We’re aware that not everybody will be on an Aegean cruise this week. But fret not – follow the following simple instructions and you can creat your very own Aegean Cruising Experience.
First you need the right music. You may not have any Bouzouki CD’s – in fact many people have done away with the CD player all together. But Spotify is at hand. All you have to do is go to the Spotify website and you can create a Greek music playlist. If you want to be authentic best avoid Nana Mouskouri and Demis Roussos. A better starting point is a musician named Theodorakis.
Turn the music up to an acceptable volume and uncork a bottle of chilled Retsina. Most good super-markets stock Retsina these days. It is something of a ‘Marmite’ wine – you love it or you hate it. Bear in mind that if you’re trying it for the fist time the more chilled it is the more likely you are to love it.
Have decent swig of Retsina then take the shoulder of lamb you have been marinading in some olive oil, lemon juice and oregano out of the fridge, bone it, dice it into small cubes and put it on some bamboo skewers. This is called Souvlaki – best not to put anything else on or people might think you’ve got a carry-out from the local kebab shop. Top tip here is to soak the skewers first for an hour so they don’t catch fire.
Light the barbecue – personally we prefer a mixture of real wood and lump-wood charcoal. That will need to burn down until it is nicely glowing so whilst you’re waiting make the Greek salad.
Basic ingredients for the salad are tomatoes, cucumber and Feta cheese – again readily available at your supermarket, or at a push you can use ‘home-brand Greek style cheese’. The important thing is that it’s crumbly. Dice the tomatoes and cut the cucumber into 8cms sticks. The addition of a few black olives adds colour and sophistication. Dress the salad with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and a smattering of oregano, thyme and other Mediterranean style herbs.
You’ll also need to make some Tztasiki – for which you need to cut some more cucumber into fine cubes, or go ‘spaghetti’ style, and stir into a good Greek yoghurt along with some crushed garlic and lemon juice.
If you have guests round (shame if you don’t as this is really worth sharing) you will hopefully by now be on the second bottle of wine and, whilst the charcoal is still burning through, it’s time for the Greek dancing. If you’ve been on a Greek cruise, or for that matter any sort of Greek holiday, you’re bound to have been to a Greek evening and know what it’s all about. If not don’t worry – simply go to YouTube and type ‘Greek Dancing’ in the search box. You’ll be amazed – gobsmacked even – at what you find!
Dancing will almost certainly work up a thirst – so lucky you put that spare bottle of Retsina to chill. Your guests might also like an Ouzo and ice (no lemonade – that’s so awfully Essex!). Let them chat away because it’s time to get the Souvlaki on the barbie.
This is no time to loose attention. Give the Souvlaki 3 minutes then turn it a quarter turn then repeat until you have done the whole kebab. The outside should be slightly crisp, the inside still succulent and just pink. If you’ve gone for bigger meat cubes it might take longer.
Call your guests to the table and serve with the Tzatsiki with plenty of lemon to squeeze. For a true Aegean cruise experience try and find a few seagull sound effects. Perfect!