Tag Archives: honey

Gift Guide for the Greek Lover

6 Dec

Whether you’re giving a Greek American a taste of their homeland when they can’t make it back for the holidays or satiating a Hellenophile’s interest in Greek culture, there are countless foods, books, beauty products, and jewelry that will suit your needs.  Plus, select a gift made in Greece and you’ll also be supporting the struggling Greek economy.  Here’s just a small selection of Greek gift ideas, some made in the States, some in Greece, and others elsewhere, but all unique and lovely.

Gifts for the Greek food lover:::

 

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Janet Fletcher

 

How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis

A selection of delicious dressings and marinades from Sophia’s Gourmet Foods

A selection of three different flavors of honey from Odysea Shop

Traditional Greek preserves (rose petal and pergamot) by Monastiri

Kalamata olive oil

Ouzo candies

Pavlidis Dark Chocolate

Pastelli with honey

Bonus tip! – Gifts appear so much nicer when they come as a set.  You may want to give a cookbook with some Greek spices.  A duo or trio of a certain type of product (such as honey or olive oil) is a great way for the recipient to try out a few flavors.  Or, you may want to give a gift basket of assorted Greek candies.

 

Gifts for someone who loves Greek literature:::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antigonick by Sophocles, translated by Anne Carson, illustrations by Bianca Stone

The Greek Poets: Homer to Present by Peter Constantine

 

The Odyssey: A Pop-up Book by Sam Ita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sederis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Subscription to Greek America Magazine

Bonus tip! – Trying pairing the book with a book light, a notebook and pen, a bookmark with a quote by a Greek philosopher, or a coffee mug (maybe even with a bag of Greek coffee).

 

Gifts to make someone feel like a beautiful and pampered Greek goddess:::

Beauty products from Korres.  I would especially recommend Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. You can read my review here.

Olive oil body lotion by Olivia

Jewelry by Konstantino

Bonus tip! – Include a lovely handwritten letter.  A bottle of Greek wine (here’s my review of the Greek American wine Pindar) or some fine Greek chocolates (here’s my review of the Greek American chocolatier Chocolate Moderne) would also make someone feel loved and pampered.

 

As the Greek proverb says, “A gift, though small, is welcome.”

Road Trip: Wine Tasting at Bargetto Winery

20 Nov

 

 

 

Nearly 90% of American wines come from California.  While Napa and Sonoma Valley are the most recognizable names associated with California wine production, there are many other fertile regions for grape growing and winemaking throughout California.  While I was in Monterey, I stopped by the Bargetto Winery shop for a little lesson on winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and, of course, some wine tasting!

Visiting the Bargetto Winery was one of the highlights of my road trip to Monterey.  It was also one of the most unique wine-tasting experiences I’ve had.  I’ve gone wine tasting in Tuscany, Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Vermont, as well as sampled wines in Oregon.  Along the way I’ve encountered some exquisite wines.  What made the tasting at Bargetto Winery stand out was the diversification of wines I samples.

The standout wine at Bargetto Winery, for me, was the the Chaucer’s Cellars apricot wine.  I was at first hesitant to try this fresh fruit wine.  Although I was intrigued, I imagined it would taste like marmalade.  What I discovered, though, was a refreshing dessert wine bursting with flavor.  It’s sweet but also light.  It’s certainly not a wine you’d want to drink glass after glass of, but it is the perfect ending to a meal.  The expert who was helping me suggested it also went well with spicy chicken cashew dishes; the website also offers recipe ideas.  As the website says:

CHAUCER’S CELLARS, produced by BARGETTO WINERY, has won gold medal winning dessert-style wines for decades. These elegant wines are produced from 100% pure fruit or natural honey without the addition of artificial flavors. The distinct taste of these wines can be enjoyed in the tradition of Medieval England. In the spirit of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, experience these unique wines as a pilgrimage in sensory delight.

“A pilgrimage in sensory delight”!

The other dessert wine I tried was definitely my least favorite of all the wines and that was Chaucer’s Mead:

Take a step back in time and enjoy the flavors of this popular Elixir. Our Mead is made with similar recipes used in Medieval Times.

The honey for this specialty dessert-style wine is produced in hives throughout Northern California. It is composed of a blend of three types of honey: alfalfa, sage and orange blossom. Each type brings a unique quality to the blend and contributes to the overall complexity of the Mead. Alfalfa is neutral in flavor but yields a dark, amber color. The orange blossom brings a floral bouquet to the nose of the wine. Sage brings subtle nuances into the blend.

I’m a big fan of all things honey, and I appreciate the blend of three different types of honey produced in California.  I’m not a huge fan of mead in general, and the particular mead I was served contained a spice packet of cinnamon and cloves.  It tasted like Christmas tea.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  I would certainly enjoy a hot cup of spiced mead on a snowy winter’s night — but no more than once a year.

I also tried a pinot grigio and a pinot noir, both of which were delicious.  The pinot noir had a sexy spiciness to it that made it perfect for drinking on its own or with a strong, peppery cheese.

Two brothers in the Bargetto family emigrated from Italy and started a winery in San Francisco that was shut down during Prohibition.  The Bargetto Winery was then established in 1933, meaning it was around during the time Jack Kerouac and his friends were road tripping along the California coastline.

Today, the Bargetto Winery practices sustainability in their winemaking:

There are three aspects to winegrowing sustainability as it applies to our winemaking operations:

  • The first is Environmentally Sound , in which we strive to produce wines in a green manner. Each month herein we post one of our winery practices like insulation of cooling pipes for energy conservation
  • The second is Economically Feasible , in which we maintain practices that will allow our winery to continue our long family tradition. Producing consistently quality wines that retain devoted customers and efficient business practices are two examples
  • The third component is Socially Equitable , in which we strive to provide a healthy and dignified work environment for our employees. Our giving back to the community , especially our LA VITA Fund is another example of this aspect to sustainable winegrowing.

The Santa Cruz Mountains is a beautiful area, which overlooks the ecologically diverse Monterey Bay Sanctuary. We believe we have a duty to do our part in maintaining and improving this natural beauty while being good business citizens of our community.

The Santa Cruz Mountains pass through San Francisco and head all the way down to Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley.  It’s worth noting that the agricultural towns of Salinas and Gilroy, which I also passed through on my road trip, are also known for their wine.  The Santa Cruz Mountains is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that consists of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties.  There are more than 200 vineyards in this area.

You can visit tasting rooms of the Bargetto Winery in Soquel or Monterey (which is where I went).

Speaking of Chaucer, you may also be interested in my earlier post:

Road Trip Writing: On the Road and The Canterbury Tales

Prepping for Hurricane Sandy

28 Oct

 

Just got word that the MTA is shutting down at 7 tonight for Hurricane Sandy.  Doesn’t make much difference to me.  I’ve been stuck sick in bed for two days.  Yesterday, started out well enough.  I went to Barnes & Noble and got a Pumpkin Spice latte and Dutch Apple cheesecake and then braved the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in New York City is always a nightmare with too many people and tight aisles, but yesterday was nuts as people were preparing for the storm.  It was like trying to shop the day before Thanksgiving.  I bought ingredients to make broccoli soup from a recipe out of one of the cookbooks I edited and fortunately made it before I got to feeling too sick so now I don’t have to cook at all.  I can just sit in bed and watch a million episodes of Color Splash, my favorite interior decorating show, and dream up my perfect home.

Are you prepared for Hurricane Sandy?

If you’re like me and totally unprepared for any sort of emergency and don’t own a flashlight, shame on you!  By now, all the flashlights are gone.  Even finding candles in the drugstores is getting hard.  Get creative.  Barnes & Noble* sells a wide variety of battery-operated reading lights.  Just because it’s for reading, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to find your can opener if the lights go out.

While you’re there, pick up the Barnes & Noble* ereader the nook if you don’t already have one.  Charge it up pronto and download some books.  If the power is out for a long time, you’ll have plenty of reading material.  My book recommendation is Jack Kerouac’s Dr. Sax perfect for Halloween.

It’s still a good idea to have some candles on hand.  If you can’t find any at the drugstore or grocery store, that’s okay.  Class it up with some scented candles from Bath & Body Works.  I picked up the Cranberry Woods and Lemon ones during their 2-for-1 sale.

Speaking of scents, if we don’t have access to water that means you won’t be able to shower.  I suggest some perfume or body splash to keep you smelling fresh.  I’ve got Bath & Body Works‘ Plumeria body splash (which always makes me think of my Hawaiian friend from undergrad).

Now you may not be able to wash your hair but you can use an oil-absorbing dry shampoo.  I’ve used the TRESemme dry shampoo with mixed results.  That said, I do favor their regular shampoo and condition.  And, they don’t test on animals.

Another great animal- and eco-friendly company is The Body Shop, where I’ve been shopping since middle school.  I love the Tea Tree Oil line, and today stocked up on their cleansing wipes in case I won’t have access to water to wash my face.

While at The Body Shop, I also picked up anti-bacterial hand sanitzers in my most favorite scents satsuma and pink grapefruit.  I normally advise against these sorts of anti-bacterial hand sanitizers because I fear using it will lead to the creation of a resistant super-bug, but hey, you’ve got to have clean hands somehow if there isn’t good old-fashioned soap and water.  Plus these ones smell amazing, unlike some brands that smell like rubbing alcohol.

If you wear contacts, keep your stylish glasses in an easy to locate place.  In fact, make a to-go bag of all your critical necessities (medication, keys, cash, etc.).

Now in terms of food, non-perishables does not have to mean SPAM!  There are lots of great foods that are either non-perishable or that don’t require cooking.  Go Greek with canned domathes, Kalamata olive spread, raw almonds, honey on bread, and sesame candies.

How are you staying storm stylin’?

 

*I work for a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.

Your Home Can Smell Like Big Sur

9 Jul

Busy poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still active at ninety-three years old, moved out to San Francisco and founded City Lights in 1953.  More than just the independent bookstore of Beat pilgrimages, City Lights is a book publisher, and in 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges because he had published and sold Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.  He was later found not guilty of a crime.

The year after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti made the papers, Jack Kerouac finally found fame with On the Road.  The fame was overwhelming, though.  Talk-show hosts invited the naturally shy author on their show.  Wanderlust kids, winos, and dogged readers showed up unannounced at his home.  Fame took a toll on his mind, body, soul.

Ferlinghetti had a cabin, a refuge, out in the wilderness of Big Sur.  He could escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco for respite along the coast of central California.  After the fame wore him down, Kerouac escaped there too, living for a brief time in Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the woods.  The result of this experience is the 1962 novel Big Sur.

Juniper Ridge now has a room spray called Big Sur.  According to their website, it smells of “wild ginger, burnt honey, salt, damp ground.”  The ingredients are plucked from the deserts and mountains of the West, and 10% of the $20 spray bottle goes back to protecting western wilderness.  They also have a Big Sur soap, essential oil, and sachet.  For $50 you can give the gift of Big Sur, which includes the items already mentioned, plus wild huckleberry jam (perhaps reminiscent of Neal Cassady, whom some have said is Huckleberry Finn incarnate).  The gift comes gift wrapped with real pine cones!  And, like the others, 10% of the profit goes to protecting wilderness.

Happy Tsiknopempti!

16 Feb

Happy Tsiknopempti!  You’ve heard of Fat Tuesday, the French holiday associated with Mardi Gras.  Well, today is Fat Thursday, ten days before the beginning of Great Lent.

Tsiknopempti means Barbecue Thursday, Charred Meat Thursday, or Burnt Thursday.  It’s the evening Greek Orthodox believers consume massive amounts of meat because they start fasting from meat even a week before Great Lent, the forty days leading up to Pascha (Easter), begins.

I’ve been fasting from meat for six years.  I guess that means BBQ tofu and grilled veggies for me.

It’s my sister’s favorite holiday.  She’s such a carnivore!  I’d never even heard of the holiday til my family moved to Greece.  Then my sister told me all about a day where the sweet smell of charred meat wafts through the dusty roads of ancient villages.

What’s your favorite food to barbecue?

Here are a few recipe ideas:::

Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

Lamb Chops with Lemon

 

You might also like these articles:::

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner at Souvlaki GR

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion

Gift Guide: For the Hellenophile

20 Dec

Whether you’re giving a Greek American a taste of their homeland when they can’t make it back for the holidays or satiating a Hellenophile’s interest in Greek culture, there are countless foods, books, beauty products, and jewelry that will suit your needs.  Plus, select a gift made in Greece and you’ll also be supporting the struggling Greek economy.  Here’s just a small selection of Greek gift ideas, some made in the States, some in Greece, and others elsewhere, but all unique and lovely.

Gifts for the Greek food lover:::

 

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Janet Fletcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis

 

 

 

 

A selection of delicious dressings and marinades from Sophia’s Gourmet Foods

A selection of three different flavors of honey from Odysea Shop

Traditional Greek preserves (rose petal and pergamot) by Monastiri

Kalamata olive oil

Ouzo candies

Pavlidis Dark Chocolate

Pastelli with honey

Bonus tip! – Gifts appear so much nicer when they come as a set.  You may want to give a cookbook with some Greek spices.  A duo or trio of a certain type of product (such as honey or olive oil) is a great way for the recipient to try out a few flavors.  Or, you may want to give a gift basket of assorted Greek candies.

 

Gifts for someone who loves Greek literature:::

 

The Greek Poets: Homer to Present by Peter Constantine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Odyssey: A Pop-up Book by Sam Ita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek classics

Subscription to Greek America Magazine

Bonus tip! – Trying pairing the book with a book light, a notebook and pen, a bookmark with a quote by a Greek philosopher, or a coffee mug (maybe even with a bag of Greek coffee).

 

Gifts to make someone feel like a beautiful and pampered Greek goddess:::

Beauty products from Korres

Olive oil body lotion by Olivia

Jewelry by Konstantino

Bonus tip! – Include a lovely handwritten letter.  A bottle of Greek wine or some fine Greek chocolates would also make someone feel loved and pampered.

 

As the Greek proverb says, “A gift, though small, is welcome.”

Gripster: Documentary Films, Dolphins & Pirates

11 Jul

Arion Riding a Dolphin, by Albrecht Dürer (ca. 1514; public domain)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Greek American photographer and film director Louie Psihoyos is the son of an immigrant from the Peloponnesus.  The Peloponnesus incidentally is where my immigrant family came from as well.  Whether it’s a coincidence or a matter of upbringing that Psihoyos was intrigued by dolphins, the Peloponnesus has a dolphin myth.

Arion, the poet who invented the song and dance (called the dithyramb) for the wine god Dionysus, was kidnapped by pirates while returning to Greece from Italy.  In an effort to save his life, Arion sang to the poetry god Apollo, before flinging himself off the ship.  His song attracted a pod of dolphins and one of them carried him to safety, bringing him to the sanctuary of the sea god Poseidon in Cape Tainaron.

A swashbuckling tale of pirates, wine, and poetry, you have to admit this is a pretty cool Greek dolphin myth!

It led me to study up on Cape Tainaron.  Also known as Cape Matapan, it is the southernmost part of mainland Greece.  It’s located in Mani, which reputedly has the world’s best extra-virgin olive oil, grown organically on mountain terraces, and is also known for its superior honey and syglino (pork with oregano, mint, and orange peel.)  There are also some stalactite and stalagmite caves, which are partly underwater, and can be visited by boat.

I’m putting Cape Tainaron on my to-do list for the next time I go to Greece.

For more on Poseidon, check out:::

Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth

Gripster: 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade & Greek Mermaid Myths

The Buzz on Flash-mob Bees, Bowery Bees, and Greek Bee Myths

1 Jun

Oh my goodness, did you guys hear about the bees that took over Little Italy yesterday??  Apparently, thousands of bees decided to meet up at lunchtime in front of the Italian American Museum on the corner of Mulberry and Grand.  They swarmed a mailbox, completely covering its side.  This leads me to ponder two questions:

1.  Are these flash-mob bees the insect contingent of Improv Everywhere?

2.  What sort of sweet notes would a bee mail to his honey?

It also reminds me that I still haven’t told you about Bowery Bees.  On Sunday, May 8, my photojournalist friend Annie Ling and I went to the Festival of New Ideas for the New City, an incredibly thought-provoking art initiative that brought artists and thinkers together to explore ideas that could shape a new New York.  One of the collaborations was between Anarchy Apiaries, a Hudson Valley apiary run by beekeeper-artist Sam Comfort, and the Bowery Poetry Club, a performing-arts venue founded and run by poet Bob Holman.

After a brief talk on bees, we climbed up to the rooftop of the Bowery Poetry Club for the unveiling of the apiary.  Sam had brought the bees down from Germantown that morning and set up hives so that Bob could start the rooftop apiary Bowery Bees.  Standing amidst the skyscrapers of Manhattan’s East Village, we witnessed the queen bee do her dance.

Even though I was afraid of getting stung, I have to admit it was rather spectacular.  My parents have a large garden in Greece, where they gather olives to make their own olive oil, and I tried to convince my dad he should set up some beehives.  Bee myths play heavily into Greek mythology and Greek literature.  Bee emblems appear in ancient ruins on the Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes.

Bowery Bees honey can be bought at the Bowery Poetry Club, located at 308 Bowery, between Houston and Bleecker.

How do you like the antenna?