27 June, 2009

Sleeping Dog

Whity was sleepin' in Monastiraki station.





Deeply...

Breakfast Biscuits/Cookies

Recently Hubby eats biscuits for breakfast. We tried various stuff from our neighbourhood.

These are Kouloulakia Smyrneika from Vienneza. 8 euros a kilo (about 450 grammes in this photo).



Not sugarly and very light.

I returned to buy the same thing, but they did not have any. I bought voutimata (biscuits) instead. 9 euros a kilo.



These were excellent. Baton shaped ones are cinnamon flavour and round ones are filled with chocolate. Both had subtle flavours and got our thumbs up.

Then, from Exarchos Bakery.



Sticks are kritsinia. Exarchos makes the best seed kritsinia. Round one is mizithra pie, which unfortunately contained masticha that we both dislike in sweets. The others are orange biscuits, very good.

These Greek breakfast biscuits are not as sugarly or butterly as, say, English type biscuits. Although we don't usually associate biscuits with Greek cooking, they are worth the note, being quite distinct.

26 June, 2009

Greek Pastourmas

I have never eaten pastourmas until a few days ago. Even my Greek husband has never eaten it and did not even know what it was like.

Pastourmas is a sort of ham of Turkish origin and its varieties are eaten everywhere in ex-Ottoman countries and in neighbouring countries. It is basically a dried meat coated with spice paste.

Here is 200 grammes of pastourmas.



You can find it even in humble supermarkets, so I presume that it is a common food in Greece, but you hardly see it in restaurants.

Can you see the red rind around the meat? It is the spice paste.



It was not as stinky as I suspected, but it did have a very strong flavour, saltiness and spiciness. It was in fact too strong to eat on its own, and I combined it with melon, as many do with Italian prosciutto crudo. Hubby, who has children's taste buds - was not particularly keen on it.

I bought also some beef sausages.



I have not tried them yet. The seller told me that I could grill them.



90% of contents are beef and they look rather dry. I will tell you how they are, when I eat them.

25 June, 2009

Hell's Kitchen near Kotzia Square, Athens

Visited Hell's Kitchen near Kotzia Square in a weekday afternoon for a quick lunch.



I read recommendations of this place on various websites; they say that the young owners of Hell's Kitchen passed their student years in New York and are trying to recreate the food and ambiance they enjoyed in Big Apple, and they serve non-Greek food for an affordable price. That was what I knew before I actually paid a visit.

From outside, it does not look particularly attractive. It is a hip place, but is more bohemian than stylish.




There are not so many tables inside, maybe around 10, but there are a dozen of bar stools and extra tables on the first floor, not to mention many tables outside. When I entered at around 2 o'clock, only 4 or 5 tables were occupied, but later more people arrived and the tables inside were almost all taken. They were people for lunch, and not for drink; evidently their clientel - mainly from 25 to 40 year-old age group - have their lunch pretty late. Their was no air-conditionning and it could get quite hot inside.

While the outdoor tables were not as popular as the indoor ones; this is quite unusual for Greece where people do their best to eat al fresco during the summer. It tells us something about how nice (?) was the environment of this neighbourhood; it is not far from the infamous Omonia Square.




To be honest with you, I did not look closely into the menu, as I picked up one of daily specials told by waitress. The little I read was the pasta section; they are around from 8 and 12 euros; not particularly cheap, if not expensive either.

I ordered marinated and grilled chicken breast, which was served with tomato rice. As you see, it was nicely presented; nice presentation of food is still a rare thing in Greek restaurants of the middle and lower ranges. It is something distinguishes Hell's Kitchen from the other restaurants of the same price range.




But on the taste front, it did not go well; it wasn't bad, but not good either. Chicken breast was still brand regardless of marinating and needed extra salt (which was fortunately provided on the table). I was wondering if I could cook a better chicken grill and concluded I could. Tomato rice was better and more interesting.

And what struck me was the lack of vegetable; if the waitress warned me it does not have any veggie on the side, she could have sold more.

I did not order any drink and paid 10 euros for the main dish. Again, it is not particularly cheap, though not expensive. I would have said reasonable, if the chicken tasted better.

This is not a kind of place where I personally want to return. However, if you do not like Greek food, or you have had enough of Greek food already, Hell's Kitchen offers you something different and gives you a little surprise. And they have a lots of wine and cocktails; if you like these things, you would have enjoyed more than I did (me being no drinker). I would also like to mention that this is a good place to eat alone. In Greek tavernas I sometimes feel that many dishes are designed to be eaten in more than one person. In Hell's Kitchen, the food comes on individual basis and you don't have to feel embarassed in front of 300 or 400 grammes of meat (but I am not saying that the portion is small; on the contrary!)

Hell's Kitchen (Restaurant and Bar)
Kleisthenous 13 (Κλεισθένους 13 )
(Near Kotzia Square)
Athens, Greece
Tel. 210-5241555
http://www.hellskitchen.gr/

20 June, 2009

Agora tis Adrianou @ Monastiraki-Thissio

Went to Agora tis Adrianou on Adrianou Street of Monastiraki-Thissio area yesterday.

Does anyone know Adrianou street of Plaka and Adrianou of Monastiraki-Thissio are one same road or two different roads? It is sometimes confusing. Anyway, this restaurant is in Monastiraki-Thissio area, one of many restaurants lining Adrianou road parallel to the ISAP line and looking onto the Ancient Agora.

We arrived here at 21:30 in a Friday evening. This restaurant has many tables outside, but almost all of them were already taken, so we were seated inside the building, which is like a courtyard having an open roof. We were quite happy to be there, also because we prefer to eat with enough light than to eat in darkness.

According to the notice in Athenorama, this is a sister restaurant of Sharas in Vouliagmeni, which means this is a meat restaurant. So we ordered meat.


As appetizer, we had tyrokafteri (chili-cheese dip). I have never seen a tyrokafteri made with picked green chili, and it was pretty good. Not too salty with right amount of texture of feta cheese.

The bread you see in the photo was a sort of hand-made focaccia without or little olive oil. It is nice, but go easy with it, as is filling.





I ordered horta as I cannot eat meat without vegetable. It turned out to be vlita (βλήτα) - I guess the type of green changes from season to season - fresh and flavoursome. Olive oil was fruity and aromatic as well.



It took a while for the main dishes to arrive. Well, it wasn't such a long time, but, as Greek grill restaurants are usually very very quick, we felt like have waited for some time.

These are the things we ordered as main dishes.

Pork chop on born (μπριζόλα χοιρινή), served with chips.


Half the meat is hidden under the potato, but I can tell you it was pretty large. I thought it was over-cooked and rather dry, but Hubby was pretty happy with it. The Greeks tend to like their meat - pork especially - very well-done, and there is nothing I can do about it. Besides its dryness, the meat had porky taste and nice.



I had a portion of pork on skewers.

Meat did not look huge, but I really struggle to finish them all. The pork bits were accompanied with right amount of fat, as I like it. Different from the pork chop above, I think this meat was marinated before cooking and had a different flavour. Again, I would have preferred the meat less cooked, but there is no way out in this front.

Grilled tomato was strangely cold, but also was very sweet and enjoyable. I rarely like grilled tomato, so they must have done something right. Pita also was very nice; crispy, sweet and not oily. Being stuffed, I could not finish the pitas, but it wasn't at all my intention. If I have had less will power, I would have eaten them all and burst to death.

After the meal and payment, we were offered small lemony liqueur.


It served as dessert for us, but if anyone has some space after the meal, Haagen Dasz cafe just next to it is actually under the same management (two shops are connected inside) and you can order ice cream from there.

We ordered one main courses per person, but you can pick and mix more meze dishes and less meat.

Service in general is all right, not too formal, not too friendly, attentive and not slow.

The bill for two, with a large glass of beer and free carafe of water, was 32.20 euros (34 including tip). 17 euros per person isn't bad value in this part of Athens, we thought. Above all, we ate pretty well.

This isn't a super fine, gourmet restaurant, but it is a good, casual, relaxing place with a better environment than less expensive tavernas. We won't mind coming back at all.


Αγορά της Αδριανού
Αδριανού 31
(Μοναστηράκι-Θησείο)
Αθήνα
Τηλ. 210-3250096

Agora tis Adrianou
Adrianou 31 (Monastiraki-Thissio)
Athens
Tel. 210-3250096

Milky Cream Desserts from Hatzis

Bought some creamy sweets from Zacharoplasteio Hatzis in Syntagma area.


From the round cup in the left up corner clockwise, they are Keskoul, Malebi, and Tauk Giouksou, all around 4 euros.

Giouskou was the least interesting of all: it was virtually custard cream mixed with some nuts. Tastewise it was fine, but nothing exciting.

The other two were more interesting.

Malebi is a cream made from buffalo milk and rice powder, scented, I think, with flowerwater and mahlepi. It was written that it contained mastiha, but I could not sense it.

Tauk Giouskou is milk, rice power and chicken breast pudding. Again it was scented with either flower water or mahlepi.

I seem to like these flavourings of the last two and ate them with great dilectation.


Hatzis
Mitropoleos 5 (Syntagma)
Athens
Tel. 210-3222647

Χατζής
Μητροπόλεως 5 (Συντάγμα)
Αθήνα

http://www.mesogeia.net/athens/places/syntagma/chatzis_en.html

18 June, 2009

Kyria Rita's Cat @ Plaka

Walking down Adrianou Street in Plaka, I saw this cat sleeping. Again.



I saw the same cat sleeping at the same stop last summer. See these photos.

It was no wonder, in fact. It is because the cat belong to the lady who has the shop on Adrianou Street.



If you are familiar with this area, you should be able to recognise the small tapestry hanging on the wall. It is Kyria Rita's shop "Roka". She makes these tapestries in a workshop just below her shop in Adrianou; you cannot find anything more local than her tapestries!

I remember to have bought a small thing from her more than 10 years ago. I don't have it any more, as it was a gift; I might buy one for myself to decorate our rather sober flat.

16 June, 2009

Cafeteria Miramare @ Peiraiki

This Saturday, Hubby and I went to have coffees in a cafeteria in Peiraiki.

It was early evening hour with the Sun starting to sink.

Peiraiki Coast

We tried a cafeteria called Miramare. It is standing in front of the coast and we supposed that we could enjoy the view from the first floor balcony.




The view in fact wasn't that great, as the tent was down. The sun light was shining on the building and it wasn't possible not to cover the balcony. Surely we could have get a better view from a table closer to the tent, but it was hotter there as well, so we stayed away.



I ordered a cappuccino freddo and Hubby a frappé me gala. Both are around 3 euros, thus cheaper than in cafeterias of Marina Zea in Piraeus.



The Greek cappuccino freddo is made with a strange floating foam looks like whipped cream, but isn't. I heard that it is made from Nounou milk (tinned milk used for coffee), but I am not sure. It does not taste much and my impression is that the Greek cappuccino freddo is to be appreciated more for the visual than the actual taste.



While we were there, a large cruise ship went out from Piraeus port. It is so large that it looked more like a floating resident complex than a ship.

Miramare
Akti Themistokleous 322
Piraeus

14 June, 2009

Things that Make Our Life Easier

We made some purchases of the materials to make our life easier.

First, anti-mosquito devices. Some days ago, there was a sudden surge in the number of mosquitos and everyone was dashing to buy one of these.



We invested 10 euros in these. But, then, the number of mosquitos diminuished again and we had a chance to use it only once.

The mosquitos in Greece are like those in Italy; they sting, but do not do much harm [P.S. EVIDENTLY THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SUFFER MORE THAN WHAT I KNEW; SEE THE COMMENTS BELOW]. They just leave red spots on skin, but the spots do not hurt or get itchy. The commonest mosquitos in Japan that I call zebra-type as they have black-and-white stripes (in Europe, some people call them tiger mosquitos) are much worse: when we stung by them, the spots become very itchy some times for days. So I am pretty easy with Greek mosquitos; the most annoying thing about them is that when they wake us up when they fly near our ears.


Another thing we bought is a standing fan.



We invested 25 euros.

It was a Matsui product. As a brand I have been hearing of for many years in Europe. Once it was a sort of no-name brand, but after so many years it has some credibility at least to me. Matsui is a Japanese surname, but I am sceptical if it is actually Japanese. It isn't an issue anyway, as virtually all the fans are produced in China (although we saw some People's Republic of China produces this time).



Later we found out that Carrefour sells standing fans for less than 17 euros. It is a pity that we did not see it when we visited the store last week. We might pick one up from there, as will will need another one for the bed room.

13 June, 2009

Artistic Egg Packing



I bought eggs from laiki market.

The eggman packed them and tie the package in an incredible speed. It was equipped with a loop to be used as handle.

Work of art!

12 June, 2009

Mega Squid Lunch

Last Monday (Tou Agiou Pneumatos - Holy Spirit - Holiday) was a very hot day as it is for these several days and we decided to go for a lunch by the sea, on Piraiki coast where there was a lot of people swimming in the sea.




We went to a fish restaurant called O Pharos (or O Faros) meaning the Lighthouse. It is the last but one of the restaurants lining the Akti Themistokleous. This is our second visit, and I think it is an OK sort of restaurants, but the locals seem to like it and the price is relatively low for the restaurants by the sea. I don't like the bullish owner or manager, although the waiters are all pretty good.

Anyway, this is the view from our table.



If you thought "How nice!", I have to give you some warning. The road in front of us, Akti Themistokleous, is heavily used road regardless of the season and you have to endure the cars passing constantly beside you. If you want to avoid this problem in Peiraiki, go to the restaurants which are standing on a higher ground (like Tsakos or even Diasimos which has the upper floor) or those standing slightly away from the road (like Marko Antonio).

Besides, it was very very hot, boilingly hot. No air-conditioning (OK, it was pretty obvious as it is an open-air terrace), no fan at all. We you have a table more in inside, i.e. not by the road side, evidently it is cooler, but we did not know that when we chose our table.

Now, these are the things we ate.

Big salad for two (€2.50 x 2).



A huge portion of row veggie and some pickles.


Melitzanosalata (€5).

Melitzanosalata

I don't know what did they do to the aubergine, but it was very mashy and wasn't good. Too salty as well.

Atherina (don't remember how much was it, but was around 5 or 6).



Atherina is arguably the most flavoursome of the small fishes in Greece. They were well cooked - crispy and not oily - but fish themselves weren't as tasty as the ones I have eaten elsewhere. They are more tasty when they bear roe, but they didn't. Passable, not memorable.

As you see, the table was quite full already.



But we had ordered more.

Fried potatoes (chips).



They looked hand-cut, but they are strangely soggy, not crispy.


This is the dish of the day. We wanted grilled sardine, but they did not have it. I thought of grilled small squids, but they did not have them either and we ended up in ordering from big fish section (sold by kilo).

The owner showed us the squid (I think this is thrapsala, although it is sold as kalamari) before cooking. When we saw it, we thought OK, but it was actually really huge when put on the plate.



Being a person who lived in Japan for decades, I have eaten better grilled squid many times (if you have not been to Japan, I can tell you the country is a fish heaven where you eat very fresh fish for reasonable price), but it was not bad and the Greek husband, who have never eaten - or at least he thinks so - big grilled squid, loved it. The price tag - €20.80 - wasn't bad either, although we would preferred it to be smaller, as it was just too much for just two of us.


Oh, and this is ladolemono (lemon and olive oil mixture) that came with the squid.



With a bottle of beer and a bottle of water, the bill came to €44. It is high for our meal and it is squid's fault. If we were sharing the meal with other people, we would have spent less in proportion, i.e. we ate far too much.


Ο FAROS
Akti Themistokleous 344, Piraeus
Tel. 210-4518908.

Ο Φάρος
Ακτή Θεμιστοκλέους 344, Πειραιάς
Τηλ. 210-4518908.

After being boiled at the Faros, we entered a nearby coffee shop with air-con too chill us down.

We had Greek coffees and we found them fragrant. We will be back in hot evenings.

09 June, 2009

Some Cats and a Dog

I have accumulated some photos of cats recently, so I publish them.

I met this cat in Upper Plaka, Athens. She was eating herbs (if I don't used the word 'weed').




She was biting so enthusiastically, but did not mind my touching her.


Other two cats in Upper Plaka.



There was this strange icon in this garden.


Cats in my neighbourhood in Piraeus.



Two of the cats are tied to the flat, but two are free. They usually hang around together and might well be a family.



The kitten was attacking the monotone cat which was behaving very passively, probably because it was sleepy.


This dog was in a back street of Piraeus.



I have no idea why he was on the car. Is it his bed? I went close to him, but was totally ignored.

Neradzi Fruits

At the start of April, I wrote that Neradzi (bitter orange) flowers are blooming.

Now I saw that they made fruits.

Neraji

They are still very small and dark green.

Neranji

These fruits are not sweet as oranges and could not be eaten as such, but could be made into candied fruits (glyko tou koutaliou). In some countries, including Japan and Iran so far as I know, the juice is used like lemon juice, but I don't know anyone do this in Greece.


When these will be orangy in colour, the summer will have already passed.

08 June, 2009

Agapitos @ Syntagma, Athens


[P.S. of 10 May 2014: This place does not exist any more. It closed down quite a long ago now].

Having been enticed by an article I read in a free town paper, I visited Agapitos, confectioner near Syntagma Square. I don't know when the Athenian branch opened, but the main shop in Thessaloniki was founded in 1944.



The first thing I wanted to try was Kazan Dipi, sweet of Turkish origin made from milk, sugar and chicken breast, according to the original recipe.

Unfortunately Agapitos' recipe isn't true to the original and does not contain chicken breast; it is more like gooey solid cream. The worst part was the caramelised brown surface. I don't know if they do it on purpose or not, but it has very strong smokiness which both Hubby and I thought off-putting. We eventually removed it and ate the rest.



As Agapitos is Salonican, I thought it is a good idea to try also Trigona Panoramatos which are basically baklavas with custard cream.

These are not bad, but balkava part was too much like a sfoglia pie, soggy and laked in crunchiness of good baklava. Trigono of Terkenlis was much better.



Both of these cost 2.50 euros a piece.

The best of the batch was these small almond pastries.




I asked the name but could not really get it. The outer case was made of marzipan and something else and the cream has a melange like consistency. These were sold by weight and two came to 1.20 euro.

On the whole I was rather disappointed, maybe due to high expectation. I need to explore more elsewhere.

Agapitos / Αγαπητός
Voulis 7
Sintagma, Athens.
Βουλής 7
Σύνταγμα, Αθήνα
http://www.agapitos.gr/
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