Oooooo! Someone ate 'AnthoTYRO' from Kriti! For that, you WILL HAVE to go to Kriti. Anthotyro is the Cretan version of the Central American 'queso blanco', which has now become part of our daily staple, or at least, regular item in every grocery store here (D.C. to Baltimore). Soft manouri is the closest you would get to Anthotyro in Athens. Of course, you could get it by the tins - and I mean, bucket tins, in the Chania enclosed municipal market -- a MUST visit, if you haven't yet, when in Kriti. Anthogalo is a bit different, its in the 'crema' category as opposed to the cheese category.
Are you 'up' on the Greek wines? Has any red surpassed the Naousa Reserve? And how are the different years, if you know? Tried Malvasia or Verdea? Especially Verdea, the favorite of Dionysios Solomos (the national poet, who wrote the verses of the greek national anthem). Verdea, of course, as Solomos, comes from Zakynthos (Zante - sounds: Tsante). If you haven't tried Verdea yet, look for it. Has to be active looking, because its not easy to find. The only house bottling it is Cava Comuto and has very limited and selected distribution.
Does your friend live in Anafiotika? You wrote she lives in the Acropolis neighborhood and my friend has always lasted after Anafiotika. Hard to get to, and only by foot, but the place has an immense charm. If your friend doesn't live there and somehow you haven't been there, make the effort. You will be amply rewarded. Not on the slopes of the Acropolis, but right on its foothill. -- And report back! Especially if you spot some outstanding food along the way!
-- Don't overlook the hand made ice cream served on cone in ice cream carts you can ONLY find in Plaka anymore. Comes in three flavors, vanilla, chocolate and pink - whatever flavor that may be, its good - and you can't choose what you get, but its all reeeeally really good. Its the Greek counterpart to the ice cream you find from cart vendors in Ismir and Istambul. Not now though, not yet. Only in the summer and fall.
Domestic flights? Nothing. We can't even take the starbucks coffee or a bottle of water anymore...
International flights? See my post on the thread on leftovers for details. But the gist of it is, great leftovers (preferably home made).
How different cultures think about leftovers! Years ago in Greece my friend and I took home our respective pizza leftovers. 'Personal' pizzas, at least 14' in diameter, not too personal, really, wouldn't you say? Yet savoir vivre dictated that you either eat your own pizza - no shared plates in that kind of a restaurant (not a 'pizza parlor, clearly, but a posh italian restaurant) or you just politely... leave the leftover. In my case, that leftover wasn't much to speak of. But my friend's pizza was almost untouched.
My sister couldn't believe we asked for 'doggy bags'. 'What are you going to do with the leftover pizza'? -- She actually, truly, wondered. It had never happened to her before, since it was a faux pas at the time to take leftovers home. We said we were going to have it for breakfast.
Next morning, as indeed we were warming the pizza in the toaster oven, my sister called to verify we were having it for breakfast....
To this day, many years later, she cannot fathom leftovers the next day. Then again, she doesn't have leftovers. She makes sure she orders as little as she would eat. This is actually possible in Europe, where the portions are at most 2/3 of the US ones - most often really less than half of our portions.
BTW - we doggy bagged HER pizza too that day. She was just going to let it go to waste. It was great for breakfast, as I recall.
Leftovers supposed to belong to whoever ordered the food. 'Supposed' because that's my friends made up rule. I hardly ever have leftovers, but I am the one claiming it all. Hence the 'rule'. Said rule got appended to 'after 24hrs leftovers fair game' (i.e., I can eat them). The rule had to be appended after many many petrie dish experiments, many many uneaten greenish moldy food 'things' - uneaten leftovers fallen into oblivion were poisoning the air in our refrigerator...
My best friend in Spain is an excellent cook and being a full time mother and wife, she cooks two different meals a day, aside from breakfast and mid-day snack (and we are not talking bread-cheese-ham here, we are talking a full course of tapas for mid-day snack, different items daily).
Her two men, husband and son, spoilt to the hilt, will not have the same food for a second meal. This means, if there is any food leftover, she is the only one who would go near it the next day, or even at the next meal. She can't even 'incorporate' any leftover food to the next meal...
When I visit she freezes the leftovers of the entire time I am there and packs them for me for the plane home. I have solicited numerous jealous looks and comments on the flights with my great smelling and looking food next to the poor choice called airplane food.
Hi Elizabeth ...-ou. Yes, -ou should be it. I have never been and never will be -os. That was my father. I was born and will die -ou. Funny thing is, my greek last name to begin with, is not common in the US. Add the ending -ou instead of the common -os, and I am the only listing with this name in the entire White pages in all 50 states... BTW, how come you have your husband's last name? Greek Family Law (revision 1981) does not provide for last name change after marriage.
Anyway, the loukoumades place is kTistakis - as in ktistis - builder.
Since you are going to Omonia: Have you ever had 'anthogalo'? Its a sweet-cream dessert. Sort of like sweet sour cream. The sour cream consistency, but sweet. I know there used to be a big 'Galaktopoleio' - sweets and milk products - on Omonia between Athinas and Panagi Tsaldari. It may not be there anylonger. But it may still be... After all, it was an institution! Years ago the students of the National Theater school used to frequent it after their classes and rehearsals, in the wee hours of the night. A cream or a yogurt were cheap enough to fit the budget of starving budding actors and good enough to feed the spirit - if not the body... See if its there and let us know. Try the
Brave of you to live in greece these days...
I never bought raki in athens, but I bought a really really bad homemade one (read this as: very good raki. Totally undrinkable high octane power alcohol) from Anogia in Kriti. In any case, I found out that the best local products are the ones from the various local Synetaerismoi. In the case of raki that should be the Synetairismos Paragogwv Kritis. I don't know where you would find synetairistika products anymore, but it used to be near Omonia. There is an excellent Loukoumades place called 'Ktistakis' on Sokratous street in Omonoia. -- The place used to be on Agiou Konstantinou, a block east of the National Theater, but they moved almost 10 years ago. They are known since Eleftherios Venizelos times, Ktistakis was frequented by Venizelos, the Kretan politician and prime minister early in the 20th century. I would go there, first, for the awesome loukoumades (extremely unique: hard on the outside, full of syrop in the inside, with sesame on top) and then to ask them where I could find Omospondia Kritis products, including raki. They may carry them, but if not, its safe to assume they would know where to find them.
Enjoy the loukoumades! I wish I were there...
More on the 'cutting edge' food in Athens: Check Athinorama every week. It lists almost every restaurant and has a short paragraph about it, along with full reviews of selected ones. Online at http://www.athinorama.gr/restaurants/
Hello E. Kolliopoulos! - I think you would like the following two books: The Food of Greece (Hardcover, 1979) Author: Vilma Liacouras Chantiles, and: Modern Greek: 170 Contemporary Recipes from the Mediterranean Author: Andy Harris (Paperback, Illustrated, 2002). The first one is my Kitchen Bible, (if not my one and only bible, but lets not take things too far and offend people beyond the table...). Totally un-surpassed.
The second one is 'outstanding' in every respect. The recipes are eclectic (that's positive) and easy to follow. I even sent it to my 104 year old godmother/great aunt in Greece, who is the daily cook for our entire family, (a gourmet cook, retired wife of an ambassador who for years oversaw embassy dinners) and she wholeheartedly approved the book. I also bought it massively from Amazon and sent it lieu of a Christmas card to my greek friends. (postage per book was way over book's price, book is heavy).
Vilma Liacouras Chantiles' book was her master thesis project. It was out of print for at least a decade in the 1980's and then published in paperback in 1992 but its again out of print. Your best bet to find it would be half.com.
I like your idea for a food trip. It will be quite expensive though. We had worked on putting together a gourmet trip in the 1980's. It included restaurants (and visits, of course) in Istanbul, Ismir and Ayvalik, along with a good number in Greece (Athens, Kriti, Myconos, Allonisos, Thessaloniki, Yannina, Kavala - for the 'foodie' part, and the addition of Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, etc. for the sight seeing part). The trip ended up being too expensive for the adventurous kind of traveler such a trip would attract. But by all means, try it! I would be very interested.
PS - Pho is *purrrrfect* after a long day at work. I too am thankful for the Vietnamese here!
The real issue is that your relatives don't want to 'offend' you, therefore they take you to a bland mainstream no frills restaurants. You see, most restaurants in Greece either serve things that would never appear in any menu in the US (see E. Kolliopoulos' post above: would you ever consider eating calf liver wrapped in lamb stomach lining?), or serve foods in a way that may seem appalling here in the US. For example, I, as born and bred Greek, would never even consider buying fish without seeing its eye. Furthermore, if I would serve fish for dinner, I would clearly want to serve it the right way, whole, head and bones included. [I would gladly through in a lesson of cleaning and eating it, even spend the time to do it for each diner individually, but serving fish fillet is a culinary insult to/for a Greek].
Now, this picture may be disgusting to you or to most Americans, as to my dismay and embarrassment I found out the hard way... but it is commonplace to Greeks who expect fish served <i>thus</i>. Frankly, as far as I have seen, even highly sophisticated and well traveled Americans and Greek Americans, are completely un-prepared to face - not to mention, taste - the "true" foods of Greece.
I will never forget the drive and walk to get to a particular 'kokoretsi' restaurant in Kalambaka which made only kokoretsi and was almost daily presold, to eat our PREPAID/PRE-bought spit-kokoretsi with my American colleague, only to see the disgust in her face after I told her what it was she had just tasted and praised the taste of so much. The remainder of her plate went to stray dogs. I was crushed... (not to mention, out of serious cash, at the time, 20+ years ago).
Un-phased from the previous experience, another day we went with more American colleagues to one of Athens' top fish restaurants by the sea. As is the custom, I went to the kitchen and chose the fish - a great looking fresh rockfish, and then the waiter brought out the large plate with fried seafood appetizers, squid - calamari - , of course, prominent among them. The table was immediately enveloped by a deadly silence. I was freaking out by then... What on earth had happened to make a bunch of lively academics shut up so fast? I soon found out that none had ever tried squid, neither thought it was eatable, because squid was used for bait where they were from. That was only New Jersey, mind you, albeit a few years (early 1980's) before Cheesecake Factory memorialized calamari in its menu in the 1990's.
Ask me if I dare suggest a 'true' greek restaurant to another American... All my friends know by now to stick to 'easy' and recognizable foods when they invite us, and furthermore, they know not to invite us 'out' but only to their houses, where its quite safe that we won't come upon a listing of 'fresh lamb brains, lightly battered and quick fried, served with...' -- you get the picture, the kind of restaurant my Greek friends (and I) would choose to spend time and money at.
As if the above experiences weren't enough, a few years back - in the 21st century this time - we had a Pot Luck dinner at the department and encouraged by the multicultural culinary inroads that have occurred the recent years, I pursued to MAKE 300 - that is: Three Hundred - stuffed grape leaves (ok, dolmadakia, in Greek) as my contribution. Cost? Several chiropractor visits to get my back in place after all this back breaking work. Results? I ended up taking over 250 back home, after almost 'forcing' a few dozen on the only colleague who tried them and politely expressed approval. Nobody else even bothered to try them, being... 'afraid'.... Just as well, since it was the only thing I could eat at that dinner. EVERYthing else had sugar! Sugar on pork, sugar on beef, sugar on beans, sugar on rice, sugar on sugar... I realized then that sugar is still the main ingredient in the American kitchen (the 1950's are alive and well, I Love Lucy!) Come to think about it, maybe my dolmadakia would have gone had I added sugar.... Neahhhhh, I would never do that :-!