The Mykonos Grace – Mykonos’ Loveliest Hotel

We were lucky to stay at some marvelous hotels while we were on our honeymoon.

Oh, which hotels you ask?

Well, let’s go through them, shall we?

We spent one glorious night at the Mykonos Grace Hotel.

We stayed here through a series of strange circumstances – national strike day (oh yes, all of the transportation in the country strikes every May 1…the more you know…), our first choice hotel not being open for the season yet, and a few other miscellaneous situations including a ferry arriving at 11 pm.

The Mykonos Grace is a small boutique hotel located about 15 minutes away from Mykonos town at Agios Stefanos beach – all white Cycladic architecture and sparkling Aegean views and incredible Greek service. After being picked up by a private car with cold water waiting for us, we were ushered to the airy lobby, filled with soft linen couches and narrow bookcases with books for the taking.

20140430_230738 Luckily, what they gave us was a little better than books. Everyone checking in gets this champagne treatment, though we might have only gotten the additional bedside bottle because we were on our honeymoon.

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We were checked in quickly and with efficiency – the staff was friendly but not too chatty, and sensing that we were too tired to handle a tour of the property we were rushed to our room.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t even considered the highest level suite of the hotel. Just a normal, modern, totally done up yet relaxed Greek hotel room.

That blew our minds.

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A huge, comfy king size beds. King size beds are not the norm in this country, and even high-end hotels often only offer queens. This was fluffy and incredibly relaxing.

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Large seating area with 2 couches, a coffee table, and curtains for the plate-glass sliding doors.

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A gargantuan bathroom with dual sinks and…

20140501_001649 The shower of my dreams. It turns into a steam shower so you can sit on that wide marble  stool, look out of the windows at the Aegean sea, and just sweat your troubles away.

Of course this was just the inside of the room.

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There is also the outdoor covered balcony with a huge daybed, a table and chairs and…

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Oh wait, what’s that oer there at the other end of the balcony?

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Oh, it’s our PRIVATE HEATED PLUNGE POOL…that’s right. Something in between a large jacuzzi and a small pool. It’s always the temperature of bathwater and you access it by simply pushing through one of the shower windows and climbing in. The gentle sea breeze, the warm water, and the knowledge that no one can see your bloated body in a bathing suit make this pool the best feature of the room. Plus, you get this view…

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Not terribly shabby, right?
20140501_001720 The room is exceptional, the breakfast was one of my favorites, and the service is above and beyond. From special touches in the room, like a keepsake box and cooling facial towels for apres sun use, to the thoughtful and genuine service, this place is top rate all the way. For example, we arrived so late that the kitchen was closed. We said that we understood and were about to break into the mini bar for some candy when there was a knock at the door. Someone had gotten a sous chef out of bed (many summer employees live at or right near the hotel) to make us a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and salad. And then refused to take either payment or a tip when it was delivered.
20140501_002347 It’s nothing fancy, yet we felt like English royalty. This is just the way that service is provided here. It’s quick, it anticipates your needs, and it makes you feel taken care of but not awkward.  20140501_134854 I can’t recommend the Mykonos Grace enough. It was our favorite hotel in Mykonos and one of my favorite hotels ever. Even without the private pool, the regular pool area is lovely (albeit small), and the rooms are so spacious and breezy that I recommend this spot. Of course, if you have an extra kidney to sell, get that room with the pool.

And don’t be surprised if I come by for a swim.

Goodbye to Greece

Before I wrap up my honeymoon recaps and move onward towards the wedding recap, here are a few bits and bobs:

20140430_092214 Welsh rarebit on a 3 hour flight

Because other countries rock and our domestic airlines are blah. The mushrooms are watery but the rarebit itself is surprisingly sharp and delicious.  20140430_171213 Frappes

All over Greece – like a super strong, espresso milkshake with pleasantly icy, crunchy bits. Nice! 20140502_151641 Magnum half ice cream sandwich/half ice cream bar

Um…yes. ’nuff said.  20140503_160608 A healthy lunch on the ferry to Santorini

People are obsessed with those mini bake rolls, but hey taste like flavorless bagel chips. Much better are the woodsy oregano flavored potato chips, and much MUCH better are the truly addictive paprika Pringles.  20140505_221026 Baklava and walnut cake

I can never get my fill of walnuts or honey.  20140507_102837 Huge pots of Greek yogurt

Just everywhere, ready to be mixed with homemade preserves.  20140507_132418 Peach liquor

At the coolest bar ever. It tastes like a  bellini but is much, MUCH stronger.

Can we go back tomorrow?

Puttin’ on The Ritz – Afternoon Tea Edition

So, you want to know what my number one favorite thing about Great Britain is?

It isn’t the royalty. It isn’t the respect for tradition. It isn’t the avant garde fashion.

It’s afternoon tea.

And nowhere…NOWHERE…have I had an afternoon tea experience like the one at The Ritz.

First, let’s get the cons out of the way.

1) You need to make reservations many months in advance. Think, as many as 8 months in advance. It books up that quickly

2) You only have 2 hours in which to enjoy your meal.

3) It’s expensive. Anniversary-40th birthday-once a year special treat expensive.

Now, the pros:

It’s the most beautiful, luxurious, over the top dining experience I have ever enjoyed. It makes Tocqueville look minimalist.

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Tea is served in this Palm Court, the original one that so puts the one at The Plaza to shame that it seems embarrassing that they should share a title. It’s all elegance and huge angel statues and live piano music and light and palm trees. Violet Crawley would be extremely at home here.

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It seems incredible that you will use each and every one of these pots and cups and creamers, but oh…you will.

20140508_132511 Not without a glass of champers first. Because what improves tiny tea sandwiches more than a crisp, icy glass of champagne? And don’t worry…it, like everything here, is bottomless.

That’s right…eat and drink until your pants burst open.

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Choose from any number of the exceptional teas on the menu. I recommend the passion fruit, which is one of the few teas that I can drink without totally gagging. It has a full, fruity taste with only a SLIGHT hint of hibiscus in the background. It’s also ostentatiously pink.

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Then it arrives…the glorious tea platter.

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Start with the sandwiches. Sharp cheddar and tangy chutney. Creamy egg salad with just a hint of bitter watercress. Freshly roasted turkey with rich mayonnaise and crunchy salt. Smoked salmon so mild and smooth at it fairly melts into the bread and long, thin slices of cucumber with dilled cream cheese.

I DARE you to order fewer than two more plates of these.

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Cakes and sweets

Peanut butter and chocolate macarons, a rich chocolate fudge cake, a rhubarb and cream sophisticated type of snowball, and a Napoleon to END all Napoleons. I mean Naploeon would have traded empress Josephine to taste half of this slice. The pastry is buttery and crisp but not too hard. It retains its texture between the layers of fluffy, airy vanilla custard. Some Napoleons are heavy and sodden with loose, lackluster cream, but this really does it right. The crowning touch is a thick, crackly layer of white icing – a sugary touch to an elegant dish.

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Oh yeah, you could make a meal out of these alone.

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But then, you would miss these. These lovely, buttery, flaky, soft, and creamy scones.

20140508_134601 Oh, you KNOW that I split those babies open and slathered them with fragrant strawberry jam and clotted cream so rich that it might actually BE Prince Harry.

20140508_141149 Don’t forget the sweet, moist marmalade cake or the sticky toffee pudding from the cake trolley. 
20140508_143548 And don’t forget, this stuff is all unlimited.  They keep bringing it until you cry uncle. They keep pouring and refreshing tea with white gloves and lovely British accents. They keep bringing warm scones and pots of clotted cream. And they don’t judge. no they don’t.

Trade in your car if you have to, to go to this tea. It – and the love handles it puts on you – will stay with you forever.

 Disclaimer: This tea was compliments of the Press team. I was not required to write about it, and my opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Puttin’ on the Ritz – Breakfast Edition

British breakfast is my second favorite part about England. These people really know how to eat. This is not a fruit salad and protein shake kind of country.

This is a country that eats breakfast, then conquers the world with cult rock music, okay?

And you can’t get a finer breakfast than at The Ritz Hotel.

This isn’t the Ritz-Carlton – don’t get it twisted. This is the sister of The Ritz in Paris, opened by Caesar Ritz himself. It has been around since the early 1900s and DRIPS Parisian opulence and beauty.

20140509_100207 The room is as plush and over the top as you might hope it is. It really is…pardon my corniness…ritzy. You see where there adjective  came from. Everything is covered in velvet and plated in gold.

DSC_1162 There is a rotunda painted with angels circling chandeliers held up with wreathes of roses.
20140509_100213 The butter is stamped with the regal R insignia.

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There are 2 kinds of SALT, for Pete’s sake! Finely ground if you are a ninny, and those large, flaky pyramids for those of us who know how to live.

Don’t wear jeans here, gentlemen. Brush that hair, ladies. You are served by an impeccable wait staff in morning coats who assure you that it is their pleasure to pick the pulp out of your freshly squeezed orange juice by hand so you don’t choke.

They are so convincing that I almost believe them.

The food is, thankfully, just as enjoyable as the atmosphere.

20140509_101028 What, you don’t like duck, quail, and hen eggs at your morning breakfast buffet?
20140509_101228 Oh, don’t worry, every entree comes with the buffet. WITH the buffet. That means that you can load up on genuine Scottish smoked salmon, figs from Jordan, and… 20140510_090726 yogurt so sweet and creamy that it might as well be called melted ice cream. You know, before your main course.  20140510_090900 And what a main course it is. Skip the pancakes and the bony and very fishy kippers, and go straight for the gold – The English Breakfast. Get it with black pudding that is so creamy and minerally-rich that you may stave off iron deficiency for life even if you become a vegan by lunch. The bacon is the fatty stuff that the Brits love, and the Cumberland sausage is fragrant with cloves and black pepper. The egg is poached beautifully, with a runny yolk and firm whites, or get it them scrambled to pale yellow, buttery bliss. Don’t forget that oven roasted tomato, sweet and juicy atop a meaty portobello mushroom.

Um, yeah…these people know breakfast. How to serve it, how to present it, and most of all - how to cook it.

This is an insanely expensive treat and though I couldn’t’ do it every day, it is a gift to myself that I will cherish forever.

Or at least until my heart explodes from eating all of that saturated fat before 10 AM.

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. 

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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!