Monday, September 15, 2008

My Mediterranean Diet

The food in Greece was amazing! Here are some highlights.

Greek Salad
Everyday I had at least one salad. Since I'm a "when in Rome" kind of girl, I mostly I ate Greek salads. These were so perfect though; I wasn't disappointed with a single one. The salad was composed of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, green peppers, olives, and feta. Sometimes the feta came crumbled as in this photo, but more often then not it was sliced and placed on top of the veggies with a drizzle of olive oil. The dressing usually included lots of olive oil, a little red wine vinegar, and a sprinkling of oregano.

Fava Bean Puree
Sometimes things coincide so perfectly that it's almost crazy to call it a coincidence.

On the way to Greece I started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. In one of the first few chapters she discusses the Slow Food movement and its impact on certain products. One example she mentions was the Santorini fava bean. Later that night, on Santorini, it was Kevin's turn to order an appetizer for us to share. His pick: fava bean puree, using local beans of course.

Unlike the fava beans that I am used to, the favas here are white. When cooked and pureed with olive oil, garlic, and salt they are delicious. This puree was served in a mold, but the waiter explained that it tasted best when spread out and topped with olive oil and lemon. Around the favas are slow roasted tomatoes cooked with capers.

After our first taste we ordered at least one portion of the stuff everyday. I even brought a few bags of dried beans to bring home with me. Watch out for a post about my experience trying to recreate this treat at home in the coming weeks.

I had eggplant three different ways while in Greece. Once sliced and fried; once cut in half and stuffed with tomatoes, capers, onions, and baked with cheese; and once smoked and mashed. Each version was superb. The eggplant was sweet, with not a trace of bitterness. I didn't photograph any of the eggplant dishes I ate on this trip, but noticed that each time white- or pale-purple-skinned plants were used and the flesh was also very light in color.

Grilled Fish
Red snapper or sea bream seemed to be the fish of choice this weekend. I loved getting the fish whole with the skin grilled to a crisp. After Kevin and I were finished, only the head and bones remained.

One night (for Kevin's birthday) we decided to split a grilled lobster. The night we ordered the lobster, the power went out. The waiter told us that this happens couple of times each summer, often when it's a little cloudy. Though he didn't know what one had to do with the other (he didn't even know what the power source in Santorini was) we didn't mind at all. We were on a rooftop in Oia and ate by the light of the full moon. It was very pleasant, but it made it hard to see what we were eating. I took this picture of our meal so that we know what was on our plate before digging in.

Crazy Juices
Greeks must really like their juice. Adult-sized juice boxes were sold everywhere. The flavors are way more exciting the standard apple, orange, and grapefruit. In addition to those, you are also able to get cherry, peach, or banana. My favorite was pineapple coconut. By the end of the trip I would have one of those bad boys while other people were enjoying a cocktail. I was basically like drinking a virgin pina colada.

Cooking on the Water

Many of the tiny harbors that we saw were lined with restaurants. Here seafood is the obvious choice. The octopus, for example, were literally pulled directly out of the water, cooked on one of the outdoor grills, and served.

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