Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ice cream (Παγωτό)

After a long cold wet winter, the welcome spring weather has given my whole family a chance to go on walks again. My favorite walks are through the countryside where there are no shops and hence no temptations, so there is no need to carry a purse. But we live in what is generally known as a semi-rural area, so the urban part of the town creeps into my landscape and I do not need to be reminded of this by my children, who much prefer the town for their strolls.

The Venetian port is their favorite place to go for a long walk. It's probably one of the only places in the town where they never complained of tired feet. How can they, with so many temptations on offer? The tourist shops are now all open and waiting for your money. The children also like to stroll through the modern town of Hania, which I find preferable at the weekends when allt he shops are closed, since you can only go window-shopping then. Our walks often begin in the modern town and end up at the Venetian port. At some point along this route, mother's purse will inevitably come out for the customary ice cream on such excursions.

A lesser known ice-cream flavour: green lemon ice-cream - tangy and refreshing

Greek ice cream is generally quite good: the globally well-known range of ice cream can all be found here too. Soft-serve cones, ice-cream on a stick, small pre-packaged tubs and rocket cones, as well as family-size tubs in a range of flavours are all sold at supermarkets, mini-markets, tavernas, cafes, and kiosks. All zaharoplasteia sell ice-cream made freshly on the premises, available in a cone, a cup or freshly filled tubs according to your preferences. Whichever ice-cream you prefer to buy, take note that it's not cheap in Greece, unless you buy it from supermarkets like LIDL, where the price also denotes the quality you will get.

After a sunny day's stroll, it's hard to miss spotting the mounds of ice cream at the front of the stores that sell it all over the town. If (like myself) you think pre-packaged ice cream is expensive in Greece, wait till you see the prices for one ball of ice-cream, being sold from the gelaterias. They range from €1.00 to €1.70 a ball! This issue was a good opportunity to teach my children a ltitle home economics recently.

Ice cream from a zaharoplasteio costs the same price, whether you eat it at one of their outdoor tables or you take it away on a cone or in a plastic cup (spoon provided). We all had a ball of ice cream recently at a zaharoplasteio (€1.60 each), after our monthly book purchases. 

I usually park the car on a central street in the town on our weekend strolls, as the parking there is free at this time, and the streets are not congested. Most people will now be found by the harbour, rather than mid-town - the streets here tend to be quite deserted, apart from the usual crowds at the souvlaki shops, most of which are now selling souvlaki for around €2 (cheaper than in the past). As we walked from one gelateria/zaharoplasteio to another, I kept an eye on the prices: €1.70 a ball close to the Venetian harbour, €1.50-1.60 just a few metres away from the harbour, €1.30 at a mid-town zaharoplasteio, and €1.00 at a modern centrally-located cafe.

 Oreo-flavoured ice-cream in a typical gelateria display

Bear in mind that all places serve similar kinds of ice-cream, and they are all very tasty. The same price is paid whether you buy a cone or a cup. Toppings (eg chocolate sauce) are served with the cup, not the cone. The size of the scoop is generally the same everywhere; well, most of the time... The more expensive places sometimes (but not always) offer outdoor seating. The latest trend for ice cream flavours leaves a lot to be desired: globally well-known cookie/chocolate-bar brands (eg Oreo, Lila Pause, Rocher, etc) mixed into vanilla or chocolate ice-cream. Bad taste, if you ask me, and not very Greek.

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