Spring is Salad Time in Alaska

First Primroses of 2008Friday felt like the first true day of spring. The sun was shining, and I could almost feel trees and plants waking from their winter slumber.

Oh sure, there’s still snow on the ground, trees are bare, and temperatures are still in the low 30s at night. But days are gloriously long, 13 hours of daylight and rising, and the sun’s warmth is finally breaking through. I grabbed a knife and bag and unsuccessfully went hunting for the year’s first dandelions. Although they weren’t up yet, I did see tiny red leaves of garden sorrel poking through the dirt. Primroses and leopard’s bane are up and growing rapidly.

I wore boots and a wool coat for shopping. After the first stop, I dumped my coat in the car and basked in being able to walk around unencumbered. I saw women in sleeveless tops and men in shorts. The thermometer may say it’s cold, but Alaskans respond to the first signs of sunny spring weather with outbursts of irrational exuberance.

The grocery store’s produce aisle was stacked high with reasonably priced melons, reflecting South America’s seasonal bounty. I couldn’t resist a cut of juicy red watermelon, and decided to make Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad and pretend the snow was long gone.

The salad is one of my favorite dishes at Kuzina, a restaurant near the Ancient Agora archeological site in downtown Athens. Kuzina has an interesting menu, a very competent chef, and specializes in creative Greek cuisine.

We were last at Kuzina in September. My brother Bill and sister-in-law Tommie had come to visit us in Greece; we met them in Athens before going to the island. It was great fun to show them around the city, and see it fresh through new eyes. The day we went to Kuzina, the four of us had spent the morning walking through Athens’ fascinating streets.

One of my favorite things about Athens is the wonderful graffiti art painted on walls of abandoned and inhabited buildings alike. Here are some examples of the street art we saw on that sunny September day with Bill and Tommie:

Athens Graffiti Art - PatriarchAthens Graffiti Art - JokerAthens Graffiti Art Owl Cat XX

By lunchtime, we were ready for something cool and refreshing, so headed over to Kuzina and ordered watermelon salads. It was the perfect lunch for a perfect day.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


17 Responses to Spring is Salad Time in Alaska

  1. The graffiti in Greece is a scourge but you did capture some cool drawings.

    On to the salad, surely this was family-style…it’s huge, dramatic and I love the presentation.

  2. Laurie, I’m very envious of you finding beautiful wild food!

    The graffiti art is really something. Can’t take my eyes off that third image.

    Stunning salad. Very dramatic!

  3. Whilst I enjoy exploring the streets of Athens, there are certain elements about the place that are better left forgotten (particularly cab drivers!). A wonderful refreshing salad Laurie, stacked mighty high.

  4. I’m in awe of that salad – like a modern sculpture of some of my favorite ingredients. Bliss.

    Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your Greek adventures for WHB!

  5. Sam Sotiropoulos says:

    Fantastic Laurie! Thanks for sharing this unique salad with us. And I have to agree with Lucy, that third pic of the graffiti is quite interesting indeed!

  6. Beautiful!

  7. That food is a piece of art. Simple ingredients, brilliant flavor.

  8. Peter, generally speaking, I agree with you – Greece has a significant graffiti problem. On the other hand, the variety and complexity of the drawings was pretty amazing. As for the salad, we ordered individually and should’ve ordered famiy style!

    Lucy, you too, can gather wild food. It’s all around, even in cities…

    Peter G, I hate those cab drivers, and am so happy about the postive changes in public transportation over the last five years. I prefer taking the metro for getting in and out of town.

    Susan, that’s really good description – wish I would’ve thought of it!

    Sam, I’m so glad you like it. I’d love to hear your interpretation of that third graffiti picture.

    Lulu, thanks!

    Suganya, you’ve described it perfectly.

  9. What beautiful pictures! I love the graffiti. The salad is inspiring and something I’ll have to make. Love balsamic vinegar!

  10. we eat half of this salad – no aragula or balsamic!

  11. Feta and watermelon is such a great combo. I will have to try adding the balsamic vinegar next time.

  12. oh boy! Cheese (salty kaseri) and watermelon = love!! Much better than grapes and cheddar cheese, in my opinion. I also enjoy feta and fig preserves on crostini – yum!!
    My husband and I did the same thing last September while strolling the streets of Athens – we took photos of graffiti on the sides of buildings! I have a love/hate relationship to graffiti; sometimes I really find it creative and entertaining and other times it just adds to the filth of the neighbourhood.

  13. I love watermelon and feta salad, but I’ve never seen it presented this way before. They almost look like sandwiches! And that graffiti by the way, is fantastic. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. Wow Laurie, thanks for the walk through the Athens streets! I like this grafittis drawings too!

    Your salad is MAGNIFICA, eventhough I don’t like cheese, the mixture of colours and flavours make it so special, truly amazing 😀

  15. I am trying to think how the balsamic dressing will taste with the watermellon – ummmmm, great! The feta will put it over the edge!
    Great photos of the drawings!

  16. Gorgeous salad, and it sounds fantastic!

  17. Cheryl, you should make this because it is so easy and looks amazing! I agree, balsamic vinegar is wonderful.

    Maria V, I’ve eaten watermelon and feta for years and loved it, but the arugula and balsamic add something special. You should try it – who knows what you can get away with until you try!

    Kevin, I hope you like it.

    Bijoux, cheese and melon is such a good combination and definitely – love. I’ve never had feta with fig preserves on crostini, but I’m really wantinig some right this minute. It’s definitely going on my list to try. I’d love to see your graffiti pictures, and share your love/hate relationship. The pics would be a great blog post for you – what could be a more simple pleasure than street art.

    Y, thanks for visiting and I’m so glad you liked the art!

    Nuria, my father doesn’t like cheese either, and I thought the was the only one until I read your post. I’m the opposite – I have to stop myself from eating too much cheese. If you ever decide to give cheese a second chance, this salad would be a great place to start!

    Winedeb, you’ll just have to try it to find out…

    Kalyn, thank you!

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