Kali Orexi: Culinary Adventures in Greece

 

It’s 6pm and still a long time before the sun will set over the Aegean Sea. On the Greek Islands this routinely becomes the time we retreat to our rooftop terrace and indulge our pre-dinner thirst. Wine o’clock, if you like. A couple of glasses of icy cold Retsina (traditional Greek white wine infused with pine resin) or special “Poros Island wine” and a snack of bread and tzatziki…and we are all prepped to head out for dinner.

 

pre dinner snacks

 

A while back I claimed that Greece is all about the food. It’s shameful, I know. But seriously, have you tried Greek food?

 

Greek cuisine often consists of hearty, home style type cooking. It seems the more traditional the taverna (restaurant), the more hearty and home style the dishes.

 

I prefer traditional when it comes to Greek food and the absolute star of the show from this visit to the Greek Islands is a new restaurant in the back streets of Poros Island in the Saronic Gulf.

 

 

Platanos Taverna: best Greek dishes on Poros!

Platanos Taverna: best Greek dishes on Poros!

 

 

If there is such a thing as heaven Platanos Taverna will be there serving the food.  Owner, Ilia and his amazing kitchen staff produce what seems like endless morsels of goodness. This authentic Greek taverna is located in St. George’s Square in the old centre of Poros. Always using the freshest local ingredients, each evening Ilia would recommend his best dishes of the day to us. Not once were we disappointed!

 

We discovered this restaurant by chance, meandering through the high back streets one evening, and returned again and again for our daily dose of the best Greek dishes on Poros. We were both sad to say good bye to Ilia and his chefs (and more importantly, the food!) when it was time to leave Poros.

 

But I digress. I need to tell you more about Greek food.

 

 

Greek Dessert

Apricot and orange yogurt dessert: simple but so delicious!

 

 

What’s Good To Eat Here?

 

Meze

Greece, along with several of it’s neighbouring countries, are masters of a wonderful little thing called Meze. Meze are tiny morsels of flavour that are shared with drinks or preceding a main meal or, if you order enough of them, can be a meal in itself. A little like the Spanish tapas.

Meze can consist of dishes like grilled/marinated octopus, tzatziki,  kalamata olives, spicy cheese dip (Tirokafteri) eggplant dip (Melitzanosalata), stuffed peppers, and dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).

 

 

Octopus drying in the sun

Octopus drying in the sun. Next step: grilling/marinating…eating!

 

 

Seafood

I have a weakness for anything resembling seafood, so it’s not surprising that grilled or marinated octopus is my favourite when it comes to Mezes.

And for something more substantial… prawn saganaki (prawns with tomatoes and feta); grilled prawns and fried calamari are good choices.

 

 

Fried calamari

Fried calamari with a twist of lemon

 

 

From the Oven

Lamb Kleftiko was one of the first Greek dishes I ever tried and as yet the best one I’ve had was years ago in a restaurant on the island of Kefalonia  (the name of which I cannot remember unfortunately).

Each time I have ordered Kleftiko it has been slightly different but the basics remain the same – oven-baked hunks of lamb in a rich tomato based sauce and finished off with feta cheese. It’s always amazing…just not quite as amazing as the one on Kefalonia…

 

 

Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb Kleftiko

 

 

Moussaka is yet another of the best Greek dishes I have tried. Layers of eggplant, potato, mince and bechamel sauce with flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon – a Greek version of a lasagne. Only better.

 

 

Moussaka

Moussaka

 

 

Salads

There is no denying that putting feta in anything can turn a relatively uninteresting dish into something brilliant. The first thing I ordered when I arrived in the Greek Islands this year was…a Greek salad. I love them! I lost count of how many we consumed over the three weeks. Many.

 

 

Greek salad

Greek salad

 

 

Another favourite is the Halaris salad, a signature dish of a taverna of the same name in the village of Piso Livadi on Paros Island – mixed greens, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, walnuts and goats cheese drizzled with honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pair it with a dish of zucchini fritters and viola! Divine!

 

 

Halaris Taverna salad: Piso Livadi on Paros Island

Halaris Taverna salad: Piso Livadi on Paros Island

 

 

What is the best Greek dish you’ve tried?

Do you have a favourite Greek restaurant?

 

 

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