I know what you’re thinking-talk about milking your birthday OR WHAT!!! I had almost a week of celebrations last week, all accidental to be fair as I didn’t arrange a thing this year but wonderful nonetheless making it a great excuse to let my hair hair down, chill my beans and eat until I couldn’t breathe- all in the name of turning 38!
…When one of my oldest friends, Julie, happened to be in London for an awards ceremony, we concocted to celebrate both of our birthdays together (just days apart) at the Royal Garden Hotel (I’m their resident blogger) lapping up the most relaxing two days of our lives, eating round the clock (spot a pattern there?), strolling around the achingly picturesque Kensington Gardens and frankly being made to feel like princesses thanks to the hotel (Elemis goody bags in the room, a personalised birthday cake and lunch and dinner at the Park Terrace Restaurant). Dreamy.
We even managed to fit in a night out and a shopping trip too.
Then I got to eek out the celebrations with the family too on Sunday.
I’d been kindly invited to The Real Greek Windsor a lot recently but my filming schedule meant I’d missed events they’d put on, and I kept needing to rearrange our lunch which led me to the only free Sunday of the season: the 18th, two days after my birthday, making it the perfect chance to celebrate with my Mum who was visiting from Yorkshire, and my little half Greek family of course.
I’m British Greek Cypriot so unsurprisingly LIVE for Greek food. I became vegan 6 months ago and recreate many of the naturally vegan Greek dishes of my childhood such as Black Eyed Beans with Cabbage, Hummus, Melitzanosalata (aubergine dip), Falafel on a regular basis, sharing them both here and over on Instagram Stories.
My family eat everything however, so we ordered meat, fish, veggie and vegan dishes (feta with prawns, lamp chops, dips, kebabs) to suit all of our dietary requirements, getting stuck into the Meze shunning wine for water infused with mint leaves, served in tall glass jugs, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Nestled on every table are small tins of Extra Virgin Olive Oil imported from Greece and seasonal flowers. It’s this attention to detail along with authentic, delicious food which sets The Real Greek apart from other Greek restaurants.
You walk through their doors from the bustling streets of Windsor and find yourself in a taverna on a Greek island.
Greek Meze truly unifies and satisfies, much like Tapas from its Spanish neighbours, bringing people together to eat leisurely, without haste so each dish can be relished and meals purposefully take hours.
I was spoiled for choice when it came to dishes from The Real Greek’s new and delicious vegan menu by TV Chef Tonia Buxton, and I could have honestly eaten every single dish on it.
As Tonia states, ‘The Greek vegan tradition is centuries old-the first philosopher to create a lasting vegan diet is Pythagoras around 550 BC. In the Greek tradition, there is much adherence to a diet completely free of animal products for long fasting periods. Simply the Greeks pretty much invented veganism…’
It’s quite something when food instantly transports you back to your childhood with every bite… I found myself at my late Grandma Annetta’s bustling kitchen in Manchester and then on holidays past in Cyprus by the fragrant lemon and olive groves of my family, enjoying my Grandma Vikentia’s home-grown produce.
Do you remember that poignant scene where the Restaurant Critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille experiences a flashback to his childhood as he eats, well that’s exactly what happened to me on Sunday.
The rich and earthy hummus drizzled in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the smokey chargrilled aubergine layered with tomato sauce, the filling bulgur wheat bursting with onion and tomato (Tonia’s mother’s recipe) and the sweet lemon sorbet, all offered me a taste of Cyprus, quite literally.
The kids gobbled Greek sausage, chicken kebabs and chips, my Mum grilled lamb chops and Greek salad, Peter, a selection of vegan and fish plates: Prawns with Feta and Salt Cod (dipped in beer batter) and plenty of flat bread all round.
The attentive staff then delivered every dessert on the menu to end (I ate the vegan sorbet so quickly, Peter didn’t get a photo #badblogger) with black Greek coffee of course, and we rolled out of there on to the streets of Windsor, full and content.
What a happy birthday indeed.
N.B. This was a gifted meal.
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