Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Parthenon lit by lightning

A bolt of lightning illuminates the sky around the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, high on the Acropolis during a heavy rainfall in Athens early yesterday morning. Fortunately, the temple is believed to have escaped any damage.

In a reversal of the norm, the skies over Greece were heavy with the threat of more storms, and the temperatures dropping overnight to 21°C (70°F). Meanwhile the usually overcast and cool skies over Britain have been startlingly clear, with temperates set to break heat records this week.

For once, I'm delighted to be in London rather than Athens!

Read more here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thought of the day

"Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris, founder of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

This is my new mantra.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Authentic Greek salad

I remember a while back having a discussion with Karen about how to prepare a Greek salad. It's something that people often ask me about, especially after they've tried to recreate this very simple dish at home, only to find it tastes nothing like what they had on holiday.

I've been wanting to do a post about Greek salads for sometime. Luckily, we've had some nice, warm weather recently and I've been inspired to cook Greek, so I took a picture of one of my (hastily prepared) Greek salads to show you what the real thing looks like. You can improve on the looks by chopping and arranging the ingredients more carefully, but this is the basic idea.

First, some things you might not know about Greek salads.

Greek salad or village/rustic salad (horiatiki in Greek) is a summer dish. In Greece, you'd never serve a Greek salad in winter time, the reason being that its ingredients are only in season in the summer, and Greek cuisine is very much seasonal. It has to be, because it relies very heavily on the natural taste of the primary ingredients, since herbs, sauces and spices are rarely and sparingly used.

Greek salad isn't made with lettuce. Ever. Lettuce is in season during winter, so by definition (if you're cooking with seasonal ingredients) you can't have fresh lettuce and fresh tomato in the same dish. Either your tomatoes are grown in a greenhouse and fertilized to within an inch of their lives, or your lettuce has been imported from South Africa. If you see lettuce in your Greek salad, it's because lettuce is cheaper than tomatoes.

Greek salad isn't an appetiser or a main course. It's meant to be eaten as a side dish, shared amongst a group of people.

You need the following ingredients to make an authentic Greek salad for 3-4 people:

2-3 Beef tomatoes - organic, cut in wedges
half a cucumber - peeled and sliced
1 green pepper - sliced
half a white onion - sliced
a handful of black olives
a slice of feta cheese - the best quality you can afford, made with sheep's and goat's milk, not cow's milk
a generous sprinkling of dried oregano
some extra virgin olive oil - best quality

Optional ingredients: capers, lemon juice or vinegar, a tiny amount of fresh parsley.

The most important ingredients are the tomatoes, the feta and the olive oil. If these don't taste like they should, your salad will never taste right.

Prepare the ingredients as outlined above and place them in a big bowl in order: first the tomatoes, then the cucumber, then the pepper and onion, the olives, finally the slab of feta cheese. Sprinkle oregano all over and season with salt, if using. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Once the salad is at the table, you can break the feta up with a fork. Bon appetit!

Friday, June 04, 2010


It's been almost a week since this year's Eurovision final took place, so this is old news, but I couldn't not have a post dedicated to the winning song. The title is Satellite and it was sang by Lena Meyer-Landrut for Germany. The last time Germany came first was in 1982 and the last time they finished in the top 10 was in 2004, so it was a much awaited win.

Lena seems pretty crazy, but I like the song. It's got a great beat and a catchy refrain. I'm sure it will be a big hit in the summer clubs all over Europe. It's already on my iPod playlists.

Of the countries I mentioned in last week's Eurovision post, Armenia finished in 7th place with 141 points, Greece finished 8th with 140 points, and the UK sadly finished 25th with just 10 points.