I'm off, very (very) early tomorrow morning for Spetses, by way of Atlanta and Athens. My backpack is packed, my camera is loaded with fresh batteries, my books are selected, and I'm ready for nine days of sun and sand.
Though I didn't even place in the Apple Fair's pie contest -- though yes, it was quite fun -- I have a sweet going-away present today. The good news I mentioned awhile back has come to pass: I have a brief article today in the Travel section of the New York Times! It's about my neighborhood in San Francisco, and was a treat to write, not least of all because I got to revisit some of my favorite spots.
But for now I am off to a (fairly) far-flung corner of the world, and I hope to write a bit from there, in between all the coffee drinking, swimming, and feta cheese-eating.
This is my third trip to my grandfather's country, and I'm sure it will be unique in its way; for one thing, I've never been to this island before, and I will be spending my time there with my only sibling. And anyway -- despite previous visits, my fascination with Greece still endures. If I grew up fed on its myths, my adult life has been watered by the clear, blue Mediterranean and the dusty stone steps of its villages.
But in less fanciful meanderings, I leave you with a recipe for dolmas, the traditional Greek dish of stuffed grape leaves. It's the one my dad makes, so you know it has to be good.
More to come from the Med.
Dolmades, from "Can the Greeks Cook!"
1 jar grape leaves, 15 oz. (or fresh, if you're lucky enough to have them)
1 cup rice
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 cups water
3 onions, chopped fine
2 Tb. tomato paste
2 Tb. chopped parsley or mint
Salt and pepper
Soak the rice for 20 minutes in two cups of cold water and one teaspoon of salt. Drain. Saute the onion over a medium flame with one cup of the water until tender, about 15 minutes. Add oil and cook five minutes. Add rice and tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for five, stirring occasionally.
Add parsley and cook for about three minutes. Add half the lemon juice and cook for five more minutes. Spread out the grape leaves and place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of each one.
Starting from the stem of the leaf, turn in the ends and roll tightly. Arrange in layers in a medium saucepan. Pour remaining lemon juice over the rolls, and add one cup of water.
Cover and bring to a boil for five minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Add one more cup of water if needed. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Serve hot or cold.
Note: I have not made this recipe myself, but my dad makes it often.