Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Greek interlude

I'm in love with Greek food. This might come as a surprise for those who know me well, for I am famous for NOT liking Greek food at all. See, the thing is, I had always had Greek food in Greek restaurants abroad. That is until last week, when I took a last-minute trip to the island of Santorini. Of course I was excited to go on vacation and the picture of the cliffs and the Med looked amazing on Expedia, but I had very low expectations about food. I'm not particularly fond of feta and I can't eat cucumbers. I figured I would spend the week eating tomatoes.

Well, I was wrong. First of all, the feta they serve in Greece is completely different from the stuff you buy elsewhere. It has a nice, almost sharp flavor to it. Second, I shouldn't have worried about cucumbers. I didn't see half of one while I was there. But the tomatoes? Oh yes. They were everywhere. And they were delicious.
Spinach pie @ Mathios Hotel Village, Akrotiri
 Also very delicious was the spinach pie they served practically everywhere. As you know, I love savory pies, and this spinach and feta combination is really delightful. Especially since I've found out that feta, in Greece, tastes like cheese, not like cardboard. My favorite rendition of the dish was the one they served — lucky me! — at the hotel restaurant, a little affair pinched in between two gorgeous swimming pools. I promise I'll post some pictured of the trip... for now I'm going with the food, since I liked it almost more than the vacation itself ;)

Fried calamari @ Taverna Maria, Akrotiri
 Of course fish was plentiful too. And of course they served everywhere. But I don't know how you roll when you're on vacation... I usually find one or two places I fall in love with and then I become kind of a regular there, since I keep going back for more. Taverna Maria is one of those places. It's tiny, family-run and they barely speak any language that is not Greek, but boy, can Maria cook! She cooks. Her husband sets the tables. Her son and her daughter in law serve the food. Her other son... well, he just sits there really. And tries to pick up German girls with a very approximative English. Greatly entertaining, I tell you. Anyway... the calamari (and many other things) there were excellent. I kind of miss not being able to walk to Maria's at night.

Stuffed tomato and stuffed pepper @ The Boat House. Kamari Beach
Of course I didn't just eat the whole time. I mean, I also went to the beach and read books and occasionally I even ventured into the water. Then I was so exhausted I had to find a new restaurant and try some more Greek food. I'm glad I've discovered stuffed tomatoes and peppers pretty early in the vacation so that I could order them over and over again. They are stuffed with rice and cheese, so they are a great vegetarian option.

Mixed grilled fish @ Cave of Stolidas, Akrotiri
As I said already, fish was particularly good, especially at Cave of Stolidas, a small waterfront taverna owned by a man who can definitely cook some serious fish. The best part of it? Probably the fact that you can order whatever fish and shellfish you like and he just arranges it for you, grilled to perfection, on a big platter. Another perk: it cost 15 Euros per person. You just can't beat that, considering you are three feet away from the sea.

Fried Eggplants @ Taverna Perissa
And of course one cannot go to Greece without sampling some good eggplants. It's not my favorite vegetable, mind you, but I loved the way they deep fry them in a skillet and serve them with just a little salt to bring out the flavor of the eggplant. I found them pretty much on every menu at every restaurant, but — as it often happens with this traditional dishes — no rendition was alike. One thing they had in common: they were all delicious.


Gyros @ Taverna Perissa
Another Greek favorite is gyro — shaved meat on warm pita bred served with raw red onions and a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The meat is cooked slowly, so it's tender and juicy, and the onions and sauce compliment it perfectly. The only drawback is that you can't kiss anyone for a while after eating it. But, hey, it's worth it! I ordered mine with chicken once and with a pork and beef combination the next. Hard to tell which one was my favorite.

Tomato fritters @ Skala
One of Santorini's specialties is tomato fritters. They intrigued me from the get go when I saw them on a menu described as "a must-try". Then I saw them being served in the table next to mine and I knew I had to try them. Well, I wasn't disappointed. Crunchy on the outside, gooey with a mixture of tomatoes, feta and peppers on the inside, they are sold as an appetizer, but since all restaurants give you four of these giant fritters, they can easily be ordered as a main dish for only 4 Euros.

Stuffed squid @ Taverna Perissa
And speaking about delicious and gooey stuffing, stuffed squid was probably THE revelation of my vacation in Santorini. Besides the size of the thing, they some how stuff it with fresh chopped tomatoes, feta and olives and then grill it. Simple, yet a work of art. One of those things that makes me miss the island almost as much as its quaint towns and black volcanic beaches.


1 comment:

  1. Ogni piatto che hai descritto sembra delizioso e se guardo le foto mi viene l'acquolina in bocca...soprattutto la torta di spinaci

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