18 July, 2010

Pisina @ Marina Zea, Piraeus

It is boilin' hot today. Really. In our flat usually it does not get so hot, but today it is.

These are photos I took last weekend, when went to Pisina (Piscina) Cafe/Restaurant in Marina Zea with Hubby and his Bro.

Piscina

As the name suggests, there is a big swimming pool (piscina in Italia) at the centre of the cafeteria. Seeing so few people actually swimming, I guess they charge for the use.

It serves food as well as various drinks, and as you can imagine from the location and setting, the price is rather high, but not intolerably so.

I ordered Freddo Cappuccino, which was around 4.50 euros if I remember well. Frappe and Espresso Freddo cost as much.



It was also a very hot day, but there was pleasant sea bleeze where we were sitting.

http://www.pisinacafe.gr/

12 July, 2010

Gefsis Melathron @ Ancient Olympia

I also went to Olympia, about a week ago.

I had been to Olympia twice in the past and this was the third time. The town looked unusually tranquil and empty.

Praxiteles Kondylis Street

Being far from the coast, Olympia isn't really a place for summer, but, even so, it was rather unsettling. Recently I am suspecting that the situation of tourism this summer is worse than what is being said on TV and news papers.

I stayed one night and need to eat at least once. I asked two local people for recommendation: one voted for Aigaio and Gefsis Melathron, and the other Gefsis Melathron and Dionysos. So I went to Gefsis Melathron which got two vote.



When I arrived at 9.15, I was the only customer, except for a few locals hanging around without really eating.

I asked for souvlaki, but the waitress - who probably is the owner - suggested me to order from 'magirefta' cooked by her mother, so I obeyed. I ordered soutzoukakia Smyrineika, served with rice. I also wanted horta, but she did not have any and suggested boiled zucchini instead.



The soutzoukakia had a good flavour, but - unfortunately - too salty for me. If I have had a good serving of boiled vegetable, probably I could neutralize the saltiness, but the boiled zucchini (and potatoes) were far too little and had been seasoned already.

The waitress asked me if I was happy. I said "yes", but it was a lie (if my honesty could improve the situation, I would have said the truth, but it could not). I really don't bear with excessive dose of salt in dishes which should not be salty.

So, it turned out to be a disappointment.

To be honest, what I suspect is that there is no good taverna in Olympia, which is a rather artificial town whose raison d'etre is to cater for tourists who visit the archaeological site. I have eaten three times so far in Olympia, but cannot really say that I have ever eaten well.

Soutzoukakia was 6.80 euros, boiled zucchini 3 euros, water 0.50 euro, bread 0.50 euro, total 10.80 euros. At least, the price was on the OK line.

Taverna "GEFSIS MELATHRON"
(Γεύσης Μέλαθρον)
Georgiou Douma 3, Arhaia Olympia
Tel. 26240-22916

11 July, 2010

Trip to Hydra

Recently I went to Hydra island for a small 'business' trip.

Hydra

It is a small island in Argosaronic Bay (the bay situated between Attika and Peloponnese peninsulas) and famous for the ban on motored vehicles on the island.

It was the first time for me to be there, but have heard and read about it quite a lot. One of the things in my mental notebook was that it is an island of artists; it is reputed to be home to many artists from every corners of Europe. To be honest, however, I did not see many artistic activities, except for some Europeans selling drawings and small objects on the street.

I have heard also it is frequented by many celebs, which might be true, but my impression is that it was a glory of the past. I guess, nowadays, the celebs go directly to Paros, Mikonos and Santorini by Hi-Speed or by airplanes, without bothering cosy Hydra.

Summing up, some of the things said in guidebooks or by people who had visited the island many years ago belong to the past. It is true that the island is relatively expensive, but, in my opinion, it is because of the middle class Athenians who come to pass their weekends there.

All of these, however, do not mean that Hydra lacks in charm. On the contrary, it is more attractive for those who look for a stylish but not busy island. I am willing to go back to pass two or three days of vacation.

I stayed only one night and ate at this taverna called "Loulou" or "Lulus".

taverna lulus

I ordered aubergine imam from 'magirefta' counter and horta (boiled green).

aubergine imam

The imam was tasty, if a bit too salty. With a big bottle of water and a basket of bread, it cost only 11 euros.

It is on Miaouli Steet and closed only in December-January. If you are looking for a cheap and cheeful place to eat in Hydra, remember the taverna Lulus.

And I stayed in this pension.

Hotel Kirki

It is not a "marvellous" hotel, but good-value-for money sort of place. It is clean and very central. I paid 40 euros/night for 1 person. If you can obtain this sort of price, it is a good place to stay.


09 July, 2010

Imperial Town Chinese @ Omonia

Several days ago I went to the Chinese restaurant Imperial Town near the Omonia Square.



It is in the seedy part of Omonia area, unfortunately, but the restaurant itself looks totally innocent, run by a friendly Chinese lady.

As you see in the photo, the decor is minimal, which is all right so long as you don't come expecting something else.



The menu is long and written in three languages - English, Chinese and Greek. I chose a cup of hot and sour soup, a small bottle of water...



pork and Chinese pickles accompanied by rice.



The soup was just ok, not really either hot not sour. The pork was unfortunately excessively salty which I could not have eaten if I did not order plane steamed rice.

The price is low. If I remember well I paid about 10 euros including about 10% service.

Comparing to the Chinese food I used have in Birmingham (UK), the food was only average, but in Athens, where there are few decent Chinese restaurants, Imperial Town is a gem; Chinese food lovers can enjoy authentic Chinese food for a good price.

04 July, 2010

Halvas Farsalon and Kazan Dipi

Recently I am pretty busy and tired (tiredness partly because of the heat) and could not bring myself to blog. But after a week or so, I started to feel sorry and here I am.

Oh, and a warning. Another major strike is announced for the comming Thursday (8 July). It includes almost for sure the Port of Piraeus. We won't know the detail until a day or two before the strike, but if you can avoid travelling on the 8 July, please do.

*****************************

Do you know halvas?

If you are some kind of philehellene (should't I used this word in this context? :p), you must have at least heard about it.

The most common halvas (halvades?) are two: sesame halvas, which is sometimes called Macedonian halvas, and semolina halvas, which you might have eaten at Greek tavernas as a free treat.

I don't quite like either of these, but I do like Halvas Farsalon, i.e. Halvas of Farsala.



According to the confectioner, it is made from corn starch, sugar, oil and almond. As it needs very high temperature to cook, it is not normally made at home. I found a video of Farsalon Halvas making: take a look if you are interested.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35c8w4HrFAk



It is brown and opaque. Tastes very caramely because of the caramelised sugar. Texture is sticky. It is like oily "mochi" or "uiro" if you are familiar to Japanese sweets.

As you can suppose from the name, it is common in Farsala area and I bought this one in Lamia. If you're interested in Greek sweets and happen to visit these parts of Greece, it is something of a must to try.

In Athens, I only see in stalls at church yorti (yorti is festival), but I have never tried ones from stalls and I don't know if I can recommend it to you.


Another of my favourite sweets, Kasan Dipi.



It is a Turkish sweets made from buffalo milk, sugar and chicken breast (actually it is a caramelised version of Turkish chicken breast sweet pudding). But, if you eat so-called Kazan Dipi in Greece, it is a sort of Pannacotta which I don't fancy particularly (I don't even like Italian pannacotta so much).

I thought I could buy it in Athens only from Turkish confectionery Gulluoglu, but recently I saw something similar in Piraeus and decided to try.

The owner of the shop surprised that I knew Kazan Dipi and we started to chat. He said that Gulluoglu actually buy the stuff from his factory and pass it as their own. It tastes very similar indeed (I say 'similar' just because I don't remember exactly how Gulluoglu's Kazan Dipi was).

He was born in Constantinople, but later forced out by Turkey and that is why he is in Greece making true "politiki" sweets.

Next time, I will buy baklavas from his shop.

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