Cafe Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island

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IMG_6568This 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.IMG_6569



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;  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”!IMG_6572

Cafe Tempestini

3 oz. Retsina, chilled

1 1/2 oz. of Samos Moscato wine, chilled

1 oz. pure, unsweetened cranberry juice

splash of Triple Sec


  1. Put all the ingredients in a martini shaker full of ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass.
  2. Garnish with a fresh fruit and sip while reading a book…say Cafe Tempest. OPA!

Cafe Tempest can be purchased through Amazon or through the publisher’s site, Tell Me Press.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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22 Comments for “Cafe Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island”


Peter, this sounds like an interesting book…the excerpt you published was very funny. As for the “Tempestini”, it looks very “cool”…something for the youtube generation!


How wonderful that you are adding this whole new dimension to your site!!! A very entertaning post to read, thx Peter!!!


Thanks for the review Peter!
It sounds like a lovely book, filled with images evoking wonderful times in Greece. I like that it includes some recipes, much like “Like Water for Chocolate”. Foodie literature, if you will!


Hi Peter

Its great to see the review with the pictures :) Thank you so much for participating in the tour. The book definitely seemed like a good fit for your blog even though it is fictional – lots of food and drink.
We’re kicking the tour off with your blog – seemed like a great way to start off the 2 month tour.

Nikki Leigh


Good morning Peter and Peter’s readers,

Thank you so much for a delightful and tasty review of my new novel. Hope it enhances your next trip to Greece. And for those readers who’ll be vacationing closer to home, Yes! the “Tempestini” is a perfect accompaniment to curling up in your favorite chair. ( could be a beach chair in, say, your apartment) and reading Café Tempest:Adventures on a Small Greek Island” It’s a Greek vacation for under $20. We brought it out in paperback at the same time as the hardcover because we think it’s a fun, transporting summer read. So why wait? Opa!


I’m so glad you included the excerpt – this definitely looks like my kind of book.

Coincidentally, C and I are off to see an evening of Tempest scenes tonight – our Michigan Shakespeare Festival director is bringing some “scenes in progress” to our library to get audience feedback for emotional interpretation.


Thank you for the fun excerpt from this neat book! This would be a great read before going on vacation to Greek islands (I hope we get to go next year or the year after that, definitely on our top 5 destination list).


omg that drink sounds so delicious right about now… I don’t have any of those ingredients on hand but I am thinking I need to get them asap!


Ok I see that book lovers and Tempestini lovers have eveything in common. go get a beach chair, set it up, read and sip. the retsina is very inexpensive and a bottle of Samos muscat wine which costs more will last a long time (well, what’s long to you?) cranberry juice can be used by the underage family members and oranges grow on trees. May your summer be filled with blessings and wine. One word for good health in Greek ,,,Yamas! barbara,& find me on Facebook and Twitter bbonfigli


Interesting book and that cafe sounds delicious. I am looking forward to reading more about your trip to Greece :)


that tempestini looks amazing – i’m not much of a drinker, but i have to try this
any idea what you can use instead of cranberry juice (a little difficult to obtain here)


Maria, I thinking some that unsweetened Vissinada that’s now also available at the market (in case you don’t make your own). That would make a substitute.