Tag Archives: meze

The Starving Artist Eats Watermelon Feta Salad

24 Jun

Yesterday I shared that summer was all about karpouzi at my house.

The other Sunday, after church, I had my friend Sandra over for brunch and wanted to make something special. I decided to try my hand at a watermelon-feta salad. This isn’t something I ever grew up eating, but when I attended the GABBY Awards a few years ago, one of the passed meze they served at Ellis Island before the ceremony was cubed watermelon with feta speared with a toothpick. Since then I’ve seen delicious recipes for it watermelon and feta salads. I decided to make my own version, topped with an exquisite dark chocolate vinaigrette my friend Rori gave me as a housewarming gift.

Lomogram_2014-06-08_04-34-41-PMHere’s my super-easy, super-quick recipe:

  • Cut watermelon into chunks
  • Cut Feta cheese into chunks
  • Mix the watermelon and feta in a bowl and top with pistachio meat (meaning pistachios out of their shell)
  • Drizzle dark chocolate vinegar over the salad
  • Serve!

See how easy that is?! You can prep ahead by cutting the watermelon and the feta into chunks the night before, but I recommend waiting until you’re about to serve guests to mix the ingredients together so that they retain their individual flavors and so the nuts don’t get soggy.

The ingredients are, admittedly, a bit on the pricier side, but when you make it yourself you save a lot of money. This is part of a new series I’m doing called “The Starving Artist.” I used to do posts called “Tasty Tuesday,” but I’m switching it up a little now to focus on budget-friendly recipes for writers. You might also like these feta-inspired appetizers:

I’m looking to get more fruit in my diet this summer. If you have any unique watermelon recipes, please share them in the comments below!



Tasty Tuesday: Photos of Meze at Parea Bistro

28 Aug



My friend Demetrios and I went to Parea Bistro for dinner.  I let him do all the ordering, and we got a ton of different meze.  Every single thing was delicious!  I think my favorite might have been the htipiti, which is a spicy feta cheese dip that has jalopenos in it.  I also got a Santorini Sunset, which is a Makedonikos rose semi-dry wine with elderflower liquor and a splash of tonic water.  Hey, if you can’t make it to Greece, at least you can drink like you’re on an island!

Parea Bistro is located at 36 E. 20th Street, New York City.

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!

MFAism: Hosting Summer Writing Workshop

22 Jun

Even though the MFA writing program is officially on summer break — whoo-hoo! — some of us from the creative-nonfiction writing workshop decided we were having so much fun (or something like that) that wanted to keep on meeting.  Last Tuesday we had our first informal workshop.  It was so nice to catch up with everyone and to chat about our writing.

As I’ve alluded, everyone in my classes always recommends I read David Sedaris when they find out I write about growing up Greek American.  I do get a kick out of David Sedaris, but it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who captured my heart with her book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. There’s just something about us Greek women — we love hosting and feeding people.  I barely had anyone over during the semester so I was super-excited to volunteer hosting the writing workshop in my apartment.

Since my classmates have been giving me feedback all semester on the Greek American memoir I’m writing — and since I’m the Queen of Theme Parties — I of course prepared Greek meze for them.  I served feta cheese (imported from Greece!  I’m stimulating the Greek economy!), sliced tomatoes with sea salt, pita, red pepper & eggplant dip, dried apricots, and almonds.  The other writers graciously brought delicious homemade (!) scones and sumptuous red wine.  I pretty much gorged!

We had a great conversation about nonfiction vs. fiction writing and talked about the role of blogging in our writing.  Then we spent some time critiquing each other’s works.  I got helpful feedback on a short reflection I’d written about my experience at the 2011 Gabby Awards.  I really enjoyed reading their new pieces too.  Everyone has such interesting stories to tell!

Now I’ve got to get to work on the next chapter to submit!

In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to run a writing workshop, please post in the comments section.