Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Luckiest Girl

Some of you might be wondering where I've been....well, I am in fact back to my humble abode (or as my father ever so quickly reminds me...his humble abode.)  So...yes, I have completed my trip.  And yes, I was neglecting my blog.  But no, it wasn't entirely my fault.  There was an unfortunate food poisioning incident (I'll spare you the details), and then an inability to access Blogger in China.  Therefore...I am now back to the blog world and will continue to post about my travels until I get you all the way through China and my new recipes.  :)

(Written on 4/17/2011 from Crete, Greece)

In addition to my Zulu name “The only girl”, I think I should get a Greek name “The luckiest girl.”  I can hardly believe that my travels continue to get better and better.
When I arrived in Crete, Tony sent me to Costis, who was crazy busy renovating his cafĂ©/bar, but didn’t spare anytime to show me around the small town of Chania.  After strolling through his place about 6 hours before the re-grand opening I wasn’t sure if they would ever make it.  The furniture was just arriving and they were putting final touches on the paint.  After offering to help I was promptly “shooed” away…clearly they could tell I don’t have a “handy” bone in my body.
Instead I stopped to flex my eating muscles…something that I’m much more gifted at than any work with a hammer, paintbrush or (insert any tool).  

Key Cafe - mid renovation

After asking the waiter to bring me whatever he liked most I was given Ntakos – a dried bread covered with fresh pureed tomatoes and mizithura cheese, kalamata olives, Italian spices, and topped with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Man….how the Greeks love their tomato, cheese and olives.  And man…how I love the Greeks for loving their tomato, cheese and olives. 

The Ntakos was followed by my first ever plate of snails.  I got a quick lesson on pulling and twisting them out of their little shells which made me think of Pretty Woman’s restaurant scene… “slippery little suckers.”  And although I had mixed feelings about the texture, I couldn’t help but enjoy slurping them down since they had a rich flavor from being fried with olive oil, rosemary, vinegar, and rock salt.  On a more morbid note I was having flash backs to salting slugs in Mom’s garden as a child…a rather cruel (yet effective) method of protecting Mom’s precious flowers.

After stuffing myself full of local cuisine I strolled back to Costis’ bar that was surprisingly ready, paint dried, and overflowing with locals.  His friend (and now my friend) Tassos, showed me around.  Little did I know that after pinning him as a “chef” (I could tell since he arrived late to the party and was from Athens and only in the islands for the summer) that he would also become my temporary roommate.  After Tassos learned I was trying to escape my overpriced, overrepresented, and under delivered hotel, he graciously offered me a place to stay in his new apartment. 

Check out how cool Tassos' toaster is!  It even sings the Micky Mouse song when the toast pops!!

I felt like Tassos was an answer to my prayers.  Not only did he offer me refuge from my hotel, but he and his cousin own Karnagio, a popular local restaurant that has been around for over 20 years. 

Day after day Tassos took me to the restaurant with him, where I sat and read, and was treated to the local cuisine…dish upon dish upon dish of wonderful food.  Stuffed vegetables with rice and rosemary, pie with zucchini and cheese, avocado spreads, eggplant spreads, cheese pies with herbs…and the list goes on.

Making cheese pies at Karnagio
After bonding over our love for watermelon Tassos gave me a Watermelon Pie recipe that I’ll surely make for my pops (a true watermelon fan) when I get home.  It’s not quite watermelon season here so that will be my first test…

Tassos was a blessing…not even in disguise…just a blessing.  I couldn’t have picked a better friend for myself during my stay in Crete.  His spirit and positive attitude made me inspired to continue spreading his warmth and energy on the rest of my trip.  Before I left he wrote me a note…. “Most people come and go but some stay.”  Tassos will definitely stay.
My thought for you today is to pick somebody in your life whose spirit is infectious.  Think of that person, imagine that person, and try to embody them today.  Take from them their energy and positivity and spread it in your work, your fun, and your life.

Tassos tried to teach me how to surf...and in the Mediterranean nonetheless!

Goofing around at the restaurant

The beautiful town of Chania

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