Thursday, May 08, 2008

Goodies from Greece - Annie West

My mind has been in Greece. That’s a bit of a problem since the rest of me is in Australia, but there you go. Perhaps it’s because my latest book is set in Greece (The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife is a Harlequin Presents release in mid May, labelled under the new logo ‘Presents Extra’). Or maybe it’s because my mind wanders to things I like when I’m supposed to be working. Over the years I’ve discovered so many tempting things from Greece.

Greek food – yes – I HAVE to start with food! I hadn’t discovered the joys of Greek food until I made my first visit to that country. Now I’m a fan of most Greek cuisine, from a simple meal of fresh fish washed down with local retsina to the well known souvlakia (skewered lamb), moussaka (layered eggplant with sauce), baked vegetables stuffed with rice, salads etc. My first sight of a Zacharoplasteion or Greek sweet shop stopped me in my tracks. Cases and cases filled with sweet treats. Baklava (filo pastry layered with almonds and walnuts, cinnamon and sugar, soaking in sweet syrup and dusted with crushed pistachios). Nut rolls (similar but in neat little rolls). Kataifi (rolls of stuffed shredded filo pastry in syrup). Plus all sorts of treats made with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and cream. Far too many to describe but Wow!

On the food theme (what, me obsessed?) let’s not forget halvas (a Greek treat made with semolina – sounds dull, but wait till you try it) and loukoumia (the Greek version of Turkish delight). Double yum.

Greek islands – I love the Greek islands. And as there are so many I think trying to see them all might take me a lifetime or more. From Crete with its rugged mountains and prehistoric sites, to Rhodes with its fantastic medieval city. Karpathos where I had the best bread ever, baked in an outdoor oven (sorry, food again), while looking past old fashioned windmills down to the sea. Hydra with its perfect little harbour and Santorini with amazing cliff top views over a volcanic caldera (which some believe to be the source of the Atlantis myth). I have a list of a few others I want to visit. It will take me years...

Greek music – perhaps this is an acquired taste, but I love it. Of course there’s bouzouki music but there’s a lot more too. Did you know there are Greek bagpipes? Personally I like the dance music and Rembetiko (a sort of urban blues).

Ancient Greek jewellery – one of the benefits of being a classics student was that I had to visit the museums in Greece. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re full of boring stone inscriptions. Well, they are, but there are other wondrous things too. Like the gold wreaths made for Philip of Macedon and his family. There’s one of oak leaves and acorns, all solid gold, and so incredibly fine it looks about the thickness of real oak leaves. And in Crete, check out the ancient Minoan jewellery. I particularly enjoyed the seal rings (one of which inspired Stavros’ family ring in The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife). It’s no coincidence that my hero is the head of a fine jewellery house that produces fabulous pieces fit for royalty.

Greek Embroidery – maybe not an obvious choice, but definitely outstanding. I’ve spent happy hours looking at fine needlework produced in different regions of Greece. I've even tried my hand at some and it was worth the effort. For anyone interested in sewing, or just looking at beautiful things, check this out. The Benaki Museum in Athens is an excellent place to start.

Greek monasteries – I could write a whole blog about these alone, but maybe one picture will suffice. Spectacular!

I’m in danger of spending too long here and not returning to the current book I’m supposed to be writing. So, I’ll stop and hope I’ve whetted your appetite for some of Greece’s treasures.

Do you have a favorite goodie from Greece too? Or something you’ve always wanted to see there? Or, have you discovered a treasure somewhere completely different that you’ve visited and want to share with us? (I’m always interested in learning about new places to put on my must visit list!).

Warm regards,

Annie’s latest North American release The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife is on sale in shops from late May and is out now at eHarlequin or Amazon. To read an excerpt or enter Annie’s contest to win this latest release and two other new Aussie releases, visit her website.

Annie’s other current release The Billionaire’s Bought Mistress is published in the anthology Mills and Boon Presents... available only in the UK - try Amazon UK


Anna Campbell said...

Annie, what a fabulous post. You make me want to jump on a plane to Athens and start attacking all the food! You haven't mentioned Greek heroes, yet I think you do some of the best there are! Stavros is more delicious than baklava and that's saying something. I loved the picture of the jewellery. I've never been to Greece - it's definitely on my list, especially after reading your wonderful books set there. But I've been lucky enough to see a couple of travelling exhibitions including a treasures of Macedonia one that included that fabulous crown you're talking about. It's just breathtaking.

Now, get back to work! I want another Annie West to read!

Jane said...

I would love to one day visit Greece, see the sights, enjoy the food and check out the ruins. I love baklava, too, but I've only bought them from Middle Eastern bakeries. I'm assuming they're made the same way and with the same ingredients.

Cherie J said...

Great post! I love Greek food! That picture of the Baklava had me drooling.

Alli said...

Hi Annie, I was lucky enough to take a three night cruise around some of the Greek Islands a couple of years ago. Totally magic. Santorini was definitely my favourite.
I'm still drooling after reading about all the delicious Greek food *g*
Your book, The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected wife, sounds fabulous.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Annie,

Greece(ala Annie West)sounds great,
especially the foods! Honey and I
have had one grand trip to Venice.
I won a sweepstakes and Venice was
the prize. We loved it: the sights, the Canal, the foods, the 5-star hotels (which originally
were 5-star PALACES!)and the fabulous churches! Someday we hope to go back!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Pat! A trip to Venice as a prize? How cool is that? Venice is one of my favourite places in the universe. Actually you kinda stole my thunder - because a whole stack of people are giving away my book this month on their website contests, I'm talking about contests again when I blog here tomorrow and my question was what's the best thing you ever won. I think you might be ahead of the game on that one!

Dina said...

I am Greek and hopefully will get to visit Greece someday.

Pat Cochran said...

So sorry, Annie!

Do I have to re-enter tomorrow?
Or will this blog count? LOL!!
See you tomorrow

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, sadly no prizes directly through Tote Bags tomorrow - although you're always welcome to enter the contests on the other sites!

Michele L. said...

First I want to say, Annie, I absolutely loved your book, THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE! It is a fabulous story! It is packed with simmering passions, excitement, and intriguing possibilities! Thanks again! I won the book a while back in an Access Romance contest.

I have never visited Greece but I would love too! Love everything about Greece! I have been to a lot of different states, museums, sites, parks, etc. I would have to say the neatest place I have been to is the Wisconsin Dells. The boat rides especially in Wisc. on the duck boats which is an amphibian boat that goes in water and on land was the best ride ever! I am a roller coaster fanatic and this ride even beat out a fantastic coaster! The rock formations up there are just fantastic to look at!

Then there is the museum next to the House on the Rock further up in the state of Wisconsin. OH MY GOSH! This museum is the best ever! If you like museums and very unusual stuff then this is the one to see! I can't even begin to explain even half of what it has. It is huge!

It is fun to go to foreign lands but there is so much to see in the good ol' USA!

Michele L.

Annie West said...

Hi everyone,

I have to apologise for not being able to talk to you as you were posting. I was travelling without internet access the day Lee kindly posted my blog.

Anna, you'd love Greece. I could see you there looking for a good Greek hero.

Cherie, I'm glad you drooled at the baklava. I did too!

Jane, I think there are slight regional differences in baklava, but I'm no expert. But the Greek ones are definitely yum.

Alli, 3 nights on an island cruise sounds like a dream come true, you lucky girl. Isn't Santorini fabulous? It's one of the places I want to return to.

Pat, your trip to Venice sounds just perfect. Going 5 star would give you a whole new perspective on the place!

Dina, I hope you make the trip to Greece. With your family background it would mean so much to you. Plus it's just a great place to visit.

Michele, how great to hear that you kived THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE. Nice that you won an early copy. Thanks so much for letting me know how you enjoyed it. The duck boat rides you mention sound like such fun, especially as I know so little about Wisconsin. Maybe on a future visit one day...

Thanks everyone for popping in to comment!


Gabrielle said...

I got married on Santorini almost two years ago. My hubby and I are Australian (he has Greek parentage) and decided to spend a month traveling around Greece, getting married while we were there. I think of it so often - it just invades your senses and seeps into your being. As well as the incredible tastes (and they are absolutely amazing!) and sights, there are also the sounds. Sitting on a Santorini rooftop terrace listening to the gentle tinkle of the bells on the mules as they do the slow walk up from the ferry dock to the village; the buzz of voices floating out from terrace restaurants; the clink of wine glasses; the slap of feet on stone paths; the strains of bouzouki; the song of frogs in the Zagoria mountain villages; and in Athens the sounds of nighttime traffic (beautiful in its own way). I haven't read any of your work Annie, but I'm off to track down some books now!!

Annie West said...

Gabrielle, I just noticed your comment and it took me straight back to Greece. How fantastic! Thank you for that.