Greece has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years, with its pull of warm Azure coloured waters, arid sun-splashed landscapes, white stucco walled architecture and of course the weakened economy, this is the perfect island getaway for both the budget conscious, or the all-out luxury holiday. The flavours of the Greece are a hot foodie favourite at the moment, not only is their rich, hearty olive oil infused cuisine delicious, it is probably one of the healthiest ways of eating in the world today.
Greece is a palette of white-clean minimalistic lines, interspersed with shades of blue; dusty, navy, and pale blue, all with a kiss and blush of sunshine, sea. This month’s colour chart is bringing out the goddess in Grecian chic!
“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. – Nikos Kazantzakis
For this month’s lifestyle blog, I’m drawing inspiration from my recent 2 weeks of languishing in the salty turquoise waters of Greece – where I found myself lost and happy amongst the tiny cobbled lanes, between the glare of white washed houses, feasting on meze appetizers, washed down with the bite of liquorice flavoured Ouzo. Where I found myself quiet amid the buzz and song of the summer time Cicadas, surrounded by gnarled and weathered olive trees that stand protectively on the islands (like old soldiers returning from battle). Lazily banqueting on the spoils of Greek fare, life slowed down to a Mediterranean siesta and with it I came back hungry to share with you the spoils of Greek living.
Today’s tablescape is a Classic Greek one – borrowing from the simplicity and colour palette of the Greek flag – blue and white. I have used a crisp white linen tablecloth as the foundation to the setting and combined blues, whites, a splash of yellow, with fresh cuttings of bougainvillea pink to emulate a Greek getaway.
Building on the white background, I have kept to the simplicity of the theme, by creating layer upon layer of the blue white palette. A checked tablecloth table runner (folded and given a little height) lies as a subtle centre piece, accentuating the glassware, flowers and accessory’s in an informal orderliness. Next come the white underplates (which double up as place mats), topped by Azure Blue glass plates, and held in place by large crisp white napkins emblazoned with bold blue stripes. The cutlery atop the napkins are the silvery full stop to each arrangement, a classic finishing of style and simplicity.
*Remember as a general rule of thumb, match your palette, not your pattern – if the colour works well together, the pattern will work even better! When it comes to mixing patterns, stripes are your magic ace, they go with almost every pattern and are perfect for our Greek themed table setting.
The delicate Egyptian Blue glassware stand dramatically, offset against the white background. While the candles flicker softly, reminiscent of a balmy Greek night – once again I have applied my rule of three in the set-up of plain white candles housed in clear glass holders. I love candles, I love the warm softness they offer to any setting (day or night). Nothing creates ambience quite like a soft flickering candle. Candles quickly create an intimacy to a tablescape, simultaneously inviting and relaxing the guests.
*Remember it’s not necessary to rush out and buy candle holders, instead, clean out your collection of old jam, olive, or sauce jars and pop in some candles, and place them on the table and turn down the lights for maximum atmosphere.
I have added a shock of pink to the centre piece, a spray of Bougainvillea – this delicate, richly hued flower that is prolific in Greece is a lovely hint of island life. Adding further contrast, I’ve dotted in a few lemons, a collection of glass olive oil bottles and a favourite old, slightly rusted blue tin to finish off an understated and typically Greek table setting.
This month’s boldly coloured attention grabbing floral arrangement draws from the charming wild and tamed flowers of Greece – naturally I wasn’t able to get my hands on many of the endemic flowers of Greece, but I have emulated colour, texture and shape with our local fauna.
This cluster of soft pastels and garden-fresh flowers create a delicate and whimsically romantic arrangement. The ruffled loose petals of the Bougainvillea is the perfect floral partner to roses, poenies, and even orchids. I’ve used the Bougainvillea as a small accent to the arrangement, as this vividly coloured flower can quickly overpower a bouquet if used too much. The green-toned variety of foliage holds the arrangement together as it purposely spills from its rectangular container. The colours are distinct, while they are mixed, I have intentionally kept colours together to create a more dramatic effect. This simple arrangement of heavenly colour and scent is arranged with a playful and fun intent.
Greek food is one of my favourite cuisines – its an uncomplicated and simple way of eating that bursts with rich buttery textures, garlicky flavours, and olive oil drenching’s. So, I’ve decided to treat you this month with my favourite selection of glorious Greek recipes.
I will eat this with everything. An absolute favourite.
Makes a good bowlful
This recipe is great for a tapas evening or as a quick snack with a piece of bread.
You can spice it up as much as you like. My family and I enjoy a little more heat and therefore I have a heavy hand with the ground chilli.
Makes roughly one cup.
We often cook these for our functions and clients who can’t resist Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. They are easy to make, bit-size nibbles that you can enjoy during any occasion. I definitely prefer them with a glass of white wine and friends, catching some sun around a garden table.
Bottled and pre-packed vine leaves are already blanched and are available from large supermarkets.
Method for fresh vines:
Method if store brought vines:
Some days you feel like something light. Pair these pies with a salad and your easy lunch is ready to be served.
I fell in love with these butter beans during our holiday in Greece. If you can’t find the giant beans, Cannellini beans will do just fine.
Serves 6 to 8
The quality of your ingredients are really important for this classic Greek salad to shine.
Serves 2 to 4
With spending so much time on the beach, you constantly crave fish. This recipe is easy and so delicious that no matter where in SA you prepare it, you will feel like you are dipping your toes into the ocean.
This is a dish that is hassle-free. Once it is in the oven, you can sit back for a while and take in the day outside – working up an appetite.
Baklava is a wonderful sweet treat to share with your family on a Sunday or any celebration.
For the syrup:
The basics of all good Greek food starts with a fabulously good olive oil – My personal favourite and go-to olive oil is Willow Creek’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil – it’s a premium quality robust tasting olive oil. With hints of artichokes, tomato, fresh rocket and salad herbs, all adding to create a smooth combination of bitterness and tingling pungency, giving body to the oil without overpowering the flavour. It complements red meat, hearty soups, pasta, drizzled over salads, and basically is a fundamental ingredient in my kitchen.
While an influx of tourists flocked to the Cycladic islands in Greece this year and the renowned islands of Paros, Santorini, Mykonos, and Naxo filled to maximum capacity – we decided to seek refuge in the lesser-known and somehow still ‘secret island’ – Antiparos. This small whitewashed island, with haphazardly cobbled streets, blue doors and Bougainvillea is a bay almost untouched by tourism. The sister island to Paros, Antiparos can be reached by either a quick plane or ferry ride. Once here, you will quickly understand why this small barefoot island is referred to as the hippie island – a term coined after a number of hippies from the 70’s washed up on the shore to start a nudist camp, which successfully still runs today. Antiparos offers the cash-strapped traveller the option of beautiful seaside camping amongst bamboo trees, as well as the top end traveller the choice of luxurious self-catered homes or a handful of luxury hotels.
The village is flat and spread out, with an impressive 1400 Genovese fortress holding court in its centre. Spilling down towards the waterfront is a choice of charming Greek cafes – with smells that have you quickly salivating for their pillow-soft pitas, creamy Greek salads and platters of garlicky and rosemary laden lamb. And if you are in the mood for a home-cooked Greek meal, you can head down to the harbour where local fishermen sell their daily catch, coupled with the sun-ripened fruit and vegetables, which you can buy at the small supermarkets – you’re in for a simple, yet delicious treat.
This rugged and slightly remote island is thought to house the oldest stalagmite in Europe in the Cave of Antiparos. You can now visit and climb to the bowels of this deep cave with the assistance of long windy and vertical stairs. Although there is no elevator to bring you back up, this experience is worth the climb and will have you marvelling at the adventurers who climbed down in the dark, on ropes and pulleys to carve their names into the soft rock.
This island of free spirits and artists offers a rarity in a Greek summer, solitude and peace. If it’s far from the madding crowd you’re looking for, you might just have found your slice of Greek heaven.