Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dormition of the Theotokos in Astoria

The "falling asleep" of the Virgin Mary is commemorated each August 15 on the Greek Orthodox calendar with services and big, secular festivals.
Catholics call it the Assumption. In Astoria, Ne York, the Panaghia -- the all-holy Mother of God -- is depicted on an icon cloth in a wooden tomb covered in flowers. Beautiful!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Orthodox Christian Meeting in Crete & Women?

Greek Orthodox leaders meeting in Crete, Greece.
Source: Archdeacon Panteleimon
The Orthodox Church is holding an unprecedented council in Crete.

It was supposed to be in Istanbul but that was deemed too risky. So far the press releases are formalities and the American priests' Facebook posts reflect how awestruck everyone is.

On day one, today, the big story is that the Russians didn't participate. It's a patriarchal power game, and the BBC reported the Russians have issues with the Ukranian Orthodox and unity efforts.

Photos from the St. Menas Cathedral in the city of Iraklion look inspiring, as were the vistas from an ancient monastery overlooking the
Mediterranean Sea.

Sadly, I have not seen any nuns or females in photos. With greater sadness, I point out the orange juice brand (see photo) that someone decided should be served to make a scantily-clad point. You couldn't serve that today in Iznik, Turkey. That city was formerly called Nicea, and was where another of these famous councils came up with the Nicene Creed used in most Christian churches. We still pray for "one Holy, catholic (true) and apostolic church."

Hopefully we won't be visiting the Orthodox Church's ashes with tour buses in another 1000 years; that's the drill in Iznik now. We all hope for some inspiration from this council.

Photo credit: New Yorker And Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Archdeacon Panteleimon via Facebook, showing the leader of the American Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Demetrios, seated at far left.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Subway Balloons

Someone just wants to make people happy while riding the trains
tonight. So the artist, top right, made pole-hugging balloon animals. Cute and clever!

Friday, June 10, 2016

How Minority came To Dominate Anatolia

The source here is not known to me, but this article link is a fascinating read, and includes the following:
In a "cultural process known as elite dominance, a minority imposes its culture on the majority. The Turkification of Asia Minor is evident in the fact that genetically, the majority of today's Turks are most closely related to Greeks and Armenians rather than Central Asian Turkic peoples, like the Uzbeks and Kazakhs."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Love, Authenticy & Predators

Be authentic, open and loving, but remember life is war.
With weak people seeking power and acting as bullies, we sometimes need to seek refuge in the figurative treehouse, just like animals. This reminder came from Athens, Greece, with the video below, which illustrates a scene Dad and I witnessed outside our house. Feathers blew lightly across the snow, betraying violence in the Linden tree.
Author Paulo Cuelho says, "Love does not need to be understood. It needs only to be shown ... The world around you will reward you." And sociologist/inspirational speaker Brene Brown says we should let ourselves be deeply, vulnerably seen and love with our whole hearts, though there is no guarantee."
Sure, indulge your emotions, but be fierce. Consider the movie Life As War, the third film in a trilogy about modern society, with moving Philip Glass music. It depicts our hyper-technological life, and the absence of nature, which adds to unnecessary fear. Ευχαριστώ, Βασίλη μου!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lenten Recipes: Bamia & Veggies

Mixed Baked Vegetables

2 c (1 can) diced tomato
2 c (1 can) tomato sauce
4 c small whole fresh okra
1 large eggplant, peeled
6 small red potatoes
4-5 red pearl onions, or onion to taste, chopped
Dry Oregano
Dry Basil
Black pepper
Water
Salt to taste (none if canned tomato has salt)

Method: wash okra and cut off top, place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1
cup white vinegar. Add one cup of water and set aside at least 2
hours.

Peel and slice eggplant into 1-inch cubes, sprinkle with salt, put in
colander to drain bitterness, wait at least half hour, rinse eggplant.

Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes or 1-cm slices.

in a small pot, cover bottom with olive oil and briefly sauté onion,
add dived tomato and a little of tomato sauce and cook about 20
minutes, add sprinkled oregano, pepper, basil. Set aside.

In a baking pan - mom uses Corningware, sprinkle olive oil. Place
mixed vegetables, pour sauce over and sprinkle again with olive oil.

Bake at 375 for approximately 1 hour, but check at 30 minutes. You can
cover with foil, and may need to raise temperature. Lenten/vegetarian!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Absolut Bowie: New Yorker 10.15.2001

This was the back cover advertisement for the New Yorker Magazine on October 15, 2001.

It was just a month after the horrible terrorist attack, and the articles included,  "Life in the largest Arab-American community, and a letter from China on "the disaster as it appeared in the provinces."

RIP David Bowie, for whom resting peacefully meant being cremated in New Jersey and having ashes spread across Bali.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

David Bowie: Change, Influences & Chicago Ties

At Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. By Dimitra DeFotis
A good quote for the new year from rock star genius David Bowie:
"I feel confident imposing change on myself. It's a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That's why I need to throw curve balls," Bowie said.
With yet another album from Bowie, a man of many styles, the Chicago Tribune's longtime music critic writes for the BBC on the surprising
list of U.S. artists who influenced Bowie, who Bowie encouraged or who collaborated with Bowie.

I shot the photo at right at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art at the 2014 Bowie Is retrospective, which was financed there with support from some big Chicago hedge fund managers. Here's the BBC piece:

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160108-space-oddities-david-bowies-hidden-influences

UPDATE: I wrote this post the day Bowie died, not realizing he was on his deathbed. But he had just released his album. The New York Times obituary notes he was 69 and had cancer, Don't we all wish we could go the career retrospective in his honor, planned for March at Carnegie Hall. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year Vasilopita

Yours truly got the coin in her own Vasilopita bread - a Greek new year tradition in honor of a holy saint who gave money to the poor disguised in loaves.
This was the last slice of my loaf, a leftover slice, and the coin was so buried not even I could see it - nor could the people at my New Year's Eve dinner party. Και του χρόνου! To the years to come!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How To Build A Snowman

Chicago snow rarely cooperates: off from school, the snow is wet enough but not too wet for a snowman with two eyes made out of coal -- or pine cones - and twigs for arms. But a hat is de rigeur.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Central Park View

Soup, bread, water and a wonderful view of 5th Avenue buildings near Central Park. The leaves are still green, but temperatures under 40 degrees last night will change everything.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash carpaccio - a brilliant idea from the new Empire Hotel restaurant in New York via The Wall Street Journal. But one might need an industrial lunch meat cutter to try at home!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget: September 11, 2001

Things are taking shape at Ground Zero, finally. The grounds are beautiful. I haven't had the courage yet for listening to the recordings of people on planes at the new museum. But the view is great from the high office floors of the new Freedom Tower.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Times Square Room w/Bath: $1:50

Crews have been disassembling a building near my office for more than a year. It's finally down and the walls are talking!
How long ago was it that one could get a room for a dollar, and a room with a bath and lunch in New York's Times Square for less than $2? Well, the hotel opened in 1904.
UPDATE: A blogger who researches old New York dug up a newspaper ad that says the hotel was exclusively male and "absolutely fireproof."
Another image shows that the wall once brushed bricks with a brownstone. That's exceedingly rare in Times Square, today.
See the full post on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Butterflies in the Urban Garden

This butterfly just spotted in my garden, near New York, New York. It appears to be a Spicebush Swallowtail.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

8 Course Menu, One Hot Philadelphia Night

Chef Nicholas Elmi.
Photos By Dimitra DeFotis
I was honored to be a guest at a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Philadelphia dinner at the petite Laurel Restaurant.

Our party of eight spoke briefly with owner-chef Nicholas Elmi, who was named reality television's Top Chef in 2013. He told us the restaurant has applied for a liquor license, though it remains BYO for now. So each household brought at least two wines. There was alchohol left over - and much tasted and tossed.

Some highlights:  The first course, at left, was one of my two favorites: a light vegetable start, with nearly indiscernible slices of razor clam. With smoked trout roe, green tomato gelatin, cucumber and ponzu, accompanied by Pol Roger 1999 champagne. Some of our wines needed to be on ice -- it was 90 degrees and we were outdoors.

Second course was pink and blue: Foie gras with rhubarb, granola. The Chenin blanc was too heavy - I enjoyed a Sauternes. I think sweet-and-puffy grains belong in breakfast bowls - whole wheat berries might be better.


By the fourth course, with enough bottles tasted to lose count, I was never happier to eat starchy gnocchi - a light ricotta version. It was served with pickled spring onion, potato espuma. It was served with two Italian red wines. And there were still four more courses.

Gnocci, Tuscan & Altesino 
Brunello di Montalcino
Next was a risotto with Australian truffle, which is a new phenomenon that is already $1,100 per pound. But Chef Elmi said Australian truffle is $300 cheaper than the typical truffle. Less fragrant, still earthy. He said it wasn't ready for harvest for years. My review: it's fine but still not fabulous. See the photo of the biggest mound of truffle I will ever see on my plate.

My notes, at this point, say "Lord Have Mercy." This was my other favorite course: fish from the Carolinas, called Walu. Peach Chanterelle, Swiss chard, seaweed butter. Two white wines.

Subsequently there was duck. There was a tiny loaf of bread, and there was a lot of water. The rear garden was pretty.
Tokaji Hugarian dessert wine.

Dessert was just what the doctor ordered: caramelized white-chocolate pudding, almond and cherry. Port and a Sweet wine served. I begged for a coffee. Amazing experience.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

More Sun, More Water

Heliotherapia - salt, sea and sun - somewhere on Long Beach Island, New York.