This past month started out lively… well, to be honest, a tiny bit frantic. We had been travelling quite a bit the month before and were set to begin the academic year which entails lectures, receptions, dinners, entertaining, etc. During that busy schedule, we also took off for a weekend in Santorini where we had fabulous fish dinners, drank superb wines as well as tasting some of the island’s specialities – fava and tomato keftedes.
Thanksgiving dinner was spent at our American neighbours which was fun and very much appreciated. I had none of the hassle, but the flip side of that was no leftovers – no turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey curry. After that, as the days ticked down to the end of the month, I felt… well, increasingly dull in the kitchen. This is partly explained by the weather turning grey, rainy and cold. It was compounded by my increased amount of solitary time spent in the library and on the computer – not writing my blog, I might add. Meals were hastily pulled together and tended to be comfort foods – things like broccoli soup, chicken pot pie, beet green and carrot risotto and the inevitable pasta dish, the sauce made with any ingredients that came to hand.
By now, I’ve given myself a stern talking to. Holiday foods are beginning to make their appearance. The clementines are piled high in the market stalls and melomakarona, Greek cinnamon Christmas cookies oozing with honey syrup and studded with chopped walnuts are in all the bakeries and sweet shops.
We also just received a new clay baking pot from a potter up north who is based in a small village near Thessaloniki. This lovely potter sources his own clay, forms these pots on a wheel (the shapes based on old Balkan pots) and then fires them in his own kiln – everything from the start to the finish. He put the pot on the public bus to travel to Athens where it was collected by a taxi driver who delivered it to our door. The way things are done here, apparently.
The new pot plus a new food obsession prompted by an article from the Aegean inflight magazine is helping me snap me out of that kitchen ennui. I’m trying to track down Greek bottarga – smoked Grey mullet fish roe – from the lagoons of Messolonghi in Western Greece. I’ve known that it was a speciality of Messolonghi (along with it association with Byron – the area, not the fish). It’s also been on the menu in restaurants where we’ve eaten. Would be great for the holidays.
Time to get out of the library, put the computer to rest and spend more time in the kitchen.