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Archive for the ‘restaurant reviews in greece’ Category

Niko asks me: Why is Valentines Day so special? Can’t I get you roses and take you to dinner any night? He has accepted that I’m never giving up this cheesy holiday- I consider it one more excuse to be indulgent, and any excuse is a good excuse, right? I always respond with “well, go ahead and surprise me with flowers and a dinner then-any night of the week!” This past Saturday he did surprise me, and pre- Valentines weekend showed me that he can be romantic any non-special night of the year.

Ok, I will stop gushing and discuss the food!

We went to Pil Poul– a French-Mediterranean restaurant in a stunning neo-classical building in the lovely area of Thissio in Athens. We had been here once before (2 years ago) and then-chef Jerome Serress was just amazing. Really. Amazing. The best foie gras I’ve ever had- with a stawberry gelee molded over the foie…oh, my, succulence…

Now there is a new chef- Konstantino Athinagora. He is young and described on the website < http://www.pilpoul.gr > as an enthusiastic, passionate, creative chef. Among other awards, he’s been honored in Greece as a Golden Chef of 2009 by the Athens Chef Club.

I arrived sceptical because of my past wonderful experience with Serress’ cooking, and also because of the new chef’s youth! But I admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

But before I get to the food, I need to describe the scene. (I’m so disappointed I didn’t have my camera).

A car, taxi or metro will only take you so far into Thissio. You walk from the road onto cobble-stone like pathways and approach a grandiose, white building. It is both ornate and understated. You enter, and a host greets you at the door. He takes you up to the third floor on the terrace, to enjoy the stunning view of the lit Acropolis. Genial small talk ensues. Then you are taken to the second floor to be seated.  The tables are simple and elegant.

Pil Poul feels like a historical home- which, I think, it is. Everything feels very stately. Some of the art on the walls do not match with the tone of the place. However, the art is interesting.

I cannot shower enough praise over the host, the manager, the server, and the sommelier. Each were incredibly warm, gracious and accommodating.

We really felt spoiled. In a country where the notion of good service is fairly recent, and still spotty, we relished this. I couldn’t choose between a few wines and the sommelier let me taste all 4! He also poured me extra big glasses…Ah, the road to my heart!

We started by sharing sweetbreads with red wine sauce and thinly fried potato strings. The plate was gorgeous and the sweetbreads were melt-in-your-mouth tender and velvety. The potatoes were crunchy and added a nice play in texture.

Next we each had foie gras since we both love it and wouldn’t want to share! Two sliced were served  with a grape sauce and greens. I don’t know the word for these greens in English- they are the green you see in the water that are on top of rocks. If anyone knows the word for this, let me know! I was underwhelmed by this dish. Niko loved it. Mine was underseasoned and just did not possess the silky texture or exclamation of flavor that I usually enjoy from foie. Niko is easier to please I think. 🙂

For the main plates, Niko had pork and pancetta with a violet-mustard sauce and sweet potato mash with truffle oil. I didn’t try the pork, but Niko really enjoyed it. This is probably a good choice for people who don’t want to veer to far away from the Greek palate. But let me tell you! The sweet potato mash was phenomenally good. I have never had better mashed potatoes in my life. The truffle oil seemed to underscore all the earthy flavor of the potato as well as its sweet undertones. Excellent. I was eating it off Niko’s plate.

I had an excellent duck confit wrapped in a homemade pasta, with two pieces of ravioli stuffed with squash, in a bitter cocoa sauce. Also Excellent. Wow. I really did not want this dish to end.  When I said this, Niko smugly reminded me of how I chide him when he complains of small portions at gourmet restaurants.

The desserts were just OK. We got pistachio panacotta and Espresso Cream with Marscapone, with a Orange-Rosemary Sauce. They were fine, but forgettable.

I believe this is excellent value for money. We ordered a la carte, but the degustation menu is 60 per person. For the setting and experience (on top of the food) it is worth it.

They are having a menu on Valentines with a glass of champagne included for 70 euros. Even though weve made other plans…we are considering going!

Pil Poul

Hours 8:30-00:30

Located:Αποστόλου Παύλου 51 και Πουλοπούλου (Apostolou Pavlou 51 & Poulopoulou)

Number:210 3423665

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As you can see, Niko and I were pleased at the end of our meal, clinking our complimentary after dinner drink. 🙂 Please ignore the chipped nail polish.

On a lazy Saturday, I decided I was in the mood to try a new restaurant and Niko offered to take me anywhere I wished. I’d heard a lot about Ta Kioupia, a restaurant in Kolonaki known for upscale Greek food and also for its quantity of food! The creative cuisine appeals to me, and the great big portions appealed to my dining partner.

The taxi dropped us in front of a neo-classical, white corner building. Upon entering, we were led up a flight of stairs by smiling staff, and seated in a romantic table by the french windows, overlooking the lovely neighborhood. I was impressed by the decor. Nothing garish, clean lines and symmetrically arranged charcoal drawings.  I think it was the best table in the space. This is  a setting not only for couples, but also groups of friends, and business dinners.

Ta Kioupia means ceramic pots. Some of the framed drawings were of “Kioupia” from an older time. This artistic choice underscores the balance of sophistication and tradition. I appreciated the overall impression of chic yet warm, homey dining. In fact, this is the angle of the famous New York restaurant Craft: upscale family dining with shared plates. Celebrating and re-inventing traditional dishes.

The server explained to us that we could order a la carte or pay one set price for the chef’s selection of 11 dishes. We wanted the real Kioupia experience, and ordered the 11 dish menu. We were informed the courses begin with a soup. Niko turned to me after the server left with a disapproving look. “You can eat my soup, I don’t want soup.” Niko basically wants meat all the time. I responded with an annoyed glance, knowing that I would encourage him to try it, and that he would probably like it. And he did! We both did.

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The soup was beef broth with several herbs, veggies, and halloumi cheese. There was parsley, pepper, mint, lemon…The halloumi cheese, which usually has an almost plastic texture, melted in your mouth. It was the best preperation of halloumi I have ever encountered. This soup was light and brothy, but depthfully flavored and comforting.

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The next course offered a wonderful surprise. Our eggplant salad (melitzanosalata) was assembled in front of us before serving! The eggplant was freshly grilled on charcoal. Olive oil, white vinegar, and a “secret sauce” was added to the vegetable and mixed together. In the sauce I tasted tahini and lemon, and I’m not sure what else was incorporated.

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I almost didn’t post this picture of the eggplant salad because it’s not very pretty and does not do justice to the incredible flavor. I have eaten eggplant salad my whole life in a million different places, and it has Never tasted like this. The tahini, lemon, vinegar, olive oil ratio was perfect. I couldn’t put my finger on what the transcendant factor was. The ingredients tasted familiar, but it was certainly very special.

Fresh and warm pita bread accompanied our meal to scoop up all the dips. They also brought a bean dip with caramelized mandarin slices. This was wonderful, and in each bite the mandarin added such a bright dimension to the bean flavor. There should have been a bigger portion other than the 7 slices offered, because without it the flavor was a little boring.

We were also served salad with a rich honey vinaigrette that was great. They gave us a huge portion of the salad and we barely ate half because there were so many other distractions.

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This lemon pork dish is a traditional Greek meal. There was not much innovation here, but it was not necessary. I ate very little of it, because I was already getting full and we weren’t yet halfway through! Niko relished it and finished it quickly.

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The meatballs were a mutual favorite for us. They were so tender that they melted in your mouth. (This is the second melting sensation after the halloumi!) The seasoning was perfect, the mint, onion and parsley flavored the meat well, and the tomato sauce was divine. I definitely think they put butter in their sauce. I could have eaten them all myself, but I was fair and shared.

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There were a few dishes that were not so great. There was a lasagna-like dish filled with an orange flavored minced meat mixture. The meat was nice, but the homemade lasagna layers were too thick and incredibly dry. After 8 “appetizer” courses, we were each offered a choice of a meat dish from a short list. I chose a medium rare steak and Niko chose pork chops. They were both good. Just good. Nothing phenomenal here. And it really wasn’t necessary since there were so many other great dishes that were so filling.

But the night ended on an absolutely glorious note! Two great desserts! Mille-feuille and Kataifi Ice-Cream!

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The mille-feuille is a new addition to the menu. The servers were very curious to see what we thought, since the chef is experimenting with new recipes. It was fluffy and creamy and tasty, but the Katifi Ice Cream stole the show. I think the server was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t as impressed with the Mille-Feuille. This indicated to me how much pride and care there was for the quality of the food.

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From a massive bowl of ice cream brought upstairs, we were served two scoops on each plate. It was incredible. Katifi is a traditional Greek pastry, made with honey, cinnamon, almond, cloves, and kataifi, which is similar to angel hair pasta. It tasted just like this pastry, but in ice cream form. We ended the meal on a very high note.

Overall we enjoyed ourselves and were pleased.  I do have a few criticisms. Why do they bring so many of the dishes all at once? Because the point is to share dishes family style, I don’t think they should be served one at a time. But two at a time would have been better. There is so much food that it is important to take your time, and when they bring 4-5 dishes after the soup, it is overwhelming. It made me feel that we had to eat quickly because some dishes were hot and would have cooled.

My second criticism is that the restaurant seems to choose quantity over quality. There were two dishes that were just average, and one (the orange flavored ground beef in layered thick pasta) that was dry and unsuccessful. Either they should have 11 WOW dishes, or cut it down to the 8 wow dishes they already have. Quality over quantity.

These are small gripes, however. Several dishes are just excellent. And I appreciate the efforts of the chef to experiment and play with traditional Greek plates. I would go back just for the soup, eggplant, meatballs, and kataifi ice cream.

This restaurant also offers great value for money. For 43 euros each you get so much food, including desserts. The wine list is reasonably priced. The atmosphere is elegant and refined. The service is faultless. Enjoy!

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Varoulko is the first restaurant in Greece years ago to be awarded a Michelin star. The chef Lefteris Lazarou was raised preparing seafood with his father on a galley boat on the port of Piraeus. He has elevated local seafood with Greek ingredients and ingenious creativity. I have seen him in interviews on Greek TV and he also seems incredibly kind.

This restaurant has been highly recommended from my dear friend Maria, and I finally got to try it this summer on my birthday…and then again in September for my mother’s birthday. Yes, it is that good.

The second meal with my mother is the one I discuss below.

Varoulko, during warm or mildly cool months has outdoor seating in a modern setting with a view of the Acropolis lit in a warm golden-orange light. The servers are all warm, accommodating, and enthusiastic about the food.

The picture posted above is, I know, out of focus, but I love it. Maybe it evokes the dazzling, dizzying joy I had with each course. 🙂  This was an amuse-bouche presented in an eggshell: a Tarama (fish-roe) Sabayon. Velvety, smooth, rich, with a subtle salty aftertaste.

Once seated, the manager or head server offers a 4 course tasting meal. However, you can choose to eat a-la-carte. Since I had been there before, I kept two new dishes that sounded great, and replaced the other two with ones I had my first time, that I wanted to have again. They were obliging. I also ordered a glass of Chablis.

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This dish was an incredible first induction to the meal. Lump Crab Salad with carrots, red pepper and thin, sparse strands of seaweed, topped with a Mandarin-Lemon thick foam. It was not as mustard-y looking as it does in this picture. We were instructed by the server to mix the foam thoroughly with the crab before eating.

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I wish I could transport the exclamation of mandarin and lemon aromas that emanated from this dish once mixed. This was an unexpected surprise that called to mind the idea behind this blog: Food Synaesthesia- the overlap of all senses for a transcendent experience. I know this may seem like a lot of hype for a seemingly simple dish, but it really was wonderful. I dreaded the sight of just a few bites left on the plate.

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The dish that followed did not disappoint, but wasn’t awe-inspiring. Thin slices of Red Snapper in a Toast Crust with Eggplant Puree and Raspberry Sauce.

The fish was fresh and the toast crust was satisfyingly buttery and salty. The eggplant puree had a silky smooth texture. It was appropriately mild in flavor as a balance to the salty fish. There wasn’t much raspberry sauce on the plate to see how those flavors would meld. I enjoyed it and it was a good portion.

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The third plate actually managed to out-do the experience of the crab! Langoustine Orzo Risotto. The Langoustine was tender, and the orzo risotto was creamy but firm instead of mushy. Each bite was just a firecracker of flavor. I will try as long as it takes to re-create this recipe at home! I kept asking them exactly what ingredients were in the dish, and they told me (other than the orzo and langoustine) that there was sweet Moschato wine, parmesan, and parsley. However, I’m sure that there was also a very strong langoustine or lobster stock involved as well.

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Though the final dish did not out-do the Langoustine, it was beautiful, inventive, and with great flavor: Braided Fish with Fava Puree and Octopus Sauce. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the fish. Unacceptable, I know, but I can’t remember!

The braiding had a function beyond its beauty; it also created its own nice texture. The fava puree was creamy like silky mashed potatoes, but with the great bean taste. The octopus sauce really didnt taste like octopus, but was a nice almost syrupy tart-sweet flavor.  My mother and I both really enjoyed this dish.

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The desserts were equally impressive as the savory plates. The chocolate souffle with espresso sauce was nice and bitter (the more espresso drizzled, the more bitter it became) and I like my chocolate bitter! But the mint strawberry mille feuille stole the show. The layers were not puff pastry, but rather like a mint caramel crisp. The cream was vanilla infused and the strawberry syrup was definitely made from fresh wild strawberries as promised by the menu! Just excellent. The taste of mint was pronounced and paired with the strawberry wonderfully.

Some chefs like Thomas Keller prefer to offer many dishes that give you just a taste and leave you wanting more. I do enjoy this sometimes, and appreciate the experience. However, I loved that the portions at Varoulko were substantial. Though we had a five course meal, it was satisfying to have more than a few tastes of each dish to really relish in the flavors. And I still was left wanting more.

Here is a recipe from Mr. Lazarou from his book: Varoulko: Colors, Smells and Tastes

SEA URCHIN RISOTTO

Serves 4

(If you cant find enough sea urchin, mix in some regular fish roe)


1 cup diced yellow onion, 1/8” dice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Freshly crushed white peppercorns
1 cup Arborio rice
4 – 5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh sea urchin roe, carefully cleaned of all spines and grit, divided

Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly crushed white peppercorns, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the rice to completely coat it with oil and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, and stir until it’s almost absorbed. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the stock is almost absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring while its absorbed, until the risotto is the consistency you desire; it should be moist and creamy, not dry. It takes about 18 – 20 minutes for the rice to cook.

When the rice is just done, stir in 1/4 cup sea urchin roe, and divide the risotto between 4 warmed plates. Make a shallow hollow in the center of each portion, and fill it with the remaining sea urchin roe, evenly divided.

Serve immediately.

It tastes like sea-butter, please don’t be afraid to try sea urchin!

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Tis Pandoras is one of four fish tavernas in Ammodi Bay, Oia (pictured above).

All morning we swam in deep waters. Ammoudi doesn’t have a regular beach with sand.  There are cliffs of rock from which you can either jump into the water, or walk down carefully on steep slippery stepping stones.  The sea here is very cool. The only things in sight are sky, rock, mountains, and the sun. We worked up quite an appetite.

It’s a short walk from the swimming cove to the tavernas. The other 3 restaurants offer more standard Greek seafood fare. Sunset Taverna is known for its lobster spaghetti which I will be sure to try in my next visit to Santorini. Tis Pandoras, however, has an overall more inspired menu. I have access to traditional tavernas all year around, and I was curious to try traditional recipes with a twist. Having said that, we ended up trying relatively familiar Greek recipes.

No owner would need to create much atmosphere as the tables are seated right next to the sea. Divine! But you could still notice personal touches in everything- the wild descriptions of food on the menu,  the cooky candle holders on the table, and quirky works of art inside the kitchen.

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We started with one of my favorite appetizers, deep fried miniature shrimp (Garidakia). They were topped with chopped parsley and lemon juice. The shrimp tasted fresh and scrumptious. It was maybe a tad too greasy for my taste, but Niko (my regular dining partner/boyfriend) loved them a little oily. The batter was pretty thick and crunchy, which was a nice balance texture-wise with the shrimp.

To the side, you can see the my bitten bread spread with the smooth salty olive tapenade which was served to us at the beginning of the meal.

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The second meze (appetizer) was my favorite: Octopus in vinegar. After we finished it, we ordered a second. It was incredibly tender, yet not overcooked. This is important! It should be neither tough, nor mush- just like cooked veggies. I asked the chef how he accomplished this perfect balance, and he said that when you stew the octopus in vinegar and water, add an onion to the pot. Once the onion is fork tender, you should remove the octopus. I tried this trick and it worked! He seasoned the octopus with another dash of vinegar (probably red wine although I use Sherry vinegar which is awesome), dried oregano, fresh parsley, and capers. I loved biting into a caper and slice of octopus in one bite. It had a spicy edge to the flavor since capers are so much more pungent in Santorini (for more about Santorini ingredients, see older posts).

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Our last shared plate was this restaurant’s most notable dish (though I still preferred the octopus)- Stuffed Calamari. This was the biggest Calamari I have ever seen! Seriously. This Calamari was on steroids or something. It is stuffed with feta cheese, green pepper, and onions, then drizzled with an oregano seasoned vinaigrette. We both really enjoyed the filling, and there is so much of it that we spread half of it on the rest of our bread. My only criticism is that the cheese overpowers the flavor of the seafood a little too much, and it needed a bit more green pepper in the stuffing.

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As usual, Niko didn’t want dessert, but I always do. Before I ordered, the chef sent out a complimentary orange cake, fresh out of the oven and very warm. This would also be a wonderful winter dessert, but still enjoyable sitting under the sun. Its orange flavor is intensely vibrant, and the shreds of coconut in the batter is scrumptuous. It is drizzled oh-so-lightly with chocolate syrup. I found this a sophisticated move, as most Greek restaurants drench everything in sauces and syrups.

Instead of working off the meal with the 200 steps back up to Oia (hey, we swam all morning, right?) we ordered a cab back up to our hotel. 🙂

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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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