Book Lover

I was hoping to visit Papasotiriou again, a large bookstore across from the university in Central Athens. Especially the large English-language section on the top floor where I found the latest titles in Greek history, politics, and culture in previous years. But it’s no longer in business.

booklover

There are English-language books at Public on Syntagma Square, though nothing resembling the depth of titles stocked by the defunct bookstore. However, it’s a great source for new Greek CDs.

One evening I noticed a bookstore in the neighborhood specializing in dictionaries but it was closed. A few days later I checked it out during business hours and was amazed at what I found. Lexikopoleio sells French, English, Spanish, and Italian books as well as dictionaries. And all titles are sold at the prices charged in their country of origin.

When Odile Brehier rented the space in the wake of the economic meltdown, women passing by frequently asked her if she really wanted to do this. She was undeterred by their skepticism and launched what’s become a successful venture five years ago.

Odile’s father was French and her mother Greek. She was born in the French Congo and has lived most of her life in Athens. Working as a translator is a solitary task. The store allows her an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people.

An event I attended hosted by Lexikopoleio featured young Greek prose writers and the editor who put together a book of their work for French readers. An overflow crowd packed the store and some lingered afterwards for a reception with people chatting with one another both inside and out in the street.

Brehier is a charming and gracious host who enthusiastically greets both old friends and new visitors to her store. She lives and works in Pangrati, or Frog Island, an area defined by two rivers that still flow underground.

I look forward to visiting this neighborhood gem and seeing her again the next time I visit the city.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

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James Beard Finalists

The 2012 finalists for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant include: Altura, Seattle (Italian); Bistronomic, Chicago (French); Fiola, Washington, DC (Italian); Isa, New York City (Mediterranean); Petite Jacqueline, Portland, ME (French); Pistou, Burlington, VT (American/French); Tertulia (Spanish); and Zeppoli, Collingwood, NJ (Italian).

Three of the nominees for Outstanding Chef are: Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Chicago (Italian); Frank Ruta of Plena, Washington, DC (Italian); and Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (Italian).

Outstanding Restaurant finalists include: August, New Orleans (French); Balthazar, New York City (French); Patina, Los Angeles (French); Picasso at Bellagio, Los Vegas (French); and Vetri, Philadelphia (Italian).

And for Outstanding Restaurateur: Frank Bonanno of Bonanno Concepts, Denver (Italian); Richard and Larry D’Amico of D’Amico & Partners, Minneapolis (Italian); and Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Group, Santa Monica (Italian).

Piero Selvaggio

I enjoyed both the food and ambiance of Valentino Restaurant during a trip to Southern California perhaps twenty years ago. Selvaggio, who was born in Modica, Sicily, has been in the restaurant business for over forty years and is already the recipient of many prestigious awards.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved