Amaya – Tandoori Foie Gras is Just the Beginning

I think that you probably remember my love affair with London. If you don’t, then go check out those posts. I am now, and always, an Anglophile.

And I still LOVE Indian food in London. The stuff here – with the exception, perhaps, of Junoon - can’t even compare. Which is why I was so excited that, almost 4 years after my first visit there, I was finally able to get pictures of my meal at the Michelin starred, very fabulous, usually photography barring restaurant, Amaya.

20140508_202510 Amaya is still as bustling and busy as ever. It’s chic but not too precious – you can tell from the incredible aroma that people might come here to be seen but they stay to eat. This is a great date place or a spot for a night out with friends. 
20140508_203152 If you have to wait at the small bar for a few minutes, don’t think of it as the restaurant running late. Think of it as your opportunity to try one of the excellent cocktails from the wine and cocktail list. Go for the orange juice, prosecco, and gin concoction for something a little sweet and very refreshing.
20140508_203201-001 Or, order the absinthe lassi for a more savory, tangy drink that not only calms the stomach but actually increases your appetite. If you don’t like the faintly licorice-y taste of absinthe, ask for it to be made with gin. 
20140508_204614-001 The restaurant specializes in food cooked over an open grill – the kitchen is enormous and open air, and you can see tandoori ovens cooking chewy naan bread, sautee pans filled with fragrant sauces, and the grill cooking giant, sweet shrimp from Madagascar, lamb from Scotland, and any number of vegetables. It’s dinner theater with a twist – you get to taste the final product instead of being treated to a stirring rendition of “The Music Man” while dining on dry prime rib. 
20140508_205459-001 Chutney sampler

Oh, please get this. Smoky tomato chutney, traditional tangy mango chutney, diced peanuts, and a thin, hot tamarind chutney improve most things in life, but especially this intricately spiced food. The peanuts are a truly inspired touch – nutty, a little sweet, and pleasantly grainy for a textural contrast.  20140508_210625 Charbroiled oyster with coconut cream sauce

Be still my heart. One of my favorite oyster preparations on the face of the planet. Small, plump, and sweet. Covered in tasted panko with a touch of bright citrus zest. Served in a pool of rich coconut cream with a slight hit of curry. It’s unexpected and totally addictive – Thai coconut mussels gone upscale and even more mild. I could eat 1,000 of these
20140508_211218-001 Coconut crusted sea bass

Also tasty, but not the best dish of the night. It’s mild and flaky, infused with the light flavor of coconut and covered in crunchy coconut shreds with a hint of red pepper, but it doesn’t stand out. It’s hard to stand out in a crowd of this caliber.

20140508_211332-001 Pomegranate and rose raita

Delicious – and this is coming from someone who usually avoids rose flavored things like the plague. To me, rose is a keyword for “tastes like swallowing a bottle of perfume,” but these roses are purely ornamental – I couldn’t detect any rose taste at all. The pomegranate adds bursts of tart, juicy flavor to the thick, cooling yogurt. A must get, especially for the abundance of spicy dishes to follow.
20140508_211440-001 Tandoori foie gras

The most sensational dish of the night. One of the most sensational foie gras dishes ever. (Do I say that every time?) This is really something else. It’s foie covered in aromatic spices like coriander and ginger, and then flash seared until the outside is sticky and caramelized and the inside absolutely melts. It actually has to be eaten with a spoon, that is how fatty and lush it is.  20140508_212126 Tandoori broccoli

This ain’t yo mama’s broccoli. This broccoli is seared in a blazing tandoori until it is BARELY tender at the stalk and incinerated to a crunchy, salty golden brown at the top of the floret. It’s served with a creamy yogurt sauce that has a vaguely tahini-esque nuttiness. It’s so good that it’s barely vegetarian.

Oh yes, I went there. Don’t miss this. 
20140508_212342 Grilled quail

Perfect. The meat is JUST medium, with a hint of pinkness that leaves it juicy and savory without being too gamy. It’s almost sweet, like lamb, and tastes much more like meat than poultry. It’s split for you, so you can pick up the tiny pieces with your hand and eat the crunchy, burnished skin that is laquered with a sweet glaze. Don’t forget to drag it through the accompanying dots of fragrant cilantro and spicy chile sauces. This is awesome. 

This restaurant is just dreamy. The food focuses on fresh ingredients and careful spicing – don’t expect over seasoned, greasy food at this joint. The food couldn’t be better in any way and neither could the service. It’s prompt and informed but still friendly, and the manager himself came over to every single table to ask what diners enjoyed and what could be improved upon. Wow…now THAT is attention to detail. This meal is absolutely expensive, but you don’t feel fleeced. Really, you get what you pay for at Amaya.

It’s my favorite Indian food in one of my favorite cities. 

Fernandez and Wells – A Lunchtime Bummer

Before I get to the wonderful parts about London, let me cover the only ho-hum part:

Lunch at Fernandez and Wells.

I had heard so much about this mini Spanish chain. I wanted to love it. I even wanted to like it.

But, in this brand new branch, open only a day before we went, the service was so abysmal that I would avoid this entire enterprise like the plague.

I know, I know. They just opened, they are working out kinks. I know that. But in a chain this highly renowned, they should know to stock the bar before opening. They should know to employ people who can chill a beer glass before serving.

And two hungry people should be able to eat a sandwich in under 90 minutes.  20140509_145726 I mean, the space was so new that we could eat off the floor. Trust me, after sitting there for 70 minutes with warm beers (our third choice since the bar was so poorly stocked), we would have been thrilled to have found a crust of bread on the floor and eaten it. 20140509_152601 Cheese and meat platter

Good, if uninspired. The Iberico ham is sliced thickly so the meat has somehow, unlike the paper-thin slices to which I am accustomed. I like this thicker cut – it had a chew like a steak and the fat melted delicately on the tongue. The cheeses are sharp and salty, and the salami has a welcome, peppery bite.
20140509_152708 Little tartines on the toasted, olive oiled bread are the kind of teatime sandwich I can get into.
20140509_152856 Black pudding with egg mayonnaise on a baguette

Fatty and creamy and sinful and delicious. When the Brits say egg mayonnaise, they don’t mean hardboiled eggs with some mayo – they mean egg salad. And this egg salad is legit. It’s so creamy, with just a touch of piquant mustard and salt to bring out the rich flavor.
20140509_153038 The black pudding is crispy and light, with a slight minerality. It reminds me of scrapple, and echos the crunchy crust of the baguette. This is a sandwich that I could eat again and again.

If only I had that much time. Look, for the prices and the amount of food, the service was just horrible. Nice, but absentminded and SO SLOW. No glass of wine to apologize for the wait. No side salad with the sandwich. No nuthin! So, I shan’t be returning to this Denmark Street address. 20140509_155828 Just something I saw in a music store that’s too good to keep to myself.

Eating Like a Local – That’s Right, Fast Food

So, the last night in Athens…I let my new husband have his fantasy.

And no, it didn’t involve a Grecian house of ill repute – I’m not THAT great a wife!

It involved this:

20140507_201729 Yep, I let him try all the fast food his heart desired while we sat on our balcony and watched the sun set over the Acropolis. It was all from McDonald’s and some place called Everest that seems to specialize in puff pastry. 
20140507_201749 Buttery puff pastry and creamy, mild soft cheese from Naxos. 
20140507_201805 Crispy puff pastry with salty feta, sweet onions, and spinach – a spanikopita pie. 
20140507_201852 Flaky puff pastry with a hot dog inside. 

20140507_202051

Cheesy, fluffy bread topped with thinly sliced jambon de Paris (like prosciutto), bechamel, and more cheese. Golden brown, creamy, crunchy, and addictive. 

20140507_201909 Don’t even ask.  20140507_201937 I ate the whole thing. It was seasoned with oregano, covered in creamy tzatziki, and wrapped in a warm, fluffy pita. I’m only HUMAN, you guys. 
20140507_202409 Where else could you get salad dressing from McDonalds that includes genuine aged balsamic vinegar from Italy?

This isn’t a meal to be proud of. But as we sat munching our guilty pleasures, listening to jazz from the ipod and watching the Parthenon light up for the night, we couldn’t have felt more Athenian if we tried. 

 

Kleftiko at the Plaka

The Plaka is Athens oldest neighborhood. It is centrally located, at the base of the Acropolis, and is a collection of touristy shops and restaurants. It reminds me of Little Italy, but not in the way that New Yorkers think of Little Italy; the way that everyone else thinks of Little Italy. A cute place with fun restaurants and the opportunity to get dressed up in traditional garb and take an old timey photo.

Okay, maybe I made up that last part, but it does have some very cute restaurants. They are super touristy and probably all use the same kitchen that just runs under the length of the neighborhood, but what do I care?

20140507_122834 Adrianos Restaurant couldn’t be cuter or more touristy if it tried. Every menu is printed in about 5 languages, there is everything from souvlaki to hamburgers, and the courtyard is shaded with large umbrellas and lovely greenery. It’s relaxing but looks onto the bustling Plaka, for a bit of dinner theatre as you dine. Word to the wise – learn the Greek word for no (o-hee) for when the women selling roses, pashminas, and other things made in China come around to your table.
20140507_124345 Grilled halloumi and vegetables

Why is the cheese so lovely here? Even at this restaurant where no Greek person would be caught dead, the cheese is mild and bouncy, with a salty crust taht pairs well with the sweet grilled zucchini and eggplant. It’s ideal with the accompanying olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar. This could be a meal in and of itself.
20140507_124349 Tzatziki

But then you would miss out on this. Yeah, the tzatziki really does just get better and better in this country. This is the only time on the vacation that we cound the portion to be a bit paltry, but what can ya do? It’s thick and rich; loaded with shredded cucumbers and spicy garlic. The dill is quite restrained but there is plenty of cracked pepper. What do you want from me, I just love this stuff.  20140507_130018 Gyros

Avoid at all costs. Dry, rubbery, and tasteless. Though, to be fair, if you order a gyro at a sit down restaurant instead of from a little stand where you can see the meat roasted on a spit, you get what you deserve.  20140507_130022 Kleftiko

This lamb and veggies dish is one of my favorite things I ate during the entire honeymoon. Kleftiko is a dish that was invented by (according at least one story) Greek rebels during an Ottoman invasion. The rebels would cook lamb in a pit far below the earth so that the invading armies couldn’t see  smoke escaping, thus exposing the hiding spot. It’s DELICIOUS. My husband said that it looked like it came out of a garbage can. Then he promptly stole all of it.  20140507_130100 The meat is incredibly tender and pulls cleanly away from the bone. It’s dripping in fatty, rich, lamby juices and the edges are crunchy and caramelized. The carrots are wonderfully sweet all on their own and the potatoes absorb those meaty flavors. It’s savory, filling, and wonderfully hearty. I could eat this until my pants wouldn’t button.

Adrianos isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it was a cheap and tasty lunch. The service was insanely slow – so be aware! However, it’s Greece. And I think that any restaurant in the Plaka would do the same for lunch.

So, Athens had some good food, but not the best.

Luckily, London was right around the corner.

Kuzina – Come for the Meatballs

Okay, so now we are in Athens. One of the cradles of civilization. Birthplace of modern medicine, theatre, architecture, and democracy.

I loved Greece. I would go back in an instant, and quite frankly, we have already discussed going back for our 5 year anniversary – definitely Santorini and maybe Crete.

But Athens…Athens is a 2 night stop at most. See the Acropolis, gawk at the Parthenon, maybe go to the museum, and get the hell out of Dodge.

It’s Paris without the shops that have been there since 1722. It’s London without the changing of the guards. It’s New York without the yellow taxicabs.

It’s a big city without the charm.

I am so sorry, Athens was just not for me. I think that if I was a major Greek history buff, it would be heaven – you can’t walk more than a minute without bumping into the ancient Agora, a statue that was built in 60BC, or an artifact that we would LOVE to have here in the USA.

But if, like me, you are kind of a one-site-fits-all gal…Athens ain’t the greatest part of Greece.

Sadly, the same goes for the food.

We stayed at The Grande Bretagne (an unbelievable hotel…more to come) and they recommended a restaurant which was described ans an upscale taverna. Some traditional Greek food, some fresh ingredients with Mediterranean influences, and a whole lot of style. Perfect!

The neighborhood…a little sketchy. I wasn’t scared that I would be mugged or anything, but expect to see a ton of graffiti, panhandlers, and more than a few wasted people as you walk to your destination. That doesn’t bother me, but it is surprising that such a well-known restaurant would be located in this neighborhood.

Kuzina is a beautiful restaurant with a gorgeous terrace, an airy indoor space, and lovely outdoor seating on a tree lined street. It reminds me of something that might be in Santa Monica – rustic but cool. The menu looked great, too.

20140506_202352 20140506_202358 Bread and olives

Very nice! The bread has a thick, floury crust and is warm and airy inside. It’s ideal with the almost sweet olive oil and the juicy, mild olives.  20140506_203126 Fattoush salad

On the surafce this sounds great – a light salad with spicy peppers, crispy bacon, and crispy pita in a light, lemony vinaigrette. However, this just didn’t work. The lettuce is in pieces that are far too big and make you feel like you are eating mouthfuls of leaves. The hot peppers aren’t very spicy and the roasted ones are almost slimy. The bacon is flaccid and far too fatty-and I love me some fatty bacon.  The worst part is that the dressing positively DRENCHED the salad – and not in that awesome blue cheese-drenched iceberg wedge way. It’s super acidic and renders everything soggy. The pita crisps were good, but a good crouton does not a great salad make.  20140506_203731 Keftedes with sumac, pita, and yogurt sauce

The highpoint not just of the night but of all of the meatballs of the trip. They are everything that meatballs want to be. Juicy, earthy, and soft but not mushy. The sumac is wonderfully bright and  - it perks up the meatballs without making them overtly sour or bitter. The pita is fluffy and chewy, and the yogurt provides a little creamy counterpart. Don’t even get me started on those tomatoes again. This is such a delicious dish that it’s almost wort the price of admission.

20140506_204912 Snapper in bouillabaisse broth

Very good, if not memorable. The fish is well cooked and the bouillabaisse is briny and deep with saffron and garlic. It’s something that I would eat again, but not something that I would actively seek.  20140506_204918 Liver and onions

I mean, I enjoy this stuff. The liver is ideally cooked, with a bit of pink inside and a crusty, browsed exterior. This ain’t yo mama’s chopped liver – it’s overtly organ-y, with a soft texture but a ton of strong, iron-rich taste.The onions are sweet and sour, cutting though the liver’s strong taste. The potatoes are creamy and sop up the winey, mineral rich juices. It’s really quite good.  20140506_205030 But, again…I could cook this at home. I enjoyed it but wouldn’t consider this a must get.

After our hit-it-out-of-the-park meals on the islands, this first dinner in Athens was a major disappointment. It was more expensive than most of the food we had eaten on Santorini and Mykonos, and not as delicious. The service was a little spotty, though if the food were better we might not have noticed. This is a place that I might frequent f I lived here, but I can’t say that I wold willingly come back.

And it was our best dinner in Athens. Luckily, lunch the next day was more up our alley.

Terpsi en Oia – Just Like Yiayia Used to Make

We didn’t go to Terpsi by accident.

We wouldn’t have. It’s right on Oia’s main drag and looks, for all the world, like any old tourist trap with french fries and watered down wine.

Luckily, a newfound friend of a friend told me that I should go to Terpsi for delicious homestyle Greek food and fabulous service.

20140505_202751 Too bad that she didn’t mention the ugly view.

20140505_201855 It’s just like looking at the brick wall that I face in my apartment in the city, you guys.

20140505_202907 Santorini beer

Nowhere near as good as Santorini wine. Not bad, but a little blah. Not worth it. 20140505_203228 Shrimp with feta, garlic, tomatoes, and love

Okay, it doesn’t say love on the menu…but it should. This shrimp is unmissable. They come beautifully cleaned and ideally cooked – snappy, sweet, and JUST pink so they aren’t at all rubbery. The sauce is stuff of the heavens. Winey, garlicky, sweet with tomatoes that are crushed into the sauce. The feta works well with the shrimp – it picks up the salinity and makes the sauce lush and thick – who would ever put feta with shrimp!? The Greeks, it seems. This dish is bright and well-rounded – plus, the sauce can be eaten like a soup when the shrimp is done.

Oh, it can’t? Well we did it. And it was swell.  20140505_204044 Moussaka

No, not moose caca. This Greek shepherd’s pie is one of the most comforting dishes known to humankind. It’s a layer of creamy, bubbly, bechamel atop gently cooked eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, ending with a layer of spiced, cinnamon-y ground lamb. Moussaka is delicious even when it’s so so, and here it is sublime. It’s creamy and warming. The lamb is juicy, the potatoes are tender, and the eggplant is silky.  20140505_204158 I mean, don’t you want to just dive headfirst into that?

It’s even better than it looks. If you like lasagna or shepherd’s pie, you will love Terpsi’s moussaka.

Terpsi is delightful. The food is real Greek home cooking and the views are also real Greek…real awesome! The service is congenial and quite speedy, the food is wonderful, and the views are magnificent. It’s  as if your favorite neighborhood joint was suddenly manned by your very own yiayia and the views of the alley were replaced by the most magnificent views on earth. This is one of my favorite restaurant experiences because it was so casual and homey but with such delicious food and such a dreamy view that it couldn’t help but be romantic.

The honeymoon now moves to the big city: Athens!

I promise, Santorini, I shall return.

Next stop, Athens!

Lunch at Perissa Black Sand Beach

Many people just do the beaches in Mykonos and skip the ones in Santorini.

Say it an’t so!

We headed to Perissa (a beautiful 45 minute drive from Oia) to enjoy one of the island’s famous black sand beaches. The sand is actually volcanic rock and it gets INSANELY hot. Good thing that you can relax on some loungers, order a drink, and just enjoy the sun without burning your feet.

20140505_140315 Anemos is a beachside hotel in Perissa with a fabulous bar/restaurant/lounge setup. Basically, you relax on a huge lounger, under an umbrella, and swim in the Aegean, sun yourself, or just relax in the shade, all while ordering food from the excellent open air taverna. Honestly, it’s tough being on honeymoon. When you are tired of splashing in the (FREEZING) sea, come up to your lounger and dry in the soft sunshine as you order ice cold Coca Cola Lights that come in a bucket of chilled ice…
20140505_140956 and lunch that is brought to you in a ginormous hamper.  20140505_141029 Even light meals here start with some rather forgettable bread and some totally unforgettable spicy feta dip. It’s zesty and really packs a spicy little punch – it’s soft and easily dippable or spreadable – I ate this with a fork and you will, too!
20140505_141520 Pita with halloumi and salsa

I don’t know what kind of cotton crap I have been eating for almost 30 years, but it sure as hell ain’t pita. This stuff is almost bread of the angels. It’s soft and chewy, with a wonderful char from the grill and a really wheaty, wholesome taste. The halloumi is crispy and salty with that pleasant rubbery halloumi texture. The chopped tomatoes and onions are as sweet as sugar, and the accompanying dipping sauce is a creamy, smoky sauce that reminds me of chipotle mayo. YES! 20140505_141603 Tomato fritters

Santorini is famous for these tomato fritters – ripe tomatoes, peeled, dipped in fluffy batter, and fried.  20140505_141620 Well, this is just a little hand-held pizza pocket. Yep, that’s what it is. Tastes like the world’s yummiest (Sorry, snobs, sometimes yummy really is the best descriptor) marinara sauce –  sweet, light, soft inside its crunchy batter. There is some cooling yogurt alongside, but ignore it. It’s all about that fritter.  20140505_141716 Zucchini fritters

Thank you, sweet waitress, for being bossy and making us get these. I promise to never ignore you again. These are the highlight of our beach lunch. YES! The zucchini is sweet and juicy inside the airy whipped ricotta fritters. They are crispy, creamy, and perfect with the yogurt dill dressing. I ate about 3 of these and could have eaten 30.

Anemos at Perissa is a blast! The alcoholic drinks are a little pricey but the food is quite well priced, the atmosphere is both unusual and cool – lying on a beach while you eat fried food and gaze at the Aegean and the black sand must e the ultimate pleasure in life. Come here to veg at least one day of your honeymoon or vacay – then go to the restaurant we ate at for dinner that night!

Ambrosia is…Ambrosia

We had a couple of splurge dinners on this vacation. One of them was in London and one of them was in Santorini.

The one in Santorini is a meal that I don’t think that I will ever forget.

20140504_202657 Ambrosia is one of the best restaurants in Oia. There are only a few tables, and the terrace faces out into the volcano and the sea. In fact, it’s entirely outside except for 6 seats, which guarantees for an uber romantic view, unless the winds are too high to enjoy the weather. That’s very rare, though.

So, obviously, it happened the night that we had reservations.

No matter, as we were able to get one of the seats inside, though others who arrived later for their allotted times had to be tuned away or left out – literally! – in the cold.  The restaurant itself is humble inside, with a jumble of old fashioned paintings and curiosities, a bar, and a few tables. That’s it – nothing that screams “watch out tastebuds, you are in for a treat!” 20140504_203127 Ouzo

Because when the proprietor of the restaurant beams and offers you a glass of his favorite ouzo, how can you say “Dude, I have been drinking all day? I’m HUNGOVER?” So, you drink it, and as its licoricy warmth spreads through your body, your headache lessens and you decide that a hair of the dog was just what you needed. So, you decide to loosen up a little more and order a dry white wine from Santorini’s famed Sigalas winery. It’s dry but not too much so, almost like a chenin blanc. It goes well with everything. So a bottle isn’t too much.  20140504_205247 Roasted garlic dip, tomatoes and capers, kalamata olive dip

This is one of those times when all of the dips are equally delicious. The roasted garlic is sweet with an earthy depth and the kalamata olive one is briny and pleasantly fruity. The feta in both is airy and mild. The tomatoes and capers are other worldly – sweet, juicy, salty, and bursting with flavor. I can’t say enough about the capers and tomatoes on this island…they are unreal.
20140504_211106 Ambrosia tartlets with caramelized mushrooms, tomatoes, and brie

Yes, feta, we cheated on you with this brie. And it felt so right. The brie is warm and melty, atop juicy tomatoes and flaky puff pastry.  20140504_211252 Inside are sweet caramelized onions, the ideal counterpart to the rich cheese and a dab of garlicky pesto. It’s a rich starter, but if you split it with someone it’s ideal.  20140504_212526 Blackberry and wild mushroom risotto

Heart-stoppingly outrageous. Unbelievable. Who would put blackberries in risotto? Ambrosia, apparently, and to wonderful effect. This is a must get, and a must recreate. The mushrooms are so savory and meaty, and the blackberries are juicy and tart-sweet, but with that same earthy backnote that connects their taste to that of the mushrooms. The risotto is creamy and soft, but not mushy. It almost melts in the mouth. Don’t forget to drag your fork through the tangy balsamic drizzle on the side - it adds some unexpected acid to the risotto. This is unexpected and fantastic.
20140504_212532 Pan fried sea bass with lemon sauce

Excellent, though not as incredible as the risotto. Fresh, flaky fish with a light, lemony sauce and some sweet baby vegetables. I would eat this again but I wouldn’t order it again because that risotto was such a standout. 20140504_220531 Moroccan sweets with pastry cream and nuts

This was also delicious. I wish I could remember more, but I was several glasses of wine deep, remember? It’s nutty, it’s dripping with honey, and it’s filled with vanilla-scented pastry cream. Basically…YES. 20140504_221040 Even drunk off of wine and risotto, the vin santo is still not my cup of…digestif.

Look, this restaurant is delicious. It’s fairly priced (to say expensive), with excellent, enthusiastic service. We didn’t get that famous view, but we did get some eye-opening risotto, fantastic wine bottled right on the island, and a night to remember.

Next up, beach day!

Kastro – Lunch with a View in Santorini

Everywhere in Santorini is lunch with a view. It just is. You have to try really, really hard to dine somewhere that doesn’t have a view like this. I’m sure if you put your mind to it you an. And I’m sure that this results in some less-than-stellar restaurants that rely on the swell view instead of swell food.

But that isn’t the case at Kastro.

20140504_142416 Kastro is located at the old castle fortress, at the very tip of Oia. It has a direct sunset view, and is entirely outside – if you want to come for dinner, prepare to make a reservation and bundle up for the view. However, the views are just as beautiful during the day…

20140504_135217 I took that with my cell phone, people. And I am NOT a photographer. I have never seen such stunning views in my life as I did on Santorini.
20140504_140529 Bruschetta

I could eat this every day of my life. Salty feta, sweet tomatoes,and juicy olives in a garlicky olive oil dressing. It tops warm, cheesy toast and it is heavenly. The feta is soft and provides a salty hit to those sweet tomatoes and the juiciest, mildest olives I had the whole trip. The bread soaks up all o the wonderful flavors of the topping and the garlicky olive oil, and it manages to be rich and light at the same time – thanks, awesome olive oil! I licked this plate clean.
20140504_140533 Salad with goat cheese and berries

Good but not great – it was fine, but after the salad at Floga, my expectations were sky high However, the berries were standouts. They were small and bursting with sweet and tart flavors. This salad is tasty, don’t get me wrong – the cheese is grassy and the lettuce is fresh, but it’s just not a must-get.
20140504_143712 Keftedes

MMmmmm. These Greek meatballs are one of my favorite things on any menu. Grilled until they have a thick, crunchy shell and tender meat within.

20140504_144009 Though it’s a little dry, it is well spiced with mint, a cooling addition to the earthy lamb. It’s served with grilled vegetables and some very cool homemade fries. Tzatziki accompanies, and it has absolutely replaced ketchup as my fry sauce of choice. It might have to duke it out with garlic aioli.
20140504_143716 Chicken souvlaki

The shish-kebab’s tamer sister. This is marinated in plenty of lemon juice and oregano, for a bright, herby flavor and super tender meat. The grilled artichokes are marinated in tons of that rich olive oil for a lovely, light side dish and yeah…I ate all of those fries, too. 
20140504_145606 Walnut cake

How many times can I eat walnut cake? Why as many times as I am offered, thank you ver much. Not quite as tasty as the one at the Mykonos Grand – the nuts are too coarse here and the cake is too dense and not moist enough – but it’s still tasty. I mean, I wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers.
20140504_150014 Vin santo.

They force fed us this the entire trip and I hated it each and every time – like raisins seeped in Robitussin then perfumed with skunk.

Blech.

But that was on the house so I can truthfully say that the meal that we paid for was well worth it. The food is wonderful and the view is incredible. The meal is pricier than it should be, but you pay for the view – and why wouldn’t you. The service is leisurely (hey, it’s Greece!) and friendly, and…did I mention the view?

The bruschetta ain’t bad either.

More delicaies continue for dinner.

Floga – Tomatoes, Vin Santo, and a Flaming Dessert!

Santorini is…an unbelievably mystical, magical place. I am not one for views or sitting back and watching the world go by but, wow…if I lived in Santorini, I could imagine making it my full-time occupation. The vistas are incredible. The sunsets are incomparable. And the food that you eat all the while…nothing less than extraordinary.

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Floga is a casual restaurant in Oia that is ideal for anyone from honeymooners to a rowdy group celebrating a birthday. It’s upmarket but not fancy, and you won’t get in trouble for just ordering an appetizer and a drink for your meal. The restaurant is entirely outside, with clear plastic sheets that come down in case of exceptionally windy nights, like the one when we dined here. However, it can still be pretty chilly, so bring a jacket or drink enough wine to drown out the cold.

We did both.

20140503_204736 Refreshing salad with feta, watermelon, and balsamic drizzle in a pastry crust

The best salad of our trip, and keep in mind that we ate salad at every meal including breakfast. This is what salad should taste like – a harmonious union of vegetables and seasonings, with one or 2 unexpected elements. The lettuce is so sweet and tender that it almost melts in the mouth. The watermelon is so sugary that it might have been dipped in honey, and the feta is so full fat and creamy that it almost creates its own dressing. The balsamic drizzle, made with local wine, is syrupy and tart, highlighting the sweet watermelon. And that puff pastry crust puts our taco salad shell bowls to shame. This isn’t at all hard to make – I could make it at home – but the ingredients are so high quality that it would be hard to reproduce it anywhere else in the world.
20140503_210127 Spaghetti with Santorini tomato sauce

Just stop it, Santorini. STOP IT. Stop it with your sweet, juicy, earthy tomatoes that taste EXACTLY like the sun on your shoulders on a warm May day. Stop it with your homemade pasta that is tender and JUST this side of too soft. Stop it with your inspired sprinkling of nutty, meaty sesame seeds and your unabashed use of spicy garlic. Stop it with your making me gain 8 lbs in 10 days.

Just stop it.  20140503_210134 Pan fried perch with hollandaise

I have no idea what they called this dish, but it was just the most tender, mild, flaky within and crispy without whitefish served with a lemony hollandaise sauce. The thick sauce manages to be bright with lemon and those wonderful Santorini capers. It’s a revelation – who would have thought that such a thick sauce wouldn’t hide the fish but would actually elevate it? The accompanying rice is al dente, studded with roasted zucchini and sweet cherry tomatoes.  20140503_213312 Chocolate souffle 

It comes to the table in a flaming glass, because it ain’t a honeymoon without at least one flambeed dessert, right? This souffle is more of a molten cake than anything else – rich and chocolaty, with a silky tunnel of fudgy batter in the middle. 20140503_214140 The island’s famous vin Santo wine shooter after dinner? Less delicious, more like cough syrup.

Floga was my husband’s favorite dinner of the trip. The atmosphere was romantic but not formal, the view over the caldera was lovely, and the food couldn’t have been improved upon. It was also very fairly priced – a magnificent first meal on a truly amazing island.