October 17-18 – 4th Meeting, Greece (E-type & XK Clubs)
October in Greece is sweet and warm and in addition to swimming and driving a classic roadster on the empty roads of the Peloponnese there are a lot of pleasant things to do.
We started visiting “the Ranch”: a Wild West-inspired village covering a lush 40.000-m2 area in Sofiko Korinthia.
While resting our “horse power” cars, we had a refreshing “pit stop” in the Saloon.
The small happy train was waiting for us to explore this huge vintage hidden paradise. We saw 3 pools, football fields, basketball courts and an outdoor theatre. We felt children again watching the stables with horses, ponies, peacocks, cows, wild pigs, goats, sheeps, and deers, especially because in this season the ponies and the wild pigs were feeding their new born puppies.
It is a place where people can practice a variety of sports and leisure activities, such as horse riding, hiking, fencing, archery and participate to artistic workshops, learn how to milk a cow and make cheese, olive oil, weave a carpet, shoe a horse and see the rodeo during a country music festival. http://www.ranch.gr/index.php/en/
We untied our “horse power” engines and saddled up galloping on the green pine wood road that lead to Nea Epidavros beach.
The Mayor of Nea Epidavros had reserved a special place for our cars in the harbor to let us relax and have a lazy lunch by the waves at “ta Kymata” tavern.
Refreshed by the sea breeze we started again this time in the direction of Ligourio where at the Melas olive oil factory we had a mini seminar on how the biological extra virgin olive oil is made and had a lesson on how we have to taste it in the correct way. http://www.melasoil.gr/en/photo-gallery
We learned that in order not to hurt the trees and brake the small brunches, they brush them with big combs and pick the olives in nets. Instead of insecticides they use pheromone traps (sexual hormones of feminine insects in glass traps) The male insects smell this “sexy perfume” thinking that getting inside the glass “bedroom” there will be some lady insect waiting for a nice adventure. What a pity to discover that was only dangerous virtual sex!
Biological oil has its strict rules and everything is recycled in nature: leaves and olive pits as natural humus while small brunches and wood logs for very inflammable pellet to heat the building.
At the end of our tasting lesson, our understanding of olive oil increased a lot. We learned that it is far better to use it raw to keep alive all the vitamins and Omega 3. One must also keep it in small bottles in order not to oxidize it in a large half empty bottle. It must be kept far from light and to choose the right one for each dish. Delicate with low acidity for fish and white sauces (olive picked black in January), strong taste for meat, game or red sauces (olive picked green in October). Modern cooking has highlighted olive oil as the key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is now recognized worldwide as the ideal model for healthy eating.
We left reminded that Homer called the olive oil “liquid gold” and Hippocrates “the great healer”. Those two great men of history suggested us that it was time now to get into our cars to reach the ancient site of Mycenae.
We also stopped at the Belle Helene Hotel where you can visit the Schliemann Museum: There was an incredible collection of signatures of visitors that had passed from this place since 1862: Agatha Christie, Jean Paul Sartre, Virgina Woolf, Paul Debussy, Alec Guinness, Jack Kerouak, William Faulkner, Henry Miller and recently J.K. Rowling, maybe to find inspiration for the adventures of the famous magician Henry Potter.
The sunset was near when we arrived in Nafplio.
We parked our beloved cars in the Amalia Hotel ready to have a nice evening in the historical town, the first capital of the Hellenic Republic from 1821 until 1834. The fortress on the small island near the coast is named Bourzi and the Venetians completed it in 1473 to protect Nafplio from pirates and invaders from the sea. They could not have imagine that after so many centuries there would be hundreds of “invaders” from all around the world that visit it and take pictures in wedding dresses.
Day 2 : We had a rich Mediterranean breakfast with feta, olives, eggs, spinach pie and coffee to be prepared to our first wine tasting at the state of the art winery Domaine Skouras. http://www.skouras.gr/
Greek wine has changed a lot from the sixties and seventies when tourists used to order Retsina, the wine added with pine resin. Now more elegant versions of Retsina wine are exported to the best Japanese restaurants because their sommeliers discovered that it is the perfect match to sushi!
Talking about New Greek Wines , in the ‘80 George Skouras, as other Greek young wine producers, went to study Agriculture at the University of Dijon, in Burgundy, France. After his degree in oenology, he started gathering experience in many classic wine-producing regions of France, Italy and Greece and finally his long-held vision to create an elegant Domaine materialized in 1986. Now his production has reached over than 1 million exceptional bottles. His awarded wines are mostly sent abroad to Austria, Belgium, Germany, the United States, China and Australia and of course his wines can also be found in the best restaurants in Greece.
After having tasted the best wines of the Skouras production and put some of those precious bottles in our cars, we started to drive in the direction of our second wine tasting at Domaine Bairaktaris. http://www.bairactariswines.gr/en/estate.html
Our next family is involved in wine from grandfather to grandson. The last youngest generation decided to give a new look to their old dream: from tradition to fashion but always keeping high quality of their wines.
When we arrived at the winery there were a group of cyclists that were crossing the Peloponnese for eco-tourism. We were an unexpected surprise to all of them. We found something in common between our “means of transport”: both of them have spoked wheels!
The landscape around this winery is impressive. There is a Monastery on up on the mountain at the right of the photo, the name is The Lady of the Rock and the shape of the mountain is exactly as the Meteora.
We enjoyed the finger food and the six wines we tasted that were provided by our hosts and most of all we bought to rest in our cellars. Many of us discovered for the first time the “petimezi”, a thick, non-fermented grape juice that can be described as grapemust or grape molasses. This was the ancient Greek sweetener filled with great nutritional components to reinforce athletes and warriors. In fact is a superfood rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, B and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
An interesting note: Ikaria is the island in Europe with record in longevity and they largely use Petimezi in many of their recipes. Nowadays it can be served over yogurt, ice cream, cakes, pancakes or scones or used to prepare the Greek version of “le coq au vin”.
We switched on our engines to reach the near ancient site of Nemea in order to walk through history and perhaps discover the ghost of Dionysus laughing and drinking red wine near one of the columns.
The Museum left a large space exclusively for our cars so we were able to taske impressive photos under the cypress and the pine trees.
After so many experiences we got hungry and we moved in the direction of Isthmia, after the Corinthos Canal. There are many fish tavernas there but we agreed that Taverna Kavos 1964 is the best overall.
Sitting at the table , waiting for spaghetti with “petro solines” , we presented our youngest new E Type friend with the “Iconic E Type” especially signed by Philip Porter and we “Baptized” the new E Type of one of our old friends. Having filled our senses with car beauty, landscapes, history, wine and food we said goodbye to each other with the promise to see each other very soon.
This memorable trip will stay in our hearts forever.