The villa that we stayed in had a beautiful stone bbq next to the pool. It was unlike the convenient gas bbq's that we frequently use here. Instead, it was an old stone oven that uses charcoal bricks. The charcoal added a smoky flavour that you just can't get from gas bbq's. It was such a nice change that we toyed with the idea of actually getting a simple charcoal bbq as our next purchase. The downside is that it takes a while for the coals to heat up and a simple 15 minute grilling time turns into an hour's cooking process. Nonetheless, we enjoyed using this stone bbq immensely.
Since the fridges are not the same size as we are used to in North America, frequent stops to the market are needed. The results are market-fresh meals...our dinners were always simple and fresh.
When cooking at home, our meals usually consisted of daily seafood from the fish market, simply marinated in a lemon-garlic concoction. A lot of people would be turned off by the idea of having to cook while on vacation, but not us. What was enjoyable was that we all had unspoken roles in the preparation process. One person was in charge of the prepping/chopping, another person had the resposibility of marinating, another person was in charge of the grilling, and lastly (and possibly most importantly), someone was in charge of the wine.
Our dinners were so good that they could rival any restaurant's meal.
Our side dishes were usually simple as to not to outshine the main event. However, one of the best things we made was bruschetta. The local tomatoes were sweet, the garlic pungent, and the olive oil savoury.
Vacations are all about relaxing and taking pleasure in your surroundings. I can't think of a better way to spend the time than enjoying the food, wine, and the company to its full extent.