The clouds were laced with stormy weather, the rain threatened to pour, but that did not dull our sparkle for we were mermaids on our quest for authentic Greek food, mouths salivating in glee. Green sequin dress, blue cookie monster faux fur, a sparkly vision in grey London, the mermaids would attend their first Greek cookery class with Jet 2 Holidays, pep in their step. Blue flowers, blue floral heels, a blue and green theme in alignment with the country we were celebrating that night, a glorious island where culture, food and drink and community spirit ran free in spontaneous glee. They would cook up a storm that night, the mermaid hardly an aficionado in the kitchen but one who enjoyed the Greek cookery class immensely, feta crumbling over fresh cucumber and tomatoes, juice spurting in our famished mouths. And who could forget the Quiz that tested our knowledge on Lefkas, Parga and Preveza, a trio of glorious Greek Islands, that would have us reaching for the stars?
We would daintily sip on prosecco and wine and chug back cans of beer, reaching out for canapes that would melt in our mouths. There was vibrant yellow sunflowers a-perch in transparent vases, blue and white checked tablecloth on a white dining table awaiting our arrival. The 30 travel and lifestyle bloggers milled around in animated discussion as we entered, hello’s exchanged, hugs in free motion. A selective cheers with prosecco echoed around the room, a TV screen caught our eye, oh what breathtaking scenes awaited. A glistening Greek getaway, as you touched down in a terracotta city, eyes wide as saucers, quaint cobbled towns, postcard perfect scenery. But what was this gorgeous gem that enchanted us? Nothing other than underrated Preveza, where food would lie in wait for its overdue visitors, when would we visit? And speaking of food, our attentions turned to the room that would become the location for my first Greek cookery class in Jenius Social, where all our foodie dreams would come to life. There would be DSLR’s at the ready, a snapshot in time, vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike cooking together in undivided harmony, oh what bliss it was. Greek Salad drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, tomatoes stuffed with peppers and cous cous, Spanakopitakia and Tiropita oozing cheese parcels, plump olives chowed down. And who could not smile at the creamy vegetarian souvlaki, mouthwatering cheese akin to halluomi, drizzled with homemade Tzatziki, made by our very own hands?
The mermaid was more of a fan of ‘eating the food’ prepared by her very own ‘mer-princes’ at the mer-restaurants and mer-bars that she often frequented , but she would give her first Greek cookery class a go, eager to sample Greek delights made by yours truly. Swilling prosecco courage the first meal began, a staple of Greek cuisine, Greek Salad doused in extra virgin olive oil, finished off with smatterings of rock salt and grounded pepper granules. Relatively simple enough, she relished the simplicity of chopping the ingredients in repetitive rhythm, tomato chunks, cucumber slices rounded up, popped in a bowl, juicy kalmata olives flavoured with oregano and fresh mint, she licked her lips, mindful appreciation. And finally came the feta cheese, crumbled ever so slightly, it would be a glorious side. Stations cleared for the arrival of our next course; stuffed red and green peppers with bulgar wheat, sprinkled with a smattering of cheese baked goods. Peppers prepped and primed with chopped tomatoes plucked off the vine, oregano sprinkled atop bulgar wheat, fresh parsley diced, mint leaves to taste, oh what a sublime sight. Her belly rumbled, her first Greek Cookery Class was going well so far, but her cooking skills would truly be called into question with dish number three, rolling filo pastries, bubbling laughter.
Spanakopitakia, a spinach pie would taste our patience, how on earth do you fold a filo pastry, your mind was boggled. You laughed at your poor attempts to perfect the filo pastry, scooping spinach into pastry sheets, white onion sharp, fresh mint dancing on a bed of dill and parsley, buttered. Eventually your spinach pie became a passable attempt , your stomach grumbled it was getting hungry. Gurgling tummies, drinks a-flowing , the bloggers were having a good time, smiles all round. A short break commenced, drinks replenished, conversations resumed. It might have been your first Greek Cookery Class but the chefs made you feel more than welcome, allergies carefully catered for, upmost care to ensure your food would meet your dietary requirements and allergies, you felt gratified. It would be the cheese pie next, or the Tiropita as the Greeks called it, you were no better at rolling the sheets but boy did it look good, feta cheese succumbing to the seductress they called ricotta, creamy on your fingers. You knew this would be a treat when it arrived during meal time, but for now you turned your attention to another cheesy treat during your Greek cookery class, Kefalotyri souvlaki skewers, intensely rich in flavour. Hard, salty with a slightly piquant flavour, it would be a real treat, a bevvy of spices waiting to be generously rubbed, sprinkled, doused. Dried oregano waltzing with dried marojam, who sat on a train waiting for dried mint to arrive, rub me it begged. And no that was not a euphemism. Garlic powder , sumac and all things ‘all spice’ were next to play, salt and pepper taking the last dance.
There was one final dish to be made at our Greek cookery class, a cult classic, creamy in flavour. It was Tzatziki, you imagined plunging Tiropita into its textured depths, fresh garlic swirled in yogurt with fresh mint and cucumber, it was calling your name. Our cookery class had come to an end but the night wasn’t over yet, what did Jet 2 Holidays have in store, we craved the answer. Our dishes were brought to the table, placards laid out welcoming our return, sunflowers singing peek-a-boo. A beer for me, wine for Kumba, we sat in ecstasy, the food would soon be entering our mouths, an explosion of Greek authenticity. One by one the dishes crawled into our imagination, the Greek Salad a real highlight, freshness on the palette, olives plump with jealousy, and what about the cheese pie dipped in yoghurt, creamy but not overly so, textured mint on the tongue, yum. Our meal drew to a close and our bellies wee sated, sighing with ecstasy. But there was no rest for the wicked for there was a chance to win a holiday, we jumped at the chance, would it be us. Alas it was not our time to dance with the God’s and Goddesses of the land but we gave it a bloody good shout, we vowed the day would come soon enough.
We all dreamed our own versions of holiday heaven, what would mine be? Who would I have taken if it was me who had claimed the golden ticket to paradise. It would be my boyfriend of course, we would celebrate our anniversary next year, what would be better than a holiday with the one you love? Evenings sipping ouzo, anise coming through, popping olives and feta in our hungry mouths, sand sprinkled between entwined toes. Mornings in the villa pool, sun overhead in blazing glory, afternoons exploring Greek ruins and temples, the Acropolis of Athens a stone’s throw away, breathtaking in the mid-afternoon light, we smiled. Maybe we would try something different and head to Lefkas, where we could forget the world around us and lose ourselves in the moment, an under the radar island radiating positivity and tranquility it was perfect. We would leave the stresses of our everyday lives and plunge into a world unknown, holding each other until the sun went down. Sandals exploring wild olive groves, legs swimming through sparkling blue waters, hands sifting through silky soft sand. We would visit the Castle of Agia Mavra, a 14th century fortress that protected the island from invasion all those years ago and go chase the Dimossari Waterfalls, a little paradise of greenery near Nidri. And what about your strolls around the capital of Lefkada, a pastiche of colorful buildings, two-storied houses and cobbled streets in our honeymoon period?
In Parga Jet 2 Holidays would titillate our senses, a picturesque potion of French Riviera esque harbor towns and Caribbean style beaches. Our eyes would be spellbound by paradisaical beaches like Krioneri, our lips would kiss under the light of the sun pregnant with splendor, our mouths suckling at dolmadhes, sprinkled with lemon juice, a side of gigantes to go, giant white beans simmering with tomatoes and herbs in a wondrous sauce. And what would we do here in Parga? We would hike in the springs of the Acheron River, past the Medieval castles, mountainous villages, seluded beaches and hilltops that entranced our attention. We would take a charter boat to Paxos and Antipaxos, nearby islands from Parga Pier, a glorious patchwork of artists delight, untouched beauty in a consumerist world. And most of all we would live free in the moment, free from responsibility, forgetting the real world that lay at home, shucked in favour of a paradise worth mentioning. And what about that Terrocota gem Preveza, home to the ancient city that is Nicopolis, a historians delight? You would explore the forgotten city that had stood the test of time, Nicopolis was its name, you would remember it forever, built in 31 BC by Octavios. Your thirst for history was quenched, you craved something active, would Kayaking along the Acheron river sate your adventurous spirit? And when you desired a drink, you would head to Cava Gkafas home to wine from all over Greece, you would take a sip.
But alas that holiday was not meant to be, but one day, you would hold the beating heart of Greece in your hands, on a new adventure, where reality ceased to exist and it was a beautiful thought indeed.
Have You Ever Tried A Greek Cookery Class?
Please note we were invited to this event in exchange for blog content but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services. Holidays and flights are on sale now for May 2020.