30 April, 2010

The Unpunishables

Today I bought Kathimerini newspaper, instead of going to language school. The thing is that I caught cold and not feeling well. Moreover, I had assignments yesterday night - by night I mean after 10 o'clock - and early this morning. I thought it was better to take a day off, until the next assignment in the evening. I read the paper to improve my Greek.

By the way, one article of Kathimerini attracted my attention in particular. It is about the corruption in public sector and its incorregibility in Greece. According to the article, in the past six years, NONE of the 450 important cases of suspected misconducts was brought to justice (including those cases that were brought to the court, but not yet terminated or in course of appeal). Did you hear that? NONE!

(I found a part of the article on line: here).

It is a very depressing picture. The corrupted public officials are practically unpunishable.

Many Greeks I spoke with said that they wanted those who responsible for the current financial/economic crsis to be punished, and if possible, wanted them to return the money. I thought and told them that it was irrealistic. But, honestly, I did not know that so bad and resperate was the situation.

The Greeks tend to make laws just for the sake of making them or just for appearance. The recent most evident case was the ban on smoking in public space; everyone knows this law, but there is absolutely no enforcement). As an EU member state, Greece had to legistate against smoking. It was just a show. But, it is just one evident case; there are so many - and more significant - laws that have/had the same destiny.

28 April, 2010

Red Prawns

Wandering around the Laiki, I found these unusual red prawns.



I think it was called 'Garides Kymis' (Kymi island prawns).

In the morning it was 10 euros per kilo, but later the price went down to 6 euros and it was how much I paid.

As they looked very fresh, I tried raw; they tasted like sashimi prawns I used to eat in Japan.

But Hubby objected to uncooked prawns. Then I wanted to grill them in oven, but Hubby's mum objected. That was why I needed to boil them.

They were good, but still I wanted to eat them with wasabi and soy sauce at least. ha ha ha




27 April, 2010

Day Trip to Aegina

We went to Aegina this Sunday.



Actually we wanted to go to Nafplio, but an unfortunate incident stopped us to go there. We were planning to get a bus to go to Kifissou Bus Terminal, but the bus that should have taken us there was running a different route as usual because of the Sunday Market and we did not know that. Here in Greece this kind of information is something you should know a priori, even though there is no way of learning it except from kindly neighbours.

Anyway, so we gave up going to the Bus Terminal and caught a boat to Aegina instead. One way ticket costs 9.50 euros on Hellenic Seaways ferries and it takes 65 min. It was 6.50 euros in 2006, up about 30%. There is a cheaper ticket of 7 euros on Agios Nectarios (it is the name of the ship and I don't know the name of the shipping company). There are also speed boats (Flying Dolphin), but you can save only 20 min or so for paying 4.5 euros more.

Eventually we had a quite pleasant time in Aegina town. We did no go anywhere else, having already visited in the past Saint Nectarios Church, Aphaia Temple, and Agia Marina.

Although passing tourists tend not to realise, Aegina town is quite beautiful with all these Neo-Classical buildings and bright colours. We enjoyed coffee by the sea and beautiful lunch again by the sea (where else!?)

And of course we bought pistachio nuts, famous produce of the island. In Greece pistachio nuts are called 'peanuts of Aegina' (φιστίκια Αιγίνης). But you are fooled if you believe that all the pistachio nuts sold in Aegina are from Aegina. As the tourists seek after pistachio nuts there, there are shops that sell pistachio from elsewhere.

I don't doubt that the pistachio from other parts of Greece (and of the world) can be tasty as well, so far as the quality is high. But if you want to try pistachio from Aegina - reputed to be the best in Greece - it is better to go to the Aegina Agricultural Association's booth in the port. The price is higher than in other shops around, but not much more than the ones in Skravenitis Supermarket and, above all, you can be sure that their nuts are produce of Aegina. I think we paid €6.70 for half a kilo (the bag in the photo above). They are actually very good, although they are smaller and the shells are darker in colour than the standard ones. Try by yourself. You can buy from 100g package.

24 April, 2010

More Strikes

We had just passed annoying port strike of 21 and 22 April, but more are coming!

Πανελλήνια Ναυτική Ομοσπονδία (Panhellenic Nautical Confederacy) announced to strike on this Monday (26 April) and Saturday (1st May). So, those who are planning to travel by the sea on these dates should be careful.
(Source: http://www.naftemporiki.gr/news/cstory.asp?id=1806276)

And on this Tuesday, all the urban public transports in Athens might stop from 11 to 5 o'clock (στάση εργασίας). It is still too early to know if it will surely happen, but better be careful.

This is not a strike, but tomorrow (Sunday) the cars cannot enter the central Athens from 8 o'clock in the morning because of marathon. They will gradually open the roads, when the running finishes, but no exact timing is specified.

Are you getting fed up with strikes? Believe me I am!

23 April, 2010

Leontari @ Piraeus

We ate at Leontari tou Peiraia last Sunday. We had been to this place so many times, but never eaten anything, until this time.

http://www.mesogeia.net/athens/pireas/leontari_en.html



In short word, the food could be better, but the ambience was very good and the price pretty reasonable. Click the above link for further detail.


By the way, the other day I ate at Τα Σουβλάκια της Ρόμβης in Romvi street in Athens (it is in the area between Syntagma and Athinas street) and the meat tasted quite good. Then I was more concentrated on chatting than on eating. Will be back to try again.

**************************************

So, Mr. Papandreou finally requested the loan from ECB/IMF. It was just a matter of time, wasn't it?

Strike, Strike, Strike

There was a two-day strike in Greece on 22 and 23 April. Some participated one of the two days and some both of the days. The worst of these was the strike of Piraeus port. No ship could leave for two days damaging further the country's economy and reputation.
Yesterday, when I tried to enter one of the hotels on the Constitution (Syntagma), a group of Greek youth (the looked about 20-25 years old students) physically stopped me and told me to participate in the strike. The hotel men helped me to enter saying that I was a hotel guest (which I wasn't), but I was very annoyed.
If my country is in deeply public debt to the degree that cannot afford to pay salary and pension and that we should ask foreigners for money, the last thing I would do is to strike and to damage further my country.
In this country, some categories of people - especially women (and I am not speaking about particular categories as soldiers) - can still go to retirement with pension in their fifties, while in most of the countries that are going to finance Greece, it is no longer possible. In most of the so-called developed countries, the pension age is 65. In Japan, people get pension only at 65-70 years of age (if you request pension at 65, there is a punitive reduction).
The Greeks should imagine how the taxpayers in these countries feel, while their tax is going to finance the Greek pensioners of, say, 60 years old?
I, as a Japanese citizen who is still paying into Japanese pension pot (although I am not paying much tax in Japan any more), can tell you that it is very annoying.

By the way, the port workers of Piraeus decleared strike on 26 April and 1 May. Be careful if you are planning to travel by the sea at these dates. Ole!

18 April, 2010

Antica Gelateria di Roma @ Nafplio

Yesterday afternoon I was in Nafplio for school excursion. We had already had lunch in Kolizeras (Κολιζέρας) in Mykines and it was perfect dessert time.

I had many limitations being in a big group, but managed to pass Marcello's Antica Gelateria di Roma, probably the best gelateria in Greece. (And having lived in Italy for 5 years, I can tell you that such a good gelato is hard to come by even its mother land).

A friend of my who knows well Nafplio once told me that the Greeks tend not to like this Italian style ice cream preferring creamer ones. Having observed, however, how crowded it was yesterday, it seemed that his business was going well.

I had mango sorbet and marron glace ice cream.




I think the secret of his success is to use best ingredients. Marron Glacé ice cream had marron glacé bits and very good flavour. I liked less the mango sorbet, but was fine.

The down side is the price. The ice cream in the photo cost €4.50. He won't be able to charge as much in Italy, I suppose. I noticed also that the corn wasn't crisp enough.

Having eaten it, I had to realise that the Mattonella in Monastiraki Square - my favorite ice cream shop in Athens - is doing quite good job and I won't miss next opportunity to try some other flavors.

Antica Gelateria di Roma
ΦΑΡΜΑΚΟΠΟΥΛΩΝ 3 & ΚΟΜΝΗΝΟΥ, ΝΑΥΠΛΙΟ
ΤΗΛ. 27520-23520
FARMAKOPOULON 3 & KOMNINOY, NAFPLIO
http://www.anticagelateria.gr/

16 April, 2010

Peinirli @ Ampelokipoi

After some research about Peïnirli in this post, I've got curious about this Turkish-Greek-Pontic delicacy.

Until then it was for me just a cheesy bread sold at any pie stand, but having realised that it possibily offers more, I was looking for an occasion to try some better examples.

It came when we were walking in Ampelokipoi area. It wasn't a restaurant, but was a bakery specialised in Peïnirli.


Ionias

The shop is called "Ionias" (Address is 3 Οδός Πανόρμου. I don't have the phone number, as they did not give us receipt). Inside, it was something between pizzeria and bread bakery. There is a counter and behind it is a oven from which a Peïnirli man continues to bake fresh Peïnirli.



There are 6 or 7 sorts of toppings. I was attracted by the one with anthotyro, but I thought I should try first more classic one.

I bought one with kasseri cheese, mushroom and sliced tomato. Before handing it to me, the girl at the counter aksed if I wanted some butter on top. I said "Yes" of course! :)



Hubby went with yellow cheese (I don't remember which cheese was it), ham, sliced green pepper and mushroom.

Peinirli
I think ours cost €2.30 each (it differs according to the toppings).

Now, bread. I think this section photo can tell you something. It is relatively heavy and 'gooey' if it is the right word (probably it isn't, but I cannot find any other).

Peinirli


The cheese was of better quality than in usually pie stands.



I could not finish it because of my poor cheese capacity, but my cheese man finished his and my half.

I am quite happy with the experience and will continue searching good peïnirli.

14 April, 2010

Filadelfi @ Panormos

Last weekend I went to a taverna/mezedopoleio called To Filadelfi in Ampelokipoi.

To Filadelfi

Here is what we ate.

http://www.mesogeia.net/athens/estiatoria/filadelfi_en.html

We went there with some friends who live in this area and they had been to this place in the past. As I had already written on the above web page, I was overwhelmed by the quantity of meat and oil on the table and could not really enjoy the meal to the full. It happened because the other people wanted to eat in that way and it was hardly the restaurant's fault.

On this occasion, I realised how important to have right combination of dishes to have an perfect meal. It depends of your eating habit: one man's (or woman's) perfect combination can be another man's nightmare.

Nevertheless, I am grad to have explored a new area in Athens.

Το Φιλαδέλφι ταβέρνα-μεζεδοπωλείο
Δουκίσσης Πλακεντίας 128
(κοντά στον σταθμού Πανόρμου)
Aθήνα

13 April, 2010

Jewish Museum @ Plaka, Athens

Uploaded a page about the Jewish Museum of Greece in Plaka, Athens.

Jewish costume


Until the Second World War, Greece was a home to as many as 78,000 Jews and there were several flourishing Jewish communities. The one in Thessaloniki was particularly large and prosperous.

The Nazi Germany brought most of them to concentration camps and massacred. When the war ended, only 10,000 Jews were living in Greece. The Thessalonican community lost 97% of the Jewish population and virtually extinguished.

Nowadays not more than 5,000 Jews live in Greece.

The Museum collects the items to preserve the memories of this lost world.

During the period of Jewish pogrom, the general attitude of the Greeks was - so far as I know - that of passive resistance, although a small number of them collaborated, while some resisted eagerly risking even their lives. I read an impressive story in the museum and I wish to share it.

From the island of Zakynthos (Zante), no Jew was sent to the concentration camps thanks to two brave Greeks: the mayor Lukas Karrer (spelt also as Lucas Carrer) and the Metropolitan bishop Chrysostomos. In 1943, the German commander of Zakynthos, Behrens, ordered the mayor to hand in the list of the Jews. Karrer and Chrysostomos resisted for some time, but giving into the German pressure, they produced a list. But it included only two names, those of Karrer and Chrysostomos. They sent a letter to Hitler guaranteeing the good conduct of the Jews on the island. The German Headquaters decided to leave the Jews of Zakynthos untouched.

There is no doubht that the German commander of Zakynthos was more accomodating than elsewhere in Greece, but ultimately it was the courage of two men that saved 275 Jews on the island.


10 April, 2010

O Tzitzikas ki o Mermigas @ Syntagma

Yesterday I went to the Syntagma Branch of O Tzitzikas ki O Mermigas for quick lunch with a friend. It turned out to be a big disappointment and I write the experience just as a note.
When we arrived at 2 it was only half full and we could even find a table in the outside, but it was totally full by the time we left.

We ordered a bowl of steamed mussels (€ 12.42) from the seafood main dish section and a kebabakia of veal, lamb and pork (€ 9.50) from the meze section. The prices are strange (and different from those you read on the menu because of the recent rise of Consumers' Tax from 9% to 10%).

The mussels were the worst I have ever eaten. As many of them were closed, we thought that they were old and dead, but it was not the reason. They were so undercooked that they did not have time to open up fully. When we figured it out, we have already eaten half of them, so we did not dare to cook them again. Besides they were too salty and the cooking liquid smelled too strongly of alcohol as the white wine in it wasn't boiled enough time.

The kebabakia (small kebabs) were at least edible, but nothing attractive. The tzatziki came with it smelled stale and unpleasant.

We paid also for the bread (€ 2.05 for 2) and a bottle of orange juice (€ 2.38), and the total came to € 26.35 including 8% of Easter 'Present' (after 5 days from Easter). It was far too much for the poor food we ate.

The service was rather unfriendly. For example, the friend ordered 'Orangina'. The waiter, without explaining to her it wasn't available, just brought a random bottled orange juice.
We probably ordered unfortunate dishes, as the other diners around us looked happy. But what I ate yesterday, I am not hurrying back to test it again.

O Tzitzikas ki O Mermigas
Mitropoleos 12-14, Syntagma
Athens
Tel. 210-3247607

Ο ΤΖΙΤΖΙΚΑΣ ΚΙ Ο ΜΕΡΜΗΓΚΑΣ
Μητροπόλεως 12-14, Σύνταγμα
Αθήνα
Τηλ. 210-3247607

Do Minore @ Agios Dimitrios

Yesterday we went to a Rebetiko night club called Do Minore in Agios Dimitrios.

The music started after 11 o'clock and we started to eat at 1 o'clock. We left the place at 4 o'clock.

Lots of food (not exceptional, but all right), tons of wine, non-stop live music. It was pretty entertaining. There is a small space for dancing, but it was far too small for everyone who wanted to dance (the place was packed).



We were a big group of about 20 people and paid 18 euros per a head.

Recommended, if you like this sort of place.

Do Minore
Eleutheroton 12
Agios Dimitrios, Athens
Tel. 210-9733135

Ντο Μινόρε (ρεμπέτικα-λαικα)
Ελευθερωτών (από Πριάμου 83)
Αγ. Δημήτριος
Τηλ. 210-97.33.135
http://www.do-minore.gr/

07 April, 2010

Chocolat @ Glyfada

We met up with a friend and went to a Glyfada branch of Chocolat in Easter Monday afternoon.

While Athens looked like a ghost town because of the holiday exodus, Glyfada was full of people. The cafeteria on Zisimopoulou suggested by Friend was so full that we were turned down at the entrance.

Zisimopoulou

After 10 min hunt for an empty table, we found one at Chocolat on the same road. Chocolat is a mini-chain of patisserie-cafeteria-restaurant comprising 4 outlets Glyfada, Thissio and in Maroussi.

We had visited Chocolat (Chocolat 24 to be exact) once 1.5 or 2 years ago and have never come back since as we were not impressed by their sweets.

But when you cannot find other table, what can you do?

Zisimopoulou

Friend ordered crepe with chocolate and sliced banana served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Choco Banana Crepe

Husband ordered Chocolate waffle with chocolate sauce and honey served with two scoops of ice cream (chocolate and vanilla).

Chocolate Waffle

The waffle was fluffy in the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. I prefer, however, heavier waffle. Probably my taste for waffle is eccentric considering I did not like waffle of Wafflehouse in Vouliagmeni either. Ice cream was OK, but did not have depth of good dairy.

The price was same for both, €9.50. Filter coffee was €4.50. We paid also 10% additional service charge for Easter.

Chocolat
Ζησιμόπουλου 9
Γλυφάδα
Zisimopoulou 9
Glyfada
Τηλ. 210-8943442
http://www.chocolatroyal.gr/

04 April, 2010

Χριστός Ανέστη!



Christos Anesti, everyone!

Today (4th April 2010) is Easter Day both for Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

We went to the Church in yesterday evening and passed the Resurrection moment there. Then we went to Hubby's parents' home with holy fire in hand. According to the custom, we dine there with soup, eggs and meat (or maybe not; Hubby's family eat meat from this moment, but other families eat only meat/guts soup and eggs as the digestive system is too weak to eat meat after almost 50 days of fasting). We went home at around 3 in the night!

The next day (Sunday) is the Easter proper. Many Greeks bake meat (baby lamb or baby goat) in oven or on grill. Probably the most traditional way is to grill the whole animal on the spit, but many use oven as well.

Today was very fine and warm and ideal for souvla (spit used for the grilling).



I baked about 2 kg of baby lamb in oven and brought it to in-laws house for lunch and went for coffee later.

It was a very peaceful (and bit lazy) Easterday.

************************************

On Holy Saturday we went to a mezedopoleio called Brahakia in Thissio, just next to the famous mezedopoleio Filistron (which was unfortunately closed for Easter vacation). I won't recommend it for cooking, but the environment was quite good. Here is the review of Brahakia (Βραχάκια).

03 April, 2010

Holy Friday Epitaphios

Photos from Holy Friday procession.

Epitaphios coming down the stairs.
Epitaphios

Epitaphios passing in front of me.
Epitaphios

I have to go to work tonight. I home to make it for Anastasi!

Athens in Spring 2

Yesterday was Good Friday and we went to the Church in the evening. The church was filled with the small of flowers (of epitaphios and of the shower of flower petals during the mass) and of bee wax (the candles used in the church are often from bee wax). We marched about half an hour with epitaphios holding candles in hand. It was beautiful. The church and religion have many ugly things, but I will be sorry, if we don't have there religious ceremonies.

Tonight is the Anastasi (Resurrection) night and I won't miss it.

**********************

But for now I continue with the photographs I took in Athens this Wednesday.

Without really knowing I strolled into Exarchia.



In Exarchia there are many beautiful neo-classical buildings and some are well maintained.



I feel upset to see these buildings damaged by ugly graffiti. I hope these anarchists give up Exarchia and go to live in some country where actually there is no government. They should be able to find some in Africa or in South America. Then they will learn what anarchy really means.

Generally speaking Athenian graffitists do not have much of artistic talent. This is a rare example of nice graffiti.



This is a park in Exarchia that looked like an abandoned building site. Maybe really it is.



Then I walked down by the Archaeological Museum toward Omonia. I found a Romanian restaurant.



Well, the big sign board says "To Iasio - traditional kafenio" but just below it says Iasu (?) Cafe-Restaurant Romanescu.

And next to it is a Kurdish club with many posters of Mr. Abdullah Öcalan. I would be more interested in Kurdish cuisine than in Romanian, but it does not seem to serve food. It is a pity.

Kurdish Kafeneio

I ended my stroll at Omonia Square. I have always loved Oriental sort of confusion around Omonia. It is getting international and more exiting. It is really a shame that it is getting dangerous as well.

Kali Anastasi everyone who celebrate it!

P.S. On Gate to Greece website, I uploaded a page on Sparta Archaeological Museum and the Perivleptos Monastery in Mystras.

01 April, 2010

Athens in Spring 1

From this Monday, the Holy Week started. Although those who practice Lenten fasting
to the letters are absolute minority in Greece, not a few do some effort not to eat meat at least. There are church service every evening (and other times, but I am hazy how often are they) and many go to the church to receive communion. TV keep on showing biblical and Christian films to remind us why we celebrate the Easter at all!

Even a show window of clothes shop (this is Prince Oliver in Piraeus) has religious theme.


Prince Oliver

Christ and Book of Triodion!


Yesterday it was very warm. I went to Athens to smell the air of spring and Easter.
Butterfly


I took 040 bus to go to Athens. Contrary to what it was said before, the works of Ilektriko (Metro No 1) won't finish by the Easter and will continue into the autumn. According to a friend of mine who read on a newspaper, the section Faliro-Kallithea won't open - at the earliest they should add - until May. It is so annoying. Personally it is more annoying than the rise of value added tax.

In Syntagma. This old souvlatzidiko on Odos Apollonos, just in front of Furin Kazan Japanese restaurant, is under renewal work. (I actually ate here once).
Souvlaki

I hope they finish before the completion of Ilektriko renewal. (But of course!)

Then I went to Panepistimiou Street to check out the new French bakery Paul. Its opening was announced many months ago and the building looks complete, but every time I pass in front, it is closed, although the light was on inside. Has it opened at all?

The people (a family of three) in the photo looked at a loss. I waited for them to leave to take a photo, but they didn't and kept on muttering something going to and fro in front of the shop. Were they disappointed customers?

Then I walked toward the Panepistimio and then turned to the north. There I found the patisserie Asimakopouloi.
Asimakopouloi

It is one of the oldest pastry shops in Athens (since 1915) and pretty famous, but I have never understood where it was. Now I know. There was quite a lot of people who were buying Tsoureki (Easter sweet bread) and other sweets.

And in front, there was this shop. Do you see what they sell?


This is a candle shop.


They are not normal candles, but lambadas!
No, it isn't a Latin dance. ;)
Lambada is a candle that the Godparent gives to the Godchild at the baptism, and later on they have to give a new one on every Easter while the Godchild grows up (until when, I don't know, but at certain point it stops) together with Easter presents. It is quite a big and long-term responsibility to be a Godparent.
By the way, Hubby said that he had seen Julia Alexandratou lambada on TV. Has anyone seen it? (No, he did not say it today, i.e. 1st April).

(To be continued.... if I want to)
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