29 May, 2012

O Vatrahos @ Keramikos-Gkazi

Last Tuesday, we visited a taverna-mezedopoleio "O Vatrahos (Flog)" in Gazi-Keramikos area.

It is somehow distant from the other restaurants/bars of the area and I wondered who would come all the way to here (actually it is not so far from the Keramikos Metro station, but being on the other side of Iera Odos, it is a bit daunting).

It is surprisingly large space and when we entered at 20:30 there was absolutely no customer inside. While we were there, another couple and one man joined, but for such a large space, it was rather depressing.

The menu does not look much different from usual ones of classic tavernas and mezedopoleia, although the dishes were with twist, as we were going to experience.

The first is grilled bread with oil, salt and oregano. We ordered also a half-kilo of wine (I don't know why the Greeks use 'kilo' instead of 'litre' when they order wine.

We ordered red wine, but it was like dark rose imigryko (half-sweet), which was all right.

Greek salad came in a pita bowl and dressed with mustard dressing, with some strips of fungus. Except that the amount of dressing was too generous, it was nice and different.

Fava came with caramelized onion and rocket sauce. It would have looked beautiful, but it was SOOOO dark, it was difficult to see what I was eating.

I hate dark restaurants, but Fava was very good and pleasantly sweet.

Dolmadakia were totally indifferent, re-heated with microwave.

Don't take me wrong. I am not particularly against the use of microwave, but still the execution was mediocre.

Grilled pork fillet (psaronefri) was much better.

I usually do not like grilled pork fillets, as they turn too dry, but this one was well grilled and saved from being too dry.

No freebees at the end and the final bill came to 36.50 Euro, which was just OK.

We might return it we happened to be in the area, but I would not say it is a destination restaurant.

AND IT IS TOO DARK to go in the evening.

Taverna-Bar O Vatrahos
Eurymedontos 3
Kerameikos, Athens
210-3411 662

Ταβέρνα-Μπαρ Ο Βάτραχος
Ευρυμέδοντος 3
Κεραμεικός, Αθήνα

Athens Imperial Hotel to Stop Exercise

TV news of Skai said that Athens Imperial Hotel in Karaiskakis (Metaxiourgiou) Square is to close, although it does not say exactly when it is going to close.

News on Skai.gr

I used to work in tourism. I don't remember how many times I went there to meet tourists and how many times I tried to sell it to the foreign tour operators. I even went there for an inspection once.

The hotel itself was all right and very good value for money, although it was clearly not up to the 5 star standard (officially it was a five-star).

But the area was/is getting problematic, full of illegal immigrant, drag addicts, and thieves. There always were/are many policemen, but they were just chatting among them as if they had nothing to do with the situation.


19 May, 2012

Savory Waffle @ Public, Piraeus

The menu has slightly changed at Public cafe in Passalimani.

This is a new item called savory waffle. There are cheese, bits of bacon, mushrooms, parsley in waffle dough. A good idea. 4.90 euro only.

Mono @ Plaka

Yesterday evening Greek Husband and I visited Mono in Plaka - at the edge of Plaka being close to the Cathedral - without reservation, around 8 o'clock.

(This photo was shot when we were leaving; when we arrived, there still was some sun light).

In the main area, only about one third of the tables were occupied, but the serving staff told us that the empty tables were all reserved and sent us upstairs where was cold (it was an unusually cold day for mid May). A man who looked like the chef came and turned on a heater and we felt all right (I have a suspect that they sent us there because we had a discount card and wanted to reserve the better tables for the fully paying customers, but, if it were so, I don't complain as in the matter of fact I was not paying as much as those who in the better area - justice was made!).

We were asked if wanted tap water or bottled water. A nice gesture, although we got a bottled water.

I knew that Mono had became a tapas bar and I expected tapas on the menu, but there wasn't any. A waitress told us that they have switched to summer menu and I wondered that they changed also the chefs. The menu is divided into starters, salads, pasta & risotto, main dishes (meat and fish), and dessert. The description sounded like Greek with Italian touch. They gave us also a wine list where there are many choices and all of them could be served in glasses. The cheap(est, I think) bottle was priced 12 Euro, so it is very good as restaurant-wine-price. A glass was from 3 Euro, I think.

Bread basket. The slices of bread were toasted and drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and thyme (I think it was thyme, not oregano, but I might be wrong). The sticks are grissini. We ordered also two different glasses of red wine (4 and 5 Euro each).

There was a rather long wait until the starters arrived and we finished the bread till then.

This is a starter called The Cheese. The white balls are a mixture of anthotyro, mint and either cream or yogurt, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The cheese was nice, but the salad was even better; red lettuce (trevisano), mint leaves, sliced pear, caramelized onion etc.

This is another starter called The Veggie. A sliced grilled aubergine, various grilled tomatoes, zucchini, and red/yellow peppers, flavoured with generous amount of fresh thyme. White paste is citrus-flavoured yogurt, I think. Essentially an interpretation of grilled vegetables (verdure ai ferri). Nice, although I thought it should be less salty.

Main dish. Shell pasta with seafood came unfortunately lukewarm. This was an interpretation of Greek octopus pasta. It came in a generous portion. If you were a big eater, you might be happy, but otherwise you get a bit board keeping on eating the same thing. I would rather give it a pass.

Another main dish, slow cooked pork belly, served with roasted peach and sauteed French beans. This again came in a generous portion. The pork was soft and there was a smoky flavour. We liked it very much, although we did not managed to finish all the fat (it was pork belly; what can we do?). The French beans were sauteed with butter. But, the meat being so fatty and sticky, I think it is better to be served with French beans with vinaigrette.

We did not manage to arrive at the dessert and concluded two espresso.

Now, the bill. Without discount, it came to 54 Euro (we actually paid 38 Euro + 5 Euro tip). We both thought it was quite fair value for money, even without discount. GH, who paid 25 Euro at a grill (psistaria) the day before, was very impressed. And it is in Plaka!

Mono has changed over the years. I know at least 4 phases without actually eating there, so how many more. At this moment, I think it is in a positive phase. Try to visit while they go through yet another metamorphosis.

Benizelou Palaiologou 4C Plaka, Athens,
+30 210 3226711

13 May, 2012

Schinias beach

I am on Schinias Beach near Marathon. Before the weekend , the weather forecast was saying that it would rain and be cloudy during the weekend, but it turned out to be false and it is quite fine ands shiny till now.

Greek Husband insisted that we had to go to beach and here we are. However I am suffering from hey fever for these 4 days and hardly feel fit enough for the sea. Besides the temperature is not high enough and I am feeling cold drinking cold Chocolate at a cafeteria (Playa del Sol it is called).

Today President Papoulias started the talk with the principal party leaders to form a new government, but Mr Tsipras is unlikely to give in, they say.

If Greece goes to next election, at least there will be one positive thing which is that Golden Dawn is likely to take less vote. All the else is uncertain. Depending on how the Allies (Troika) react, the people will swing their vote until the last moment.

Some Greeks did not vote for the major two parties just because they signed the Memorandum 2, but some didn't because these parties did not commit to the reforms that are part of the Memorandum.

The result of the election is open to many interpretations. I just hope that the Greeks get what they want.

12 May, 2012

Frappe @ NAI, Neo Faliro

I am at cafeteria NAI in Neo Faliro.

The country might go bankrupt next week, but things look pretty usual here. Frappe costs 4 euro, cappuccino 4.30 euro.

Yesterday morning it look probable that a new government is being formed, but the hope quickly disappeared and now e everyone is speaking about the new election with the prediction that Syriza takes the 1st place.

I do not sympathize with communists (not that I do not sympathize with the communism which was a great ideal which tuned out to be contrary to the human nature, IMO) and I don't want them to take the lead, but, if the people wants, what can I do?

The last hope is now the presidential brokerage. Hope for the best, but they say the hope is faint.


10 May, 2012

Travelling Narita - Munich - Athens

It looks that a new government is about to be formed tomorrow or day after tomorrow. Many Greeks are disappointed, for the new government again is composed of the two big parties, New Democracy and PASOK. If, at least, a smaller party could play a bigger role, it would have looked better, but this did not happen, because, in my opinion, the smaller parties are too rigid.

Anyway, any government is better than no government at all, at least for me.


Returning to the usual theme of this blog, here is what I ate on my way from Narita to Athens.

This is what I ate at Narita Airport: An Mitsu.

The principal components are sea weed based jelly and sweet red bean paste. It is quite healthy dessert, because sea weed jelly is devoid of calories and contains lots of fibre.

And again I was on board.

Here is the lunch on the airplane from Narita to Munich.

The main dish was Japanese style beef with rice. Meat was chewy and rice was too soft, but being small in quantity, I ate it all without realizing (except for bread).

And after 8 hours or so (I think I got a rice cake in between), dinner. Another Japanese choice, rice and salmon.

Again, very small portion. So small that I did not find it difficult to finish it all (except for bread). And here I got the first cake on this Lufthansa trip.

The flight went smooth and I found myself in Munich.

It was the first time for me to be in Munich Airport which is smaller than Frankfurt, but the coffee is FREE!!!

There are many of these automatic coffee makers and it is absolutely free. I have never seen anything like this (maybe because I have never been to airports of Arabic countries?)

I was supposed to have 2 hours of wait, but the connection flight delayed and I spent 3 hours here. Having been bored, I bought a packet of sausage from Dallmayr. Unfortunately I did not like the spongy texture of these white sausage (no, I did not ate these there, but at home).

Another dinner on Munich-Athens flight.

It was macaroni cheese. This tasted rather ... sad, but, you know, the flight was less than 3 hours, so I was lucky to have a hot meal and not a cold ham and cheese sandwich.

Air plane meals are not bad, as far as you eat only once in a while. :)

08 May, 2012

Travelling Athens - Frankfurt - Narita

I went to Japan for a week using the Orthodox Easter break. Here are photos of the things I ate on the way to Narita.

First, I ate this in the air plane from Athens to Frankfurt, around 7 o'clock.

In the main dish, from the left are the oven baked potatoes, some sort of cheese pie (thin Arabic pita like thing staffed with feta cheese), and oven baked aubergine and zucchini. Although I appreciated that it was a hot meal, it was bit too heavy for breakfast early in the morning.

We were given two pieces of bread (one white, one black) which had nothing to mention.

Suburb of Frankfurt from the sky. Different from Greece, it looked very industrial.

And a lots of Lufthansa aircraft.

Frankfurt Airport is huge and there are lots of shops and cafeterias.

This one called Mosch Mosch sells ...

pseudo Japanese Chinese food like Wagamama. There were quite some people, even though it was morning.

An automatic vendor of Kosher food! But it was almost empty. Maybe the German Jews are not that strict anymore?

As I had many hours to kill at the airport, I looked for interesting food. Many shops were selling sausages and pretzels; evidently these are the typical German snacks like tyropita for the Greeks. I found an attractive pastry shop and tried one.

There were many attractive ones and they were huge! I got a custard cream and apple pastry with a cappuccino.

It was a shame that I could not heat it, but tasted very good and surprisingly light (or rather not too heavy). Shop is called Kamps. Recommended for pastries, although the coffee wasn't so good.

And I found myself again on air plane, to Narita.

This is the menu. There was a very detailed description for the Japanese main dish, but the other one was just "Bolognese Spaghetti". I had a bad feeling.

And it came true. The better described main dishes sold quickly, and the people in my area were given no choice. Bolognese Spaghetti for us.

But it might not bad in the end. The Bolognese Spaghetti was like oven-baked and served very hot; I ate it all right.

The pink noodles tasted good as well.

In the menu, it was written that we would have served snack between meals, but the service staff cheated distributing snack together with the lunch plate. It was salmon onigiri (rice ball with sea weed sheat).

And breakfast.

Main dish from the left, chicken (in soy sauce?), scrambled egg, fried potatoes. I would not eat fried potatoes for breakfast, but the egg was surprisingly good. Usually, the breakfast eggs on air planes are served very hard from over-cooking, but this one was still soft and fluffy. Not sure how they did it, but I appreciated their effort.

I am not sure if you noticed that we were not given any cake at the meals. The desserts were always fruits. Usually the cakes on air planes taste awful, so it was good thing, I guess.

In total, I liked the meals of Lufthansa.

It was raining in Narita when I arrived.

It has been sometime to see wet Narita.

05 May, 2012

Cappuccino @ Tailor Made

Today is Saint Eirene's day. Probably you don't know but my Christian name is Eirene Aimilia.

That is why we came to Saint Eirene's Church to light a candle.

And we are at Taylor Made in Saint Eirene's Square for a cappuccino (3 Euro only) and a juice. Nice.


04 May, 2012

Piu Verde @ Papagou Hill

After our adventure in Hymittos Mountain, the last thing we wanted to get involved again the traffic chaos in Kaissariani, so we we tried to go another road. The only one we found was toward Cholargos.

As it is one of the areas in Athens we do not usually visit, we decided to have lunch here. Greek Husband said he wanted Italian, so after a short search with my smart phone, we decided on one in Papagou Hill called Piu Verde (as you see on the napkin, there is no accent on u of piu - what I am saying is that IT IS NOT MY FAULT).

It is situated in the park and comprises restaurant section and cafeteria section. This nice looking part is cafeteria.

Unfortunately the nice part was very much full and we were seated indoor. GH was VERY unhappy, but he was too hungry to walk out, so he stayed (but, actually, it would be very nice in winter).

We had a salad as starter: cherry tomatoes, olives and caper salad served with pita bread, rocket leaves and fried feta in sesame.

This was a pretty good, filling salad. The bread and dips (minty yoghurt and black olive) were nice, too.

My main course was small pork steaks in Marsala sauce served with broccoli risotto. Plating was beautiful.

The meat did not have freshly grilled taste, as it was cooked in low temperature. I appreciated that the broccoli had crunchiness, but the risotto itself was over-salted. Did not manage to eat all.

GH who wanted Italian food ordered pork souvlaki.

The souvlaki was almost non-salted. And tragically, there was no salt on the table and all the waiters were too busy running around.

We had also one not-ordered bottle of mineral water and one big beer (500 mil?) and the final bill was about 42 Euro.

I did not like at all the fact that they did not leave the not-ordered mineral water on our table and we had to call the attention of waiters get my glass filled. AND, some of the other tables had cold bottle of tap water for free! What sort of service is it? And 7 Euro for beer I think is too much.

In conclusion, we won't go back (too far from our areas anyway). But if you live close and want coffee, it would be a nice place in warm seasons.

Piu Verde
Strat. Al. Papagou & 8th Merarchia, Alsos Papagou
Στρατ.Αλ.Παπάγου & 8ης Μεραρχίας, Άλσος Παπάγου,
156 69, Tel 210 6546185

03 May, 2012

Flowers of Protomaia

The first of May (Protomaia) is a national holiday (Labour Day) in Greece.

I don't think that there is anything to do with the labour, but there is a custom to make a circle of flowers like this below.

I feel guilty to collect wild flowers, so I collect flowers with my camera. Most of them are from Hymittos Mountain.

It was a very fine day and there were people everywhere. Especially the traffic of Kaissariani side of Hymittos was dramatic, partly due to the people who dare to park the cars where they are supposed not to. Lesson learnt.