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Archive for April, 2012

Plastira Lake – A place of Tranquility

Limni Plastira is 340 km far from from Athens and 230km from Thessaloniki. Driving through the city of Karditsa you will follow the signs, pass the city Hospital and 25km after you will meet the first villages of the lake. The unique spectacle will reward every visitor.

When someone hears of human intervention in nature, he usually imagines traumatic alterations and concrete monsters. However there are exceptions to the rule. Inarguably, one of these exceptions is the sluice of Megdova River and the artificial lake of Plastira. The construction did not affect negatively the natural environment, but instead helped and enforced its development. The length of the lake is 14km, maximum width 4km, maximum depth 60m. Limni (lake) Plastira is the embellishment of the Karditsa prefecture.

It is found in the Plastira Municipality and is 25km West of the Karditsa prefecture in altitude 1000m. It was created by the waters of the Megdova river, tributary of Acheloos, and took its name from Nikolao Plastira, a big patriot and visionary of that period. General Nikolaos Plastiras inspired this ambitious project in 1925. Standing at the edge of the river, where lies today the sluice of Megdova River (or Tavropos), he envisioned this area as a huge artificial lake. In 1959, six years after his death, his vision of a beautiful lake came to life, providing with water the thirsty villages of Karditsa and offering electricity of some hundred million kilowatt-hours. Limni Plastira is one of the bigger artificial lakes in Greece.

It constitutes a source of life for the entire of Karditsa. By the lake is drawing all the city of Karditsa and many communities. The water of the lake is the life for the Larisa ‘s fields during summer times. The landscape is magical; the exquisite lake with the deep light blue is surrounded by high and overgrown mountains and thick woods. The region is considered a “paradise” for the nature-worshippers and is an excellent choice for many activities. At the beautiful and peaceful setting of the lake you can enjoy mountain sports such as: hiking through fir, oak, plane and chestnut trees, riding well trained horses, cycling on a mountain bike, canoeing, boating or riding a hydro bike in the lake, take a long walk in the peaceful mountain land or cross-country driving with 4×4 jeeps.

 

  • The first village that you meet is, Mesenikolas, a picturesque small village built amphitheatrically at an altitude of 700m, a place of rich history.
  • The next villages you will meet are: Morfovouni, a village at an altitude of 800m where Nikolaos Plastiras – the general who had the vision of the lake was born, being one of the bigger villages of the area.
  • Kerasia, a beautiful village of Agrafa , built on a rock with panoramic view.
  • Kryoneri offers many tourist facilities and hiking paths that lead to forests of firs, oaks and chestnut trees.
  • Kalivia Pezoulas is a well-developed village with restaurants, cafeterias and organised beaches.
  • Fylakti is a village at an altitude of 1200m with view to the forest of fir trees.
  • Neohori , capital of Agrafa during 16th and 17th century, still maintains its traditional character and is the most well known village of Plastira lake. In Neohori, the botanical gardens that host plants making up the ecosystem of the area is worth visiting .
  • Moshato is one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages with a small stone bridge and cobbled road that leads to the square.
  • You will also meet the villages: Mouha, Kastania, Lambero, Agios Athanasios.

Follow the road peripheral and discover beautiful mountainous landscapes and secrets of the lake. Wander in the paths through virgin forests, near waterfalls and enjoy the unique view from the observation post.

Ideal choice in order to enjoy the nature and explore Plastira’s lake would be the canoe or the water bike, because a magical walk in the lake is an excellent chance to have a close touch with its clear and calm water and to admire the high mountain tops of Agrafa mountain.

Sources: http://www.pezoula.gr/en/discover-plastiras-lake.html

                   http://www.astoriatravel.gr/en/services/plastira.htm


A holiday in Naxos island from €20 for 2 ? Oh yes, we found it and we bring it to you!

Spend your Easter holidays in the island of Naxos and get to experience the amazing fireworks and festivals, try out traditional Greek food, visit the Venetian Castle and walk around Hora’s secret paths! Double Room prices start from EUR20!

The Greek Island of Naxos is a popular tourist destination with a rich history as an important port during Greece’s commercial sea-faring past, as well as a place of legends and mystique from Greek mythology. A Greek holiday on Agia Anna Beach allows you to meander through quaint villages, participate in water sports or simply enjoy watching yachts and people pass by as you relax at a beachfront café.

Book comfortable studios just 250 meters from the pristine sands and crystal blue waters of Agia Anna Beach. Each of the studios is fully-equipped with air conditioning, television, microwave and refrigerator and is cleaned daily for your convenience and comfort.

For more info please contact us at info@mygreekbooking.com or call 0030 2310 314568

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We love Spanakopita! Spinach, cheese, and a crispy dough!

Spanakopita love! A lighter version of the traditional Greek pie!

An authentic, really rich pie stuffed with spinach, onions, cheeses and herbs that are all enfolded by crispy, flaky phyllo dough.

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare filling, place spinach in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Place over medium heat; cook until spinach wilts. Place the spinach mixture in a colander, pressing until barely moist. Combine the spinach and cheeses in a bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green onions; sauté for 2 minutes or until soft. Stir the green onions and the next 5 ingredients (green onions through 2 egg whites) into spinach mixture.
  4. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time, cut each sheet lengthwise into 4 (3 1/2-inch-wide) strips; lightly brush phyllo sheet with egg mixture (cover the remaining phyllo dough to keep it from drying). Spoon about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture onto one end of each strip. Fold one corner of the opposite end over mixture, forming a triangle; keep folding back and forth into a triangle to the end of strip.
  5. Place triangles, seam sides down, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy with no guilt!

Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mini-spanakopitas-greek-spinach-pies-10000000643348/


Ghicken Gyros – A delicious light alternative of the traditional Greek dish

Love gyros, but it has too many calories for you? Or maybe you can’t have one when you really want it? Well, try out this chicken gyros – low calories recipe and let us know what you think! Who said that real taste and low calories cannot be combined?

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

Servings: 2

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic , minced- divided use
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast , cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup cucumber , chopped
  • 1/3 cup nonfat yogurt, plain or 1/3 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 2 gyrobread or 2 pita bread
  • 1/2 small red onion , thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Combine lemon juice, oil, 1/2 t of the garlic, mustard and oregano in a gallon zip top plastic bag.2
  2. Add chicken and seal bag.3
  3. Turn bag and gently move chicken around to distribute marinade evenly.4
  4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.5
  5. In a small bowl combine cucumber, yogurt, dill and remaining garlic. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (NOTE: Cucumbers have a lot of moisture in them so if you want your sauce to be less runny really drain them well and squeeze the water out if you want.).6
  6. Drain chicken, discarding marinade.7
  7. In a large nonstick skillet saute the chicken for 7-8 minutes or until juices run clear.8
  8. Spoon half the chicken on each pita and top with cucumber mixture and sliced onion.9
  9. Lettuce and tomato may be added if you like.10
  10. Fold in half and enjoy.

Varoulko Restaurant, Athens – A real Gourmet taste

There are three restaurants in Athens with a Michelin star, and based on my reading, only one of them, Varoulko, sounded like it served Greek food – or at least non-French food. So that’s where Jon and I headed one night.

Three things we learned from eating at Varoulko:

1. Greeks eat late. Not Spanish late, but late such that nobody shows up at a restaurant until 10 pm, at earliest, so don’t be the losers (us) who show up at 9:30 pm wondering why the restaurant is totally empty.

2. Tip is included in menu prices (though you should add a little extra if you’re happy with service). Don’t be the clueless, seemingly-deep-pocketed tourists (us) and assume you’re still supposed to add a 15-20% tip.

3. At Varoulko, there’s no physical menu, but it turns out you’re still ordering a la carte. Basically, you’re at a restaurant where everything offered verbally by your waiter is the special of the day, and you won’t know how much anything costs unless you ask. Having never encountered this system before at a restaurant (and we’ve eaten our share of meals out), Jon and I assumed that in the absence of any menu, we were working on a prix fixe tasting menu basis. So when our waiter described a soup and four other courses, Jon and I imagined small, tasting menu-sized portions.

Now, while I consider myself a big eater, it was a real struggle to eat four appetizers, a main course and a dessert in a la carte portions, and I’m still intensely annoyed that our server never mentioned that each of the items he was suggesting would be sized and priced a la carte (appetizers: 10-20 euros each and main courses: 30 euros each). So we ended up with too much food and a tab (260 euros, including wine and our over-tipping stupidity) that was much higher than it had to be.

So if I owned Varoulko, I’d be handing guests a menu that describes how the whole ordering-pricing shebang works instead of leaving promotional literature from Johnny Walker Blue Label on all the tables (seriously, how lame). Or I’d be like other restaurants and offer a plain-old prix fixe tasting menu – then the chef still gets to be creative and the diners get a predictable price tag and reasonable portion sizes. Win-win, no?

Onto the food, then. It had its moments of glory. For example, the crayfish in a tomato-seafood broth (photo at top). The crayfish was juicy, sweet and tender, and the intense broth tasted like the sea without being overwhelmingly salty, the way bad bouillabaise can be. Now I can never go back to the tasteless crayfish sandwich at Pret again.

squid ink soup with fish cheeks at Varoulko, Athens

Jon’s favorite was the squid ink soup with fish cheeks, and I agree that the soup was one of the top dishes of our evening. First, I loved the presentation. I get psyched when a barista does the whole swirly-pattern thing in my coffee, so I was (irrationally) thrilled to see said pattern in my soup. Second, and more importantly, the soup was rich and creamy from the squid ink, while the fish cheeks added texture and meatiness.

Calamari “spaghetti” with pesto, Varoulka, Athens

The calamari “spaghetti” with pesto on a bed of fried potato crumbs (they could be Ruffles potato chip crumbs, really) was a nice idea. Visually interesting, and I can see how sweet, tender calamari could taste delicious with the garlicky-cheesy-basily goodness of pesto, but the execution ruined it. Enough of the calamari was tough and rubbery such that those bad bits ruined the whole dish. It only takes one rotten apple . . . .

sea bass carpaccio and zucchini

trout fillet with porcini mushroom sauce

Sea bass carpaccio and the “main course” of grilled trout fillets in a porcini sauce were seriously eh. I blame my reaction partly on the fact that I couldn’t eat anymore by the time they showed up. So let’s start with the portion size. Even if the carpaccio had been out of this world (which it wasn’t), I didn’t need three entire slices of the fillet, and the zucchini wasn’t crunchy enough to add texture, so why was it on the plate? The grilled trout fillet portion was even more overwhelming. Again, three fillets on the plate, drowning in a brownish, creamy porcini sauce. The fillets were a little rubbery, and the earthy, heavy porcini sauce killed off whatever delicacy the trout fillet might have had.

kataifi at Varoulka

Despite my stuffed crankiness, I enjoyed the restaurant’s dressed-up version of kataifi with pistachio ice cream, even if it did look a little scary. (My two cents’ – desserts should not look like they have tentacles).

Overall, our meal at Varoulka could’ve been a great experience if we’d ordered just half the food (the good half) and hadn’t felt like we’d been snookered into ordering what appeared to be the entire a la carte menu that evening.

Source: http://rwapplewannabe.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/varoulko-restaurant-athens/


Serbian President Boris Tadic announces his resignation

 Boris Tadic’s resignation will allow him to stand for re-election on 6 May

Serbian President Boris Tadic has announced he is resigning.

He still has 10 months of his current term of office to serve, but the move will allow him to stand for re-election on 6 May.

Parliamentary elections are already scheduled to take place on that date, and the move is seen as a tactic to help his Democratic Party’s campaign.

Mr Tadic says he will formally submit his resignation to the speaker of the Serbian parliament on Thursday.

Mr Tadic, who’s keen to build closer links with the European Union, will face a strong challenge from the nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17609266


Elderly US woman lands plane after pilot-husband dies

Helen Collins had taken basic lessons in taking off and landing 30 years ago

An 80-year-old US woman with little flying experience has staged an emergency landing in Wisconsin after her pilot husband collapsed and died.

Helen Collins remained calm as she brought the small Cessna plane in to land at Cherryland Airport, even though she said she knew her husband was dead.

She had taken basic lessons in taking off and landing 30 years ago, her son told the Associated Press news agency.

James Collins, also a trained pilot, helped guide his mother down via radio.

Mrs Collins and her husband John were coming back from their holiday home in Florida when he suffered a fatal heart attack in the cockpit.

She called the police and local pilot Robert Vuksanovic went up in another small plane to try to help guide the Cessna down.

‘Under control’

The plane had almost completely run out of fuel by the time she landed at the small airport in Sturgeon Bay and had only one functioning engine.

It skidded down the runway for about 1,000ft (305m) before coming to a halt.

Family picture of John and Helen Collins John and Helen Collins were returning from Florida when he suffered a heart attack

“She was calmer than everybody on the ground. She had it totally under control,” James Collins told AP.

“The amazing thing is she landed that plane on one engine – I don’t know if there are a lot of trained pilots that could do that.

“I already knew I lost my dad; I didn’t want to lose my mom. It could have been both of them at once.”

Local resident Torry Lautenbach watched the Cessna land and estimated that Mrs Collins circled the airport about 10 times.

“She did a really good job. It was amazing. It took one bad hop and then it came back down and skidded.”

Mrs Collins was taken to hospital with injuries to her back and ribs but is expected to be released within the next few days.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17605770