I have been totally held up - I dunno, uhmm since May I guess .. Work, Vacation to Spain, and then Bollywood Dance Night, to Swiss (this year's quota: done -> yay), Austria, Prague, Greece, Diwali.. phew. Thanks to my Instagram, I could give you all pic updates during this time. So here I am, with full josh, waiting to tell you, yet again- but this time, beginning from my favorite part - Food.
For all those who are just returning from work, stuck in traffic, or missed their coffee today, I seriously would recommend you to read this later : once you calm down - It definitely would make your mouth water. Don't blame me for your sudden hunger :D
So we were at Greece this Reunification vacation, and little did me and S know, that the Greek cuisine will hold a dearest place in our hearts - with its taste lingering forever. There was a lot of variety, many robust, spicy flavors, and tons of cheese and meat. From the Greek salads to their baklavas to their yogurts to their souvlakis and kebabs, the Greek cuisine is definitely something to die for! Read on with me, as I try to take you to explode your palate with the Greek delicacies. You should have a look at the list we tried : some were so tempting that I dint get to click them, while some others were so delicious that we went multiple times, just to try different toppings!
Souvlakis and Gyros:
Actually the Gyros, Souvlaki and Kebab, seem to theoritically be the same - considering they all had meat placed in pita bread. A Gyro is usually.. uhmm roasted meat (there was pork, chicken, lamb, I dont remember seeing turkey o.O), placed vertically and the slices are then kept over the pita bread with tzatziki sauce, onions, lettuce, french fries and with a lemon beside. There's vegetarian too without meat, or was it with soya? Well, I dint pay much attention as I was focused onto the meat :D A souvlaki was just that the meat was grilled on a skewer and served with fries and lemon. This was our favorite as you get this skewer also on a stick, so it was like a take away and the price was unbelievably cheap! - as low as 2,2 euros for a chicken souvlaki! And oh, the tzatziki sauce - that's actually a tangy cucumber yogurt dip seasoned with garlic: Just the perfect compliment to grilled meat/vegetables, those warm pita bread triangles and also as a sauce in the souvlakis : Simply delicious.
Honey and Baklava:
After a warm, savory dish - you sure have to give something for your sweet tooth, isn't it? Greeks love their sweets, especially with olive oil and honey combinations. Just like every girl, I go absolutely crazy on desserts and pastries! I could eat them like forever, lol. And who would have thought Greek desserts were sooo similar to the ones back in India (more like Bengali sweets! - yummiest) My all-time favorite was the class Greek pastry - Baklava! It was made of some flaky dough, layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling and bathed in a sweet syrup. I mean, it was crunchy, sweet and very magnetic. It can be too sweet for some, but yet there's something in it that will MAKE you go for one, but after a pause maybe! You just cant resist it. Me and Ree got a box full of different varieties of Baklavas, and ate them as 'girl-specials'. The bottom left in my pic was our box :D (that we clicked, during our 'pause'). Hey, how did I forget to tell you of the Chocolate-burst! Everywhere around the Greek streets, you can sniff fresh bread, fresh pastries .. and some scintillating chocolate desserts, cakes and macaroons - stacked in display.
Off we girls went to chose our picks. That was the hardest choice to make, lol.
Me and Ree decided to chose a random bulb, as it looked more like the Dominoe's Choco lava lake. Little did we know that we were in for a surprise. It was ofcourse, a choco lava lake - but not just that. As we barged in the powdered sugar and cherry on the top, there was an overflowing liquid mousse of dark chocolate spilling all over - only to reveal in walnuts, groundnuts, cinnamon (I think?), more chocolate and honey stacked over a thin layer of baklava as a final touch. I still remember how excited we were as we spooned in every bite. And then there was this orange cake, with a slice of zesty orange sitting on top of honey-soaked layers of pastry. It was so freaking good, that we had it almost every day of the trip! We also tried the honey puffs, kataifi (it was similar in taste with the baklava, but was spaghetti shaped and stuff like om-podi (in India) rolling around it), sesame sticks, wafers, spice cookies and many more cakes! Speaking of honey, I have to tell you of their fresh Greek yogurt. Refreshingly natural and juicy, it tasted divine when you poured a lovely dollop of local thyme honey over fresh Greek yogurt - its one of their recommendations. They also have racks and racks of toppings, you name it, its there!
Olives and olive oil:
Greeks have been cultivating olives since for ages ... some even say that Athena gave an olive tree to the city of Athens, thus winning its favor! I could no wonder see most of the Greek meals accompanied by local olives, either mixed in a salt solution/ spiced solutions or also eaten raw. We loved the olives so much that we also brought them home. Same way the olive oil, as said to be the elixir of Greece, was found in almost all the dishes - from salads to dips to sweets. The famous Greek Salad, known all over the world, is a simple salad -but the Greeks do it better! Crunchy cucumber, juicy cherry tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, red onions and a giant slab of feta cheese on top - dressed lavishly with olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Being a salad-lover myself, I went ga-ga over this one! THE BEST.
S had made a note of must-eats like always, but this.. we happened to accidentally bump on our list. After a tired evening of strolling around Ancient Agora and the Acropolis, we could find only this restaurant - and it had only Beef and Vegetarian! As I don't like beef, this seemed appetizing in the vegetarian options. Later I got to know it was also a must-try - Lucky me :) So, this was basically a layered baked dish - of eggplant, fried pureed tomato, onion, garlic, cinnamon and other spices, a bit of potato, and a fluffy cheese topping with bechamel sauce.
Athens for Coffee lovers:
As a coffee lover myself, I was super excited to try the Greek coffee! We ordered our cups of coffee, on dusky evening at the Plaka district, directly facing the illuminating Acropolis. as our order was getting brewed, I was prepared to get a concoction similar to the Italian espresso.. but this was deeper, richer, full-bodied, thicker coffee with a complex aroma - giving me a big caffeine boost. Rightly called the uber strong Greek coffee. To be frank though, I found it way too strong - to a limit such that my head would blow off .. lol.
Sipping a cup of the strong Greek coffee, gazing at the beautiful taverns and people enjoying the pomp and joy in the markets around, the distant music, with occasional bites of the Baklava - overlooking the history unraveling in front of you in the form of Acropolis...
That..was a memory, I will reminisce forever. These are something you can't afford to miss while at Greece. I will write more on my visits to Athens and mainland Greece some other time .. hehe. Definitely yet another reason to visit this beautiful and charming Mediterranean country.
If you can't make it to Greece to have these dishes, try them at your local Greek restaurants. Your stomach will thank you like never before! There's a lot more of the dishes out there I am yet to try though! If you find something interesting, also do write to me - maybe next time when I go to Santorini I will get a chance to try them ;) For those of you who love experimenting in cooking, some of the Greek foods are doable at home too - so give them a shot, why not?! Writing all of this, I feel like having some Greek salad myself.. Probably I should nudge S to take me to a Greek place here ;) *Yawn, its pretty late here, my eyes are droopy already, so off I go everyone, sleep tight and have a great day tomorrow !