Tuesday, 11 June 2019

A Little Bit of This, and a Little Bit of That...

If you haven't ever heard of Lee Ritenour, then it's time you did. He's a guitar virtuoso from the West Coast of the States who's been at his craft for many decades now and has produced some of the best music I've ever listened to. My favourite album of his was called Rio, and it was packed with all South American rhythms and percussion and stuff, with Ritenour playing acoustic throughout. Why am I droning on about Lee Ritenour? Only because I nicked the title of this post from a track on that album. Plus it gives me the excuse to plug his music.

All kinds of stuff has been trekking through my brain of late. But first, I thought that just for a change I'd start with some photos and then start rambling on, and on and on...





Someone's got it sussed.


Right, in the first two photos (imaginatively labelled 1 and 2) you see why we were rather delighted to have had the opportunity to take a meal at Tsambikos Restaurant in Kolymbia the other evening. The location is nothing to write home about; situated, as it is, on a fairly unattractive section of road leading from the traffic lights at Kolymbia up towards Epta Piges, or Seven Springs (mentioned with photos in this post, and this one. Oh, silly me, this one as well. Hope you have an hour or two). In fact, as soon as you take that turn, it's only when you're about fifty metres from the junction that you see the taverna on your right hand side, and it's right next door to Anthoulas, which we once had difficulty leaving. Now, go on, admit it, you were thinking, 'He's going to refer to yet another older post,' weren't you? Damn right I was. Check this one out and you'll see my report on our one and only visit to Anthoula's back in February 2012. 

The fact that we haven't been back to Anthoula's since then is no reflection on the quality of the food or service. It's merely that it's a location that we seldom have cause to be near to at a time when we need some sustenance.

Having been up to town a few days ago with a friend who needed some assistance with a medical matter, we were driving home in the early evening and all three of us were in no mood to get all the way home and then have to think about what we were going to eat. Solution? Eat out. I don't need much encouragement in that area anyway.

Our friend suggested Tsambikos, after she'd been there once by accident. She and another friend had intended on patronising Anthoula's, but it was closed for renovation, and so they went next door. There are just the two tavernas there, adjacent to each other, and literally nothing else apart from pine trees and the road. Having eaten an excellent meal at Tsambikos, her loyalties were severely tested and she ended up going back there a few more times. Poor Anthoula's. Still, that's life.

Now I have been known to bemoan the fact that when we're on Patmos, we never eat a meal without receiving some kind of freebie at the end. Whereas on Rhodes, it's become a bit of a rarity in recent times. Tsambikos is the exception. Not only did our friend rave about the freebies she's received at Tsambikos in the past, but she convinced us that they were probably as generous any anywhere else in the country. No contest. You've got to give it a go then, haven't you?

The photo labelled '1.' above shows just how generous the lovely people at Tsambikos are. When I called for the bill after a lovely meal, during which the three of us had ordered a meze and all tucked into the various dishes until we were stuffed, they first brought us that delightful box with the logo of the best Mastiha from Chios you can buy (Skinos) on it. It contained a half-bottle of that fab digestif and three themed glasses for us to imbibe. We didn't even finish it, there was so much there for us. Now I know there are some folk who'll make sure they drain every last drop if it's a freebie, irrespective of how much alcohol they've already drunk, but we weren't those kind of people. It's an unexpected kindness that they bring you this gift, so it's good to show a little respect and appreciation. But then, I'm old fashioned. I like to leave a good impression when we get up to leave. I may well be coming again, after all.

Apart, though, from the Mastiha, they also gave us six (two each) little pots of panna cotta and ice cream (just visible beyond the box in the photo) to eat, which went down very well after a good savoury meal. Oh, and when we finally did receive the bill, it came with this...

Nice touch. Now we have something nice and ethnic-looking to put some savoury nibbles in when enjoying that early-evening aperitif.

All in all, the bill came to €41.20 for three of us, so we theorised that, factoring in the freebies, they didn't make much out of us. Yet the staff were very helpful, friendly and attentive, without being obsequious. I'd say there's a real possibility that we'll go there again. Photo no. 2 above was how the place looked from across the road when we left. Anthoula's is next door to the right.

Photos 3 and 4 you need to look at more closely, perhaps click for the larger view. OK, so the Mediterranean Toad is common in these parts, but when you're walking in the backstreets of a large village, as we were doing last Saturday in Arhangelos, and some movement catches your eye as you admire the plants in the pots placed along the edge of the street (which is barely wide enough for two people to pass, leave alone a motor vehicle), you'd probably be as delighted as we were to discover lots of baby toads lurking behind the pots. The street has no water anywhere, there's no drain or stream for miles around, yet somehow these little cuties seem to survive on the water from someone's watering can (or old olive oil tin more likely) which they regularly dowse their potted plants with. No doubt the toads aid in keeping the general level of biting insects in check as well.

The fifth photo I haven't numbered. The caption says it all really.

The next two, captioned 5 and 6, are of one of the apricot trees in our orchard. Boy is it laden with fruit this year. Must have really appreciated the rains we had last winter. We've already sampled a few, and they're truly delicious. The flavour is something you'll never be able to appreciate if you buy 'fresh' apricots in a supermarket in the UK. Last year our landlords were here in June and every apricot they picked was mushy on the inside and had little worms crawling around in there too. This year we've yet to pick one (even fallers) with anything alien on the inside. Hooray. The muesli's looking good in the mornings right now.

Finally, the other day we dropped in to see our good friend Mihali, he of the smallholding in Kalathos who regularly dispenses horticultural advice when we talk about planting vegetables. He's laid up after surgery right now, poor thing. He's had a new knee. At first the surgeons said they couldn't operate because he was too young. We couldn't get our heads around that one at all. Only when we went and sat by his bed did he explain their reasoning. A new knee of the type that he needed is expected to last maybe 15, or twenty years. Had he been sixty or more, they'd have said OK, it'll see you 'out' so to speak. Since he's only in his mid fifties, their logic was that he'd outlive the implant and hence need more surgery when he's an old codger (I know, I know). He was in a good deal of pain, but found it endlessly amusing to think that he's now a small percentage German, since that's where his current knee-joint originated.

The fact that he couldn't get up didn't stop him enthusing when we put it to him that we needed to know what veg to plant at this time of the year. Seems the best thing to go for in the next few weeks will be the black-eyed 'French' beans we'd planted at his suggestion over a decade ago.

Once again he repeated the planting method in case we'd forgotten. You make a small saucer in the soil. You plant one bean each side of the 'dish' and wait until they germinate. Once they're about six inches high you decide which is the more robust of the two and pluck out the other without mercy. 

"Right," we said in unison. "We'll stop by the garden centre and get some to put in."

"June 20th." he replied.

"What?" we responded? 

"June 20th. That's when you must plant them."

I think I've mentioned before that it never ceases to astound us how precise the locals here are regarding dates for planting their vegetables. You simply must comply if you want the best results. Now since Mihalis, like all the other agrotes around here, was born and raised on this land, who are we to argue? June 20th it is. Assuming we can get ourselves to the nursery and buy the beans in time, of course.

And so I round out this post, which has truly been a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 

The other? I'll leave that to your imagination.


  1. Did you really steal the little dish the bill came in, or did you ask if you could take it home?

    1. Honestly! What a question. Mind you, come to think of it, I didn't explain it all that well. No, they presented it to us as a gift as we were leaving (of course!).