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Monday, May 30, 2011

Eating in Athens

I admit it I am spoiled! I am spoiled by the hundreds of foodie options in Chicago. I am spoiled because Jason and I could sample all of these wonderful fares from great culinary genius to food spiced from around the world whenever we wanted. If we felt like Pho we could find a restaurant that served it. Indian food? No problem. From experimental to comfort food, Chicago has an amazing array of yummy restaurants. 

Greece on the other hand has little more than Greek food. Yes, Greek food is awesome. I LOVE a good Greek salad, Giros rock my world, and the fresh fish was some of the best I ever had. But being a spoiled person who is able to eat cuisine from different regions on a regular basis, well basically eating the same type of food for two weeks starts to get boring. And then we arrived in Athens. This people is where the story of dining changes from bored sighs to exciting explorations of mmmmmms and oh yeahs.

What is so special about Athens you might be asking (besides the obvious 2,500 year old remnants of the Parthenon of course)? The FOOD we ate. Yes, we inhaled Giros for lunch and yes a Greek salad may have crossed our paths... However, we stayed far away from the tourist areas and found the mecca of foodieness in the Wicker Park like neighborhood of Gazi (at least it seemed like the mecca after two weeks of touristy Greek food). A soon as we arrived at our hotel, The Athens Lotus, we started up the old interweb and googled "foodie" and "Athens." Apparently, Athens is a Michelin Star City and sports three Michelin star restaurants. This was a good start, but since we are jobless and all, spending 110 Euros per person for dinner without wine (GASP without wine!) was not really in our purview.

Gazi Neighborhood Athens
However, a Michelin recommended restaurant with a price fixe menu during the week with seven courses and a glass of wine for 25 euros is definitely worth the splurge. Athiri's price fixe menu was solid and involved a mix of somewhat Greek food that had been modernized and made a bit more creative. Our first course included beet soup - divine! The second course was a lovely green salad (without cucumbers and tomatoes) and the third course - cod donuts. The cod was decent and really fresh (although I tried to give a piece of my second cod fritter to the resident cat and ended up with a cat scratch on my finger - if after you read this post I happen to be meowing at the moon outside of your house it is because I now suffer from cat scratch fever). The fourth course was a hummus textured with bits of smoked ham, the fifth course a homemade pasta with mushrooms, and the sixth course included roasted potatoes and stuffed chicken cooked until it fell beautifully off the bone. Dessert was lemon profitoroles and was only okay. I think our dinner would have been ore interesting if we ordered off the a la carte menu, but for me the dinner was spot on and warmed the soul. The evening was lovely with tasty local wine, loved ones, and good conversation.

Athiri Courtyard
The first night we ate at Gazi College, a pizza place on a hoppin' square where Athens diners were only thinking about dinner at 10:00 pm. The place we ate dinner was killer. Good beer, great pizza, and a local crowd that was really fun to watch.

Gazi College
On our last night, after we said our goodbyes to my Mom, we decided to stop at a cafe where we grabbed a beer the day before. Think fun and intelligent vibe, with Logan Square hipsters, Gaia type food, and Greenwich Village poets all rolled into one small ten table cafe. The place did not have a name and only a few plates to choose from, but this meal will stay with me forever and ever. We drank giant Kaiser beers and ate a crunchy palate pleasing salad made with chick peas, red peppers, snappy white onion, various herbs, and olive oil - simple and wonderful. We also had soft white cheese with roasted red peppers, olive oil, and capers and lamb sausage spiced exactly right and cooked to perfection. An end to a satisfying journey in Athens... Did I mention I LOVE food?

1 comment:

Ben said...

I wrote a nice account yesterday and it didn't show up. I guess I didn't take the right steps to get it properly published. I think I have it now. But I forgot what I said. Darn!
I do know I LOVE food as much as anyone. Remember I'm the guy who traveled through Europe for 3 months entirely at the whim of his stomach.