Journey to Sparta..

                                                                           Vol.6    June  2015
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 Dear Friends,
This is the sixth in a series of newsletters where we would like introduce ourselves to you and give you an intimate look at Sparta, our homeland. Through stories of our ancestors, and descriptions of our landscape we wish to share with you our culture, food and daily life in Lakonia. Our  hope is that from this you will understand our passion for the products we sell and for the natural wonders that bring them forth to us.
A relaxing Sunday evening near "Evaggelistria's park"
        The end of a generation and a new start....
     Despite all the ups and downs they had experienced, the family was strong and united and the years that past were peaceful and prosperous.  But all things must come to an end.
    Vasilis was now an old man, surrounded by his children and grandchildren and living his life in a home full of love. The battles of the past were far away and were now only an echo in his mind, no more troubling to him than a baby's song would be to a child falling asleep each night. Now well into his 80s, Vasilis was losing weight and his health was failing. Once a tall, 200lb man, he now weighed less than 120lbs and his illness was beginning to show. Sadly, at the age of 84 he closed his eyes for the last time, leaving his son and grandson George and Vasilis Jr. to care for and lead the family.
     Despite the loss of their father George and Vasilis were hopeful for the future and eager to help the next generation succeed. George was a lot like his father, clever and full of energy he was well liked by everyone and his children Vasilis Jr. and Helen had already started working for the family business. The family seemed as strong as ever and both son and grandson had high hopes of keeping the family together.
     But then fate knocked on the door of the family once again, only this time it wasn't war or famine that threatened to destroy the family. This time it was love.Helen had fallen in love with a man that George and Vasilis didn't approve of.Helen was in love and insisted on marrying him. They were married far away from the family, in Athens so Vaslis Senior and Vasilis Jr.  were so angry and heartbroken that they didn't even attend the wedding.
    But the problems didn't end there. It was April and the family was preparing to celebrate the midnight table right before Easter. Barely a year after the death of Vasilis, and shortly after losing Helen the remaining family was trying to put their lives back in order. Just an hour after their midnight celebration, George was not feeling well. The family called the doctor but before he could get there, George had already passed away in his son's arms of a heart attack. He was only 51 years old. 
    No one could believe this could happen since George always seemed like such a healthy man! His Son was so heartbroken at the loss of his father that he ran out into the street and smashed the storefront window!
    Our family story was playing out like the plot of a sad movie.T he two leaders of the family had died less than a year apart, leaving 26 year old Vasilis Jr. in charge of the family and the business and Helen and her husband were now demanding additional property from the family, despite the fact that she had already been given her share years earlier. It was a real mess.
   Even while the days were getting darker on the family, the days were also getting darker on the country of Greece as a whole. In April of 1967, a military coup replaced the legitimate government of Greece and a dictatorship was set up in the country. Again, peace and prosperty were at an end and the once successful shop run by our family was struggling to survive.
    Vasilis Jr. didn't want to follow the new trend of the time ,  aka " The Supermarket" and as he was already overworked from the last 7 years since his Father's sudden death, he closed the store. He was almost broke, having had to give up a big part of the property to Helen and a large amount of his money to pay for all necessary taxes. He had to start all over again, just like his grandfather, but at least this time he had the family house and some olive groves.
   It was these olive groves that gave him hope and joy and as he wandered through them on those warm summer nights so long ago he knew that despite his worries, the family was going to be just fine..

The Museum of the Olive Oil and Greek Olive Oil

       The Olive tree..
    As you are heading to your hotel, named for the ancient times in this land, you are overwhelmed by the unique feeling evoked by this land. At the same time, you are sad as you are seeing that this modern Greek town has not benefited from its glorious past resulting in very little to show visitors.  You wonder what the famous ancient Spartans might say if they could see their beloved land today. But you know that no one will ever be able to give you this answer.
   The night starts falling and your walk in the city becomes languid as you breathe in the warm air mixed with aromas from the blossoming gardens. As you approach the center of the town it becomes  more noisy with the coffee shops , restaurants and bars adding their mark to the night time canvas.
    Even though you just found out that the Temple of Artemis is closed to visitors (just like the museum) you don't let this fact fill you with frustration. You can still visit The Museum of the Olive Oil and Greek Olive Oil. It's only a few minutes away on foot and you've heard that it's one of a kind. This museum claims to highlight the ineffable relationship between olive oil and Greece as a country.  In the museum olive oil and olives are presented from a variety of angles: economic, nutritional and other uses. Once inside the museum you  have the opportunity to see the very first testimonies about the presence of the olive tree and the production of olive oil in this ancient land.
   Your visit to  this place, along with your experience of the Spartan landscape (see our previous newsletter about the Ancient Theater), has been eye opening and life changing. Now you are finally beginning to understand why the olives and the olive oil that originate from this mystical place are unique and are not only a product of the trees but are products of the land, the people and the history of Sparta. As you walk back to your hotel you are reminded of a phrase from John Muir:
  "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
   -John Muir, 1911
The Blessed Tree..
Please take Your seat on our table..
Welcome to our family….
As descendants of Vasilis, we are native Spartans who have lived on this land our entire lives. Sparta is small in size but its legacy is known throughout the world. Our dream is to show our friends this remarkable land we call home and share all she has to offer with them.  Sparta is freedom, dignity, courage and hospitality and in that sense we are all Spartans, regardless of where we come from or the place we call home.  
         Recipe of the Month
          “Briam” (Μπριάμ in Greek)

     A recipe that actually .. has no recipe..


    1 large eggplant
     3 small zucchini
     3 peppers
     1 carrot
     2 onions, finely chopped
     2-3 cloves garlic
     1 large potato cut into rings
     some parsley
     Two fresh ripe tomatoes

     Dried Tomatoes                        from  “TheSpartanTable”
     Sea salt                                    from   “TheSpartanTable”
     Rosemary                                 from   “TheSpartanTable”
     ½ cup  Exra Virgin olive oil       from   “TheSpartanTable”

     and whatever vegetable you want...

     Of course , if You add some “feta” cheese , the result will be incredible!

     “Briam”  was one of the Favorites of our Grandmothers.
      Every summer,  they were cooking this  recipe with everything they had gathered from their    gardens.
      It’s an easy to make, light and tasteful meal. Especially Children will love it!


      Cut  all vegetables into small pieces , for example in slices or cubes.
      Put these in the pan / oven dish.
      Add the extra virgin olive oil,  sea salt,  pepper,  and the rosemary.
      Bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 1 – 1 ½ hour
     Just remember to add the dried tomatoes and feta cheese (optional) 10 minutes before it’s ready!

Copyright © TheSpartanTable
Arhidamou 6 str.
Sparta 23100

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