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Journey to Sparta..

                                                                         February 1st 2016
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 Dear Friends,
We are back for the continue of our story in a series of newsletters where we would like introduce ourselves to you and give 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.
The Olive trees in ealry 2000's,  30 years after planting


The  early  Years…

…”You ‘ld be a fool to raise  Kalamon Olive Trees..”,  was  a phrase which I was hearing often, in discussions between My Father and some of His Friends.
Back in the end of 70's,  Greece was  to enter in the European Union (E.O.K in Greek)  and people were  full of hope… Kalamon Olive, which is the “Queen of Olives", was considered not a well promising plan..
   Other Varieties, like  "Koroneiki", “Maniataki”, or “Koutsouroelia”, were highly preferred, from the farmers back then.
   And almost  90% of them,  wanted to have Trees for Olive Oil, instead of  “Table Olives”.
So,  from what I was hearing from the adults those times, I considered my Father, either as a “Gentle Rebel”  or  as  a “Poor Dreamer”  sometimes.  A child can’t figure out what’s right or wrong and the world of adults seems too irrational often..
   Trying to dig  my memories from mid of  70's,  which was when most trees are planted,  it’ s not easy. I was  around 5 years old when the project of plantation finished. I remember only  the voice of my Father, answering to his young son (me),  ..”  Be patient,  after 5 years these small trees will start producing  their first crop. In 20 years from now, the farm will be a dream”..  And he was smiling…My Grandmother (his mother) was looking at the trees with hidden pride, wishinng her husband who had passed away years ago, was there to see his son keeping up his legacy...
 
        The Farm today


 
  "Boudounas"

   Few Hours after Midnight  of  Easter  back in  1963, some years before I was born, my Grandfather George  passed away from a heart stop,  all in sudden. He was only  51yrs old and this was the second “leaving” of my ancestors. His Father Bill has passed away only one year ago, in 1962.
  My Father inherited  their legacy and after a period of grief   started wondering what to do. Amongst the family’s properties, his Grandfather had left behind a hard scrabble hillside on the outskirts of town that took the morning sun.  "Boudounas", it was called. He had bought it back  in early 1900’s  before he got married. I never knew why, that was just its name.
   None of us are far from our peasant ancestors and as the new patriarch of our clan my father planted olive trees on it. To plant an olive tree is to proclaim a faith in the future, for it will be the following generations that will benefit, will reap no matter drought or storm, dictator or revolution, once the olive has made its home. He planted them according to Plato, nine paces apart.  But though the olive loves it harsh, can work with rocks and bricky clay, as any living thing, it must have a care in its youth.  To that end my father would spend the summer evenings at Boubounas with his friend Christos, working by flashlight. They would carry water up to give each tree a drink while the heat rose from the Evrotas valley along with songs of nightingales, the retorts of cuckoos and baying of hounds spreading rumors of a fox.
     When I could walk my parents began to take me to the fields.  I aged along with the trees, but they grew faster than me and soon I was climbing on them.
     And then, my Father decided to stop his major family business – a delicatessen store in Sparta, (which was far ahead of its time). Till then We were not farmers.  Our lives did not revolve around the seasons and the weather and yet, come late Autumn, as so many others, school teachers and mechanics, lawyers and bureaucrats, we had our harvest ritual.  Then my Grandmother  would take charge, she being a generation closer to living from the earth.  And as all Greek grandmas, her primary concern was what we were going to eat.  In the Greek countryside, a worker is fed lunch.  She and my mother would cook in the evening a robust meal for the workers to eat the following afternoon.     
    We’d load up our small truck with tarps and sacks, ladders, rakes and saws, all the simple tools involved in this ancient practice and my father would drive off to fetch his workers.  In those days they were, friends or relatives, fully devoted in their gentle cause,  the  Olive Crop..
 

  "Kalamata Olives" at end of day's crop


 
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
 
      STUFFED TOMATOES and PEPPERS

"No One can resist"

Materials:
6 large red tomatoes tight
6 large peppers for stuffing
4-5 potatoes
1 ½ wineglass rice
2 large white onions
1 leek (white part)
1 handful of pine nuts
1 handful of black raisins
1 spill cinnamon
sugar
Sea Salt
 Pepper
1 ½ wineglass  of extra virgin olive oil

Execution:
Wash the tomatoes and peppers with a sharp knife and cut horizontally caps on their top.
Empty the peppers inside.
Pour a teaspoon or the special tool tomatoes carefully from their content, put it in a colander to drain the juices and sprinkle the inside of tomatoes with half a teaspoon of sugar to each. Invert tomatoes on a tray to drain.
In a deep nonstick pan, heat a wine glass of extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion and leek chopped with a spill cinnamon.
 When the onion and leek gets a “polish color”, add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon for another 2-3 minutes. .
Add the contents of tomato drained of juices, sea salt and pepper, stir and lower the heat, letting it simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, we preheat the oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees in the air).
In a deep pan pour half a wineglass of extra virgin olive oil and place the tomatoes and peppers side by side and the rest of the space cut quartered potatoes.
 
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Dioskouron 41 str.
Sparta 23100
Hellas


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www.thespartantable.com
Our mailing address is:
jehnyskitchen@gmail.com

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