-By Isa Covo

In September, after all those months of confinement and distancing, as we began to move more widely, and travel abroad resumed, I decided to take a short trip to Europe and visit friends and family.

I was a little nervous about it, but also excited.

Since I was visiting two countries with different climates, I chose somewhat different clothing for each. As it turned out there was not much difference in temperature between the two: Paris was hot for a few days, Athens a little hotter, but drier, which made it a little more comfortable, and the evenings were almost cool.

The cultural life had not entirely resumed in both countries as the rates of Covid-19 were, and still are high. The public still avoided indoor spaces where people sat together for long periods of time, such as restaurants, but the outdoor spaces were filled, although in Paris it is not always easy: it rained two days out of the five I was there. Thankfully there were some breaks, and the Louvre was open.

In Paris, I had a terrible and expensive meal at Brasserie Lippp, which should be avoided, unless you know what to order, since apparently one can have a satisfying meal with better choices than I made. On the other hand, small cafes offering simple, but still elegant food can be perfect.

In Athens I stayed with relatives and would have had a wonderful time if on the third day of my stay everybody had not come down with Covid-19. It was unfortunate because we were supposed to attend a performance at an open-air theater that is centuries old.

There are several good museums, but if you are time limited, two are a must: the Acropolis Museum near the Parthenon and the National Archeological Museum in the center of the city. Both are quite unique.

To eat well in Greece, avoid fancy restaurants, and choose a Taverna for good authentic Greek food, or ethnic restaurants, particularly Asian ones. I found the European food there mediocre.

Bon Voyage, friends.

This salad was inspired by one served to me at a café in Paris. With some toasted French bread or  very fresh baguette it makes a satisfying light meal. The dressing does not contain vinegar so one can have a glass of wine alongside to make it a feast

Grilled Burrata with Grilled Vegetables

1 individual size burrata at room temperature

2 thin slices of Italian eggplant cut lengthwise

1 2-inch piece of sweet red pepper, cut lengthwise

1 2-inch piece of green pepper, cut lengthwise

1 2-inch  piece yellow pepper, cut lengthwise 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh basil, or oregano, minced

Salt and pepper to tase. 

1. Heat a grill pan until red hot

2. Dry the vegetables and the burrata with kitchen, or paper towels 

3. In a small bowl mix the salt and pepper together with the olive oil

4. With a pastry brush, brush both sides of the vegetables with a thin layer of the oil mixture

5. Save the remaining oil to drizzle over the salad

6. Place the burrata on the grill pan to grill 3 minutes on each side as you gradually add the rest of the vegetables, starting with the eggplant and grill 2 minutes on each side, until cooked through and soft. Add the peppers skin side down and grill about 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant but still crisp.

7. Remove the cheese and place it on the plate. Arrange the vegetables decoratively around it. Drizzle with the leftover oil and sprinkle the herbs on top.

Yield: 1 serving

Credit: Isa Corvo

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