by Fnac’s management, the new outlet will have balanced books after only its first nine months. In the first three years its turnover will be an estimated 12 to 15 million euros. It will sell books, CDs, DVDs and other audio-visual products as well as mobile telephony and information technology products.

“The area of Glyfada is an important commercial location serving more than 15 municipalities and covering a population that exceeds 600,000,” said Patrick Salomon, general director of Fnac Greece.

The first outlet of Fnac, at The Mall Athens, has annual profits of 300,000 to 400,000 euros, while in 2008 its profits are expected to reach 1 million, added Salomon. The store opened in 2005 and in 2006 its turnover reached 16.6 million, before rising by 15 percent last year.

The company is also seeking to lease a building on Kolokotroni Street in central Athens, through a tender process that began last December. The building used to house the now defunct local branch of Habitat. After Athens and Thessaloniki, Fnac is also setting its sights on some other Greek cities as well as Cyprus for further expansion.

Late-night trains a hit with Athenian youth February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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More than 5,000 commuters used the metro and urban electric railway (ISAP) during the first weekend of extended nighttime service, metro officials said yesterday.

Most of the commuters using the service between midnight and 2 a.m. last Friday and Saturday were youngsters and many central stations including Syntagma Square, Omonia and Kerameikos, were buzzing with revelers.

Metro officials said they were “satisfied” with the turnout but expected it to increase considerably over the course of the two-month pilot program.

The crowds were much bigger than they had been during the Athens 2004 Olympics, when some 300 commuters used the metro and train service nightly. Last Saturday night, some 2,900 commuters boarded metros and trains.

It appears that many exploited the increased commotion to dodge their fares but ticket inspectors were out in force and penalized 50 fare-evaders in the first hour of the extended service alone. Every year some 30,000 passengers get fined for fare evasion on the metro.

The chequered past of the Cyprus meze February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Food Recipes, Greek Food Culture.
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Not known for its refinement or sophistication, Cyprus cuisine is based on the use of fresh, wholesome ingredients. Its flagship is, of course, the meze, which does show subtle differences to those available elsewhere in the region.

When the British arrived in Cyprus in 1878, they expected to find people with a spark of the Turkish fire and a touch of Grecian taste. They were greatly disappointed as Cypriots were neither oriental nor occidental. “Except in name, they are neither Turks nor Greeks; neither are they an amalgam of these two races. Who then are the Cypriots?” asked one perplexed British official in 1879.

Who are the Cypriots really, with a series of conquerors having left their marks behind? Enriched and diversified by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine, Lusignan, Venetian, Ottoman and British, Cypriots have a rather unique disposition. The same can be said about Cyprus cuisine. It is an amalgamation of diverse tastes and textures. Cyprus meze reflects food influenced by the full range of different cultures, civilisations and traditions that have occupied the island. Some may argue that it is more closely related to that of Greece. It is true that in recent years, many dishes have been added which predispose the palate to Greek origins – dishes like tirokafteri, saganaki or kolokithokeftedes (spicy cheese, baked feta and courgette balls).

The origins of meze can be traced to the pre-Islamic wine culture of Persia, where the original meze were sweets to counteract the bitter taste of young wine. Among the very few rare early cookbooks, kebabs and stew-like meat are mentioned in one cookbook written in Baghdad in1226. Nowadays, meze is a type of hors d’oeuvre, an appetiser accompanying drinks.

Cyprus cuisine shares much with the other cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean. For the Arabs, a mazza table can be the entire dinner. In Greece, mezedes or meze platters are almost a kind of institution where diners are encouraged to linger over their meals, and the same applies here. There is an especially strong family resemblance between Greek and Turkish recipes, and it is in no way clear in which direction the influence was strongest. While the Greek cuisine is older, it was also heavily influenced by Persian and Phoenician sources, so it is easy to believe that the central role of lamb, yoghurt, sesame, citrus, flatbreads, and very thin pastries all came from some common central Asian source. Also, meze platters are very similar in concept to the Spanish tapas.

Cyprus’ position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East has added colourful dimensions that make it different and appetising. Emphasising fresh local ingredients, regional herbs and spices, and in recent years the use of olive oil in cooking, the Cypriot palate is quintessentially Mediterranean in character.

According to Niki Paraskeva, owner of Erinia Tavern, “a meze consists of as many as 30 small plates of food, from savoury dips and vegetables to a wide range of hot, mainly meat, dishes. The restaurant opened in 1934 and the same wholesome, traditional food has been served ever since with very slight variations. “I use the same recipes that my late mother passed on, and I make everything from scratch. I never serve anything that comes ready made in a tub.”

Much more than hors d’oeuvres, the meze often comprises the heart of a meal itself. Some of the dishes you can expect to be served when you ask for a Cyprus meze vary from place to place. Traditionally the appetisers are taramosalata, fish roe blended into a creamy pink dip of pureed potatoes with parsley, lemon juice and finely chopped onion; talatouri, mint and cucumber flavoured yogurt with crushed garlic; tahini, sesame seed paste with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil; horiatiki salata with tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, onion slices, feta cheese, green olives with a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and local herbs.

Some common vegetable preparations are boiled potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, fried courgette with scrambled egg, fried tomato puree with scrambled egg, kolokasi (a sweet potato-like root vegetable) and wild asparagus with egg when in season.

Other popular choices are koupepia, grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice; anthous, rice stuffed pumpkin flowers, when in season, halloumi, a delicious soft cheese, (usually grilled) made from sheep milk and spiced with fresh mint; home-made raviolis and kritharaki, orzo in tomato sauce.

The meat dishes will include loukanika, coriander-seasoned sausages, soaked in red wine and smoked; sheftalia, grilled pork sausage, pork or chicken kebabs, afelia, pork marinated in wine and coriander served with burgoul and stifado, beef or rabbit stew casseroled with wine vinegar, onions and spices. Some places may serve ofto kleftiko, chunks of lamb cooked in a sealed clay oven and seasoned with bay leaves and the traditional souvla, chunks of pork, lamb or chicken cooked on skewers.

A traditional sweet treat is a variety of fruit preserves or fried sweet anari bourekia, a kind of ricotta cheese filling in thin pastry.

Cyprus cuisine is not considered one of the world’s most refined and elegant styles of cooking, nor does it involve sophisticated techniques. There is nothing refined about cooking ofto kleftiko or souvla. Good quality produce and the use of wholesome ingredients which are in season are, however, all important in the local cooking.

Here are two Cypriot traditional recipes > 

Pork Afelia [Serves 4]

1kg pork pieces
1 glass red wine, extra for the marinade
3-4 tbsp coriander, crushed
½ glass vegetable oil

* Marinade pork pieces overnight, in enough red wine to cover the meat and 2 tbsp coriander.
* Add oil in a saucepan and heat up. Fry pork pieces on high heat for a few minutes, turning once or twice. Season well, add the rest of the coriander and stir. Pour in the wine and stir for a few minutes adding some water if needed. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the juices have reduced and the meat is tender.
* Serve with pourgouri (burgoul).

Pourgouri [Serves 6]

½ glass vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 fide – fine noodle nests, crushed
2 glasses burgoul
4 glasses water

* Fry onion in the oil until tender and brown. Add the crushed noodle nests and stir. Add the burgoul and stir more. Pour in the water and season well. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and place a clean towel over it.

Coffee market annual turnover in Greece February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Greece.
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Greeks spend some 300 million euro for coffee per year.

Recent reports show that Greeks consume an average of 1.6 cups of coffee per day. Thus, Greece is ranked 13th in terms of coffee consumption per capita of the population. Last year, Greek coffee market enjoyed 4.1% growth.

The top chart is headed by the espresso 15.7%. About 71% of Greeks prefer to drink their cup of coffee at home, despite the great boom of cafe trade chains.

Exhibition of stamps commemorates Cuban hero February 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus.
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An exhibition of stamps was recently inaugurated at the Philatelic Association of Cyprus to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the birth of Cuban National Hero Jose Marti.

According to Granma news daily, the exhibition includes stamps from the personal collections of Cuban Roberto Delgado and Cypriot expert Andreas Eliades, which are linked to the life and work of Jose Marti and also to the history and nature of the Caribbean island.

During the inauguration ceremony, the Cuban Ambassador in Cyprus, Fidel Vascos Gonzalez, expressed his gratitude for the opening of the exhibition and spoke of several aspects of Marti’s life. 

Nicos Rangos, President of the Philatelic Association of Cyprus, presented several transparencies showing the literary and patriotic work of Jose Marti and the monuments that have been erected in his honor in several parts of the world.