I've asked my dear friend, Maria Valentin of Figmint Design to be my guest blogger this week. With her attention to detail, and party planning expertise, I just knew we would be in for a special treat. Without further ado, I present you with this week's Gatherings post:
(destination:: Greece) With long sun drenched days slowly slipping away, Summer lovers like myself are desperately clinging to the simple pleasures it brings. Like the last days of a dreamy vacation that has been spent soaking in the sun and exploring, gathering with family and friends, and eating delicious food, one wishes it could last forever.
It has been several years since I spent a Summer vacation in Greece, and the very thought of it stirs up wonderful emotions. There is something about that deep blue sea against the whitewashed buildings that creates a sense of awe and freedom. There is something about walking through those romantic cobblestone alleys rich with history and seeing a local holding a Komboloi (worry beads) while chatting with the neighboring shopkeeper. There is something about the people. They are so passionate, warm, and friendly that you feel like you have known them forever after only a few moments. And the food. Let's not forget the food, because everything in Greece revolves around the food. It's the center of all social gathering. Whether you are friends or family, having "parea" (company) over for a home cooked meal is not something that only happens on holidays or special occasions, it is a daily ritual.
So, let's get a little sample of what a gathering in Greece tastes like. It all begins as you approach the front door (which will most likely be Blue). You are greeted by a bountiful lemon tree. Grab a lemon, because you will be squeezing it on almost everything.
The setting is rustic and inviting as you sit on a veranda shaded by olive trees. You are surrounded by dripping bright magenta Bougainvillea and the scent of the sea in the air. The table is set with modest natural linens and vintage bottles holding water as blue glasses await for your choice of beverage. An array of Greek herbs are at each place setting for guests to take home as favors. The herbs are some of the most popular Greek flavors: Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, and Sage.
Here's where your lemon comes in. All of these light, easy summer friendly dishes can be accompanied by a squeeze of fresh lemon. I love a fresh traditional Greek salad, and putting it on a skewer makes for a beautiful presentation and great appetizer. Only, I would add some cucumbers to that skewer! Warm pita with fresh hummus...yum! Spicy keftedes (meatballs) are a great finger food too. Most people don't know that Dandelion greens are a very popular side dish in Greece. We used to grow dandelions growing up, so they were always plentiful in our house. They are one of my favorites!
Figs always make for a refreshing dessert. This recipe calls for grilled figs, but if you don't want to go to the trouble of grilling, plain figs atop some gelato or greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey make for a simple delicious dessert too.
Sources: Grilled Figs with Honeyed Mascarpone
Olive oil soaps would make a lovely hostess gift for your gathering.
Sources: Olive Oil Soaps
I hope you enjoyed our Greek gathering and that you depart with a heart filled with joy and a stomach filled with delicious food. As I fill your arms with bags of leftovers, I kiss you on both cheeks and bid you farewell until we meet again.Yassou!
Maria Valentin is the Founder and Creative Director of Figmint Design, a Los Angeles based boutique design studio. She spent ten years as a creative director working in the fashion industry before launching her beautiful dream. She shares her life with her technical guru/musician husband and her rambunctious Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Thank you so much, Maria, for this inspiring post! You've inspired me to host a Greek gathering for sure! If you would like to hear more from Maria on style, decor, design, and Gatherings, please give her website and blog a visit!