15 November, 2014

Where We Ate in Epirus - Part 2

The 2nd and the last part of "Where We Ate in Epirus" 2014, autumn collection.

In Monodendri, we stayed at a hotel called Archontiko Zarkada ( http://www.monodendri.com/ ). We paid only 36 Euro per night including breakfast. Really a good deal.

Breakfast was served in buffet style and the range was really good for what we paid (if you read the hotel review, you might see some negative comments about the breakfast, but it really depends on expectation).

We had bread, cakes, yogurt, fruits, eggs (boiled and scrambled), pies, unlimited serving of coffee, tea, milk and juice. Really happy.

On the 2nd day morning in Monodendri, we went down to the gorge. Before we go, we were told that it would take about 1 hour to go down and a bit more to come up. However, we made uncountable photo stops, it took about 3 hours to do the whole lot.

When we returned back, it was already lunch time. So we had lunch in Monodendri. I believe that Pita tis Kikitsas was open at that time, but we defied it and went to try Monodendri hotel. However, we were told that the restaurant was closed, even though in front of the hotel there were signs saying what they had for meal. Evidently they could not care remove the sign, even the restaurant was not functioning.

Not bothered to look for far away, we just entered a taverna next door, called Haradra tou Vikou.

Fortunately, they did serve a range of food any normal taverna serves. We had galotyri (which strangely tasted EXACTLY same like the one we are at Arktouros the evening before), salad, lachanopita (which was not with cabbage-lachano, but with horta and white cheese), and goat soup.

All fine, but nothing really stood out. I did not like that the food was served lukewarm. The portion size is not more than average, or I would rather say small for a Greek country taverna.

The bill was again about 27 Euro. Although we left happily, not so good that we'd want to go back for the second time.

I Haradra tou Vikou - Η Χαράδρα του Βίκου
Monodendri, Epirus, Greece

In the evening, we decided to try the restaurant of our hotel, which is named called Oksia.

We ordered tzatziki, 2 bean soups (fasolada) and veal in tomato sauce.

All the dishes were quite good, and the first time in Zagorohoria, the portion size was on generous side.

At the end, we were offered free chocolate cake and, unexpectedly got 10% discount (down from 27.50 Euro to 25 Euro), probably because we were staying there. It seemed strange that we were not informed about the discount when we arrived.

Among the 3 place we ate in Monodendri, Oksia (Οξιά in Greek) was the best. It is not a gourmet place, but if you are in the area (or are staying at Archontiko Zarkada) and want a good Greek country taverna, you may want to try here.

The third day in Zagorohoria, we drove around the area and in the afternoon we stopped at Tsepelovo for lunch.

Without knowing where to go, we stopped at a hotel called Kamares which was advertising a series of nice dishes.

Just to be sure, we asked the waiter if they were serving food. He said yes and we were seated.

However, things were not simple as it sounded. When the waiter came back to take our order, he informed us they could serve only 'tis oras', i.e. grilled meat dishes.

Disappointed, but not having a courage to stand up and leave, we ordered only a galotyri, Greek salad, and one grilled pork chop.

The food was fine, and the portion size was good, but the choice of dishes was too limited. We get much better variety at a simple souvlaki place in Athens. If you come in a high-season, probably you get a better offer, but our experience was rather negative.

Hotel Kamares - Καμάρες
Tsepelovo, 44010, Zagorohoria
Τσεπέλοβο, 44010
Tel. 26530 81008

And when we started to explore Tsepelovo, we found this taverna on the central square, and it was OPEN!

The menu looked quite promising and there were people inside (!). It was my real regret that we did not have lunch at this place. It is called Mikri Arktouros. If anyone visiting Tsepelovo (which is a really beautiful village) in a low season, keep this place in mind.

The evening, we were so tired that we went to bed without having dinner.

On the 4th day in Zagorohoria, we just had our breakfast and left, because we wanted to stop at Perama, near Ioannina, to see the cave.

After the visit at the cave, it was lunch time, so we decided to stop at Ioannina to eat something, before heading for Arta, which was to be our last stop.

We were almost heading for Fysa Roufa, but were stopped by a waitress of taverna To Manteio, which is situated in front of the gate to the fortress. It might have been a chance, but it had a lot of people and we decided to give it a try.

As at Fysa Roufa, we were invited to the kitchen to see the food on offer. It had stewed food as well as split roasts. After a rather poor food experience in Zagorochoria, GH went crazy and decided that he had to have lachanodormades as well as pot roast mutton. As he insisted that he could finish both of the dishes alone, I was constraint to order also chicken soup (kotosoupa) and boiled green vegetable), although I thought we were ordering too much.

And it turned out that the portion size was quite large. The below is the mutton dish and in normal circumstances, GH and I would be satisfied sharing it.

Besides, the chicken soup that I ordered wasn't really a soup, but was more like chicken giouvetsi, solid with lots of orzo pasta.

AND they offered us free dessert. The bill came to 33 Euro. It is more than what we paid at the other places, but we had almost 3 main courses. I did not like much their lachanodormades, but all the others were satisfactory (the mutton dish being the best).

I am not sure if it the best, or one of the best places in Ioannina, for we stayed only a couple of days, but I am sure that we'd like to come back here to try other dishes.

To Manteio - Το Μαντείο
Plateia Neomartyros Georgiou 15, Ioannina, 45444, Greece
Πλατεία Νεομάρτυρος Γεωργίου 15, Ιωάννινα, 45444
Tel. 26510 25452

After the meal, we bought some baklavas at a shop on Averof Street. We bought it casually, because we heard that baklavas of Ioannina was famous. We ate it when we returned and found it really delicious. We regretted that we did not buy more.

After Ioannina, we went to Arta to meet my god parents. I don't have any more food photos hereafter, because we always ate with them and I refrained from doing strange things like photographing food. :)

Regardless of their age (they are friends of my father-in-law and the godfather is close to 80), they were fine and we were very glad to see them and chat away for many hours.

They told us to visit the region of Zoumerka (it is Arta's counterpart of Zagorochoria) next time we go to Epirus. We will do so, hopefully, soon.

08 November, 2014

Where We Ate in Epirus - Part 1

I have been quiet for a while because GH and I went to Epirus for a week from the end of October to the beginning of November.

Always, I recap here the places where we ate during the trip.

* * * * * * *

Our first stop was Ioannina.

I have never been to this town, but GH did a part of his military service here. It was almost 15 years ago and he did not remember much.

We arrived there at the lunch time, so we went to a place called Fysa Roufa, which I found on Foursquare.

It is a mageireio style place where you can choose your meal from showcase.

When I say "showcase" probably I am not giving you the right image. It is different from self-service canteen where the food is served directly from it. In mageireio, normally you choose the food you want, go to your table and sit down. The kitchen people reheat it (if it is not warm enough), dish it up, and then your waiter bring it to you, just like in any other restaurants. GH is particularly fond of this style and went crazy when he saw it and decided 2 main dishes on his own.

So I ordered only a chicken soup (5 Euro). Fisa Roufa is known for its soups and on that day they had 4 or 5 soups on the menu.

It was warm and good to settle down my stomach. We had also a serving of rolled pork with cheese and vegetable filling and a serving of stuffed zucchini with egg & lemon sauce. They were all good, if not excellent. We paid about 25 Euro together with a bottle of beer, bread and free dessert.

Fysa Roufa - ΦΥΣΑ ΡΟΥΦΑ
Averof 55, Ioannina, 45221
Αβέρωφ 55, Ιωάννινα, 45221
Tel. 26510 26262

Then we went to the castle (fortress) of Ioannina (which in Greece called Εις Καρέ). There is a famous cafe-mezedopoleio, but we did not stop.

This day, we did not really have a dinner, because we met up a cousin of GH and her husband and ate a quick souvlaki.

* * * * * * *

On the day 2, we had breakfast at the hotel (we stayed at a place called Kentrikon, which is really central).

We had a lunch at a fast food place called Hippo Style.

Why we chose to eat fast food in Ioannina? It was because this was the place where GH used to go when he was doing military service. It was a nostalgic thing.

This is my crepe, I think it was called Mexican, but it had nothing to do with Mexico, as the chicken was flavoured with curry. It cost under 5 Euro and very filling. Not bad value for money.

Hippo Style
Plateia Neomartyros Georgiou 13, Ioannina, 45444
Πλατεία Νεομάρτυρος Γεωργίου 13, Ιωάννινα, 45444
Tel. 26510 72977

In the afternoon, we traveled to Monodendri in Zagorohoria, where we were to stay for 3 nights.

I was looking forward to visit a famous taverna called Pita tis Kikitsas in the village, but when we arrived in the evening, we were told that it was closed.

Disappointed, we went to the restaurant of a hotel called Arktouros, which was only 1 place remained open in the lower part of Monodendri village in that evening.

We ordered a bottle of local bubbly red wine, which cost 8 Euro. It is pretty expensive for a wine without label. It was interesting, but 1 try was enough for us.

As we did not want to eat meat on that day, we ordered a galotyri (this name is used for various cheeses in Greece and in Zagorohoria it was a sort of feta and yogurt dip), butter beans with green, briam, and fried potatoes.

They were all pleasant but there was nothing stood out either. The total bill came to 27 Euro.

Arktouros - Αρκτούρος
Lower part of Monodendri
Tel. 26530 72000

Unfortunately, we did not eat quite well in Zagorohoria and this was just a beginning. It was because, first of all, tavernas tended to be closed (evidently and unexpectedly autumn is a low season in Zagorohoria), portion tended to be small, choices tended to be limited, and price tended to be a bit higher). You will see it later.

To be continued...

25 October, 2014

Moma @ Monastiraki

About a week ago, GH and I visited a cafe-restaurant called Moma in Adrianou Street of Monastiraki.

Adrianou is a long street, which traverses the central Athens stretching from the edge of Plaka to Thissio. Moma is on the Monastiraki side of Adrianou, on the pedestrian walk along the archaeological site of Ancient Agora.

Adrianou is one of the most touristic places of Athens, but different from Plaka, here gathers also many Athenians. (To say the truth, this is not really true, because even in Plaka there are some streets where many Athenians go).

We went to this particular place because it had a high-score on Foursquare (I was curious) and GH did not in the mood of traditional Greek food.

The waiters were welcoming. After the usual discussion with them if GH and I speak and read Greek (because neither of us do not look like Greek), we were seated at one of the outdoor tables and given the menu.

As we told waiters that we were eating, they brought a bottled water. If you are here for drink, they shall bring tap water.

The menu is usual "international", with addition of "Greek dishes" printed on a different menu. As we expected, the prices were rather high; salads about 8 or 9 Euro, main dishes 10- 12.

Here is Greek salad from "Greek dishes" menu. While the salads on the main menu were 8 to 9 as I wrote above, this one (and dakos) were 6.50 Euro.

The plate was huge, but the portion wasn't large. It was passable as a starter while we waited for main courses.

I forgot to mention that the waitress asked if we wanted bread and dip to start with. This is positive, because I am not much of a bread eater. I think it cost 0.80 Euro or so per person, if you wanted it.

This is GH's Peperoni pizza, 11 Euro. On the menu, it was written that in contained "sweet chili". We thought it should be paprika, but turned out to be Chinese sweet chili sauce.

GH was eating it happily, but I found it rather amateurish, as it if it was cooked at home.

I ordered the Today dish, which was written on the black board, but not on the menu. It was pork fillet cooked with lavender and served with pasta (on the black board, it was written that it was served also with grilled manouri cheese, but I did not see any trace of it).

It came in a big quantity and pork fillets cooked with lavender were quite interesting. The pasta was also particular Greek variety. It was a shame that it was chewy; a little bit more of boiling would have helped it.

Anyway, this dish cost only 12 Euro together with a glass of wine. It is a good deal.

Together with a bottle of coke, the total bill came to 34.30 Euro.

All in all, it is a nice place to have a drink or light meal. Adrianou street is terrific for people watching with the background of Stoa of Herodes Attikos and the Thiseion Temple (which really is Hephaisteion). However, for a gastronomic experience, I would look for somewhere else.

Adrianou 29, Monastiraki, 105 55, Athens
Αδριανού 29, Μοναστηράκι, 105 55, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 3211233

19 October, 2014

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino @ Akropoli-Makrigianni

One Sunday afternoon we visited a pasta restaurant called Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino of Makrigianni Quarter. It is just 3 min. walk away from Akropoli Metro station.

"Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino" means literally "Garlic, Oil and Chili" in Italian and practically it means pasta (usually spaghetti) cooked with these 3 ingredients (plus salt, of course).

Although I have been to this station some dozens of times, I have never seen this restaurant, because it is tucked away in a quite minor street.

I heard about this place from a friend of mine some time ago. After checking the score in Foursquare, we decided to try.

It was quite small. Much smaller than I imagined; I don't think there were not even 10 tables. The decoration looked somehow Christmasy; I guess you can see what I mean looking at the photo below.

Even though the place was small and there were two waitresses, the service was rather slow. It took quite a while to bring us a menu. I noted that the waitresses did not bring more than 1 dish a time for some reason. It was odd.

I had thought it was an Italian restaurant, but it proved not to be the precise definition in my mind. The reason is that the only main dish it serves is pasta. There is no pizza, no risotto and more importantly, no meat or fish.

In Italy, pasta is considered to be the first course and, for a meal to be complete, there should also be second course (normally meat or fish). Although people often eat only the first course to save time, money or calorie intake, it is odd if restaurants do not have any second dish.

I lived in Italy for 5 years and I have a rather clear and inflexible idea what Italian restaurants are like. So I would call this place a pasta restaurant, not really an Italian.

From the rather limited choices, we ordered 1 salad and 2 pasta dishes.

To start, we were served some bread (2 black and 2 white) and some olives (0.80 Euro per person).

This seemed to be an obligatory order. However, I believe they should ask the guests if they want bread or not, because people do not necessary eat bread with pasta. It is carbohydrate overload.

The salad we ordered was with grilled aubergine and yogurt. You can see in the photo yogurt and aubergine. What you do not see are cucumber and tomato below the aubergine. I found the combination a bit odd. 8.50 Euro.

My pasta was tagliolini (alla) "siciliana", I was explained by one of the waitresses that it was tagliolini cooked with minced pork, chili, white wine and a bit of cream. I am not sure why they associated this dish with Sicily.

It was not bad, but I found it a bit too heavy, maybe because of the cream.

GH had Papardelle with speck and cheese (I do not remember which cheese it was). Speck is like prosciutto crudo, but it is smoked. I thought that the speck was too cooked.

Neither of the pasta wasn't bad, but I would not pay 12 Euro for such simple dishes. I would rather cook at home.

At the end, they offered either grappa, limoncello or lemon sorbet (we chose the last).

With a bottle of beer, the bill came to 37.10 Euro. Considering what we ate, it was rather expensive.

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is no doubt a successful restaurant which has continued for years attracting many regular customers. But it did not do the trick to me.

Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino
Porinou 13, Makrigianni, 117 42 Athens
Πορινού 13, Μακρυγιάννη, 117 42 Αθήνα
Tel: 2109211801

Walking toward the metro station, we found this strange sculpture.


We are in Ilioupoli, eastern suburb of Athens. We have never been here before and were very impressed by wide roads and ample open spaces.

By the way, this is a test post I am writing with my new mobile.

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