Got a Grecophile in your life? Friends with a Philhellene? Just want a wonderful souvenir from Greece?
Here’s 10 great ways to give ’em Greece from your holiday (and you don’t have to actually be in Greece to buy them).
Gifts from Greece everyone will enjoy
- Everyone loves to be pampered, and Greece has several several really terrific all natural bath and body lines that will surely do the trick. Korres, offers over 400 natural and/or certified organic products, my favorite? Their Yogurt body butter, the perfect antidote against winter’s drying effect on skin.
- Apivita, another home grown Greek natural products company with a great line of products just recently launched their North American website and offers my favorite shower gels. I love the Bergamot and Green Tea for its refreshing cleansing power and they have some wonderful travel and gift packs that make great stocking stuffers as do their organic products for children & babies.
- Give the gift of Greek music. There is nothing quite like hearing a special song that can instantly bring back the feeling of being somewhere special. For me it is a beautiful recording of Xarhakos’ songs for classical guitar, for others it may be a classic collection of laika music or anything Mitropanos (an amazing Greek laiko entertainer, he passed away, too young, this year in April) . If you’re really trying to give them back a bit of the islands, consider the hottest songs of the Summer mix or perhaps just a selection of music from the Greek islands.
- My husband often reminisces about going to the periptero with his favorite uncle, where he’d be allowed to pick out a special little something. Often that was a comic book like Lucky Luke or Asterix. His sister opted for fairy tales, and today you can put together an inexpensive gift pack of classic fairy tales with CDs for the junior Grecophiles in on your gift list.
- New Yorkers are lucky enough to have welcomed the opening of Greece’s newest export to the US just before Christmas last year, Folli Follie. Those of us who can’t get to their SoHo shop can browse their fabulous jewelry & accessory collection and order online (forget all those Greek knock offs spread out on the streets of Athens, these are authentic, high quality products.
Favorite gifts for foodies
I love sharing food gifts and I think that there is no better way to bring a bit of Greece abroad than the flavors of Greece.
- While your local Whole Foods carries a nice selection of extra virgin Greek olive oils, for a chance to savor the flavor of really fresh pressed, you may be best off going to a small producer and ordering direct. In the UK you can order organic olive oil from Mani along with Greek capers, Mani olive tampenade and Greek garlic.
- In my early days in Greece, when I still traveled with what I believe may have been the first edition of “Let’s Go Greece” in my backpack, and I cautiously counted my drachmas, I always made sure I had a tin of Papadopoulos chocolate wafers next to it, the perfect accompaniment for journaling at the end of a long day in Greece. I don’t travel with a backpack or Let’s Go anymore, but I still treat myself to these decadent tasting simple cream filled wafers whenever I crave something sweet and special.
- Those who know Basil and I well know that we met at opposite sides of a bar in a Greek restaurant. Ever the proud Greek, he asked if I “would like to sample a good Greek wine”. Having spent my time in Greece eating wonderful flavorful food washed down with pungent retsina or homemade rosés, my immediate response? “Good Greek wine, that’s an oxymoran!” He proved me wrong then, oh so many years ago he did have a couple of options to shut me up, but neither of us could have imagined how the Greek wine world would have matured. Today the wine roads of Greece are lined with world class wine makers, and lucky foodies and oinophiles abroad have the chance to sample a large number of good Greek wines. Elloinos and All About Greek Wine both have nice websites for learning about Greek wines, and then you can order online – the larger producers like Boutari can be found at Binny’s, but you’re best off seeking out sources online from Snooth.
- If your Phillhellene is also a foodie here’s a nice selection of Greek cookbooks including the award winning Julia Child of Greek Cooking, Diane Kochilas My personal all time favorite Greek cookbook though, for reading as well as for cooking, is the Caper and the Olive (written by an expat in Greece it technically isn’t a “Greek product”, but for anyone interested in more than just recipes, this book has a place on the coffee table as well as the kitchen counter).
- Getting back to Greece through film is another way to keep Greece around all year. This year Greek cinema lost one of its finest, Michael Cacoyannis, so why not pay homage with a Cacoyannis Collection of 4 of his lesser known (outside the film world) movies (though there is always the perenial favorite, Zorba. On a lighter note, Mamma Mia is a fun, beautiful to watch and addictively delightful film shot in Skiathos, Greece. (OK, maybe I am not so objective, I watched it in Greece at an outdoor summer cinema on the roof near my Athens apartment, but I must say that for weeks both my parents, my 8 & 10 year old nieces, my brother and his wife as well as my anti-Abba husband were whistling the theme song. That’s clearly the sign of a success in film making). And what child, young or young at heart, can not get drawn into the tragically funny tales of Karagiozis, Greece’s shadow puppet protagonist.
The ultimate gift from Greece
Wrap up all of the above in the form of a trip to Greece and you’ve got the ultimate gift. Greece offers so many options for travelers from budget to high end and everything in between. As we welcome new markets flying nonstop from North America in 2013 (New routes opening from New York, Toronto, and soon even Chicago! make Athens easily accessible for a short break (and a shorter flight than to Hawaii!). Fabulous offers on a wide choice of furnished short term rentals make Greece the perfect gift for the family this year.