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Archive for August, 2009

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Ambrosia and Nectar was the first restaurant we visited in Santorini, and it was a satisfying initiation into the local food.

Above is a picture of Vinsanto wine served to us at the end of the meal. (Vinsanto is a locally made sweet liquor wine, with grapes sun dried and aged for 3-5 years). Actually only I ordered it because my dining partner doesn’t drink wine, but they seemed to take pity on him and brought him a glass as well! It was my first taste of Vinsanto on the trip. Each sip brought another layer of deep flavor-almost dark flavors of chocolate, honey and butter…

The atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy with eclectic pieces of photography and paintings embellishing the walls. Greenery and flowers are planted randomly around the seating area, lending to its casual yet endearing character.

For appetizers we ordered fava and a santorini salad.

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The fava was garnished with pita bread, caramelized onions, and balsamic syrup. It was incredible! Fava is usually served with raw onion, but I prefer it with the sweet onion. The sweet-tart balsamic reduction adds another bright layer of flavor to the fava. The punchy bitter bite of the capers balanced out the sweetness. I could have continued eating this for my main dish as well and been very pleased! (You can find a recipe for my version of this dish below).

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The Santorini Salad was fine. It was a treat to taste the local cholro goat cheese, which is much milder, creamier, and less salty than the sharper goat cheese I’m used to in the island of Karpathos. The cucumbers and cherry tomatoes were refreshing and perfectly seasoned. The dressing was a simple light vinaigrette.

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Niko had the steak fillet (pictured above) and was disappointed. The meat was not very tender and not exceptionally flavorful. The potato puree though was very tasty- dense, but not too rich, with herby undertones. The roasted veggies were simply grilled with olive oil and very flavorful.

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I chose pumpkin ravioli for my main, with a light scallion cream sauce. I made sure to ask for it with very little sauce, since Greeks usually drench everything. I hate that! I was very pleased with this dish. The ravioli had just the right firmness and the scallion flavor was a delightful match to the sweet pumpkin filling. The chef also doesn’t over-do it with the heavy cream. The seasonings for the pumpkin filling (cinnamon and nutmeg) were pleasantly subtle.

Niko and I shared a dessert of thin chocolate circles layered with white chocolate mousse and strawberries. Even though it was heavy with cream and chocolates, it tasted light and airy. The strawberries were ripely red and sweet. (I didn’t add my picture because its incredibly out of focus! Niko wouldnt stop digging his fork into it long enough for me to take a still photo!)

Here is a fava recipe I made based on the one I tasted at Ambrosia & Nectar:

FAVA WITH CARAMALIZED ONIONS, BALSAMIC SYRUP, and PITA

serves 2

Ingredients:

FAVA: rinse 1 lb. of fava beans in a strainer with cool water to clean. Pour them into a saucepan with 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Strain out the froth that floats to the top. Reduce to a simmer on low-medium heat. Sprinkle sea or regular salt. Continue to stir occasionally so the fava doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook until it absorbs the water and becomes creamy. This may take up to 45 minutes.

ONIONS: sautee onions in a few tbs. hot oil or butter and keep stirring on medium low heat for about 25 minutes or until they are caramalized and taste sweet.

BALSAMIC SYRUP: in a medium saucepan boil 1/2 balsamic vinegar until it is thick and sweet- just keep tasting until its to desired thickness and sweetness-then take off heat. the smell and smoke will be really strong at first, but dont be put off, it will pass.

PITA: toast a round pita and cut into fours.

ASSEMBLY:

-pour the mound of fava puree in a circle on a big round plate.

-place the pita slices standing up symmetrically on the fava

-add small mounds of caramalized onions on the outside of the fava decoratively

-drizzle everything with balsamic syrup

-top with a few caper leaves or capers

(if im not describing this clearly, see picture above!)

Enjoy!

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