Thursday, May 25, 2006

The aubergine poem

The aubergine libertine in his green limousine

A libertine's green limousine was lately seen in Saint Vereen. The libertine wore aubergine. In Saint Vereen they're not so keen on aubergine. The party scene in Saint Vereen is all crepe-de-chine and gabardine, beauty queens and Charlie Sheen. The libertine in aubergine moves between these beauty queens: his feet careen from scene to scene, taking in the magazines, the tall Marines, the jumping beans, the snarling face of Charlie Sheen. The libertine leaves Saint Vereen. Saint Vereen is not his scene--he likes a scene that's more serene.

Vals-en-Deen is just that scene. He sights the sheen of Vals-en-Deen. Its woods are green; are tourmaline. With carabine, he'll hunt that green, the libertine in aubergine. The birds that preen in Vals-en-Deen are not quite serene when there's been seen in their woodsy green the libertine in aubergine. His carabine for them spells "fin." But when libertines in limousines leave Vals-en-Deen for Saint Vereen, those birds that preen are quite serene.

Though the birds may vent their spleen, the libertine in aubergine suffers only improved mien when Vals-en-Deen is dimly seen from the dark windscreen of his limousine. Then, our heroic libertine, rid at last of Charlie Sheen, of magazines, of beauty queens, of crepe-de-chine and gabardine, bounces like a jumping bean, a jumping bean on too much caffeine, decked out in cloth of aubergine.

About two years ago there was a meme going around in blogs, the aubergine meme. The goal was to end a poem with the word “aubergine”, a task as difficult as rhyming the word “orange” (try it). So I found this delightful poem in this awesome blog and I think, you’ll agree it’s the best aubergine poem ever. Three cheers to Reen for creating it.
Another aubergine poem (okay, not really) is the recipe that follows. It’s the easiest thing to do with aubergines, far easier than writing a poem, not as elegant though. Feta cheese is never elegant, damn it.

Aubergine rolls

For 8 rolls

  • 2 aubergines, cut into 4 slices lengthways
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g feta
  • 2 tbsps fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsps fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsps pine nuts
  • 1 big garlic clove, peeled, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 250C
2. Heat olive in a big frying pan.
3. Brush the slices of aubergine with the oil before placing the slices in the pan. Turn the slices of aubergine, to cook both sides.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, let aubergines cool a little.
5. Put feta, parsley, chives, pine nuts and garlic in a small bowl and stir.
6. Take a slice of aubergine and place a tablespoon of the feta mixture in the centre of the slice.
7. Carefully roll the aubergine upwards. Place the aubergine roll on a baking tray before repeating the process with the 3 other aubergine slices. If it doesn’t remain sealed, secure it with a toothpick.
8. Place aubergine rolls in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold. If you want you can make some simple tomato sauce and serve a spoonful on the side.

Eating on Mountain Pilion


I have been neglecting this blog and neglecting cooking in general, but I haven’t neglected eating. I had my Easter Holiday on Mount. Pilion, in Makrinitsa village and the food our hosts -Kostas and Elena- prepared for us was delicious.


The central Makrinitsa square

They had stocked the fridge with the most amazing cheeses which we devoured along with the best wines one can find in Greece.


So a big thank you to our friends. Please invite us back, next time we'll behave.

I want to confess I have a problem with most people who run taverns in Greek villages. Why can’t I find mushrooms, almost anywhere?

Greece is full of mushrooms and some of them are rare and delicious. But somehow, they haven’t made it into the kitchens of professionals. I don’t know the reason to that, except maybe that people don’t like to experiment, and that they are content with a good old steak.

Another thing that bothers me in Greek villages is the lack of homemade, lovely, savoury pies (not in Makrinitsa though, because we had a very nice leek pie in Theofilos café). Really, people are lazy.

I want to find a village where people bake bread, make pies and cook mushrooms. And that’s not because I want to validate my village life stereotypes, but because that is what I look for in cities too. Real food, that sometimes takes more time and effort. Theofilos cafe is one such place in Makrinitsa, where you can taste delicious food that fresh and cooked with skill b.doesn't cost a fortune.


This is firiki preserve, a small but very taste apple is used to make it

What most greek villages have though, is preserves. Usually, these are fruits that have been boiled in sugar and water, so they end up very syrupy and are stored in jars. Cherry, rose petals, orange, bergamot, fig, apple, grape and quince preserves, are the most common. But you can also find tomato preserves or aubergine preserves, and these are sweets!
They go by the generic name “glyka koutaliou” that means spoon sweets, because you only have a spoonful (supposedly) with coffee or a glass of water. But you can very well use them to top your ice cream or yogurt, they are perfect partners.


Potato salad and a yummy leek pie we had at Theofilos cafe

Another good thing you can find is tsipouro, a strong drink -that has nothing to do with ouzo- which if good, never gives you a headache.

You drink it in little shots and always with food, especially, pickled or spicy food, like this baked feta with onions and peppers. I wish I could send all of you some tsipouro (tsipouraki for friends) because it is the best thing when the sun is shining and it is even better when it is cold outside. Here you can see some of the -come on, tiny!- empty bottles on our table.

And this was just round one.