Greek Village

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This weekend I was magically transported back to Greece for a lovely dinner after the baptism of my youngest nephew.

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The celebration was held at Greek Village in Schaumburg, IL.

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Inside the restaurant, it really is made to look like you’re standing on the street in a Greek village.

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Icons and family photos included, in the area we sat in which overlooked The Village.

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The whitewashed stone reminded me of Tinos…

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And when the place started filling up, it felt like a village celebration for a feast day. Actually, it was the feast day of St. Demetrios and one of our waiters was named Demetrios. That made it even more special for me, and made me wish I could be at the church in Thessaloniki. But I wouldn’t want to miss this time with my family for anything!

Anyway. The meal was served family style. Since there were only a couple vegan things, my sister and brother-in-law suggested I order off the menu. Demetrios recommended the vegetable platter (briami), and I also asked for the gigantes – I wanted to see if they were authentic! I had no idea how big the vegetable platter would be.

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Yeah. This big.

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On one side, green beans in tomato sauce with fresh parsley and onions and lots of olive oil. On the other side…

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eggplant, potatoes, okra, onions, and bell pepper. The rice in the middle had a nice, mild tomato sauce. Everything was cooked perfectly, and tasted wonderful. The veggies really tasted nice and fresh.

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The dish of gigantes was also big enough for two. The beans were nice and tender. The sauce was a little salty, but that didn’t bother me (just meant I did have to add salt 10 times). I love it with dill.

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And my very thoughtful family bought a dessert for me from Whole Foods, a vegan chocolate chip cheesecake. The crust kind of tasted like a cookie, and the chocolate on top was my favorite. It was dark and slightly bitter, so it offset the sweetness of the “cheese” part. But I wasn’t the only one who left in a mild food coma…

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I couldn’t quite get all the dishes and platters in the picture, but it reminded me of the huge mess my brother and I left in our wake after our huge meals all over Greece. So, for my brother, the menu of the family style meal included:

lemon chicken
lamb
rice
avgolemono
spanikopita
lemon potatoes
dolmades (with lamb)
Greek lasagna
baklava, and at least one other pastry – and of course, a traditional American cake

Everyone loved the food, and the atmosphere was great. The waitstaff were busily running around the whole time, making sure we had whatever we wanted, and were friendly and polite. I would LOVE to go back again!

So, while I’m dreaming of Greece now, here are some related links from my trip:
Our last visit to Ta Koumparakia, our favorite restaurant in Thessaloniki
Giant Greek Vegan post, showing off most of the food we enjoyed during the trip
churches, chapels, and shrines

0 thoughts on “Greek Village

  1. One of these days when you come to visit them you have to come into the city … we can go to the Chicago Diner or Native Foods cafe …. And about that “Greek Lasagna” on Eli’s menu at the baptism … moussaka πŸ˜‰

    • I know, I wish I could have!!! We drove there and back in one day again, but sometime I’m going to make a weekend out of it.
      But I’m not sure if you could call the lasagna moussaka, it was basically just pasta, cheese and sauce. I’m not sure what made it Greek, actually…

  2. This was so Greek!! The mild food coma- that’s when you know you are leaving a Greek celebration!! And you had briam!! You should really come back to Greece, you seem like you love and miss it a lot πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        • Weeellll….maybe. I know it’s a shame to visit Greece and not see Athens. I really want to stay on Tinos again and be there for Chrysanthi’s feast day, and maybe stop in Thessaloniki on the way so I can visit my favorite restaurant. But maybe I could do a day in Athens first. Assuming I can actually make it back!

          • No no – the “feast day” is an event but isn’t really a food party (or even a typical panagyri with lots of music and dancing – for that you need to come to Tinos in February/March for Burnt Thursday/Tsinknopempti — not a very vegan friendly holiday πŸ˜‰ … You got the best of that food with Argy!
            You need to visit Greece the next time either in the spring so we can go herb and wild green collecting in the Peloponnese or later in the fall for the harvest (olives and grapes!)

          • Oh, I know, I just wanted to be there because it’s a special feast day and I want to celebrate with her in her little church. Every day is a food day for me πŸ™‚ What I probably should do is just move to Greece so I don’t miss anything. I wonder if a vegan taverna could make any money in Greece…

  3. Wow, this place looks so authentic. You sure had a lot of fun and that food looks amazing!
    Reminds me so much of my homeland, it brings back a lot of memories. I may go back to Greece some time next year. If I go crazy and decide to stay, maybe I’ll open up a Greek vegan taverna, though it probably wouldn’t stay in business for very long since most Greeks love their meat. My family in Greece probably wouldn’t be of any help, since none of them are vegan.

    I think Thessaloniki would be a nice place to open up the Greek vegan taverna, and I could promote it by joggling around the city in my spare time and doing races. I definitely prefer Thessaloniki to Athens, Athens is much bigger and uglier. It’s not just because my family is from Thessaloniki.

    • Haha, I would come and work at your restaurant seasonally!!! I can’t say one way or the other about Athens since I haven’t been yet, but I really loved Thessaloniki, everything about it. Maybe we’ll be there at the same time next year, and I can finally see a joggler in person!

      • I’ll be joggling along the water, especially around the Ξ›Ξ΅Ο…ΞΊΟŒΟ‚ Πύργος, so you can’t miss me. It would be great having you work at the taverna, it would greatly increase its chances of success!

        Come to think of it, while most Greeks don’t care for eating vegan, many of the tourists may be more open to it. So if the vegan taverna is in a touristy area, it may not just survive but flourish. At first, I thought “Ambrosia” would be a great name for the taverna, but there must be tons of places with that name in Greece. Oh well. Any name suggestions?

        • Well, first you need some kind of theme for the restaurant, and then a name that somehow describes the theme and the food being served.
          I would like to have a restaurant called School Lunch, a deli with the food already prepped, and the food would be served in school lunch trays and everyone sits at those long tables with the little round stools attached. And you have to eat with a spork. Maybe you’re picturing something classier than I am πŸ™‚

          There already is a small vegan movement in Greece, and I have a feeling it’s pretty punk-centric. In Thessaloniki I saw vegan graffiti in a few places. I think it would be enough to keep a restaurant busy during the off season, but you’d have to keep the prices low so college students can afford it.

          • Athens – which is actually a very beautiful city if you know where to look πŸ™‚ what to see and what to do πŸ™‚ has some great vegan dining options and not just for college students πŸ˜‰ (I am a former Thessaloniki lover who actually hated Athens … a few months loving behind the Old Olympic Stadium and studying Greek at the Athens Centre changed everything for me. Now I view it like I view Chicago and NYC … NYC (like Thessaloniki) is great to visit, but Athens & Chicago are home.
            For vegans in Athens there’s the hip ImproV CafΓ© in Gazi,
            Rosebud in Kolonaki (http://rosebud.gr/) which is also truly vegan –
            There is the crazy packed Ygeia Ecologia which has been in Athens near Omonia Square on Panepistimou as long as I can remember (it was once the only place for “vegetarian eating” in Athens … (of course this is definitely not the pretty part of Athens!)
            There’s the vegan friendly popular Avocado off of Syntagma Square ..
            And then there’s Athens only kosher restaurant in Psirri – Gostijo – which offers alot of options for the vegan diner. (www.gostijo.gr)
            My local natural foods market (between the Athens Hilton & the Divani Caravel Hotel) has lots of vegan food products as do the many markets popping up around the suburbs … lots of them around the center – in and around Syntagma and of course, in Excharia around the university.
            Speaking of Excharia – Bamboo Vegan is one of those catering to college kids (and others) – they bake vegan pizza and even sell vegan hot dogs. (BTW if any of your readers are in Athens – they’re celebrating World Vegan Day (November 1) this Saturday November 2 with two types of homemade vegan hot dogs! Details here ….https://www.facebook.com/events/211017312412772/

          • Okay lady, do us all a favor and start updating your blog with all this info!!! I will share the heck out of it.

            Well you see, I like Greece because I feel at home with all the Orthodox churches everywhere, and the food is just the icing on the cake (even though I really, REALLY love it). So that’s why I have a hard time deciding what to do…why does Greece have to be so amazing??

          • Yea yeah … I need to get back to blog, don’t I. Last year was a total distraction with Tinos … I will work on getting true-athens.com going again.
            As for why Greece has to be so amazing … oh, I am quite certain Greeks would have an answer for you that goes something like this:
            “Greece is … so Greek … so Greek = so amazing … ”
            (By the way, I hope Basil never sees these posts … because I spent several months LIVING behind the Old Olympic Stadium, not LOVING …. (well, I guess technically I fell in love with Athens …)

  4. gvrgirl,

    Thanks for telling us about these places. I’ll check them out if I am ever in Athens. I’m willing to bet the Athenian part of my family never heard of these places before.

  5. I must admit I’ve had thoughts of opening up a vegan Greek/Middle Eastern kind of restaurant here in New York. Thing is, I know nothing about running a restaurant and little about cooking. So I would need a lot of help from some partners who really know what they are doing. I really like the idea of making it feel like an old Greek taverna, but 100% vegan.

    I could just handle the promotions, and some other things by joggling around the city and running races. I think in the right location, it could be a big success. Yeah I know Greeks aren’t technically Middle Easterners(though maybe Pontians like me count as “Middle Easterners”, and the same could be said for all Greeks with ancestry from Asia Minor), but the cuisine is similar enough. If I ever follow through with this, I’ll let you know.

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