I just came back from a fantastic trip to Greece! I went to Athens to visit a very dear friend of mine. Since I’ve already been to Athens twice before, I didn’t do much sightseeing on this trip but I did lots of restaurant-seeing instead 😉
We went to some fantastic restaurants such as the Holy Goat Punk Bistrot. This restaurant features modern Greek cuisine with some eclectic influences. We had the octopus chorizo served with a squid ink sauce and red pepper sorbet.
Also, the cuttlefish and squid served in a creamy ouzo sauce
Both of these dishes (and especially the octopus) paired wonderfully with a bottle of Assyrtiko that we ordered: 2012 Nikteri by Koutsoyannopoulos. It is barrel aged, giving the wine deep and rich flavors. This was a divine bottle of wine – definitely much more complex than any Assyrtiko I’ve had before!
We also went to a neighborhood seafood restaurant called Antonia. We ate so much food! We ordered lot of dips, such as skordalia (garlic & potato), tirokafteri (spicy feta), and tzatziki. And the hand cut fries looked so good that we just had to get some:
Fried zucchini that we dipped in the tzatziki:
The grilled jumbo shrimp:
Each shrimp was more than 100 grams. Wowza!
We paired all of the food with the house wine, a light and crisp white wine which worked wonderfully to lighten up the rich and fried foods that we were eating. When eating fried foods, you always want to opt for refreshing wines that are high in acidity to cut through the grease from frying.
We also tried a Cretan restaurant named Dimaratis. In this restaurant, the thing to drink is raki, a clear brandy made from distilled grape pomace (which we drank so much of that night!) and Cretan wine, which was not bottled and is darker, tea-like color.
Cretan food is super interesting. I had snails baked with rosemary in a vinegar based sauce. You got a whole plate of them that you had to eat Cretan style: crack the shells with your teeth and pull out the snails. No silwerware needed.
We also had french fries served with staka, which is a super creamy sauce made with sun-kissed goat milk’s butter. The way staka is made is so interesting: once you collect the fat from the milk, you leave it out in the sun for 4-5 days!
And crumbed mizithra cheese with thyme and green olive oil from Crete.
That olive oil was amazing! So amazing that I just had to bring some back home with me. My friend talked to owner to ask him whether he would sell us some. He said yes, but the only size he had available were 5 liter tins. I said, sure! He sold the 5 liters for 25 euros. What an great deal! I was so excited about this purchase that I had to do a photo session with it when I got back to Abu Dhabi.
Besides Athens, we spent a couple of days in Arachova, where my friend’s mother owns the most picturesque stone house.
While I was there, it was also October 21, 2015 so we had to do a Back to the Future marathon to commemorate Marty McFly time-travel to that day. It was a bit chilly that day so we lit up the fireplace, prepared lots of meze, and drank some amazing wine while watching the movies. A perfect evening!
We made amazing breakfasts each morning. I especially loved the fig preserves that my friend’s mom made and I ate that with toast every morning:
Nearby is Galaxidi, which is a town by the water. We did a daytrip to Galaxidi and ate at a great seafood restaurant called Skeletovrachos. As usual, we ate so much food!
The taramasalata was mixed with avocado. So yummy!
Of course, we had to have the grilled octopus:
And the grilled sea bass, which was so scrumptious!
So much so that the local dog couldn’t keep his eyes off of it:
The sparrows were also keen on trying some of our food.
And of course a carafe of the house wine:
On the drive back to Arachova, we stopped by a shop that sells his own shellfish. We bought mussels and cockles for next day’s lunch.
We made two dishes, first of which was the cockles cooked in a garlicky white wine sauce and served with whole-wheat pasta – known in Italy as spaghetti alla vongole.
Second, mussels cooked in an ouzo sauce with dill.
I paired my mussels with a glass of ouzo rather than wine. Perfect!
All of these pictures are but a small fraction of all of the food that we ate in Greece (for more pictures, check out my Instagram account). Greek food is simply fantastic and the wines are great! And I had to bring back as much of it back with me as possible.
Of course, I stuffed my suitcases with as much wine as I could fit. I brought back a few bottles of Assyrtiko from Santorini, which is really versatile white wine that you can pair with a variety of foods. The obvious choices are seafood (especially shellfish) and also squid and grilled octopus.
And some bottles of Xinomavro, which is an inky and dark red wine that is tannic yet refreshingly acidic from Northern Greece that I really love! Xinomavro pairs really well with spiced meatballs, meatloaf, especially if made with lamb. I also really love pairing kalamata olives with xinomavro, as long as the wine is not too tannic.
A couple of bottles of Malagousia, which is a highly aromatic wine that pairs beautifully with fried zucchini (a dish that I fell in love with at Antonia restaurant, which I will definitely try to make at home).
And some sweet wine from Samos. Samos is famous for its sweet wines, and rightly so – they’re really delicious!
I also bought some homemade wine that they fill inside plastic bottles when you order – I really love these homemade wines; they are simple yet delightful! I got a bottle of the crisp Moschofilero and the off-dry Moscato (which pairs really well with feta).
Then the cheese! Two kinds of feta and some local cheese from Arachova. Yum!
Some white tarama, or salted fish roe, which I will use to make homemade taramasalata. Can’t to try making this!
Lots of preserves! From left to right: young walnut (with the shell), squash, fig, and cherry.
And of course, some dried herbs. From left to right, verbena, oregano, savory (or thesprotia), and olive leaves (not sure hot to cook with olive leaves yet but I will experiment).
This was such a wonderful trip to Greece and I can’t wait to go back!
For lots more pictures of food and wine, check out my Instagram account:@thatperfectbottle