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Archive for September, 2009

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This was our night view from Koukoumavlos , which is recognized as one of the best restaurants in all of Greece. The chef Niko Pouliasis is recognized for an inventive and experimental play with food.  Among his signature dishes are Tiramisu with Smoked Eggplant and Kataifi wrapped Cheese with Rose and Watermelon Syrup and Cucumber Jelly.

It may have been a mistake to order the same thing, but my boyfriend and I had the same choice for both the appetizer and main meal, and we did not want to share! It would have been nice to try the salmon dish however, which sounded equally interesting.

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We started with Grilled Foie Gras with Grape Syrup, Raisin paste, and Ouzo jelly. I appreciated the very generous portion of foie gras. I always enjoy a jelly texture with the silky foie gras, and the grape/raisin flavors added another layer of lusciousness to the foie gras. I drank sauternees which of course perfectly accompanied the sweetly rich plate.

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For our main meal we had steak and mashed potatoes, parmesan ice cream, topped with a sesame crisp. Our steaks were cooked perfectly, but I was disappointed in the cut of steak. For such a venerated restaurant, I could see and taste that the quality of the meat was not up to par.  For the prices, they could have imported any cut from any part of the world, trust me. It did taste good, but this was a noticable disparity for the caliber of this restaurant.

The mashed potatoes were creamy and lush. The drizzle of truffle oil infused an addictive earthy flavor. I personally enjoyed the parmesan ice cream. It basically tasted like cold parmesan, and the texture of the ice cream went perfectly well with the sesame crisps that accompanied the dish. I did not like the ice cream as much when I ate it with the steak. My dining companion however, would have nothing to do with the ice cream, and I was pleased to eat his portion!

Instead of getting dessert (and if you’ve read my other posts, you know this is a rarity for me!), that night I wanted to keep ordering glasses of the cabernet savignon french wine (yes i drank imported wine in santorini…shoot me!) And Niko was on a roll with his belgian beer. That is how we ended the meal, savoring our drinks and enjoying the view of Fira.

The service was flawless. They made us feel very special and gave us the best table we had been promised when making our reservation. Each server explained the dishes well and answered any questions we had with enthusiasm and care.

Overall I would recommend Koukoumavlos for the atmosphere and adventure for the palate. There were more adventerous dishes on the menu that I didn’t try but would like to at another time. I was just so in the mood for steak!

I can’t say that the meal measured up to my grand expectations, but we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and experience, and I would certainly go back.

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Even though this wasn’t one of my favorite overall dining experiences in Santorini, I ate one of the best plates of the trip here!

Niko and I made reservations earlier that same day to get a table right on the edge. The view of Oia is spectacular: A cluster of lights on the uneven cliff and blue and white church tops.

Like Ambrosia and Nectar, this place had character. A bird cage hung near the entrance.  Old photos and weathered paintings adorned the walls. We sat under the lovely draped linen roof pictured above. The dark sky peeked dramatically through its stark white color.

The service is a little strange.  The servers were kind and want to help, but some didn’t know Greek OR English very well which was frustrating at times. We couldnt get clear answers to our questions about the menu.

Niko started with a steak carpaccio that was phenomenal. Simple and perfectly seasoned. Nothing outstanding, but enjoyable.

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I started with an appetizer that was highly recommended by the server: creamy white cheese (anthotiro) balls wrapped in crushed almonds in a honey sauce. Cheese, honey and nuts is usually a perfect combo, but the taste was dry and boring actually. The almonds overwhelmed the mild cheese and the small portion of honey did not add enough sweet balance to the dish. The cheese also didn’t seem fresh. (sorry for the dark picture, our area wasnt well lit).

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I got a bottle of the award winning white Sigalas wine. It was satisfyingly crisp with notes of honey and went nicely with my main dish which was…

…what can I say? An explosion of flavor! Pork Tenderloin crusted in freshly ground black peppercorns, with baked peaches. A bite of the tender pork, spicy pepper, and sweet peach is at once a complex taste and reminiscent of comfort food. I’ve had many foods with a combination of spicy and sweet, but this dish quite simply felt like sparks in my mouth. It is one of the handful of dishes from Santorini that I am still thinking about!

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(The dish in the foreground is Niko’s steak and in the background is my pork).

For the first time in my life, I was too stuffed for dessert. However, the choices looked interesting and delicious, such as custard pie with rose syrup.

Niko had a standard steak with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes. They were like his appetizer- well executed, flavorful, just nothing to write home about. 🙂

I liked the atmosphere and would probably come back to the restaurant just for the pork and to try the desserts, but I will also make it myself with this recipe I worked up…:)

PEPPER CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH BAKED PEACHES

1 pork tenderloin (not loin)
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
salt to taste
lots of cracked black pepper
2 tbl butter

Sprinkle pork evenly with salt, and then rub the pork with the black pepper so that it is thickly encrusted.

Preheat oven to 375 (180C)

Brown the pork on all 4 sides in a hot pan with olive oil.

Then put the pork in the oven to bake- please do not over cook! Remember that it continues to cook even when you let it rest on the table after removing it from the oven. I take mine out when it has an internal temp of 170.

In the hot pan, add the vinegar, garlic, and chicken stock- and reduce until it is as thick as youd like, and for the flavor to intensify. At the very end, whisk in two tbs. of butter.

For the PEACHES:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup peach brandy or peach nectar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 to 8 small ripe, firm peaches

Preparation:

In a 4- to 6-quart saucepan, combine the water, orange juice, brandy or nectar, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a full boil. Add peaches and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, until peaches are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove peaches to a bowl to cool completely. Boil the syrup for about 10 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Cool syrup. Peal the peaches.

Mix a little of the peach syrup with the pork-pan stock- this will meld all the nice flavors together.

Slice pork and serve peaches alongside.

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I’m sorry I haven’t updated in so long! I have been traveling within Athens and a few Greek islands.  The next few blogs will celebrate the amazing meals I had along the way.

Let me start with Lambros, where my parents and boyfriend Niko celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago  for a long lunch. Driving down Poseidonos road with the sea to our right, we veered onto the unraveled parking lot and stepped into familiar food ground.

Each summer my family arrived from the States, my godparents would bring us to this seafood restaurant.  The space bears a warm, understated elegance.  Within a wooden structure, the best patio tables are shaded and platformed over the sea with linen tableclothes.

We would order a huge grilled fresh fish drizzled with lado-lemono (lemon olive oil mix). I am a rare specimen here who prefers my fish plain- maybe with a few drops of lemon. I think the olive oil is too overpowering and you can’t taste the sea or freshness anymore of the fish.

At the top is a picture I took of a fillet slice of our fish, which was as usual very fresh and grilled to perfection.

Surprisingly though, the side dishes we ordered seemed to steal the show!

Let me start with the favorite at the table: Sea Urchin Salad (Achinosalata)

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Please do not be put off by the idea of sea urchin. Honestly, it is the foie gras of the sea…The texture is not as slimy as it looks. It is actually more like silk- a melting sensation of salt water and buttery richness. Phenomenal. Here is a perfect example of how a few simple ingredients prepared well can be better than any overworked plate.

When I was younger, my Uncle Mike, cousin Sophia and I used to swim out in the sea with a small knife and eat fresh sea urchin from the rocks. Uncle Mike would slice it in half, and all I remember is a bright red-orange color and a taste of the sea.

I think the salad is not made up of much else! It seems to have a drizzle of oil and dash of lemon, although I am not exactly sure. I plan to find out!

We also had small fried barbounia, (red mullet), and huge grilled shrimp. Here is a picture of my mom instructing me to suck on the shrimp heads. I did, and I appreciated the strong flavor, but I just wanted more sea urchin to be honest…:)

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I prefer the red mullet small like this and incredibly yummy:

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My father was spending half the meal scooping his roquefort dressing over the arugula on his plate. It was nice that they retained the crumbly texture of the cheese. It was also creamy but not dilluted by too much mayo or creme fraiche or sour cream etc.

This was one of my top dining experiences of the summer. I was proud of my parents for sitting and enjoying for over 3 hours! They usually like to get up immediately after the meal, American style!

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In my next blogs I will have recipes available so you can taste some of the flavors I enjoyed so much the past month…

I will also be returning soon with several other Santorini and Athens restaurant reviews, discussion of Karpathian food, and recipes!

And coming up later is a  little Greek-French fusion….

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