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.

20140503_203717

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.

The Best Uni Pasta on Earth – Kousaros on Mykonos

Are you ready? I mean, really…are you ready? I am about to let you in on the best dish I had my entire honeymoon.

And it doesn’t involve Fritos OR foie.

Or, any good pictures. After drinking at breakfast and lunch…my camera skills were even shakier than usual. Sorry about that.

But first, let’s set the scene:

20140502_202519 Kousaros is a high end restaurant in Mykonos town – I couldn’t tell you how to get there if you paid me. Just keep wandering around the city looking for windmills, and if you walk in circles enough times to stop for a Greek coffee, get in a snippy fight with your loved one, and see the sun set, then you may FINALLY find Kousaros. It’s a large, airy restaurant with ample outdoor space and a modern, tented dining room that feels like some posh, Lisa Vanderpump approved spot. No one fashionable eats here before 10pm, so we were quite the early birds at 9.
20140502_202802 Taramasalata

A disappointing start to the meal. Very bland, without enough salty fish eggs, fragrant dill, or bright lemon. Totally meh.
20140502_203448 Before you order, your server brings out into the kitchen to see the daily caught fish and shellfish. The fish is sold by the kilogram, so be sure to ask for the price to avoid sticker shock. The food here is very pricey, and if you want to keep costs down, order several starters or opt for a fixed price dish from the menu. However, the fish all looks pristine and delicious – if I had enough time, money, and stomach space, I would eat there forever.
20140502_204719 Kousaros special

The vegetables in this country are just unreal. The olives are so juicy and pleasantly salty. The carrots are sweet and the radishes are peppery. The peppers are vinegary and hot – don’t eat a whole one without having a serious heat tolerance. The tomatoes are otherworldly – peeled this time, my favorite indulgence, and as sweet as ever. And the capers…oh, those capers! Santorini capers are world famous for being soft and juicy, with plenty of salt but no bitter taste. The tender leaves are tossed in a sweet, bright olive oil dressing that make all the fresh vegetables taste like themselves, not like some washed out, salad-y version of themselves.
20140502_205233 Crab salad

Even better than the crab at the hotel earlier that week. SO fresh and clean tasting, with a slight oceanic taste that is refreshing, not at all muddy. It’s like a breath of sea air with the crunch of spicy pink peppercorns and a tangle of arugula on top.  I would recommend this in a heartbeat. In fact, I would actually eat it all if you ordered it with me. It’s worth losing a friendship to finish this.
20140502_205833 Baked feta with spicy peppers and tomatoes

Blah. The only misstep of the night. Boring and mundane – not enough spice from the peppers nor enough sweetness from the tomatoes. Not bad, just not incredible, like he restof the meal. Boring.  20140502_211123 Spaghetti with uni

She ain’t much to look at and not just because I forgot to take a photo until half an hour after we had already dug in. She is just so simple. Dried pasta, uni, olive oil. The best sea urchin dish I have ever had in my life. The best pasta I have ever had in my life. The uni is soft and melts into the oil in a lush, fatty, positively romantic puddle of buttery oil. It’s so mild and savory, without too much salt or any mixed up, ruddy flavor. It’s so rich and so indulgent. I couldn’t possibly love this pasta more. I ended up scooping up the extra uni and spreading it on bread, letting the warm roe sink into the chewy baguette. I ran my finger along the perimeter of te bowl, licking the buttery sauce from my fingers. I slurped up the al dente pasta, unremarkable in its own right but pure gold in that slick, thick sauce. This is extraordinary. Since having it, I have craved it every day.

20140502_213238 Loukoumades

These doughnuts, fried and dipped in honey, are by far my favorite Greek sweet. Baklava, be gone! It’s all about these fluffy, yeasty balls that are rolled in honey and sprinkled with crushed walnuts and cinnamon. The best parts of doughnuts and coffee cake, served warm with a side of melting vanilla ice cream. They come cheaper other places, but not more delicious.

20140502_214058 Don’t say that they never gave you anything – the ouzo is free, sweet, and will absolutely put hair on your chest.  Not my cup of tea, but when in Greece, right?

When in Mykonos, you truly must dine here. Kousaros is the finest meal that I had on the island of Mykonos. It was expensive but not unduly so. The seafood was fresh as could be, the menu is huge and varied, and the service is excellent, to say nothing of the large and lovely cocktail list. That uni pasta is something that I will dream of for the rest of my life. I couldn’t have been sadder to leave Mykonos, but…of course…we had to go onwards to heaven on earth.

I.E. Santorini.

Lounging at the Beach at Kostantis

One of the best things about island life is living outside. Napping on the balcony. Splashing in the pool. Sitting at a restaurant on the beach.

No, not a beachside restaurant…an actual restaurant ON the beach.

Like this one:

kostantis1 The small beach community of Ornos has a beautiful, idyllic stretch of beach that is lined with restaurants and sunbeds. You just pick a comfy couch under a canopy and order lunch, or – if you would rather – choose a sunbed and order a drink and perhaps a massage from the women walking around offering them. All PG here, before you get too excited.

Oh, also – if you come here from the Mykonos Grand, just follow that long, winding road. It’s going to seem like it is NEVER ENDING. But it will end, hopefully with you unscathed by roaring mopeds down the teeny, tiny road.

When you get to Kostantis, immediately sit down, order a glass of some SERIOUSLY strong house wine (it has to be 90 proof!), and order the simplest, freshest food you can.

For example:

kostantis2 Fried appetizer platter

This ain’t your local TGIFRiday’s appeteaser plate. This is the best part of local ingredients fused with the best part of guilty pleasure. There are crisply fried zucchini sticks that are so sweet and light that they are nothing like the thrice battered stuff dipped in marinara sauce. There are oily, slightly spicy green peppers and soft zucchini patties, mixed with feta cheese and studded with dill. And then, there is the cheese. Oh, the cheese. A soft, creamy, buttery cheese that is wrapped in phyllo dough and sesame seeds, fried, and drizzled with local honey. There is nothing better than this sweet and savory treat. Dip any of it in the simple, creamy tzatziki sauce. This would be a perfect light meal for 2. kostantis3 Grilled seafood platter for 2

There is no way that this was cooked before we ordered it – I don’t even think that this fish was caught before we ordered it. It was impeccably fresh. There was tender, almost sweet calamari. There were tiny white fish, filled with bones and the sweetest meat. There was meatier grilled fish, tender and tasty with the accompanying lemony butter sauce. There are tender, almost creamy mussels and more of that luscious Mediterranean shrimp.

octopus

And octopus that looks scary but tastes crispy, almost like super crispy French fries.

After the enormous meal is over and your head is swimming with the sun and wine, you can relax on the beach chairs or have the house car bring you back to your hotel. This meal was fairly priced with friendly, if relaxed (read: slow!) service, a huge menu, and scenery that can’t be beat.

And if you thought that this meal was great, wait till you see dinner!

Avra – Beautiful Atmosphre, So-So Food

This trip that I took wasn’t just a normal trip. It wasn’t a once-a-year travel blowout. It was my honeymoon. You only get one of those, if you are lucky, and it can’t be all about running around to ancient relics, looking for weirdly flavored potato chips at roadside gas stations and shopping in the local equivalent of Target. You also have to relax with your new spouse, sleep in late, and take it easy.

I am a more “ants in my pants” kind of traveler, so this was hard for me at first.

But, eventually I settled into it. I enjoyed sleeping until the sun was high in the sky. I loved sitting with a book looking out over the Aegean. I even let up my guard and booked dinner at a romantic restaurant instead of the one that got the highest reviews for eating.

There was my mistake.

20140501_195729

Avra, in Mykonos, is highly recommended for its Mediterranean menu and romantic, vine-covered, trellis-lined outdoor dining area. You definitely need reservations and it does look extremely romantic with its candlelit tables, verdant atmosphere, and mellow soundtrack.

Of course, the kids running around helter-skelter don’t really help the vibe, but we ate very early by Myconian standards, so it’s hard to blame them for that.

20140501_195858 Roquefort and olive dips

The dips are a mixed bag. The tapenade is very mundane – salty and tasty for sure, but if I can get it at home or in the grocery store, I’m not so interested in paying for it on vacation. The Roquefort butter is marvelous – creamy and smooth, with a rich, buttery taste that is sweet at first and then fades to an umami, slightly funky Roquefort aftertaste. It’s soft and spreads easily on the rather mundane bread. This stuff is great.

*Side note: you always pay for bread in Greece. When they ask if you want some, expect to be charged 5 Euros for it and the accompanying dips. Always order it, anyway…there are usually at least one or 2 dips that are worth the price of admission.* 20140501_200931 Tzatziki

Delicious, if not memorable. Creamy, fragrant with dill and spicy black pepper. It isn’t as garlicky or as thick as some versions, and is finished with some rich olive oil to add another layer of lushness. I ate all of this and would eat it again without reservation, but can’t say that it stood out among the tzatziki I sampled this trip. 20140501_202114 Halloumi wrapped in bacon

The standout of the night. The European style bacon, more flexible than the bacon that we are used to here, wraps well around the pleasantly squeaky, bouncy cheese. It’s grilled so that the bacon is salty and charred and the halloumi softens and becomes pleasantly melty. Some lemon juice brightens the dish and is the ideal, unexpected finishing touch. My husband almost stabbed me with a fork to ge the last piece.

Luckily, I’m too quick for him.
20140501_203245 Mussels

Simple and tasty. Steamed in white wine flavored with plenty of pepper, dill, and woodsy oregano.  Every single mussel was open and sweet - no bad mussels here. They are juicy and very mild, with just a touch of salinity. The only downfall here is the broth – it is merely serviceable.It lets the mussels naturally sweet flavor shine through, but it isn’t craveable. If I’m not lapping up the broth with a spoon at the end of the meal, something is wrong.

20140501_203101 At the end of the day, Avra is fine. If I lived in town, I would come here for the lovely surroundings and the fabulous halloumi appetizer. But on vacation, it just isn’t tasty enough. You can’t rely on romantic atmosphere on a touristy island because – hello! – people travel with kids. And the price is a little high for the food. So this wasn’t a major winner.

But that’s okay…because lunch the next day was insane.

Poolside Lunch at the Mykonos Grand

The thing about Greece is: Nobody eats until very late. You don’t wake up until 9:30, which means that breakfast is at 10 AM at the earliest. After that plentiful meal, you aren’t hungry again until 2 pm and then no one has dinner until around 9 pm, after the sun sets. At that rate, sometimes the small restaurants in town are closed by the time that you are ready for lunch.

In that case, you treat yourself to a decadent poolside lunch at the Mykonos Grand.

Aqua and Sol is the casual poolside restaurant. It’s covered but open air, so you don’t get sunburnt while you chow down. The Mykonos Grand is rather – as its name suggest – grand, but the restaurant is very casual. Feel free to go in a cover up or swimsuit and sandals as you sit back and sip a decidedly non-Greek but delicious Blue Hawaiian.

20140501_145920 Olives and olive oil

Told you that I ate these every single meal. These were excellent – juicy and meaty with a sweet, fruity flavor. Marry someone who doesn’t like lives so you can eat his/her portion. 20140501_152326 Keftedes

These little meat patties aren’t the traditional spherical keftedes, but they are delicious nonetheless. Juicy patties of beef, pork and veal, mixed with fresh oregano and the sharp bite of mint. They are grilled to get a touch of smoke on the outside, contrasting the juicy, soft texture.

20140501_152608 It comes with a sweet, hoisin-like barbeque sauce that is unnecessary and a little out of place – why would you muck up the perfection of this delightful meatball? Do eat the accompanying salad greens though – they are fresh and tender, with tastes that range from sweet to bitter to grassy. Dressed in some rich olive oil and lemon, they are divine.

20140501_152337 Prawn croquettes

Crunchy, piping hot morsels filled with a creamy, potato and shrimp mixture. The shrimp is nearly undetectable – it’s just a light, salty note in the creamy mixture that keeps it from being too heavy

20140501_152455 The croquettes are light and airy; ideal with a dollop of smooth tartar sauce. This is seafood at its best – a myriad of subtle flavors and contrasting textures. It really takes fish and chips to the next level.  20140501_152638 Crab and avocado terrine with lime sorbet

The ideal poolside meal. The shellfish in Greece is extraordinary – this crab was so sweet and plump that it seemed almost like lobster. No tiny cat food shreds here – it’s all pure, sweet, lump crab meat. The avocado is a buttery counterpart and the lime sorbet, while a touch sweet, is refreshing and tart.  20140501_154311 Walnut cake

For Pete’s sake…what kind of stuff is in this? Angel’s kisses? Ambrosia? Whatever it is, it WORKS. This is dense and rich, filled with nutty, buttery flavor. It is reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding in its thick, syrupy texture and intensely sweet taste. Add some of the vanilla ice cream on the side  and you are in business…for a nap.

But that’s okay! Because besides the delicious food, the exquisite scenery, and the good service, the best thing about eating poolside is that your bed is right upstairs.

After all, next up is dinner on the party island of Mykonos!

Mykonos Grace – A Little Slice of Heaven

One of the coolest things about the Greek islands is that many hotels offer breakfast in the room rates. That means that you wake up, roll out of bed, take 800 photos of the most beautiful scenery that you have ever seen, and go right to breakfast in your bathing suit and cover up.

I will be doing a full report on all hotels, but first off, let’s start with just the food.

The Mykonos Grace, a small boutique hotel, offers a full breakfast to all of its guests. And I mean full. Look at this menu.

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That’s right. Each guest gets everything on there. Or anything else that they desire. I wanted bacon, not ham. My husband wanted tomatoes, not spinach. Done and done.

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The scenery isn’t the worst either. If the weather isn’t nice, you can sit inside the poolside restaurant, but if it is nice…it’s a little slice of heaven.

20140501_103848 Bread

Don’t miss the bread basket – I am partial to the round, sesame ring. It’s dense and chewy, and I spread it thickly with unsalted, tangy goat butter and some of the sweetest honey anyone will ever have.
20140501_104031 Yogurt parfait

Because to call it Greek yogurt is redundant and to call it custard isn’t exactly appropriate. But it’s as rich as custard, with a smooth texture and an almost indiscernible tangy taste that cuts the sweet honey. Sadly, the fruit and cornflakes are just irrelevant. It’s all about the decadent, vanilla-y custard. It’s so thick that you can stand your spoon upright in it. I could eat this every day and never crave anything else.

Except, maybe, for this:

20140501_105413 Egg white and spinach omelette with Naxos Gruyere, crispy bacon, and Greek bruschetta

Olive oil egg white omelette…incredible. The mild olive oil REALLY infuses the egg with rich, lush flavor and provides a nicely crisp bottom without too much browning – decidedly different from a French omelette, but delicious in its own right. The spinach is fresh and sauteed with just a pinch of salt and a few slivers of garlic – nothing over the top. The bacon is prepared crispy, the way that we Americans like it, and the gruyere, from neighboring Naxos island, is nutty and not too salty. It’s delicious.
20140501_105531 So is the bruschetta.

It’s twice baked bread (called rusk), topped with tomato pulp and some salty mizithra cheese. This is a small plate found all over the islands and it’s a well thought out one – the salt from the cheese makes the tomatoes taste even sweeter than they already are, and the tomato pulp softens the hard bread. It’s fresh, light, and ideal at any time of day.  20140501_110940 Crepes with caramelized apples

So sweet and light. The crepes are whisper thin and the apples are tender, sweet, and bursting with juice. The lacy, crispy edges of the crepe are particularly addictive. I only wish I could eat more of them, but I had already eaten a full breakfast by this time! 20140501_111912 And of course, a homemade spanikopita.

There is WAY more spinach than cheese here – the cheese is mrely as easoning accent. I have been doing it all wrong.

I have missed Greece all of these years. That’s REALLY what I have been doing all wrong. Luckily, those days are in the past – next up, poolside snacks!