31 August, 2014

Museum of Greek Gastronomy @ Psyrri




So. Museum of Greek Gastronomy. Mmmh.

We visited this place in the beginning of August. I did not bring myself to write about it for long because of mixed feelings toward it.

Let me explain what happened.

The place is very close to the Iroon Square of Psyrri. It is housed in a nice Neo-Classic building and has an exhibition space, small shop selling Greek food products related to exhibition, and restaurant.

The restaurant is open in the evening, and also for lunch on request (so I was told). Closed on Mondays.

I booked the restaurant for a Sunday evening, calling it on Tuesday, if I remember well. The guy on the phone - I think it was the chef - explained me the menu in detail and I was told that there is one menu with fish/seafood and the the other with meat. The menu consists in 4 courses and priced at 20 Euro (which is supposed to be introductory promotional price, so at some point, it might change).

And we - GH, I and a friend from abroad - arrived there Sunday evening, at 8 o'clock.

The girl at the reception did not seem to have the record of our reservation and the table was not ready then. It was not a problem, because we could take a look at the exhibition, which is currently dedicated to the alimentary culture in Greek Monasteries. The theme is going to change in early next year.

We were seated at around 8:30.

And here came a bad surprise. We were told that there was no seafood menu, so virtually no choice in dishes. The reason was that there was no fresh fish in the market and their policy was to offer only fresh products from it (here I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that the Varvakio Market is very close).

Besides, the meat menu was totally different from the one I was explained on the phone.

It is good for them to have a principle, but there are people do not want to eat meat and I do not believe that frozen products are always inferior choice. In my opinion, they should let the guests choose what they prefer, either to pick fresh meat or frozen seafood.

If we were only GH and me, we would have left, telling them that we'd come back on another day, but unfortunately (for her), we brought a friend from abroad and could not change the plan.

Let;s see what we ate.

Here is fava from Santorini (on the house).


Nice, but maybe not the best I have ever eaten. It lacked in sweetness.

And here I add another complaint. About wine. When we requested red wine, the waiter/owner just brought us a red bottle of wine which he recommended without telling us the price. Only when I asked , he explained to us that there are 3 choices, 17 Euro, 20 Euro and another one much more expensive (40 or 50?). Now, the 20 Euro wine was Metohi and 20 Euro is normal price at restaurants, but, the price issue should be clear from the beginning. I don't think he was acting in bad intention. Still, it was not quite correct.

The theme of the course was Crete and the first course was Dakos.



I like Dakos, but not at restaurants, because it tend to fill the stomach quickly.

The second course was fried rabbit.


OK. It was a bit lukewarm.

And the third and main course was pork fillet with sauce which I do not remember. I am not a fan of pork fillet, because it tend to be dry and this one was not an exception. The potatoes were really nice, though.


The dessert was a mixture of mizithra and yogurt, served with jam and biscuit crumbs. When the waiter/owner served us this, he said that this was probably the best of the day's meal. "You should not say that", I thought.


In addition, this was different from the dessert which was announced at the beginning (it should have been ice cream).

Each dish was fine, but personally I did not like the combination due to lack of vegetable. I do not digest meat very well, if I do not eat it with vegetables.

The total bill came to about 80 Euros for 3.

Although the ambiance was nice and the food also was OK, I left with the place mixed feelings. Several things - mainly service issues - were definitely wrong. Maybe it gets better in time, hopefully.

Museum of Greek Gastronomy (Μουσείο Ελληνικής Γαστρονομίας)
Agiou Dimitriou 13, Psyrri, Athens
Αγίου Δημητρίου 13, 10554 Ψυρρή, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 3211311, 694 8749161
http://gastronomymuseum.gr/
(At the moment of writing, the website is only in Greek, but the people here do speak English).

20 August, 2014

Where We Ate in Samos (Summer 2014 - Part 2)


For the later part of our stay in Samos, we moved from Kampos Marathokampou to Kokkari and we had lunch on our way at Mytilinioi.

The village has a nice central square with a large platanos tree. Although there was some tavernas, virtually one one had any guest: To Magazaki pou Legame (which I would translate into "the small shop that we were speaking about").

It is a taverna as well as souvlaki place, so some young ones were eating only souvlaki wraps. We had a normal sit-down meal.

The food was OK, but generally salty. Probably the strongest selling point of this taverna is generous portion size and low price.

Here is a rabbit stifado (so we were told but, did not look like a normal stifado) served with risone pasta; enough to feed 2 of us.


We did not paid even 25 Euro and we were stuffed to death.

To Magazaki pou Legame- Το Μαγαζάκι που Λέγαμε
Central Square, Mytilinioi, Samos
Πλατεία Μυτιληνιών, Μυτιληνιοί, 83 101, Σάμος
(+30) 2273051264
http://www.tomagazakipoulegame.gr/



===========

As soon as we arrived at Kokkari and unloaded our luggage at a pension, we headed for Vathy to buy some gift for one of GH's Samiot cousin who just had a baby.

The merchants of Vathy was hosting a "White Night" (shops to remain far into the night) and there were several parallel events going on.

We saw local men cooking something called "Giorti". It is a sort of heavy porridge made of meat and barley.


I did not taste it, but smelled terrific.

But I picked up a free tiganita, which is fried bread. This one had some grated cheese on top.


The next day our lunch was at an uncle's house, but in the evening we went for a quick souvlaki in Kokkari, together with the uncle's family.

This is a place called 'Kokkari', and also known as 'Manolis' to the locals. Restaurants in Kokkari tend to be expensive because of foreign tourist trade, but this one seemed to be popular also with the locals.



It is located in the central (though small) square of Kokkari.


One day we had a breakfast in a cafe in Kokkari called Aelio. It is one of the shops on the seafront and serves homemade cakes and drinks.

Here is the breakfast set of 7 Euro, including one coffee. As a freddo cappuccino only cost 3.50 Euro, it is a good offer.



There was a plenty of bread, 3 jams (at least one was homemade for sure), cornflakes and milk, and a chocolate dessert. The quantity of bread was enough for two.

Regardless of so much interest they poured in the jams, the spread wasn't butter, but vegetable substitute. I do not understand the spirit.

And the chocolate dessert was too heavy in the morning; it would have been nicer if it were simple yogurt.

Aelio
Kokkari, Samos
Κοκκάρι, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 2273 092898


And we had a lunch in a taverna called Kallisti in Manolates.

Manolates is a charming village in the mountain and many people come here just for a meal.

There are 6 or 7 tavernas and they are all good, we heard. But another Samiot cousin of GH chose this one.

The starters and pies were indeed quite good, although the main dishes looked only averagely good.


If you are in the norther part of Samos and have a car, a visit or two to tavernas in Manolates and Vourliotes is indeed a must.

Kallisti - Κάλλιστη
Manolates, 83200, Samos
Μανολάτες, 83200, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 22730 94661

=========
There are many cafe-bars in Kokkari and one night we went out for a drink.

Here is Mojito and a glass of wine. Both of the glasses was really large.



The day of return, we had several hours to kill in the airport, because we had to return our car some hours earlier than the departure. When we rent it, the owner of the rent-a-car shop told us that we could keep it until the departure, but she changed her mind and called us to return the car even one day before the departure obviously because she got another client and did not have another car to rent.

The airport of Samos is very small and there is only one canteen as drinking/eating facility. And the price is really high, as high as in large airports of European capitals!

So I decided to go out to find something to eat. I walked about 2 kilometers under the sun to Chora and bought a peinirli from a pizzeria/taverna called Sinadisi.

It was 6 Euro (eat-in was 6.50 Euro) and was quite filling. The dough was fresh and plenty of cheese. I liked it.


The shop itself looks a bit shabby, so I won't recommend particularly anyone to come to eat here, but, if you like its style, why not?

It is on the right side of the main street coming from Pithagorio or Ireo to Chora.

Sinadisi - Συνάντηση
Chora, 83100 Samos
Χώρα, 83100, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 22730 91330

=================

One thing I thought interesting about the restaurants in Samos is that almost all the names are spelled in English (Latin) characters and not in Greek. In other places I know, the names are usually spelled both with Greek characters and Latin characters. Not so for many restaurants in Samos.

I guess this shows how much the restaurant business here is depending on foreign trade.

Even so, we managed to find normal - authentic - Greek food served in the Greek way. I guess there are lots of tourist traps, but still, a bit of research can leads you to right places.

15 August, 2014

Salamina Excursion


About 2 weeks ago we went to Salamina island with our car.


The purpose wasn't to go to beach, but to take a friend of mine from Japan to a monastery called Faneromeni.

With 3 people in the car, we paid 7 Euro for a ferry ride. It takes about 15 minutes to cross the sea. The boat from Perama arrives at a town called Paloukia.

The distance from Paloukia to Salamina is about 2 km and they are almost continuous.

It was impressive how rough the people drive in Salamina. As if there is no traffic law.

After some search, we found Faneromeni Monastery.


It is a still very active religious centre and many Christians visit here. Now it looks post-Byzantine, but its history should date back earlier. My friend came to visit to see the wall painted icons in the main church.

Here is the opening hours.


But you should mind that the main church with beautiful wall painted icons is open only during liturgies. We managed to enter, because GH explained to the keepers that my friend came all the way from Japan and she did not know that, but if you are casual Greek visitor, you might be told to return (as we were told by a nun at first).

This is a sea in front of the monastery. There was no one swimming here.


The friend, unfortunately, wasn't feeling well and we did not swim. So we went to Salamina town for lunch.


We stopped at an ouzeri called Porto Leone. The food was just averagely good, but it was cheap and the view was nice.


We should go back to find a nice beach (although studies say that the sea around Salamina is not clean enough for swimming as many beaches around Attica).

Attic Moon @ Syntagma


If someone asks me to pick up only one favourite cuisine, I would probably take "Chinese". The Thai comes close second, but as the Chinese cuisine so full of variety, probably I can find something close to Thai in Chinese cooking anyway.

It is a shame that GH prefers Greek cuisine to any other.

But, sometimes, I manage to convince him to come to eat something else. The excuse this time was that I had found a discount coupon.

The Chinese restaurant, Attic Moon, opened some months ago at the location of Diros restaurant used to be, in Xenofontos Street. It is fairly close to the other Asian restaurants in the area, like Furin Kazan, Dosirak, Koi and East Pearl (the one that moved away from Piraeus).


The interior is simply and nicely decorated. There was a strong smell of food in the dining area; I think they need a stronger ventilator in the kitchen.


The menu consists in Chinese and Thai food, but I do not trust in Thai food served in Chinese restaurant of Athens, so we did not order any Thai dish.

Here is a Tsingtao Beer for GH. I guess it was about 3.50 Euro. We paid 5 Euro for the beer and a bottle of water, but I do not know the details as the receipt for the drink was not issued (I got the receipt for the coupon, though).


Here is chicken satay (3.80 Euro). Satay is a Malay dish, but considering that the Chinese use "Satay sauce" (which can come in a jar) I guess it has been adopted in Chinese cuisine.



In any case, these chicken skewers were different from what I expected. What I expected was marinated and grilled chicken on skewers, served with satay sauce while here the chicken was dusted with fine bread crumbs and deep-fried. The sauce I guessed was 'Satay sauce'.

They were fine as they were, but just not the chicken satay I know. And I wanted them to be served piping hot, not lukewarm as they came.

The Spring rolls were pretty average (2.70 Euro).


This is sweet and sour pork for GH (7.50 Euro). I did not like much the sweet and sour sauce here, because it was as if ready-made. Otherwise fine.


Here is Kung Pao Chicken for me (7.50 Euro). There is plenty of chili and pretty hot. It contained a healthy dose of ginger, which GH passionately dislikes. But what can we do?


Normally the chicken in Kung Pao should be diced and not sliced as this one. And the meat should be cooked in a very strong heat while the chicken here is casually stir-fried.

Accordingly I did not recognize this dish as classical Kung Pao Chicken, but, again, it is still OK as sliced chicken stir-fried with vegetables, peanuts, and chili.

We ordered also two portions of steamed rice (1.50 Euro per one).


I think it was Thai Jasmine rice and quite good.

Maybe this is wrong in the Chinese manner book, but this is how I like to eat casual Chinese food.


We were given 2 fortune cookies at the end.


Message for me was "Someone is speaking well of me". Well, thank you.

All in all, it wasn't bad, but I wasn't satisfied with the cooking skill and method. But it is in Athens and in Syntagma, so I'd live with it.

Attic Moon / 名月楼
Ksenofontos 10-12, Syntagma, 10557, Athens
Ξενοφώντος 10-12, Σύνταγμα, Αθήνα
Tel. +30 210 3227095
http://www.atticmoon.com/

10 August, 2014

Where We Ate in Samos (Summer 2014 - Part 1)


We went to the island of Samos in late July for 7 days 6 nights. As usual, I will write a quick note about where we ate during the trip.

This time we traveled by air, because it did not look worthwhile to spend 2 days on ferry as we were not bringing our car. As the ferry ticket for car is quite expensive, if you are not staying at the destination island more than a week, it is often cheaper to rent one on the island.

So our first stop was Pythagorio, near the airport, probably the most touristic town of Samos. The number of restaurants here was impressive.


As we wanted to continue for our destination quicker, we just stopped for a crepe in a cafeteria by the sea. It was called Time Out Cafe.


The staff was friendly, but there was nothing attractive about this crepe. We did not find even Wifi signal. This one is to avoid.


Then we arrived at our 1st place of stay, Kampos Marathokampos (pronounced Kambos Marathokambos) in the afternoon. We were too tried to get our shabby rent car - which did not have powersteering! -  to go anywhere far, so we tried to go to a taverna called The Ballad of Salome and Bill which was highly ranked on Tripadvisor.

Then, when we found it, we saw more people at a taverna next-door called Ioanna and changed our mind.

And surprise surprise! We met one of GH's uncle eating here. He and his family live in Kampos, so probably he knew how to pick good (or/and cheap) tavernas.

The food actually was pretty good and portion was generous. Here is a plate of keftedes for 6 Euro. It was served as a starter, but could easily filled one person's stomach.


We ordered also horta, oven-baked spaghetti, and an aubergine dish. Dessert was on the house. The food bill came to 22 Euro (which does not include drink, because the uncle paid our beers) and the receipt was duly issued.

I would have returned, if we were staying more days in Kampos.

By no means it is a gourmet restaurant. The place serves everything from those dishes to souvlaki, pizza and pasta, but is a comfy taverna by the beach, quite convenient during holidays.

Taverna IOANNA - ΙΩΑΝΝΑ
Main Street of Kampos Marathokampos, Samos island
Κάμπος Μαραθοκπάμπου, Σάμος
Tel. 22733 00205

===========

We were told by one of GH's cousines that a taverna called Kleopatra is also good Kampos. It is one of the older tavernas in the area. We did not have chance to visit it this time. Maybe next time.


One evening we went to Ormos Marathokampou (which is a port of Marathokampos). GH says that Ormos used to be more popular than Kampos, but now the it is the other way around. Ormos is a quiet fishing village with several tavernas and hotels. We were told that there was a good fish tavern (something like "thalassies hantres"), but our destination was a pizzeria called "Pizza Cave".

The most original name for a pizzeria.

It was just because GH used to eat here often when he was little and he enjoyed a lot.

Here it came. This is a Special pizza in Large size. 10 Euro.



Unfortunately I did not see what was special about it and it was not even large. They used a vile tasted processed meat, which killed even the basic harmony of cheese and pizza crust.

Personally I won't come back.

Pizza Cave
Ormos Marathokampos, Samos island
Tel. 22730 37443


========

For GH's memory's sake, we went to also Votsalakia Cafe-Taverna in Votsalakia, near Kampos Marathokampou, not for food, but just for a drink.

The taverna shares the name with the breach in front. I do not have the address, but you won't miss it, if you come to Votsalakia Beach.

GH ordered a strawberry lemonade, which, if I remember well, was 3.50 Euro.


I ordered a scoop of ice cream, which was only 1.50 Euro. I checked also their food menu and the price looked reasonable. Wifi was working fine, as well. Nice place to chill.


And following a piece of advice from a cousin of GH's, we visited a taverna called Chrisopetro, one of the first taverna you see coming into Kampos from the East.

It has a nice view to the sea and is a fish tavern, but has also various meat dishes.

We ordered Spaghetti Del Mare for 20 Euro for 2 persons, following the cousin's recommendation, but I found it disappointing. The spaghetti was overboiled and most of the seafood looked frozen. The only good thing was 2 large karavides on top.

That said, all the other dishes were fantastic. Here are boiled green beans and zucchini flowers stuffed with rice.


Also Marathopitakia (which were more like marathokeftedes) were good.

I asked our friendly waitress what were the ingredients except for maratho (dill) and she replied:

"Ah, I do not know. You have to ask the chef, because he is the one who cooks".

She said it in a good humour, but it was one of the most unprofessional remarks I have ever heard from restaurant serving staff.

The totall bill was 40.50 Euro because of the expensive and disappointing spaghetti, but you can get away for much less.

Chrisopetro
Kambos Marathokampou, Samos, 83102
Tel. 30 22730 37248 / 31304
http://www.restaurant-chrisopetro.gr/

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And the last but not the least. These are biscuits called paksimadia portokaliou which we bought from a local bakery called Veremvetsos in Kampos.


They do not look much, but had very nice flavour from sasame, orange peel and anise seeds (or something of the sort). I enjoyed them very much and I wish I could find the same in Athens.

Here is the end of the 1st part, because I have got tired. The 2nd part continues soon. :)

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