Tag Archives: Greek wine

The Quotable Greek: Quick, Bring Me Wine

9 Dec

AristophanesImaginary portrait of Aristophanes from ca. 1896 via Wikipedia

“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”




Discover other Quotable Greeks here.

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!


Tasty Tuesday: Pictures from Dinner at Village Taverna

10 Jul




While I was getting my MFA in creative nonfiction at The New School, I kept walking by a Greek restaurant that was being built on University Place.  When it finally opened, I was drowning in writing my thesis and Burning Furiously Beautiful.  Right before the semester ended my writer friend Allison–who is obsessed with Greece (a good thing considering all the Greek stories I shared in class)–and I went to check it out.  Village Taverna was definitely worth the wait.

The food at Village Taverna is classic Greek taverna fare served up in a spacious, beautiful dining area with a casual vibe.  The portions were generous–and delicious.  I didn’t try the wine, but they have an impressive Greek wine list.  Village Taverna has the best vegetarian gyro in New York–the grilled vegetables pita wrap.  I want to go back and try their meze–tzatziki and veggie chips, namely–and vegetarian moussaka (it has artichokes in it!).

Who’s with me?!

Greece Leading the Pack

2 Jul

So many people I talk to seems to have this idea, driven by the media and not personal experience, that Greeks are lazy and aren’t doing anything innovative.  This is simply not true.

  • Greeks were ranked third in Europe for the number of hours they work in a year, according to a poll surveying 1995-2005.
  • Greek healthcare is amongst the best in the world.  It’s universal.
  • The Greek maritime industry is recognized as incredibly powerful in the world economy.  It’s not as high as it was in the 1970s, but Greek shipping heirs still seem to be attracting the likes of Paris Hilton and an Olsen twin.
  • Greek companies, such as Korres and Apivita, are leading the natural skincare and makeup revolution.
  • Greece is leading animal rights activism by banning the use of animals in circuses.
  • Greeks are often considered the most hospitable people.  It’s no wonder tourism continues to thrive, despite the media’s ploy to scare people away from the country.  Time + Leisure magazine named Santorini “The World’s Best Island” last year.
  • Greece’s Peloponnese region hardly needs to market itself to attract surfers and golfers from around the world.
  • Greek wine is currently having a revival.  Greek wine is very trendy right now in the United States.
  • Greece is home to the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe.

Greece is working hard to bridge the gap between its rich history and its present.  The country is respecting its past, its traditions, its natural landscape, and its flora and fauna, while simultaneously capitalizing on these strengths.

Tasty Tuesday: Boukiés

12 Jun

When you’re Greek and you live in such a foodie city as New York, you get the following question posed to you quite often: What’s your favorite Greek restaurant in New York City?  I’ve been asked it enough time that I should have a solid answer, but usually I end up staring off into space and saying something vague about the Greek restaurant scene in New York City.  My issue is that most of the Greek restaurants in New York City fall into three camps:

  1. Gyro carts
  2. Diners
  3. Posh Greek restaurants

As far as the gyro carts go, I don’t care how trendy it is to eat out of food trucks, I won’t eat out of carts or trucks.  Okay, maybe I’d do it for ice cream, but I feel anything that could be dangerous if not refrigerated properly or not cooked long and hot enough should not be created on wheels of any sort.  There, I said it.


I love diners.  I’m from Jersey.  However, I don’t really consider diners Greek in the traditional sense.  I’m more apt to order a grilled cheese than tiropita at a diner—even if it is owned by a Greek.

Now, I love luxurious meals at posh restaurants.  However, I just don’t think most Greek food is meant to be upscale.  It could be, don’t get me wrong.  Most of the time, though, the best Greek food gets made in tiny tavernas.  If you’re in New York, you can find these in Astoria.  Part of my prejudice toward super-posh Greek restaurants is that I personally don’t really enjoy most Greek main meals.

I love all the Greek meze (appetizers) and side dishes.  I’m talking tiganita, Greek salad, tzatziki sauce with warm pita, saganaki, feta, french fries with lemon and oregano….  I fill up on all of that and am too stuffed for the main course.

Christos Valtzoglou might be my new best friend.  I’ve never actually met him, but a while back I read on Grub Street that the man behind Pylos was opening up a restaurant called Boukiés, which means “small bites.”  The plan was to have only be two main courses on the menu, with the rest being all those delicious Greek meze I can never get enough of.  Diane Kochilas, whom I’ve previously had the pleasure of interviewing, and Steffen Sander are also involved in the restaurant.

Boukiés opened in March at 29 East Second Street (Second Avenue), taking over the space of Valtzoglou’s former restaurant, Heartbreak.  I’ve been tracking it for a while, but haven’t made it over yet.

I’m excited about the menu.  It includes such items as:

Flaounes me Feta kai Meli
Feta phyllo flutes, drizzled with Greek honey

Manitaropitakia Nymfaio
Northern Greek mushroom phyllo pies

Revithia, Melitzanes V. Elladitika, Aromatiki Saltsa Domatas
Clay-baked chickpeas and eggplants, Northern Greek style, with cinnamon spiced tomato sauce

Sokolata Krya me Rodakina
Chocolate-Mastiha Ganache, Peach Compote

There’s also an impressive Greek wine list.

More recently, Boukiés began serving brunch.  Some of the items offered on their menu include:

Poached eggs with sauteed spinach, tomato compote and
thyme Hollandaise, served on an English muffin

Smoked salmon-asparagus omelet with manouri cheese, 14
lemon zest, and dill

Citrony tsoureki (brioche) french toast served with mix
berries compote

Can’t wait to try Boukiés out!

Tasty Tuesday: Pindar Pythagoras Wine, Greek American Wine from Long Island

15 May


Since my thesis was due on a Monday, there wasn’t much opportunity for celebrating.  Instead, I went home after a normal day of work, ate leftover spaghetti and opened a bottle of wine I’d been saving.

Last summer I had gone wine tasting at a couple vineyards on Long Island and picked up a bottle from Pindar Vineyards.  I’d been saving it for a special occasion and thesis submission seemed as good as time as any to crack it open.

The bottle I had picked up surprisingly wasn’t one that I had sampled at the vineyards so I didn’t know what to expect.  I picked it out for its name, Pythagoras.

Pythagoras (ca. 570 BC – 495 BC) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician from Samos, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea.  He later moved out of Greece an into Calabria, in southern Italy, where he lived in a Greek colony called Croton, by the Ionian Sea.  He is, of course, the founder of the Pythagorean theorem.   He set up a school in which music, sports, and diet were important elements.  This would go on to influence Plato.  There’s also a religion associated with Pythagoras, who believed in reincarnation.

The Pythagoras Pindar wine is a Greek wine, but not in the traditional sense.  It is not made in Greece but rather by Greek Americans on the North Fork on Long Island, New York.  Pindar Vineyards was founded by Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, who was born in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen.  He began buying farmland in Peconic, North Fork, Long Island, in 1979, and started planting grapes the following year.  Today, seventeen different varieties of grapes grow on Pindar Vineyard’s 500 acres.

One of the special aspects of Pindar Vineyards is its commitment to environmental stewardship.  The vineyard practices sustainable agriculture.  You can read about its green initiative on its website.  It’s really quite impressive.

Dr. Dan drew his inspiration for winemaking from the Robert Louis Stevenson quote “wine is like poetry.”  It seems fitting that I should enjoy a wine inspired by literature as a celebration to turning in my thesis.

The Pindar Pythagoras is a red table wine.  It is light with a deliciously spicy bite.  While some reds coat your tongue with sinewy grapes, the Pythagoras has more of a white wine texture.  Delicate and effortless, it’s a good summer red.  Its buoyancy does not mean it’s watery though.  It’s flavorful, with a bit of a kick to it.

Here’s how Pindar describes the Pindar Pythagoras:

This special red was first crafted to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It has the round and full characteristics of Merlot with the slight herbaceousness of Cabernets. This award-winning blend has been named “Best US Red Blend” by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago and “Best Red Vinifera” in Vineyard & Winery Management’s “Best of the East” competition. Sure to please a wide range of palates.

It’s a good wine to round out a pasta dish with olives in it or some sinfully dark chocolate.

If you’re here in New York, you can purchase it online, but why not take a day trip to Long Island?  You can rent a car or take the Hampton Jitney bus.  It’s a great getaway from Manhattan.