The Greek Frappe, II

Drinks
Now that it is practically summer here in Greece, everywhere you look there are frappes. Whether you are passing by a coffee shop, there you will find many Greeks enjoying the sun and their frappes; whether shopping in a store or two, you are sure to find the workers sipping their frappes; or relaxing on the beach and savoring each sip. This is by FAR the most popular drink in Greece and I have yet to meet a Greek (besides my husband) that does not drink at least 3-5 PER DAY!!! To read about my experience and first review of the frappe, visit here, they are still too strong for me to this day despite how obsessed others everyone else seems to be with them!
I must admit though, that it is one of the easiest drinks to make: coffee, water, and a cup with a lid… plus sugar and milk if you are fancy! It is uniquely characterized by its thick, creamy foam that you get by either shaking or using an electric wand. They are so easy to make and so popular, that they can even be bought at corner kiosks and made simply on the go by adding a little water, shaking until you have a foam and adding the remaining water. 







In addition to a recipe (below), you must also know how to order a frappe when coming to Greece. Whether you take a lot or a little sugar with your coffee or even prefer it plain, it is all said in one simple word:

Sketo” …plain, without any sugar
Metrio” …medium, usually ~1-2 small spoons of sugar
Glyko” …sweet, usually ~2-3 spoons of sugar, sometimes 4 depending on where you go

And if you want milk, you just add “me gala“. So, the next time you are in Greece (or in a Greek shop) and want to order a frappe, now you can use your Greek: (I would like a frappe…)Tha eithela ena frappe….” + “metrio me gala(medium sweet plus milk)!

Greek Frappe Recipe
2/3 – 3/4 cup filtered water
1 spoon of nescafe (or other instant coffee)
1 spoon sugar (for metrio/medium sweet)
~1/4 cup evaporated milk (or ~1/3 cup regular milk)
handful of ice


Use a small electric frothing wand, if you have handy because this creates ideal foam instantly. Simply add coffee, sugar, and 1/3 of the water into your cup and beat until thick. Add some ice, remaining water, milk, and stir gently with a straw!  
If you do not have a wand, simply put 3 ice cubes, 1/3 cup of the water, sugar and nescafe in a shaker or any closed container with a tight fitting lid, and shake very well for about 30-45 seconds. The coffee should get very frothy and thick. Pour into a tall glass of your choice and fill with a few more ice cubes. Put another 1/3 cup of water in the shaker and swish around to pick up all the rest of the foam and coffee. Add to glass. Pour in evaporated milk and a few more ice cubes if desired. Stir with a straw. 


Always serve with a cold glass of water, because whether frappes were meant to be or not, they are commonly enjoyed for 2-3 hours at a time! Once you have sipped your way down to only foam, you just add some water to make your coffee last longer!  I mean there are only so many sips you can take while smoking a pack of cigarettes per hour, it kinda takes a while :) 

If you are going to drink such a strong coffee, might I tempt you with some Chocolate Chip bars made with a coconut and walnut topping?! Let’s just say that I made the frappe more for a photo opt than I made to actually enjoy it. I like the taste well enough, but for some reason within minutes the caffeine hits me like a narcotic and I get a little crazy, strange but totally true! 
Anyway, it is my motto to try everything twice… you just never know if that first time was a fluke or not :) And THE Greek frappe is most definitely worth trying at some point in your life! As a testimonial, I have an American friend who moved here (to Greece) and did not even like coffee when he came, maybe a Starbuck’s latte every now and then but we all know those don’t count as coffee, it is 90%steamed milk – my kind of coffee! Now, he loves frappes and drinks at least one cup every day! I don’t know how you do it Tracy, but I totally think it makes you more Greek :) You can check out his view on Greek life, here
Kali Orexi and let me know if YOU like or have ever tried a Greek frappe?

Natural Ginger Drinks

Drinks
Ginger Root has so many benefits that it is kinda silly not to tap into its resources when you are feeling under the weather, motion sick, or just knocked up. Let’s first start by listing the actual remedies that ginger root has been used for: 

                                          

1. Motion Sickness, Tiffers, this one is for you!
2. Morning Sickness
3. Upset stomach
4. Colds and headaches
5. Digestion aid
6. Lowers high blood pressure
7. Lowers LDL cholesterol levels 
8. Stomach ulcers
9. Arthritis or joint pain
10. Athlete’s foot, soak your feet in a cool ginger tea
11. Excessive perspiration
12. Freshen breath
13. Mood enhancer/Stress reliever
So, it looks like Grandma was right giving you a ginger ale anytime you complained for something. Okay, well my grandma never did that, but I am sure there are lots of grandmas who do. Heck, I will probably end up as that old lady with smeared, bright red lipstick and blue eyeshadow pretending to be a little senile while I go around giving ginger ale to the sick children of the neighborhood. It could happen, just don’t hold your breathe! 
Homemade Ginger Ale
1-2 T. homemade ginger syrup
1 1/2 cups Soda water
Ice
Lemon, optional



Natural Green Ginger Tea
1 Natural green tea bag
1 cup hot, filtered water
1-2 tsp. homemade ginger syrup
lemon, optional
Homemade Ginger Syrup Recipe:
1 cup fresh ginger root, skinned and chopped
1 – 1/2 cups raw sugar or honey
1 -1 1/4 cup water, cool and filtered
1-2 tsp. powdered ginger
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Let cool and steep for 3-4 hours or over night. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cloth. Refridgerate for up to two weeks or freeze for later use in drinks and sweets.
I hope you will give this natural food a try as a healing ingredient in your diet next time you are feeling a bit down. Ginger has a very unique flavor of spice and sweetness that I am sure may take a few people getting used to it. Let me know what you think of your homemade ginger ale or tea if you give it a try! 

Greek Coffee

Drinks
This is another Greek tradition that is deeply rooted into the culture. Not only do most Greeks love caffeine, but drinking Greek coffee is synonymous with being Greek. I am actually not sure whether there are more frappes or these tiny little Greek coffees drunk throughout the day, but I would imagine that frappes win during the summer months for sure. Now that it is winter, you will rarely pass an empty coffee shop. Especially the local tavernas turned coffee houses for old men in the mornings, after lunch, and all evening.  
Traditionally, the coffee was made in a briki made of brass or copper, but today it is common to use just a cheaper metal one. It is important to use the right size briki as to not lose the flavors by over boiling. Add the following ingredients to the briki for 2 servings of Greek coffee. 
2 teaspoonfuls of Greek coffee (Bravo, instant coffee)
2 teaspoons of sugar, for a medium sweet
2*3oz cups cold water

Stir to dissolve the coffee and sugar, then let the heat raise the foam without stirring. Once the foam reaches the top of the small briki, pour some of the foam into each cup to help create a base for the sediment at the bottom of the cup. This foam is called kaimaki, and the richer the better. Replace the briki on the heat and allow to heat and rise again, then finish pouring the coffee evenly into each cup. Coffee is always served with a tall glass of water and usually a cookie to compliment the strong flavor. Greeks typically drink 3-4 cups of coffee per day, even up to bedtime. 

An old tradition or superstition is to flip over your coffee cup after you finish, leaving the tar like grounds to form as the slide down the cup. This design is then suppose to tell you about the future or your fortune. I have never actually seen any Greeks doing this today, except for maybe the kids flipping over their parents’ cups. 
It usually takes a while for someone to enjoy the strong, sometimes bitter, flavor of Greek coffee, so the first time you try it make sure they add sugar. There are three ways to order a coffee: sketo with no sugar, metrio with 1 tsp, and glyko very sweet with 2 tsp. Serving Greek coffee is a form of hospitality, so if you are ever visiting someone’s house, you should expect to enjoy a cup!
PS. My pictures above do not do justice to the kaimaki foam that you would typically expect, I am pretty sure that I used a briki that was too tall and the foam wasn’t formed properly. 

Ouzo – The National Drink

Drinks
Ouzo is very much Greek, and every Greek I know loves ouzo. We are currently living in a special place when it comes to this national drink as Lesvos claims to be the origin of where ouzo all began. Lesvian ouzo (smile) is preferred all over the world for its unique flavor, but don’t ask me because I think they all taste like sweet licorice, blah. I have tried on several occasions to taste various types, with fish and without, with ice and without, it never fails that I squish my face and regret my decision. Regardless, ouzo is truly a unique liqueur and everyone should try it once or twice. 
A shot of Plomari ouzo above, it is naturally clear but when ice or water is added it becomes white and cloudy. 

                                  

Ouzo is traditionally distilled  in a copper boiler and flavored with some unique herb combinations, commonly including aniseed and fennel. Each distillation process lasts 9 hours, and it is said “the longer it takes, the better it becomes”. 

The process begins by boiling the liquid and capturing the steam, the steam is then cooled and this condensed liquid is distilled again in handmade copper boilers. The “head” and “tail” (first and last portions) of the ouzo are always discarded to ensure the best consistent quality.

“The Ritual of Ouzo” is as follows:
1. It is traditionally served with mezedes (small appetizers)
2. It must be drunk face to face, meaning with friends and company
3. The flavors accompanying ouzo should be contrasting: sour/salty, sweet/bitter, spicy/refreshing
4. One from one, eating meze are to produce enjoyment, not always fulfillment 
5. Best if served with ice and water to bring full flavors
6. Simplicity is essential – just enjoy yourself
While I may not enjoy ouzo, you very may well. It is genuinely an indescribable taste that I imagine you either love or hate. If you are interested in trying some, try to find ouzo from Lesvos… maybe even Plomari specifically. 
Check out the Plomari ouzo site if you are interested in ordering or learning even more information, click HERE

The Frappe.

Drinks

It is the national drink of Greece and it apparently goes quite well with a smoke too.

(Sorry to say that I didn’t take this picture, because that would require me to order one of these and that just isn’t going to happen)

Wikipedia says it was invented 1957 in the break room of Nestle employees during the Greek Trade Fair in lack of hot water. A frappĂ© is nothing more complicated than instant coffee, sugar, and a small quantity of cold water shaken vigorously together to produce a thick foam, then poured over ice in a tall glass, and finally topped off with milk or water. You must specify if you would like it “glyko” = sweet, “metrio” = medium, or “sketo” = no sugar.

It is difficult for me to really describe what a frappe tastes like without describing to you the effects that a frappe will have on you. I admit that I am slightly intolerant to caffeine, but this slight sensitivity should only mildly effect me instead of making me convulse. Okay, one time I took midol and was awake until 4am because I didn’t know it had caffeine in it, so maybe I am unusual. My first and only frappe experience was one in Thessaloniki, I made sure it was morning because I heard they were strong. I was really only able to drink 1/2 or maybe 3/4 of it because when Greeks drink frappes, they make it a social 3 hours, I didn’t have that kind of time. To describe it gently I was so wound up, wired, jittery, and twitchy that I don’t remember the hours passing by. Seriously.

When my friend Natalie came to visit, I warned and encouraged her to order a frappe. “You are in Greece and this is totally the national drink” I told her, “oh, and it might be kinda strong”. About 3-4 hours later Nat turns to Erin and I and says, “we gotta eat something, I feel this frap-crap in my legs, they won’t stop shaking”. I rest my case to say that Natalie and I are more latte kind of girls, we prefer some coffee with our milk!

Anywhere you go or anytime you go I guarantee you that you will see at least a dozen greeks drinking a frappe – in a coffee shop, on the go, in the morning, at midnight, in their car, at work, ANYWHERE. And I would guess that 83% of them will be chain smoking while drinking it.

You can’t come to Greece and not at least try one, lots of people actually love them!