Monday, December 11, 2006

Citibank Puts Euros Where Your Card Is

For the second consecutive year, Citibank declared January as the time to the support of the non-profit organization "Mazi Gia to Paidi." Last year, the same campaign resulted in the contribution of 61,000 euros for the work of "Mazi Gia to Paidi."

More specifically, Citibank will give €0.15 to "Mazi Gia to Paidi" for every transaction made in Greece with a Citibank Visa or Mastercard in January 2007, with no cost to cardholders.

This year, Citibank's campaign will also be supported by the magazine Real Simple, as a communication sponsor and the Hellenic Theatre Company, which will offer a free theater ticket to the children of "Mazi Gia to Paidi."

Become a Child with Me

In the season known for gifts and cheerfulness, it is so very important to spread that joy to children who may not otherwise enjoy the innocence of the holidays. But while many charities and philanthropic opportunities exist for children in the United States, the chance to help children in Greece is rare. Thankfully ANT1 is again sponsoring a five-hour "thlemarathonio" of love for underprivileged children following its great success of raising 2.5 million euro in February.

Scheduled to take place just a day after the International Day for Children, the program, known as "Gine Mazi Mou Paidi", will air tomorrow between:

- 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 12th in the US
- 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesday, December 12th in Greece

In addition to phoned-in pledges, contributions can also be made via the Internet. Although I am not officially including this as part of the Greek Gift Guide, this would be a wonderful opportunity to make a donation in a loved one's name or teach young children about the real spirit of giving.

P.S. Popular celebs, including Anna Vissi, Despina Vandi, Mixalis Hadzigiannis and Elli Kokkinou are contributing their star-power to this effort. See some clips of their efforts on YouTube.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thank you for the love!

Xilia efxaristo for all of your support of this blog and the radio show.

I am super excited to provide you something fun and useful to enjoy!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Taking to the Airwaves

Great news! Starting this Sunday, December 10th, I will be hosting a two-hour radio show (5 to 7 p.m. Eastern time) on GREECE 365!

Initially, this program will seem like a talk show, but as it evolves you will see a definite relationship with this blog.

I hope that you will tune in via Internet, join me in the online chat and even call in to wish me luck or take part in the program. Of course, I also look forward to hearing about topics that you are interested in so don't be shy!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Greek Gift Guide... For the Woman Who Can Do It All

I am so excited to have just finished the book that I am about to recommend to you that it takes every piece of sanity I have to not disclose a few of the many notations and quotes I found so valuable.

Arianna Huffington's "On Becoming Fearless" is a great gift for any woman, especially the one you think has the spirit to change the world if only she would just do it. Inspired by Arianna's personal experiences that many of us identify with (Greek mothers, accents and brows), the gem in this book is that it is not your run of the mill, hokey motivational book. This one really delivers.

I should know... thanks to Arianna I am excited about taking this blog to the next level, harnessing my passion for Greekness and finding new avenues for my Greek voice.

Friday, December 01, 2006

MEGA Problems for DISH's Greek Audience

Earlier today, Dish Network announced that Globestar, the distributor of Mega Cosmos, stopped delivering Mega Cosmos to Dish Network for reasons beyond the provider's control. As a result, Dish Network can no longer deliver the channel to its customers and is taking legal action against Globestar.

Dish executives expressed their disappointment and reiterated their commitment to the Greek community noting that Dish network remains the sole provider of Greek-language programming in the United States that includes the latest in Greek sports and music.
This outage means that loyal US-based fans of "Vera sto Deksi" and "Para Pente" are now limited to Internet-available downloads.

Customers should contact Mega Cosmos directly at 1-866-780-5367 during Greek business hours with concerns.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Greeks and Turkey in the Kitchen

Having just celebrated the American feast of Thanksgiving, it is almost difficult to write about food and flavors... almost, but not quite! Just as I put the oregano aside for one meal and picked up the cranberries and pumpkin, I was excited to see that the CBS Early Show chose to highlight a Greek twist to Thanksgiving this year.

(This is amusing as I spent Thanksgiving morning discussing with friends the Greek-American tradition of adding lamb, lemon potatoes and pites of all sorts to the holiday's traditional table.)

With that, CBS Early Show host Harry Smith was joined by executive chef and restaurant-owner, Jim Botsakos, to showcase "our" approach to Thanksgiving and preview the dishes being served at Botsakos' Manhattan restaurant,
Molyvos. As most of you may have expected, this included free-flowing olive oil, lemon, oregano and other tasty herbs that we rely on in the Greek kitchen to add a fresh, savory kick.
For the Greek foodies, here are few other hints chef Botsakos shared:

- Replacing sugar with mavrodaphne in glyko tou koutaliou as an alternative to cranberry sauce

- Using mavrodaphne with traditional glaze preparations for sweet potatoes

- Arranging phyllo sheets in ramekin dishes for individual xortopitakia (this would also be a great idea for kleftiko)

- Replacing sour cream with whipped
Greek yogurt as garnish for thicker soups, chili or mashed potatoes

Specific recipes, along with the videos of all three segments (side dishes, entree and dessert) are still available on the show's

P.S. Stay tuned for more news about chef Jim Botsakos.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Greek Gift Guide... for the Paidakia

While Narnia may have been hot last Christmas, I propose that this year's delight will actually be "Loukoumi"... and this little lamb has nothing but important lessons to share.

"Loukoumi", and the follow-up "Growing Up with Loukoumi", chronicle universal life-lessons learned by Loukoumi, the cute little lamb and the friends she makes along the way, including Fistiki the cat, Marika the monkey, Dean the dog and Gus the bear. While the Greek-theme is certainly evident (Loukoumi ponders her most important questions under the olive tree after all!), the emphasis placed on goals, hard-work, friends and listening to elders are quintessential lessons for every child.

The books themselves are playfully illustrated and "Growing Up with Loukoumi" is even accompanied by a narrated CD version featuring Alexis Christoforous, Olympia Dukakis, Frank Dicopoulos, Gloria Gaynor and Constantine Maroulis. There is even a Greek version of the first book, which Anna Vissi is slated to narrate in the near future. But all of those famous voices are not the best part... you can also get a plush version of Loukoumi for your favorite mikro or mikroula! (This last part was the big hit for me... soooo soft!)

And by the way, I am not the only fan... I hear that CSI:NY star Melina Kanakaredes was one of Loukoumi's first fans!

Click here to find out more about Loukoumi, the ongoing book tour and how to place your order. Transactions are conducted via PayPal and shipping takes about a week (although I would allow plenty of time to allow for the holiday rush).

P.S. Don't be shy.... please share your thoughts and experiences with Loukoumi.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Get Tuned In

A thriving availability of media is one of the keys to awareness, education and celebration of culture. With our busy schedules and diverse priorities, we depend on media from different mediums to keep us looped to the matters we deem important.

If you are reading this, I hope that "Greekness" is one of the matters that you choose to keep top of mind. While on the web, I am elated that this is one of the places you find information and hope that you choose to stop by a few of the links I have provided to broaden your access to "Greekness".

With Thanksgiving approaching, I am taking this quick opportunity to express my gratitude that these resources exist thanks to the efforts of countless individuals that support them either by consumption, volunteerism or financial support.

Speaking of financial support, if you are a fan of "traditional" Greek radio, you can help ensure that the Greek voice of Cosmos-FM stays on the airwaves of NY public radio (91.5 FM) by taking part in the station's seasonal fund drive. If you are more of a web-radio fan, remember that Greece365 has multiple advertising slots available, as well as upcoming social events that help fund the station.

Stay tuned to both stations and "Under The Olive Tree" for information about some of the festive functions we have to look forward to for the remainder of 2006 and into 2007. Kales giortes!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Never underestimate

On this, this 33rd anniversary of the student sit-in at "Polytechnio", it is most important to commemorate and harness the spirit that those brave young people embodied.

Just as it seemed that nothing anybody did could change the current reality, that the best thing for the country was being undermined and that previous efforts had only served to demonstrate hopelessness, a relatively small, but passionate and determined group of young and progressive Greeks managed to take a stand that toppled the status quo and began to bring an entire (troubled) country into a more promising light.

No idea is too big and no action is too small.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Greek Gift Guide - Coming Soon!!!

Come back soon for the special GreekGiftGuide just in time for the holidays (including time for shipping!)

Stay tuned for holiday gift ideas for mama, baba, giagia, pappou, mora, crazy thia and lazy theo too!


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kick off with Greek fireworks!

After continuous days of rain and the prospect of a long weekend, I am sure you are all looking for the best way to kick off the summer and enjoy the outdoors. Problem solved!

This Saturday evening, the Karpenisi Association has pulled together an unforgettable evening of non-stop fun. Come dance the night away in the shadows of the Manhattan skyline to the music of...

  • Panos Chrysovergis and his band, featuring the talented Aphrodite Daniel & Alexi Chrysovergis
  • Giorgos Bizanis on clarinet and Christos Natsis
  • Special Appearance by 2005 FAME STORY finalist Chrysanthi

Enjoy an "all you can eat" feast with skewered lamb (who can resist a good souvla!?), souvlakia, burgers, hot dogs, salads, side dishes and beverages (of all kinds!)

Admission for adults is $50 and children under 12 are free.

SATURDAY, July 1st, 2006

5PM until the WEE HOURS!

City View Restaurant

43-82 Vernon Blvd, Astoria

For more information and to purchase tickets please call

917 217-2055 or 973 389-0837

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Celebration of Contemporary Greek Artists

The concept of contemporary Greek music is a baffling topic for generations of Greeks, as well as those who keep in touch and learn about Greek music through brief snapshots - either vacations, radio programs or television shows. At the heart of this discussion, you'll often find the stereotype that modern Greek music fails to capture the spirit and experience that it once emoted years ago.

Earlier this month, a benefit concert presented by COSMOS-FM (produced by Polys Kiriakou) shattered that stereotype by bringing together a diverse group of talented performers under the musical direction of Panos Chrysovergis.

Despite the rainy weather, the auditorium was filled with the warm and inviting sounds of Greek music at its best - a fact that was noticed by a Sony executive in the audience who captured the evening's success by noting that one would never know whether this concert was taking place in New York or in Athens.

While the well-known performers of the local Greek stage captured the audience's hearts and imaginations as expected, the evening's young artists stole the show performing truly contemporary music by some of Greece's most inspired new composers.
Showcasing a variety of ranges, styles and backgrounds, Alexis Chrysovergis, Myrto Meletiou and Rena Tsapelas proved that contemporary Greek music (and artists) can be just as captivating and moving as the sounds that inspired previous generations.

Kudos to all the performers, producers and COSMOS-FM!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

From Eurovision to the Euro

One issue that many "dash Americans" (and all dashes for that matter) often grapple with is how much of a connection to have to the patrida and how much to the current home country. And in asking different people, you'll certainly get different answers.

Add that quandry to an ever-changing environment where the two homelands may find themselves in opposing camps on important issues including (but definately not limited to) homeland security, the environment, human rights efforts and trade policy, and it's often easier to avoid the matter all together.

But as the cliche goes, avoiding it does not make it go away.

In the case of the EU, the past five years have changed the existence and the perception of this new union by leaps and bounds. But the past five years have also been those of drastic change in how the entire world sees itself, and that has left many of us unaware of the numerous changes that have taken place and those that continue to move forward at break-neck (for a European bureaucracy anyway) speed.

Now if you want the opportunity to catch up on these developments, here is a crash course that brings decades of treaties into practical perspective. From Maastricht to Eurovision, this easy read with the offensive title (for US and EU alike) will bring you up to speed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Whisper In Your Ear

Although it's not a saying I can appreciate entirely, the cliche "it's Greek to me" no doubt captures the reality that Greek is a tough language to learn.

That's why I was thrilled to stumble upon a language learning tool that works off of the same notion that keeps me singing old, catchy songs for years - putting the language to music and repeating the phrase frequently (and on beat). Brilliant!

Earworms Musical Brain Trainers work by layering foreign words and phrases over instrumental tracks. Even if you are not paying attention you will find yourself repeating the phrase after listening to "songs" a few times. The program is accompanied by a free booklet to help guide those with a knack for learning visually.

You can download the lesson or order a 75-minute CD in Greek, Italian, Spanish, French and German. Chinese is offered only on CD. Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese and Russian are coming soon.

Volume 1 (available now) - Survival kit of essential words and phrases to get you by on your trip abroad. For Greek, this of course includes tips on how to order coffee and wine by the kilo.

Volume 2 (due out in July) - Deep dive into using the language to chat in past, present, and future tenses and expressing your opinions, chatting, and flirting (who knows?!)

The company's website is, where you can listen to a demo and order either the CD or the downloadable option. However, if you plan on downloading, I recommend purchasing this directly from

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Welcome and Kalos Orisate

Being Greek and coming from a Greek family is one of the strongest and most distinct experiences for millions of people - some in Greece, but many in some of the furthest corners of the world.

Ask anybody who is or knows somebody Greek, and I am certain that you will hear about many key characteristics - a strong will, a fierce sense of loyalty to country, family and friends, a thirst for knowledge and celebration. It is in honor of these traits that I am excited to bring you this seat under the olive tree.

As you might know, the very capital of Greece got its name thanks in part to the olive tree. In a "grudge match" against Poseidon, it was Athena who won the affection of the Greek people by gifting them the olive tree - a resource that was deemed more versatile and instrumental for the longevity of the Greeks by the wisest of judges. In return for the tree's shade, oil and fruit, the people honored the goddess by naming the city after her.

As you will see in time, my hope is that you will join me in sitting under this very tree when you have the chance - to take in the view and sounds, enjoy some wine and tasty eats, celebrate our rich history and ponder the opportunities of the future.

A celebration of our food, drink, history, philosophy and the arts... in other words, a one-stop-shop for anything GREEK!


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