Hello from Greece! Given that I’m paying for my internet time here, I don’t want to use too much of it, but I just had to share a bit of our trip via the yummy food we’ve been eating.
But before I get into that, a quick reminder: make sure you check out my and Sophie’s TrueBlood Recipe Roundup and Giveaway! Maybe you skipped right over this at first because you aren’t a TrueBlood fan. Or so you think. The fact is, there are several really easy ways to enter this giveaway without ever having watched the show! Simply leave a comment saying you’ve never seen TrueBlood. Or tell me your favorite Southern dish. Or just tweet about! Who knows, YOU might win a copy of Season 1 on DVD and I guarantee you’ll be sucked right (no pun intended.) Go, get over there, do it, now!
On to the food. At home, I don’t document what I eat during the day or blog about what I eat in restaurants. So let me start by saying, it’s been hard to remember to do it every time! On more than one occasion we’ve started to take a few bites before I remember to whip out the camera, smoothing out what we’ve eaten to make it look untouched – but I think I’m finally in the habit.
We arrived in Athens on Monday afternoon, and upon checking in at the Hilton, immediately changed into bathing suits and headed to the pool to lounge in the hot sun. We knew that Athenians don’t typically eat dinner until 10pm in the summer, and since we wanted to experience the local culture, we needed a late afternoon / early evening snack to hold us over. I only needed to glance at the pool bar menu for a second to decide what I wanted: haloumi! Ben and I shared this salad of grilled haloumi over warm pita with a fresh green salad with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes, and balsamic reduction. The first bite told me that there was some really, really good olive oil in there too. This totally hit the spot.
Later we strolled around the Monaistraiki area facing the Acropolis, where there was an endless number of taverns to choose from. Most of them seemed to be serving the same Greek traditional dishes for reasonable prices; just a few were higher end, more contemporary style restaurants. We chose to stick to tradition this evening and took our chances on a tavern that was offering a mixed grill plate for two.
This platter had grilled pork, chicken wrapped in bacon, sausage, meatballs and turkey tenderloin, served with potato salad, cheese salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some other cheeses. I was a little disappointed at the idea that this came with potato salad, but I should have known that Greek potato salad would have no mayo in sight: simply olive oil and seasonings. Perfect! The cheese salad was a creamy blend of feta and spices.
We also ordered some pita bread which was grilled and doused with oregano. As a sign of our ignorance, we thought pita would come standard with just about every meal! But most restaurants serve regular, forgettable bread. Oh well. Glad we asked for this! We shared a half liter of the house red wine too.
The next morning we woke up and headed down to breakfast early, before our scheduled walking tour of Athens. Breakfast at the Hilton was a buffet included with our room rate, and I must say, they put a gorgeous spread with great choices. No pictures were taken here, but I started both mornings with plain fat free Greek yogurt, with a little Nutella and cherry preserves swirled in (my picks from a wide array of fruit spreads and nuts and nut butters to choose from.) I also had some fresh fruit and a couple other nibbles that struck me from the offerings.
After viewing Constitution Square and the Acropolis with our very knowledgeable tour guide, we found ourselves in the same area as the night before, this time hungry for lunch. We chose a different tavern this time, where we shared an order of roasted eggplant with garlicky yogurt and tomato sauce. This was totally delicious and I’ll totally make eggplant this way at home too!
We walked around some more that afternoon before returning to the hotel to lounge by the pool again. Later for dinner we put our trust in Frommer’s and headed to Filistron for mezes, or Mediterranean-style tapas. These eggplant rolls with a meat filling in a tomato sauce were rich and velvety.
The Greek salad was fresh and authentic, served without lettuce as it usually is in the US.
And these potatoes – well, I’m not usually one to order something like a plate of hasbrowns with a meal but Frommer’s highly recommended these. Grilled with peppers and onions and topped with melted smoked cheese, they were definitely tasty.