22 February, 2014

Maniot Fried Bread

As I wrote yesterday, this is my third visit to Mani. But I did not notice how popular this fried bread in Mani.


It is not something you can find only in Mani. I believe it is eaten all over Greece, although named differently from place to place. 

In Mani it is simply called 'pita'. Or to distinguish from other pites (pies), it is also called τραβηχτή πίτα, or Maniatiki pita for non-Maniots. 

When it is well cooked, it is incredibly light and fluffy. It is nice in itself, but is usually eaten with cheese or honey. The ones in photo are served with yellow cheese. 

Often eaten either as breakfast or snack.

It is a joy to learn these small things while I travel.

21 February, 2014

Traveling Mani


We are traveling Mani. Very little traffic due to low tourist season.

This is my third time in Mani. For the last two times, the food was disappointing but not this time. 

Mani is beautiful in winter. I won't come here for beaches, but ideal for trekking and relaxing.

18 February, 2014

Some Random Updates about Piraeus


Some totally casual and random updates from Piraeus.

Walking along Peiraiki (Akti Themistokleous), I found a new "wine pub" called Corks and Forks, close to the now- closed Karsi.


Wine bar is a good idea, because there is none in Piraeus even though it is now in fashion in central Athens. Good luck!

And I noticed that the old Costa Costa building in Marina Zeas has Birra Birra's signage board. From Costa Costa to Birra Birra.


Not sure if it is only the 1st floor or also the ground floor. Again a beer garden seems to be a good idea at least fro the summer.

I do not have photo, but also Goody's close to Public and Marks and Spencer's has reopened. I don't think I go, but I am happy because it was depressing to see such a large shop left in ruin.

This below is a photo of Plateia Pigada.


Plateia Pigada is to undergo a face-lift, and, as soon as they started, ancient ruins were uncovered. Currently archaeologists are working there.

15 February, 2014

To Metsovo @ Stamata


Last Sunday we visited Stamata, which is north to Kifisia and near Drosia. There is nothing interesting to see, but there is more green and cleaner air than in Athens.

And to catch the town people who try to get out of urban air, there are many tavernas. I was surprised to see so many tavernas there were in such a village-town.

We came to Stamata expecting a walk on a hill or something, but when we arrived, GH lost his appetite for it and developed another appetite. We ended up in eating after only a short stroll in the village.

The most famous restaurant in Stamata is called Amygdaleza and it is located outside the town. I had done some research on the web, but most of the reviews were old. So we just picked up one which had some people, but not too busy.

It was called To Metsovo. Evidently it brings some meat and wine from that town.


We were seated in the area which should be un-covered in better seasons. Most of the people were eating in this section, because the proper interior space was much darker.


The things Metsovan in the menu were kebab, sausage, T-bone (stavrisia), and wine. The hortopita made with cornmeal would have been so, if they had it. We got a normal hortopita (5 Euro).


It tasted good, but served completely cold and rather small.

We got also horta and tyrokafteri, both good and the oil used for horta tasted fresh.


On the menu, the only main dishes were grilled meat. I have an impression someone was eating a kind of stew, so if you ask, they might have it. But in principle, this is a grill restaurant and does not have variety like some other tavernas in Stamata (local specialties include meat cooked in terracotta ware - gastra - and peinirli, as you see below).

As main course, we ordered one pork grill (8.50 Euro). The meat looks big, but quite thin. Rather tough and dry, although tasted OK.


The best part of this dish actually was the carrot and zucchini. They were incredibly sweet and dense. It was a shame that it was so little.

The other main was veal contra fileto (I am not sure which part; maybe loin?), which I ordered medium, but of course arrived well-done. Not small, not big either.


Tasty, but again tough. 11.50 Euro.

We had also a bottle of beer, a bottle of water (cover), and grilled bread (cover) and the total bill came to 38.50 Euro. I think it was expensive for what they offered. And they do not give any free dessert. Not even fruits or yogurt. I do not say that they are obliged to give anything free, but it seemed rather odd for a countryside taverna in Attica. I observed that they did not offer desserts even to those who ordered more dishes than us.

When we paid, they did not bring us the receipt. So we called the guy looked like a manager and asked him to bring it. To this request, he asked us: "So, did you pay?" It is rude, because no one ask receipt for the things they have not paid. In the end he obliged, but the receipts we got were not ours. They were from some other tables. The total amount was more than 38.50 Euro, but once they had already issued, they did not care. The behavior was just appalling.

It was a bad sort of touristic restaurants. Not that you get hurt, but, if you have choice, better avoid it.

To Metsovo - Το Μέτσοβο
Platia Stamatas 1, Stamata
Πλατεία Σταμάτας 1, Σταμάτα
Tel. 210-6218138
http://www.tometsovo.4ty.gr/

Judging from reviews on the web, Stamata's restaurants are in general decline in quality-wise, but here are some other restaurant in the centre of Stamata, just for my record.

This is Peppas, housed in a very modern building. By the way, Peppas seems to be a very common surname in the area.


Serves grill, peinirli and gastra stews.

Mouries looks a bit like a house.


This is another very famous place in Stamata, Koutsouki tis Elenis. This one seems to focus more on mageirefta (stewed dishes) than on grill, though it has both.


This Pipinios is not on the central square, but on a side road. Busiest of all the ones we saw (so busy that we avoided it). It should be a grill restaurant and they were cooking kokoretsi outside. http://www.opipinios.4ty.gr/


Here is Kokkalis, just in front of Pipinios.


Lambros offers grill and peinirli.


O Aetos (Eagle) serves gastra and grill.


Odysseas is up above the central square. Totally deserted.


This Koutsouki is near Odysseas, but tucked away in a very narrow street. We did not go close and do not know if there was any guest.


These are the tavernas we found in Stamata town. I am not sure if I return there to eat, though.

11 February, 2014

Barin Russian Restaurant @ Elliniko


Do you buy discount coupons?

I do. In my head, there is a long list of restaurants where I want to go, and when I find any of these offering discount, I buy it.

That was how we had a chance to try this new Russian restaurant Barin in Elliniko.

To be honest, without coupon, I would not have visited it, because 1) Russian and East European food is not one of my favorites, 2) it is too expensive just for an experiment to see if I like their version of Russian cooking.

And Glad I tried.

It is located very close to Elliniko Metro Station, maybe 3 min walk from it, just a couple of streets behind Vouliagoumeni Avenue.

The building is impressive. This whole building is restaurant & its accessories. With a bit of mind exercise, you might be able to feel like a Russian oligarch when you enter. Or, you should feel like a baron, which evidently what it means Barin in Russian.

It seems like a place built and run by a Russian tycoon who had more money than he could spend and decided to open a restaurant as a hobby.


This is the dining area. It is beautiful by Athenian standard (which is, sorry to say but, not very high by Western European standard).


There is live music Friday and Saturday. When we entered at 8 there was a female singer and a pianist, and then the singer disappeared and a saxophonist appeared. I am not particularly fond of this sort of music, but it was well in tune with the restaurant itself.


The waiters were professional. One of them looked like a Russian villain in James Bond movies and I was pleased (this meant to be a compliment).

The menu is long, but not too long. You can find it on their website (see at the bottom of this post). There are cold and warm appetizers, fish and meat main courses, soups, salads and desserts. The drink menu was provided separately. As the establishment has a bar of its own, except for usual range of wine, you can find almost anything you like. Particularly of note is Barin beers (dark and red) from its own brewery. GH tried a glass of red beer and liked it.

Bread was served cold, but both very good. I found the black one particularly interesting. I usually do not like Russian black bread, but this one I did. Very aromatic and tasted fresh.


The pickles were served with bread and on the house. Good accompaniments to rather heavy Russian cuisine.


I ordered a liver tart from cold appetizer menu. When I ordered it, the waiter warned me that it was small and only for one person. I was not quite sure what he wanted me to worry about, but, as GH does not eat liver anyway, it was destined to be only for me from the start.

To be honest, I supposed that it would be like liver pate on something, but what actually arrived was cold liver patties served with sour cream and carrot pickle.


Well, it was described as a tart, but in reality it consisted in three pieces of liver cakes (I described them as cold liver biftekia to GH and I think it is to the point). I found them very pleasant.

GH ordered Pelmeni with minced meat filling, served with sour cream. Although they were served in cray pot, I think the tortellini like dumplings were fried in frying pan.


I snatched one and found it delicious.

As main dish, GH ordered Zarkoie pork stew.


It was fine, but probably not the best dish that you can eat at this restaurant.

I ordered a smoked fish fillet in Barin style.


It was a serious piece of white fish (seabass?) fillet, served with lightly cooked slices of tomato. If you like smoked fish, it is definitely for you.

We did not order dessert and we were not asked either. We were too full anyway.

The bill would have come to 53.40 Euro if we did not have discount coupon.


As I did not order any drink except for bottled water (served without asking us, but it is a usual practice in expensive restaurants of this sort, so I am not complaining), in normal circumstances, you would be paying 30 Euro p.p. for 1 starter, 1 main dish and 1 drink. I would not say it is expensive considering the environment and quality, but it is under the current economic situation.

I think that by cutting 10 to 15% off from the price tags shall increase the trade (there were only 3 couples including us while we were eating in a Friday evening) and they might be earning more in the end.

It is a shame the place to be so empty, because the food is quite good.

Barin
13, 33rd Street Elliniko, 16777
33η Οδός 13 Ελληνικό, 16777
Tel. (+30) 210 9635416
http://www.barin.gr/

08 February, 2014

Rakor @ Keramikos


First I saw this small mezedopoleio when we visited Athiri (when it was offering 10 Euro Menu of Tuesdays) and then I read good reviews of it. So let's try it.

It is very unpretentious from outlook. It looks like a hangout spot for students.


The same tune also inside. And indeed most of the people are around 30 or under, except for a group of middle-aged couples who probably had come here after having read restaurant review websites... like us.


The menu is short but, there are 6 or 7 dishes of the day in addition, so you can find something you fancy, if you are not too fussy.


Lettuce salad with graviera and petimezi (which is sweet grape extract and works somehow like balsamic vinegar) came in a good portion. As it consisted in a so few ingredients, I got bored after a while.


Fava with caper and sundried tomatoes. Texture of fava was good. Problem was the topping which was far too salty.


Pork belly strips with "Arabic" pita. This was the best dish that I ate that night. The meat was very well seasoned with spices, although a bit burnt. The mayonnaise like sauce had coriander (spice, not herb).


Potato with apaki came a bit late. This dish was far too oily and we managed to eat only half.


GH had a bottle of Septem beer (if you have not tried beers from this brewery in Evvia, I would recommend you do soon) and the bill came to 24 Euro. The beer having cost 4.50 Euro, the food was under 20!

Cheap.

And the dishes are creative and rich in portion, even though not perfectly executed.

What I am thinking, however, is that, if you are over a certain age and has some money to spend on eating-outs, maybe you don't appreciate so much cheap but not-that-impressive food.

If I were 25 years younger, probably I could have appreciated Rakor more.

Rakor
Plataion 10 and Granikou, Kerameikos, Athens
Πλαταιών 10 & Γρανικού, Κεραμεικός

Tel. (+30) 211 710 8877

02 February, 2014

Omikron @ Kifissia


Wow. Is it already February!? I would not believe it.

I am doing fine, but probably am being to taken by Game of Thrones. I am currently reading the 5th book and when I finish it, probably I start blogging more often. :)

But today I am writing about Omikron in Kifisia, a well-know restaurant of Kastelorizo Group. I knew that I could have half-price offer with Diners Club card, but this time I bought a coupon from web (if I remember well, it was Groupon).

The unique selling point of Omikron is its location. It does not have view, but it is housed in a magnificent independent building. I heard that its garden is also gorgeous, but as it was in January, we were seated indoors. The photo is too dark. I know. But just understand that the whole villa is one restaurant.


The gate.


We were led to the far end of the space, maybe because we were with discount voucher. But it was not really necessary, as the place remained empty but for another couple from 8 to 10 (it was a Sunday evening).


The menu is not too long, not too short and the price is high, as you imagine. Around 10 Euro for starter or salad and 15 to 20 for main. They did not give us drink menu (very strange for an upmarket restaurant), so I do not know how much wine costs.

Here is amuse-bouche. Left is a savory and dry cake and right is some kind of thick soup. I do not remember exactly what they were but I do remember that I wasn't impressed by any of these.


There was a koulouri in bread basket! No doubt a reference to O of Omikron. There was also normal bread underneath.


As they did not give us the drink menu, we just told the waiter to bring us two glasses of red wine. So we do not know what we drank. The quantity was pretty generous, but it did not look sophisticated. We found out that it was 5 Euro per glass. Normal price, I think.


Salad, if I remember well, was spinach, asparagus (frozen, probably), graviera cheese and fried and cold cured meat. Just OK.


Deep-fried cigars filled with goat cheese, served with lemon chutney. The cigars are rather boring, but the chutney was a real boost. Glad we tried this dish.


This is roasted pork knuckle served with potatoes.


Tasted good, but there was very little meat. Most of the knuckle was bone and contained a big layer of fat, too. Below is the photo of the bone.


And I had what supposed to be fettuccine with king prawns according to the menu, but it turned out to be linguine. Linguine is a good pasta to go with seafood, but is totally different from Fettuccine (broad & flat egg noodles). It is quite worrying when a upmarket restaurant makes such an error.

The dish definitely lacked salt and they do not keep condiments on table. Annoyingly, waiters were not around either.

Nonetheless I have to say that the prawns were absolutely the best I have ever eaten in Greece, and they were correctly cleaned. These really impressed me.


We left the place without dessert, because our stomachs were sated. I do not remember well, but I think we paid about 15 Euro additionally for wine and water.

If you are type of eaters who value highly the decor of restaurants, you might appreciate Omikron. But for me who do not care anything but food, it is just too far (I live in Piraeus and Kifisia is far away) and unreasonably expensive, well except for these prawns.

Omikron - Όμικρον
1 Drosou & 29 Aeglis Street, Nea Erythrea
Tel. 210 6202 475
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