Today exactly four years ago I stepped off an easyjet flight at Athens airport, fuzzy headed and sleepy eyed but bursting with excitement as I left the airport and met my friend K who would put me up for my stay during the Olympics and be my personal tour guide for a city and a country I had never been to before.
So happy anniversary to me and Greece. It's been a fabulous four years and here's to many more.
I celebrated my general sense of wellbeing and joy of summer by making gazpacho last night. Now is the perfect time for gazpacho when the tomatoes are ripe and sweet because good tomatoes are the centre piece of gazpacho and without good tomatoes you might as well dye some bread and water pulp red, chill and serve. I don't even want to think about what gazpacho would taste like in the UK *shudder*. Those poor, deprived souls.
This recipe is adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks, Moro.
Gazpacho for 2 greedy people:
3 large, ripe tomatoes
one small cucumber
one small green pepper
one tablespoon finely minced onion
a handful of stale bread, crusts removed and roughly crumbled
one clove of garlic
salt, pepper, red vinegar and olive oil
Roughly chop the tomatoes and cucumber. Seed and chop the green pepper. Grind the garlic to a paste with some salt.
Blend all the vegetables and bread together in a food processor. Pour into a sieve and mix around with a spoon to force the liquid through the sieve until the seeds and skins are left behind and almost dry. Stir in the garlic paste to the gazpacho gradually and taste as you go to make sure it doesn't get too garlicky. That can happen with fresh garlic, and it's the tomatoes that are the stars of the show. Everything else is the frame. Does anyone go to see the Mona Lisa and say "Nice painting, but the frame was truly spectacular."? So balance the flavours with the tomatoes at the front.
Add salt and pepper to taste and one and a half tablespoons of red vinegar or more if you want. Finish by adding 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. The olive oil we have is what most Greek families have, their own supply from trees that grow in their village. It's the fruitiest, freshest and most delicious olive oil you could ever hope to taste in your life and this is the olive oil that is the perfect finishing touch to gazpacho, like the lipstick on Marilyn Monroe.
Chill the gazpacho and it's ready to serve! Made with the right ingredients, it's so delicious and full of flavour it's almost overwhelming. Just a spoonful of it and your tongue is dancing with an explosion of summer. Mr Zeus said it was like drinking a summer salad. Just wonderful and perfect for lunch when it's so hot that you have no appetite.