Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Greek hospitality

For the best part of 20 years, since one of my best friends hooked up with and then married Nikos from Athens, I have been at the receiving end of generous Greek hospitality. Our recent visit culminated with a memorable lunch at their weekend house on the coast in Nea Makri near Marathon. As is usually the case in good weather, the food is cooked on the grill in the garden – in this case squid and octopus for starter, followed by a large, family-sized sea bream.

The food is always wonderfully simple, showing off local, seasonal ingredients. My friends are fortunate in benefitting from a family-owned olive and citrus grove and they make their own vinegar and wine (like many Greek households). We made a vinegar and oil dressing for the squid and octopus, whereas the fish was dressed (anointed) with an emulsion of lemon juice and oil. We sipped some ouzo with the starter (octopus and aniseed are a match made in Mediterranean heaven) and salty, mineral Assyrtiko from Santorini was ideal with the fish. Plenty of bread and salad were passed around.

My friends tend to round off a meal with fresh fruit, so we climbed up onto the roof and picked apricots from the tree and ate them gazing across the water to the island of Evia. A distinctive and memorable end to our holiday. Efharisto poli!

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