The Fish Lunch of My Dreams at Seirines, Rafina

So…

I’m back from my honeymoon.

And while I thought that my first posts back would be all about the wedding…I was wrong. A fool, really.

Because how could I write about anything besides the beautiful, historic, and DELICIOUS country of Greece?

Don’t worry, wedding recaps will take place.

But first, jump a plane, a ferry, and a donkey to Greece with me, won’t you?

The first meal I had in Greece was actually one of my favorites of the entire trip. It was at the port of Rafina where we boarded the (HELLISHLY LONG AND CROWDED) ferry to Mykonos. Rafina is the secondary port of Athens, and mostly used by Greeks while tourists use the larger port of Piraeus. As such, the restaurants here cater to the local clientele – wealthy Athenians island hopping and business men stopping by for lunch from nearby offices.

20140430_144725 Small tavernas line the harbor, but bypass the others and go straight to Seirines.

20140430_161217 The atmosphere is nothing stuffy – a small indoor section and a large, covered outdoor patio area where young families and people in $10,000 watches sit side by side. Everyone in Greece seems to speak impeccable English, but this is the closest that we got to being totally out of our element and relying to pointing at pictures on the menu.

Needless to say, I loved it.

The chef will come and show you the catch of the day, or you can order off the menu. There really isn’t any way to lose.

20140430_150240 Spicy cheese dip(Tyrokaferi)

Hello, land of feta! This is made with soft, creamy feta - it has that briny quality that feta has, but with the texture of whipped cream cheese. It isn’t bitter or crumbly at all. It’s interspersed with some sort of pepper paste from heaven – a little zippy at the start, but then it fades quickly to let the natural flavor of the cheese shine through. It really highlights the cheese with a touch of spice instead of overpowering it and stealing the show. A spritz of lemon somewhere in there lifts the dish and finishes it with the perfect touch of acid.

20140430_150236 Tzatziki

I almost cried. This is the best tzatziki that I had in Greece, and that’s really saying something, since I had it at almost every meal (breakfast included). So thick and rich – what the hell kind of yogurt am I eating at home?! The cucumbers are finely shredded and obviously drained because they are lush and verdant without being soggy or watery. The dill is abundant and the garlic is a revelation – I have NOT been using enough garlic in my tzatziki! The raw garlic provides a savory, spicy note that resonates in the back of the throat long after the bite is gone. However, because the yogurt is so wonderfully rich and fatty, it tempers the garlic’s bite. This is so spicy, creamy, cooling, and refreshing…I ate it with some toasted bread but mostly ate it with a fork, because who wants bread to get in the way of pure, unadulterated garlicky fat?

20140430_150246 Country salad

1. Where do they get the tomatoes in Greece?! They are the sweetest, juiciest, thinnest skinned tomatoes that I have ever enjoyed in my life. They are ripe and firm, tasting of the sun and the earth at once.

2. Peeled cucumbers. In a casual taverna. Because everyone knows that cucumber skin is for the birds.

3. Sweet, THINLY shaved onions. Scallions, be gone.

4. Olives. My ankles swelled to the size of elephant ankles from all of the olives that I ate. Soft ones, hard ones, small ones, juicy ones, green, red, and black ones…they were all the absolute best that I have ever eaten. To say NOTHING of the fruity, thick, golden olive oil served tableside at every meal.

5. The feta. The block of feta of which I couldn’t take a photo because I started to eat it too quickly. This feta that is different from the feta in the dip – it’s light and crumbly, with less of a salty bite. It just goes to show how carefully the food here is made – the feta used for the dip would be far too salty and soft to meld with the crisp and salty vegetables.

20140430_150400 Smoked and cured fish plate

Dontcha just love a place where there is a huge plate full of house-caught fish that has been cured and smoked right in the back of the restaurant? Some of it I loved (the anchovies were garlicky, and oily but not at all fishy), some of it I liked (the soft cured amberjack or skipjack in the back – mild and rich), and some of it I couldn’t stand (sorry fish on the side – crunchy shouldn’t be a term when discussing fish). It was nothing I have ever had before and I would advise any adventurous seafood lover to order it!

20140430_150940 Shrimp, souvlaki style

The best  cooked shrimp I have had in eons. Plump and juicy with a garlicky (they love garlic here) olive oil marinade that makes the sweet shrimp just sing. Grilled on a skewer so they are juicy within and smoky without.

20140430_151035 They are so mild and sweet that they almost don’t seem like shrimp – they are more like scallops. They were doubtless caught that morning and cooked to order. The shrimp in Greece is in general FAR superior to what I have had in the USA – probably there is little to no iodine treatment there. These were the best of the many shrimp that I ate on the trip.

20140430_152923 Creamsicle cake

This is what I call it…who knows what the real name is? Light, vanilla scented cheesecake with a graham cracker bottom and a tart, thick marmalade top. It’s hard not to love this.

And it’s impossible not to love this restaurant. The price is fair – not cheap but it’s a TON of delicious, fresh seafood. The atmosphere is lovely and relaxed and the staff couldn’t be sweeter. We ordered and our food was brought promptly (NOT always the norm in Greece), then after we finished we were left alone for an hour to sit with our coffees and read magazines until it was time to board our ferry. The server was thrilled that we loved the food so much and the chef was in and out of the kitchen, advising diners what to order. I would come back here in a heartbeat if I could.

What an introduction to delicious Greece!

Comments

  1. Ttrockwood says:

    I can’t believe you came back!! ;)
    That looks like the most awesome meal……ever. And no english is something i look for when traveling. I suspect their yogurt is made from unpasturized milk and of course its full fat-everything looks amazing. I just made a reservation for Kefi when my parents visit in a few weeks, and now I’m super excited about it! (Unless you have a different greek favorite in manhattan…?)

    • fritosfg says:

      @ttrockwood I barely got on the plane home! Yes, I think that it must be unpasteurized – all of the milk products there are SO incredibly rich. I love Kefi!! I also have a serious love affair with Taboon, which isn’t Greek but has many Mediterranean flavors. Oh, also Agnanti Mezze in Astoria – not for visiting parents, but for another time – is just FABULOUS!

  2. CathyP says:

    Welcome back!! I’m glad you had a great time. This post made my heart skip a beat- we have a family house on the water outside of Rafina, and this post made me so homesick!! I’m glad you like the tomatoes. They are like nothing else, right?

    • fritosfg says:

      @Cathyp – you have a house in Rafina…I’m trying to process this without feeling jealousy…nope, not happening. Rafina was one of our favorite parts of the trip! That lunch was CRAVE worthy…I could have gone back for dinner and ordered entirely different things! I just fell in LOVE with Greece in a way that I didn’t know that I would…the people, the scenery, and the FOOD!!!! In case we go back (5 year anniversary), what are your opinions on Crete? Or Paros?

      • CathyP says:

        I’m so glad you loved it so much! It’s always nice to hear good things about a place you love. I’m the one who is jealous; I can’t go this summer!! Crete is fantastic and is a world of its own! It’s so big that you can easily rent a car to fully explore it. The beaches are beautiful and they have mountains that are very cool in the summer with lots of natural springs. It’s really a lovely escape from the summer heat, but you can always go the the beach to warm up. The people are very nice as well and the palace of Knossos is incredible as well. The food is delicious, and they are known cor the rustic bread dish with tomatoes that you had in Mykonos. they call it a “ntako”. They also make delicious snails in vinegar! Paros is pretty, but very touristy, if that doesn’t bother you. The one potentially bad thing about Paros is that you have to take a boat from the main city to the beaches. If you are up for an adventure, it is fun too. Honestly, you really can’t go wrong!!

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