Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The snow is back!

Well, it is past the middle of December after all... and to have 6 degrees Celcius in Moscow is out of the ordinary. Last night it started snowing again, the temperature dropped to -3 and I think this is the beginning of the beautiful winter! I'll miss part of it, as I am going to Greece next week for the holidays.

I went to two parties over the weekend. The company party was a lot of fun! We played games outdoors, in the mud and under the rain, there as the show of the people with the fire balls (usual Russian show, but it was very nice to watch the group swirling the fireballs in the dark night, under the rain, I thought I was in the middle of the woods in Siberia!), there was a great performance of drums in a wooden gazebo (the whole place, including the floor, was vibrating from the music and the people dancing), there was a nice dinner and dancing afterwards. We spent the night there.

Then on Saturday Evelyn had a Christmas party. So, as soon as I got back to Moscow from one party on Saturday afternoon, I had to prepare for the next! So, I cooked (cheese pie with my mom's fyllo which I made, cheese spread with curry, cabbage and carrot salad, semolina and almond cakes), I got dressed, I packed the food and went to her house. We then finshed the cooking there. The party was a great success! Very different people, from many countries... Everyone enjoyed themselves! I ended up spending the night at her house, since the last guests left at 3:30 and we then had a drink and reviewed the party...

Tomorrow there is the Corporate party of our company. And on Saturday I am going to the opera at the Novaya Opera to watch the Snow Maiden.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

(Work - Rework - Pending Work - Workload) New Year :)

Hello you all!

Very brief summary for the autumn for me:

September - move from Burhaniye, replace İstanbul
October - repair at home, study, cleaning, working
November- working, working, working
December till now- studying, studying, studying
After December 18 - to mid-January! is planned for semi-holiday - cooking, crafts, visit to Bursa and preperations for work & study :)

And I want to kick off the season! - Christmas - Kurban Bayram and New Year for this at the same time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First meal in Moscow

As promised to myself, the first meal I cooked in Moscow was trahano, the Cypriot one... It was one Saturday, a couple of weeks ago. There were still boxes in the apartment, but it was the first Saturday I was at home, so I had to celebrate! Then, next Sunday a friend came to help me put books in the bookcases. Of course, I cooked lunch for the two of us.

While preparing the dough for the cheese pie, I was thrilled to realize that the flour here in Russia is IDEAL for rolling out the fyllo (the dough leaf). My dough and fylla came out perfect! As a filling, I just spread tvorok (the simple Russian white cheese that ranges from creamy to hard dry) and sprinkled paprika on it. The result was delicious! I also cooked the red trahano from Assos, Tijen's gift. It was also delicious!

Last week I was in Athens - it was a great break, I saw family and friends and enjoyed the very mild weather! My mom came down to Athens as well and we spent time with my nephew. Christos - Kalliopi's brother - also happened to be in Athens for one day and it was a pleasure to see him.

Maria - a close friend of mine - gave me two new types of trahano: one sour but containing tomato (made by her mother in law and herself) and another white and sweet. I cooked the sour one yesterday. It was exceptionally rich and very tasty... I'll try the other one at the end of the week... Well, I said before that I could live on trahano, if there was no other food in the world. And I think that this story proves it.

No other major news. The weather is very mild here, considering the time of the year and the fact that I am in Russia. This week the temperature reached +6!!! This is "warm" for Moscow wintertime...

Friday, November 10, 2006

I moved into the new apartment!

Yesterday was the first day that I slept in the new apartment. Not all of my things are unpacked yet, but today half of the rooms will be set up and livable. Over the weekend I plan to take everything out of the boxes and also put the books in their place... This will take me some time, as the books are far too many! I realize this only when I pack or unpack them! I thing that one quarter of the boxes were books! A friend of mine is coming to help me. We'll have lunch: trahano (I promised this would be the first dish to cook in the apartment) and tyropitta (cheese pie) with home made dow.... I think it is a very appropriate lunch for a cold winter sunday.

The weather is a little crazy... It is snowing in the evening and during the night, but in the morning the temperature rises, half of the snow melts - and becomes mud - and it rains. I can't say though that I have had trouble because of the weather thus far... I walk to where ever I want to go without hassle.

Last Monday a friend and I went to the performance of the Maurice Bejart ballet, in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. It was a fantastic performance! They presented four ballet pieces, representative of Bejart's past work but also of the future of the ballet (http://www.elementmoscow.ru/articles.php?i=173000&s=02-in-depth) .
I was moved to tears by one piece, a solo performed by a male danser. But the most amazing situation was when my friend - without knowing the title of one of the ballet pieces - sensed it and related it to a personal story! The Tchaikovsky Hall was also impressive!

Next cutlural event for me: Rossini's Cinderella on Wednesday evening. The orchestra director is Theodoros Courentzis, a Greek who is called "the maestro of Siberia" because he is working with an orchestra in a Siberian city and who is thought to be one of the most promising conductors.

Time to go home and unpack more kitchenware...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Just to say hi!

It's been some time since I've been able to access internet. I am busy arranging everything, so that I move into the apartment. I'll get the keys on Saturday and I'll move in mext week. On Sunday I need to go for shopping - this time I'll have a car and a driver with me, so I won't relive the mega adventure....

I am looking forward to settling into the apartment, getting a computer and be in regular touch with everyone. And also follow up on your ideas about activities and research which you sent me in September, just before I left Cyprus.

Although it snowed twice already - on Sunday night and today - the weather is keeping quite well. It is November but most of the days the temperature is above zero. This is mild for Moscow at this time!

I am dying to see the article on the Lezzet magazine! I am still loughing at your email title: "Famous gourmet and Kavala cuisine authority"....

Regarding Orhan Pamuk, I have ordered his book Istanbul before the announcement of the Nobel prize. I saw it at the Athens airport bookstore and want to read it. Have you read it? There is another Turkish writer about whom I read recently and meant to get his books if they are translated in Greek or English, but I don't remember his name now. I'll look for it and we'll discuss. I have also ordered an interesting book on Jewish food, with a lot of information on life of the people in different countries, a lot of pictures etc..

I won't keep talking about books and cookbooks, my time at the internet cafe expires shortly...

The famous gourmet and Kavala cuisine authority says good bye for now!

Friday, October 27, 2006

B(ooks) & B(ayram) ~Ç

Illustration is from http://www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk/ )
I had a quite relaxing week, after the tiring days of working and travelling from/to Ankara... So when I read your efforts to learn French and do some shopping I felt tired even while i was reading....

After you wrote the details about Russian grammer, even French seemed quite easy... I discovered through National Center for Language that:

There are 422 words in current Turkish from Greek, 14 words from Rumca ( i don't understand the difference it is either politic or etimologic may be meaning from Pontus language, ancient Greek?) and 40 from Russian! Borç (borrowed money), izbe ( very old and bad conditioned place) haraşo ( basic knitting stitch) are from that 40... I don't know how they are written in Cyrill alphabet, but i am going to start with them when i will come there... :)

Books, books... Christos already celebrated Orhan Pamuk's Nobel prize.. The attitudes towards him quite mixed, like mine... I liked his one of the first books, cannot read one, read one of the best-sellers in a very bad mood etc. So I am trying to make my mind too about his writing mastery....

However, i myself started some kind of writing process: Writing for kids! First i registered to a "Children Literature" course in Bilgi University and also i am in a kind of enterpreneur for children books.... Have i already mentioned it to you?

And Ramadan Bayram is over... We call in daily - language as "Şeker Bayramı" Sugar/Candy Bayram which radicals don't like... However our "Bayram"s are really sweet, special sweets are prepared, candies and chocolates offered to visitors... For this Bayram, we cooked sarma, "şekerpare", "güllaç" and "trufle". I will give the recipe for Güllaç, as i promised in the previous post...

Good Luck / Bonne chance / İyi şanslar (For Greek and Russian, i have to study<<<)

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Mega Adventure at the MEGA Mall

Last Saturday I had the brilliant idea of going to one of the 3 malls that are just out Moscow's MKAD, i.e. the 3rd ring road. One can take the metro to almost the last stop and then take a mall bus. I had done all my reasearch - and optimization ;-) - beforehand on two of the malls, regarding exact location and instructions of how to get there. I had been to one of them already and decided to try the other. It looked more convenient, as the bus ride after the metro stop was shorter. The web site - in English and with a lot of information - was saying that one would not have to wait for the bus for more than 15 minutes.

I suggested the idea to a new friend of mine, Evelyn, an Irish girl who is spending the year working in Moscow. She found it good and joined me. We met at 10 am and went happily to the mall. Indeed, we did not have to wait at all on the way there. The bus was full of people, but we did not experience any trouble. We walked, shopped, we had coffee and a long chat, had lunch, crossed IKEA at a leasurely pace - I decided on what I need to buy for my new apartment - we had lunch at IKEA - where I met someone I knew (what are the chances of that in a city of 12 million people!!!!) and then got to Achan. There we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the store! I have neven seen so many people in a store, not even in America, in the big supermarkets and not even in Houston's Auchan which was bigger than this.

Anyway, after we finished shopping, we went back to the bus stop to get the bus back to the metro station. It was already 5:30 or so in the evening. Well, that's were the adventure started. Firstly, all the roads as far as the eye could see were totally blocked by traffic. We could see the bus coming, but it took more than 20 minutes to reach us, due to the traffic. Then, there were SO many people at the bus stop! We could get on the first bus but just as we were ready to, someone blocked the door and his friend from behind us started passing to him the contents of two big supermarket carts in plastic bags! The available space in the bus was filled with the supermarket bags and we stayed out of the bus. The lady who was in front of us insisted on staying on the bus. She was half inside and half outside the door, while the driver was trying to close the door! After many attempts the door closed behind her - and left her in one piece thankfully!

To make a long story short, Evelyn and I waited for another hour or so for the next bus, and then the next.... Did I mention that it was drizzling and it was cold? Anyway, we could not get on any bus, because once a bus would stop and open its doors (not all stopped, although they were empty), a huge force - the crowd - was pushing us and we could not fight back. There was no way of even getting close to the bus door!

Evelyn had suggested early on to walk to the metro station. I was not enthusiastic about it, since I knew that we could reach the metro station only after walking on the highway. But after loosing all hope that we could get on the bus with all our bones intact, we decided to start walking. In fact, many people were walking out of the mall and on the highway. We followed them and even managed to clarify where the metro station was...

So, the two of us carrying the shopping bags started walking (THANKFULLY, I kept myself and did not buy all the things I wanted to get, so we did not have to carry that much).... through the mall parking lot, onto the MKAD, at night, under the light drizzle, crossing the entrance and exit ramps, moving in between the cars, which were moving slowly due to the traffic conditions... we were on the shoulder of the highway when we realized that a bus was also moving on the shoulder of the highway, and passed just next to us! Fortunately, there was just enough room for us and for the bus! Closer to the metro station there were proper sidewalks. It was great to walk on the sidewalk, even if it was full of ditches with mud. But, we soon realized that a mini bus was behind us, moving on the side walk!

Our adventure lasted for about 15-20 minutes. We arrived at the metro station safe but very tired! We cancelled all of plans for the rest of the evening and each of us headed for our residences. I collapsed in the bathtub and then slept immediately!

Every time I'll look at my beautiful green handbag and my red snow boots, I'll remember this day!

The sheer number of people here is overwhelming! It is impossible to imagine that simple situations are so difficult here, just because of the crowds.

As my nephew said to me yesterday, as a comment to the letter I wrote to him: "Aunt, when you I read in your letter that Moscow has as many people as the whole of Greece, I fainted!"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Tough to Learn Russian!!!!

Today I had one of my two weekly Russian classes. As I said to the teacher before we started, it's a torture both for me and I think for her as well! I think that I am good at languages - I speak four already. One would assume that it'll not be such a big issue to learn covnersational Russian. I don't have higher aspirations that that! Just to be able to communicate in every day life. Well, I am not sure I'll manage any time soon! Of course, it is much more difficult to concentrate now then it was years ago, when I was studying the other languages. But still! I am putting in the effort. I study. I write the exercises twice. To no avail, so far. This language is SO difficult!!! A Russian colleague confirmed the other day that Russian is probably the second most diffucult language, after Chinese! He was saying this to console me probably, but I am more disappointed since then!

Just to give you a flavour of what I have to face! Firstly, there are two forms of plural for the nouns (I am not sure this is true for all the nouns, but it does not matter...). The first form of plural applies when you are talking about 2, 3 or 4 things, people, etc - or number of things, people etc. that end in 2, 3 and 4, for example 24, 43, .... The second form of plural applies when you are talking about 5, 6, .... up till 20 and then about 30, 40, .... anything ending in 5, 6 or zero. What is the logic behind this???????? It beats me, really! And to make things worse, the terminations of the nouns are not consistent. The words change form in different ways!

Today I learned that there are 6 (SIX!!!!!!) cases for the nouns! In Russian there is still dative case, which was dropped from the Greek language long ago. I'll accept that, as I can understand the meaning and use of the dative (I am still assuming the underlying philosophy will be the same as in Greek, I may fall from the clouds next Monday, when Daria - my teacher - will explain what the Russian dative case is...). The worse part is that there are two cases which depend on the preposition after the verb and before the noun!!!!! In other words, if you put "with" before the noun, then the form is different from the form when you put "in" before it!!!!!!

And the last example, if you are not already convinced: there is only one past tense - I felt some relief when I heard it, as in Italian and in French the past tense is especially difficult. But the terminations of the verb in the past tense do not depend on the personal pronoun! They depend on the gender of the person!!!!!!!!!! In other words, the expression "I thought" has two forms, depending on whether "I" is female or male! What is the logic behind that!!!!

Anyway, it's a real struggle!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's the Time for Trahano!

It is cold today! In the morning when I woke up at 6:30 it was -1oC and when I got out of the hotel it was 0oC! On the way to work I saw very few tiny snow flakes, probably the frozen humidity in the atmosphere. I already bought two pairs of boots for the snow - the apres ski type, not elegant at all, but warm and not slippery, which is all I care about at this point!

Well, as I have been saying, I am very comfortable at the hotel. But since it start getting really cold, I really miss the possibility to make a hot trahano soup (tarhana, for you). So, I thought that trahano is a good topic for today's post. For one more reason: as a warm greeting to my friend Artemis, who is going through some difficult times but I am sure she'll come out stronger than before! Artemis was the one who took me to the north part of Cyprus and showed to me all the places she knew from her childhood. I'll send our blog link to her, so she can follow our conversation from London where she'll spend the winter. And I thank her for "having me with her" yesterday, while she was watching Haroula in concert in London.... I wish I was really there!

Among all the things we analyzed (to death, probably) with Tijen and you last August, was the topic of trahano, which is a dish that I absolutely love and could live upon! I always have the taste of trahano that my yiayia was often cooking on the stove for us for supper in winter! In Cyprus there is yet another version of trahana, made with wheat and sour milk or yogurt (I think), which one can eat also as a biscuit without cooking. The first time I tasted it was at Artemis' house, on her birthday, a few years ago. She had invited a lot of friends - as usual, since she is one of the most social people I have ever met - and cooked as a first dish trahana with vegetables. I don't remember the rest of the menu, I am sure everything was delicious. But the trahana was unforgettable! It ended up creamy and full of taste, somewhat sour from the trahana. Since then, I tasted the trahana cooked with chicken stock - made by Mrs. Loula, another really great cook - but I prefer Artemis' version and I am always cooking the Cypriot with vegetables myself!

Well, I have with me TWO types of trahana: the Cypriot one - I could not leave it behind, when I emptied my apartment - and the red one Tijen bought for me at Asso.... Most probably, the first two dishes that I'll cook in my apartment will be trahana!

As I said, I'll send the link of our blog to Artemis and also to Yekaterina, another new friend I met here in Moscow. We had a great dinner and a long chat at the Japanese restuarant yesterday!

Regarding the photos, I am glad you liked them! I totally forgot to tell Christo to "censor" them so that I could hide the pictures of the patterns from you ;-)

Windows and doors are two of my favourite subjects! And in Aivali, there were SO many interesting ones! Did you like the picture of the yellow window and door you ordered while we were in Moshonissi?

I wanted to say for a long time but I forgot: please send my greetings to Sherife for Ramadan and in general!

And speaking of Sherife and remembering the copper coffee irbiks, I have to tell you that I found and bought some excellent pieces of old copper kitchen pots and other utensils... most of them are from the end of the 19th century! I am delighted and can't wait to put them in my kitchen... Pictures coming soon, once I have a computer!

Enough for now! I am going to the gym!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Have got my mail! ~Ç

When i came back last night to home, i found the envelope from Christos - photo CDs! I just looked at them and i loved your photos, how much detail you caught. Incredible!

I found this picture very artistic ( since it is 2 MB i can't load to the blog, this is less colored / impressionist version) and thought to have a very big one on the wall...

And, you have taken many windows and doors photos which we can make a beautiful collage.

PS. Don't ever assume that I didn't realize the samples you have taken from my Anchor magazines :P... [ I didn't make copied them for you :(( ]