This entry will be my first “book review” other than anything I’ve written with regards to cookbooks. I was recently contacted about receiving and reviewing “Cafe”, what with my fixation on Greek food & Greece…I’m a natural, right?
I of course accepted as I’m preparing for this year’s trip to Greece and I knew a book set in Greece would surely prep me and transport me to Greece until my feet stood again on hallowed Greek soil.
Cafe Tempest counts at over 300 pages with the body of the book about the main character, Sarah and her return to the fictional island called Pharos. The author, Barbara Bonfigli has a dry sense of humour, exquisite sarcasm and I’ll use some of her “lines” when I crack a joke to break the ice on occasion.
We’re flying in Europe, a continent of smokers who’ve recently been banned from lighting up on airplanes. Everyone around us has the DT’s;Â they’re desperately uploading caffeine and wishing they could just step out on the wig for a puff. Tey guy on our aisle is shaking his foot and studying the Icarus Air evacuation cartoon…In my opinion they should let people light up and drink from takeoff to landing. All this pent-up fear and deprivation would certainly mess up an orderly ditching at sea.
Give up trying to understand other people, I remind myself. Why, I wonder, has this revelation taken so long?
At thirty-nine thousand feet I look around at my fellow man with new lightness, the enormous burden of comprehension abandoned at Duty Free. They’re all digging into a mysterious seafood starter. Icarus is an airline that serves food for revenge. Fortunately I have the picnic skills to meet this challenge.
“Alex, let’s have our banquet before the headwinds hit.”
I detect a little hostility from the guy on the aisle, sawing uselessly on his seeded roll as Alex lays out our smoked salmon, pumpernickel, Brie, and Chablis. Unless it’s an involuntary reaction to cheese, with its whiff of socks left out in the rain.
“Would you like some smoked salmon”? she asks him
“No. Salmon,” says Alex, squeezing the lemon.
“Alex, signome is Greek for ‘excuse me.'”
“Thelete ligo – would you like some…?” I try. But the word for salmon escapes me. I point at it.
She looks back. “Pointing is Greek?”
“Oxi, efharisto”. No, thanks. “Eime hortophagos.”
“He’s a vegetarian, ” I explain to Alex. “And the Brie is ripe enough to moo, so let’s skip that.”
“We ought to offer him something,” she says, displaying her notorious generosity.
“He can have my entire Icarus lunch.” I say in an attempt to imitate her—though you could hardly call this a test.
“Oxi, efharisto –no thanks,” he smiles discerningly.
I pour him a cup of Chablis.
When dessert comes around it’s Turkish Delight, in celebration of the three thousand year old blood feud between Greeks and Turks.
“God, that looks terrible,” she says.
“Not as terrible as it tastes.”
She brings out our creme brulee. During which I share my revelation, inspiration deleted.
“You mean to say you’ve been trying to understand everyone?”
“Well, not Charles Manson or The Spice Girls…but as a rule, yes.”
“What a wild idea.” Alex puts down her spoon. “how’s it turning out?”
“I’ve just given it up.”
She raises her cup of Chablis. “How do you say ‘bravo’ in Greek?”
“I think it is Greek”. And we click.
A few hours later we cross the Corinth channel and drop into the haze of Athens. The landing gear bangs into place. Moments later a stewardess comes over the speaker. “We’ll be coming through the aisles to collect unwanted items. Please fasten your cups and thrown away your seat belts.”
Sometimes I wish I could follow directions.
The rest of the book takes place on Pharos, Sarah coordinates a play cast with the townfolk who star in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Cafe Tempest will transport you to a Greek island. It evokes your imagination of what life on a Greek island is like, the slow pace and how everything and everyone is magnified.
Myself having gone to many Greek islands, many faces, beaches, tavernas and breathtaking views were evoked from trips to Greece of yore. For those who haven’t been to Greece, Cafe Tempest’s pages will take you there, each page full of recounts of Greeks and their quirks, food and drink figure prominently in the book and the main theme of “love who you love” is repeated in many chapters.
At the back of the book are some recipes of dishes that appeared in the story and the bookmark that came with the book included a recipe for a cocktail, the Cafe Tempestini.
This drink uses Retsina, a resinated white (and sometimes rose) wine that’s been around for over 2000 years.
I made a Cafe Tempestini when I started reading the book and I’m hooked. I have a feeling this will be the “sangria of the summer of 2009”!
3 oz. Retsina, chilled
1 1/2 oz. of Samos Moscato wine, chilled
1 oz. pure, unsweetened cranberry juice
splash of Triple Sec
- Put all the ingredients in a martini shaker full of ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass.
- Garnish with a fresh fruit and sip while reading a book…say Cafe Tempest. OPA!
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