7.17.15 Meet Me at the Greek

Greek salad1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

In many ways, Greece was as I had imagined it. Athens was hot and bustling, with the presence of the ancients hovering everywhere. (More about that soon.) Syros, a small island next to Mykonos, was even hotter, with quaint stone streets and sun-bleached buildings against the dazzling blue of the Aegean. What I didn't expect was an almost total lack of fresh seafood. Whether it's because tourist demand exceeds the supply, or the waters are regulated due to overfishing, we saw only frozen octopus and no fresh fish on the menus. Only once, when we were on Syros, did we enjoy wild mussels and red shrimp, which were truly wonderful.  So for much of our time in Greece, we stuck to a classic that never gets old: Greek Salad.

Greek salad 790 xxx
all greek to me

This simple composed salad is ideal summer food: refreshing, briny and crisp. Wait until tomatoes are perfectly ripe, as their sweetness is an important component in getting the balance just right. The other elements are cucumber; olives (black oil-cured or Kalamata); red or sweet onion; green pepper (gag - I don't eat this ever); and feta. Sometimes there might be a garnish of capers or a sprinkle of wild thyme. On the table would always be a carafe of fruity olive oil and maybe some red wine vinegar, though neither is truly essential. The salad makes its own juices and has a great combination of oily, salty and sweet.


The feta I ate in Greece was sublime, so soft and creamy. The authentic kind is a brined white cheese made from sheep's milk, or sometimes a combination of sheep and goat. It's worth searching for the real deal. In the salad, it's served in big chunks or scoops, not crumbled, so you break it up as you please. 


My only twist? A few sprigs of fresh mint. It's not traditional, but then neither am I. Enjoy yourselves this weekend, my friends. Live it up! xo

Tagged — salad, feta, Greek salad, Greece


Absolutely agree about raw green pepper. Either red or any other color raw, but green is the worst. it just does not seem digestible. Roasted is sublime.
Antonia on July 17, 2015 at 11:02 am —
I am horrified to hear of the lack of fresh fish in Greece! Fresh octopus drying on racks is a traditional sight, and choosing from among infinite varieties of fresh caught fish in a restaurant one of the chief pleasures of a Greek vacation. Could it have something to do with the economy? I have been to Greece many times and they never ran out of fish before!
Cara on July 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm —
I don't think it's related to the economy, Cara. I remember some friends telling me a few years back they were on a summer cruise through the islands and there was no fish to be had then. I saw lots in the big market in Athens, so there is definitely some there, but it was not ubiquitous in restaurants.
laura on July 17, 2015 at 3:12 pm —
Also surprised and alarmed at lack of fish: did you ask the locals why? Apart from the lovely salad, those chips look like the most perfect ever! Love simple things done well.
Jane on July 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm —
We got no real answer about the fish, other than it was "not the season"...
laura on July 19, 2015 at 8:08 am —
Ahh...love this salad...nothing like August tomatoes and fresh feta in Greece. Too bad about the fish the red mullet is my favorite. My heart goes out to the people of Greece...no fish...no way of taking out cash and in a peaceful time too.
thefolia on July 18, 2015 at 2:24 am —
Hmmm, I wonder where all the seafood was? I was in Santorini about 10 years ago and there was lots of seafood to be had. Down at Amoudi Harbor there were fish and octopus laid out right on the pavement next to the sea, having just been brought in by the fishermen. In Oia, there is a seafood restaurant with a big tank of fish on ice- you pick which one you want and they cook it for you. There were an especially lot of cats hanging out at that particular restaurant (cats are everywhere on Santorini- esp. at the restaurants, which all have predominately outdoor seating). Besides feta, another food that is so much better in Greece than stateside is Fage yogurt. The version over there has a higher fat content than even the full fat version sold over here! It's heaven.
Erin on July 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm —
The yogurt in Greece was delicious, but pales in comparison to the labne we ate in Beirut!
laura on July 19, 2015 at 8:10 am —
Hi Laura, once again you have whet my appetite. Could you please tell me how you did the potatoes. I love sheep milk cheese. When I retire my first purchase is going to be a sheep to milk for yogurt and cheese.
Janet on July 20, 2015 at 8:20 am —
Hi, Janet. That meal pictured was at a restaurant in Greece, not my home! But the potatoes were delicious - just wedges, fried but not too crispy, sprinkled with salt and dried oregano.
laura on July 20, 2015 at 8:33 am —
Thanks Laura. Will try for sure. Cheers. Janet.
Janet on July 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm —