Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Noble Pie Pizza

The Executive has the best after-work life. In the last month, she’s been to Vintage, Donna Mac, Pat and Betty, Wise and Wright and PD3 by Blake. I love hearing her recaps so much that it inspired me to try a new restaurant. Let’s listen to “Smooth Criminal” by Micheal Jackson. 

Based on what I’ve read, Noble Pie Pizza has an excellent reputation with its customers. I’ve always wanted to go, but the no reservation policy deterred me. On Thursday night, I told L we had to go. He agreed and said if there were a wait, he would be okay with it. Lucky for us, there were still spots at the bar. 

You access Nobel Pizza through the back alley by Metrovino Wines and the Cookbook Shop. When we walked in, I noticed four chefs lined up side-by-side, each intensely focused on their work. I could tell right away we were in good hands. The restaurant is small but spacious, as the tables aren’t crammed together like most popular spots. The room is dimly lit, with a funky vibe. I mentioned to L that the music wasn’t generic. He nodded and said, more importantly, it was at an appropriate volume. Noble Pizza seems popular with families, as parents and their kids occupy most of the booths. 

When I saw the wine list, I knew I had to bring my friends here for girls’ night. I ordered a glass of the Venturini Baldini Lambrusco rosé ($13). Our server gave me an extra big pour because he was near the end of the bottle. His unexpected generosity gave me a burst of giddiness. The sparkling rosé was fresh and light. 

We shared the Noble Caesar Salad ($15). This salad is pure joy. I was shocked to see the mountain of parmigiano reggiano piled on top of the lettuce. I asked our server if we could get extra cheese. She looked alarmed and then smiled when she realized I was joking. The romaine lettuce was crisp and cool. I prefer Noble’s Caesar to Una’s, because the former has a softer, fluffier texture, and the proportion of garlicky anchovy sauce to lettuce was spot on, so each piece of lettuce was glossy from the dressing. The toasted panko added a subtle crunch.

We ordered an 18-inch Half Roni / Half Extra Fancy ($37) pizza. Holy Cheesus, what a beauty! The crust was glorious – the edges billowed out, creating beautiful air pockets. The dough was crisp and light. The last time I had a pizza of this calibre was at Savino Pizzeria and Rocket Pie

The pepperoni in the roni was rich, salty, and still sizzling. I thought the oregano and pop of garlic in the tomato sauce were pleasantly pungent. The tissue of the bread was chewy. What was music to my ears was the blistering sound of the crunch and crackle of the crust as we chomped throughout our meal.

I enjoyed the fancy pizza the most because of the meaty pieces of roasted mushrooms and the crunch of the red onions. If you don’t like spicy food, ask to omit the jalapeños. I bragged to L that the jalapeños weren’t spicy, and then I bit into one with some seeds.  

To quell my tingling tongue, I asked for a glass of red wine that was full-bodied and not heavy with tannins. Our server recommended Monte Bernardi Italia ti Adoro ($13). The wine was so damn smooth that it should be criminal. 

The slices were massive. I could only eat two while L ate three. We had leftovers, enough for L’s breakfast and lunch. We are planning our second visit, where L wants to try the Sweet Cheezus pie. This place has it all! Fantastic wine, excellent service and some mind-blowing quality pizza. Hitting the Sauce gives Noble Pie Pizza two phat thumbs up.

Greece

Athens – Last night

L and I departed Naxos to Athens for our last day before heading back to Calgary. I love Naxos, but I also enjoyed my time in Athens. The mix of different architectural styles amongst ancient ruins creates an incredible backdrop to explore. For this post, let’s listen to Billy Joel’s “Longest Time.”

We checked into our hotel and then walked around the neighbourhood. I noticed several permanently closed stores with Asian names. The buildings themselves looked old and historic, reminding me a little of Hastings Street in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. We grabbed a gyro and cold glass of beer for lunch, then ducked back into our hotel to cool off. It felt like such a shame to stay in our hotel room due to the overbearing heat.

I looked up restaurants in Athens, and one in particular stood out – Atlantikos. I almost exploded with unbridled delight when I found out we were within walking distance of this seafood restaurant. I told L I had to eat here.

Psiri is an offbeat, bohemian neighbourhood. We enjoyed walking around, admiring the quaint-looking streets. L picked a place for a pint of beer and a glass of wine for me. Then, after the evening cooled down, we made our way over to Atlantikos. Located in an alley, customers lined up to the busy restaurant all night. Oh my Cod, the food here is my idea of perfection. The seafood is fresh, simple and inexpensive.

We shared a Greek Salad (€6.50), Fried Calamari (€7.50), Mussels Saganaki (€6), and Grilled Shrimp (€11). The salad was huge. The feta was creamy and smooth. I noticed the tomatoes were bright red and juicy.

I just learned that calamari is a type of squid, and the “calamari” I’ve always eaten before is squid. The difference in texture is calamari is thinner, and there’s a delightful bulb-like air bubble that makes for satisfying munching.

The mussels were tasty morsels – fat and fresh. Perfectly cooked – each mussel was soft and hot. I would use the crusty pieces of bread to mop up the rich, tomatoey sauce.

The meat in the shrimp was delicately crunchy, sweet and juicy. The shrimp shells were so blisteringly hot that I burnt the tips of my impatient fingers.


I told L that one day, we have to return to Greece. I would go back to Naxos and Athens in a heartbeat as they are both on the top of my list of favourite places to visit.

Restaurants

Naxos – Day four

For our last day in Naxos, we left it a do as we please day. The only problem was there wasn’t anything we wanted to do. None of the excursions interested us. We don’t like lying around a beach, and I strongly dislike submerging myself in public bodies of water. For this post, let’s listen to “Summer in the City” by The Luvin Spoonful.

We ate breakfast at our favourite spot, then walked along the beach to the port. We shopped, purchased a few items, and then went for one last gyro. By the late afternoon, it was so stinking hot that we called it quits and drank ice-cold cans of Mythos beer on our balcony.


For our last supper in Naxos, I booked To Ellinkkiko. I ordered a glass of red wine (€7) that was so lovely, I let out a pent-up sigh of relief. The temperature was cool on such a hot night, smooth and dry, with a raspberry-like aftertaste. Most of the places we’ve been eating at are the cheap and cheerful type, so the only wine offered is a house wine. For the price, I have no complaints about the wine I tried in Greece. I just know I was missing out on sampling spectacular wines.

We shared oven-baked stuffed peppers (€6), tzatziki (€6) and fresh, homemade bread. The peppers were sweet, soft and wet with the warm juices of tomatoes. There was so much flavour from the feta and dill that I used the bread to mop up the juices.

The whole fish (€15) L ordered was the best I ever had. The white flesh was soft and hot. The fish had a delicate, buttery flavour. I told L that had I known the food at this restaurant would be this good, we would have eaten here every night. L agreed, and I could tell he wasn’t humouring me. When he means it, he elaborates and shows enthusiasm. When he’s pacifying me, he is polite and quiet.

I wasn’t starving, so I ordered the vegetarian moussaka (€8). My pot of deliciousness contained layers of creamy stewed vegetables. The top layer was baked in a thick layer of cheese, but I could still taste the individual ingredients, like the corn, peas, carrots, peppers, and eggplant. I liked how the moussaka wasn’t too salty so that I could enjoy the light lemony, infused vegetables.


For dessert, we were given a plateful of watermelon. However, we were too stuffed even to have a slice. My gosh – it’s incredible food like this that makes travelling worth it. This meal was the highlight of our trip. If you are ever in Naxos, I highly recommend To Ellinkkiko. Hitting the Sauce gives this restaurant two phat thumbs up.

Greece · Restaurants

Naxos – Day three

L informed me that he didn’t enjoy where we ate the previous morning. I wanted to say that’s what you get when you want to be spontaneous. However, I held back and suggested Λαγογιάννης Bakery. Since the weather has been extra hot, particularly in Greece, let’s listen to Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime.”

We ordered lattes (€3), a spinach pie (€3) and a sweet vanilla pastry (€3). The espresso was rich and robust, and the foam so dreamy that I would close my eyes with each sip.

The spinach filling was thick, infused with dill and lemon. L’s cake was light, flaky and sweet from the vanilla custard. When L told me how much he enjoyed his breakfast, I said he could thank Google reviews for finding this gem.

We spent the morning sightseeing. I was intrigued with the Melanes Kouros Statue because I was surprised that such a large marble project was abandoned all these years. Who pulled the plug? Why didn’t anyone else want to resurrect the statue? One would think if the City of Calgary could manage to fix the Wishing Well, Naxos benefactor would try to salvage the statute.

For lunch, L picked another beach destination. Most restaurants were hustling for customers. We picked the busiest restaurant along the beach. Our shaded patio table was inches from the water, and occasionally, the breeze would come and cool us off.

We ordered calamari (€14), saganaki (€6) and fresh fish (€15). Typically when we order fried calamari, we get the rings (mantle) or rings and tentacles. This was the first time we got baby squid. The texture of the squid was thinner than the rings, with a bouncier, lighter mouthfeel.

Our server recommended fried barbounia (striped red mullet). The flesh is rich and firm, and the fishy flavour reminded me of mackerel.

While we ate, several cats surrounded us. I noticed one cat was injured, as parts of its skull were either missing or burned off. I fed the cats bits and pieces of my fish, and once my plate was empty, they vamoosed.

On the way home, we stopped by the Olive Museum. I was expecting an experience like a tasting at a winery, but for olives. Instead, we saw a few pieces of equipment and a gift room with overpriced olives and lotions. However, the olives were so good that I bought home two packs.

For dinner, I wanted to check out a restaurant near our hotel, Maros. I read the online reviews, and it appeared to be a legit restaurant for simple Greek food. We sat outside next to two young women from Montreal. I know this information because all the male servers kept coming to their table to make small talk. They wore halter tops so I could see their washboard stomachs. I watched with awe and jealousy as they easily polished off two entrees and three large appetizers.

L and I shared zucchini balls (€5), lamb (€10), a Greek Salad (€6), chicken souvlaki (€10), and yogurt (€4). L ordered a beer (€3) while I stuck with a copper pint of house white wine (€5).

When I first saw the zucchini fritters, I wasn’t impressed. In this case, looks are deceiving. The interior was soft and fluffy, creamy with feta, dill and mint. The outside was crispy, and the filling just melted in your mouth. Each bite was bursting full of flavour. I would get this again.

The lamb was tasty. The texture of the meat wasn’t fatty or gamey. However, I didn’t like the copious amount of bones and the fact it was served at room temperature. I was tempted to ask our server to pop my dish back in the microwave. The lemon potatoes were also underdone.

I was too full to try L’s chicken souvlaki, which he enjoyed. Other people who looked like locals ordered generously stacked plates of creamy pasta and fries. I wondered if we ordered the wrong dishes, but L said we didn’t come to Greece to eat carbonara.

For dessert, L and I shared yogurt with honey. Yogurt in Greece is unreal – the texture is like a cross between custard and whipping cream, but with a zip to it.

After dinner, we wandered around the castle to work off our heavy dinner. The restaurants at the castle looked so enchanting, with the sparkling lights set against the white walls and music twinkling out onto the corridor. But I had already booked our last supper in Naxos, and I knew the next restaurant was a real winner. To be continued.

Greece · Seafood

Naxos – Day two

For breakfast, L suggested we find a cafe randomly, just like people did before the Internet. I felt uneasy about this decision, but I was a good sport and agreed to go old-school. For this post, let’s listen to “Denial.”

We ordered a latte (2.70), a cheese, and a meat pie (3.90). Unfortunately, the latte was too hot, and as a result, the milk tasted off. I worked at Starbucks in my younger days, so I knew the milk was oversteamed. There was too much foam, so it was more of a cappuccino than a latte. 

L’s cheese pastry was tasteless and, for the portion, overpriced. On the other hand, my meat pie was tasty. The filling reminded me of the fried glutinous rice dumplings (ham sui gok) I ordered at dim sum. I would order this again.

L booked a car for two days. First, we checked out historical points of interest, such as the Temple Demeter and a few defunct churches.

For lunch, we planned to drive to a beach in an area known for its seafood. L navigated through the tight, steep one-lane roads that wind along the mountain. I felt a little like I was in a James Bond movie. He was excited to drive, and while the views were breathtaking, seeing all the roadside memorial sites spooked me.

We chose a busy beachside spot and ordered an octopus salad (15), grilled calamari (11), and tzatziki (5).

Our server proudly proclaimed that the squid was the best in Naxos. I loved it! The calamari was silky and smooth, with a nice bouncy texture. I would order this again.

L enjoys octopus more than I do, and he was crazy about the sweet, tender chunks in the salad. Everything was simple but so good. I thought this was one of the best meals we had eaten. 

After lunch, we drove to several villages and other landmarks. We returned to our hotel and stepped out for a Kitron cocktail in Old Town. Afterwards, we did one of my favourite things to do in Naxos: wander around Kastro Castle. Not only did the thick marble walls offer shade from the hot sun, but it was so delightful to get lost in the nooks and alleys of the fortress. At night it offered a different experience, as the castle’s passages became lit with restaurants buzzing with activity. 

For dinner, I wanted something light. We checked out To Soulvlaki, for pork gyros (€3.50) and a mega pint of white wine (€3.30). After eating so many gyros, they all start to taste the same. I did notice the meat was seared, and the portion was more generous than their competition next door, Ya Souvlaki. We left full and eager to start the day again on this glorious island.

Greece · Restaurants · Seafood

Naxos – Day one

Early in the morning, L and I booked a taxi to take us to the ferry to Naxos. When we arrived, a restaurant owner hustled us over to his patio and invited us to stay while we waited for the ferry. Right away, I knew we should continue walking and check out the other cafes. However, he struck up a conversation with L about when our ferry would arrive. His winning sales pitch that we could see our ferry come and only be obligated to purchase a coffee. For this post, let’s listen to Maria Farantouri ‘s “To the Little Wind.”

Our americanos (€5) tasted like instant Nabob coffee. When we gagged down our drinks, L purchased two large cans of Mythos beer (€6) for our ferry ride. I thanked L and noted that we probably could have bought the beers for cheaper at another store. He agreed so good-naturedly that I felt guilty. I really need to stop hen-pecking him over nickels.

We arrived in Naxos and stopped by Ya Souvlaki for gyros on the way to our hotel. We sat by the pier and devoured our pork gyros (€3.50) in minutes. We always eat the fries first because if you eat don’t, the flavour of the meat gets muted by the potatoes.

Usually, I’m full after a gyro, but since we skipped breakfast, I was still hungry. I ordered a lamb skewer (€3.50), and L ordered a chicken skewer (€2.50). Our server told us it would take a while, as the skewers are made fresh. Our skewers came with fries and pita bread. What a wicked price!

The lamb was killer – so juicy and almost grassy in flavour. L said he could taste the flavour of the charcoal in his chicken skewer. When we finished, L left to pay. I knew they were happy with their tip because our server came over with complimentary booze. L didn’t want to drink a shot at noon, so I happily took one for the team.

After we checked into our hotel, we toured around Old Town. We walked over to the Portara, the marble gate of an unfinished temple of Apollo. I had seen pictures of the gate before visiting. I wished I didn’t, as while the marble ruin was unique, it didn’t look nearly as impressive as the online pictures. Instagram filters ruin real life. I guess this is what people feel like on dating apps. 

For our first night, I booked a table at Scirocco, located in the town centre. I relished the over-the-top polite service. I noticed the older British guests were known customers and were given the royal VIP treatment by all the staff. 

I ordered a glass of bubbles that was pretty average (€7). I sipped a white wine with our dinner, which reminded me of citrus (€ 6). When I noticed guests drinking rosé wine (€7), I ordered one for dessert, though it seemed to cause our server some concern. I’m pretty sure the issue is the rosé is typically ordered by the bottle, not by the glass, but an exception was made for me. This was a real Goldilocks moment. The rosé wasn’t too sweet or generic, and it tasted a little like strawberries. I would order this again.

L and I shared an order of Sagankaki (€ 10) and the mixed seafood platter (€30). The fried cheese was crispy and topped with honey and black sesame seeds. The flavour of the toasted sesame and the mild, nutty flavour of the cheese reminded me of a dim sum dish – rice-wrapped Chinese doughnut. I would order this again.

Of the seafood medley, I enjoyed the salmon the most. The creamy lemon sauce paired beautifully with the fatty layers of the salmon. The shrimp was sweet and juicy. I also enjoyed the calamari, as the texture was smooth and firm. The marinated octopus was thick, meaty and succulent. I could tell all the seafood was fresh and not previously frozen because the consistency was unlike what I’m accustomed to in Calgary. 

The service at Sciroco was an easy 10/10, the food was 8/10, and the wine was a 6/10, though the rosé was a 9/10. The dessert was so bad it is not even worthy of a tactfully worded description because it was so piss poor. In any case, Naxos is a hit. 

Greece

Santorini – Day four

We had our second breakfast in a row at Svoronos Bakery. This time, I found the staff unpleasant, except for the barista. I could tell from the staff’s tone and vibe that we were not valued customers. I ordered iced lattes, but we got hot lattes instead. Not a big deal, but there was so much sugar in my drink I couldn’t finish it. My spanakopita was a corner piece, and the end piece of the pastry was hard and gummy. L noticed they charged him two more euros than in our previous visit. For this post, let’s listen to Zorba’s Dance.

After breakfast, we walked down the Karavolades Stairs. There were donkeys you could rent for the ride up or down. I noticed the donkeys roam wherever they wanted to, and L was worried I would be trodden on or kicked by the animals. He would periodically shout out, “Watch it! He’s going kick you.” Every time he warned me, I would freeze up. I know L was only looking out for me, but as the stairs are narrow, there isn’t much I could do but stand there in a panic. I could either back up or tentatively walk past the donkey. We took the cable car up and walked around the top of the Thira, past all the restaurants overlooking the cliffs of Fira. L said he wanted us to have dinner at one of the restaurants for our last night. I took pictures of the names and said I would look each one up before we decided on the restaurant. 

My colleague Congenial left Santorini the day before I arrived, and she told me to check out Obelix. I wished I had listened to her. Instead, we went to Yogi’s second location. Our food took a long time to come. A server dropped off some limp pita and dip, then added the charge to our final bill. I should have realized it wasn’t free. Our gyro wasn’t as fresh as Yogi’s location in the Square. Also, I found the owner surly.

L and I took the public bus to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. Afterwards, we checked Red Beach and stopped at Anhydrous Winery for a tasting.

For our dinner, I vetoed all the Caldera view restaurants because when I cross-checked the Tripadvisor reviews with Google’s user comments, I saw too much discrepancy. Particularly, I wasn’t keen on the frequency of comments about the general rudeness of the staff at these restaurants. Instead, I booked a table at Parea Tavern, which was recommended by our hotel.

Our table had a view, but more importantly, the service was warm and friendly. We shared the Santorini Salad (€10), Fried Cheese (€9), Calamari (16), a glass of wine (7) and a Mythos (4). 

I was interested in the shrimp spaghetti dish, but I didn’t order it because I wanted something lighter. I saw a woman on a date order it, and I couldn’t stop ogling the jumbo-sized grilled shrimp on her dish. She was doing most of the talking, and her date kept nodding or saying one-word responses. I told L that I noticed she never once talked about her meal. Yes, I was eavesdropping. I stopped staring at her shrimp because she started to glance over at me. 

I adored the Santorini salad. The bread was light and crunchy, seasoned with garlic and salt. The feta cheese was soft and cool. Our bowl was piled high with marinated cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, capers, and lettuce.

The fried cheese was excellent. I loved the delicate batter, with its papery crunch. The cheese itself was smooth, stringy and hot. The marinara sauce was zesty and didn’t overwhelm the cheese’s nutty flavour. I would order this again.

The calamari was tasty, but it tasted like it was cooked in older oil. The cool breeze also prematurely cooled the calamari halfway through our meal. Flavour-wise, I think Meraki uses a higher quality squid. Having said that, Parea’s calamari is better than anything I can get back home. Overall, we were happy with our experience, and looking forward to continuing our vacation in Naxos.

Restaurants

Santorini – Day three

I suggested to L that we check out Svoronos Bakery for breakfast. I read Google reviews about the poor service, so I was interested to experience the outcome. I’m always curious about rudeness. Let’s listen to “Full Catastrophe” by Mikis Theodorakis for this post. 

When we entered the bakery, an employee instantly greeted us in English. She was friendly enough and offered to explain any items to us. However, I saw another older employee give us a dirty look. I heard about the evil eye, but this was the first time I experienced it in Greece. I felt like telling her don’t hate the player, hate the game, but I figured the meaning would be lost in translation.

We asked for two iced lattes (€2), spanakopita (€2) and a random pastry for L (€2). The iced latte was so good. The espresso was rich and thick that no sugar or additional flavouring was needed. L told me that he was informed places like Starbucks and McDonald’s aren’t popular in Greece. I can taste why this is true.

The spanakopita was crunchy on the outside and loaded with warm, creamy spinach filling. I could taste a little dill and feta. Our breakfast was only €8, so I figured it was worth the stink-eye from the matron of the bakery.

 For lunch, we checked out Yogi’s. The pork gyro (€3.60) overflowed with fries, tzatziki, tomatoes and onions. Compared to Nick’s, Yogi’s was more filling and cheaper. However, the flavour of the meat at Nick’s was superior, while Yogi’s had the fluffier, fresher pita. 

I wanted to give L a break from all the organizing and planning, so I booked a Santorini Highlights Tour. Usually, these excursions aren’t his style, but I knew he would enjoy turning his mind off and enjoying the ride. 

Our tour guide Will was spectacular. He livened up our experience by making us comfortable and entertained. He even took cheesy photos of each of us at all the landmarks. I felt like a happy teenager. It always impresses me when I meet someone who excels at their profession. I noticed that everyone left him a well-deserved tip.

Will mentioned to us that one restaurant he recommends is Meraki. So I told him we went there the previous night. He asked how I discovered it, as it is a hidden gem. I didn’t want to bother explaining how I live to eat and hate overpaying, so I changed the subject.

After our excursion, L wanted to go back to Meraki. We ordered a Greek salad (€7), calamari (€10.50), fava (€7), eggplant saganaki (€8.00), Alfa beer (€4.00) and white wine (€4.00, half a litre).

The vegetables in the Greek salad were crunchy and fresh. The feta arrived in a thick slab. The cheese was soft enough to break apart with a gentle poke of my fork and generous enough to be eaten with every ripe piece of tomato. 

The calamari arrived hot and crispy. We both thought the squid was over-salted, but we enjoyed it almost as much as the previous night. 

The eggplant was unique because I wasn’t expecting the overpowering flavour of nutmeg. The eggplant was soft and blended with feta cheese and tomato sauce. I think this dish was overcooked in the oven. The sauce was far too dry.

Our tour guide recommended the fava, which is a famous local product. The texture was soft and wet. I can’t describe what I tasted, as the flavour profile was so unique. 

We were stuffed, and I barely even touched my wine. Still, we left giddy and exhausted from the festivities of the day. If you go to Santorini, I highly recommend booking with Will.

Greece

Santorini – Day two

We landed after midnight in Santorini. After we dropped our luggage at our hotel, we decided to head to the Square for a bite to eat. For this post, let’s listen to Giannis Parios Ikariotiko.

L’s favourite Greek snack is a gyro (YEE-row). I, of course, had already cross-checked each note-worthy eatery in Santorini. So when we walked by all the gyro joints, I was familiar with their Google and Tripadvisor reviews. We picked Nick the Grill because there were some tables open for us. Yogi and Lucky’s were within 300 metres of our table, which are rated higher than Nick’s. 

We each ordered a pork gyro (€3.90) and a Mythos beer (€3.00). I figured the nearby nightclub and bars had just closed because we observed a parade of red-faced, dazed people stumble past. One British gentleman bumbled up to the counter and said some incoherent words. The employee rolled her eyes, handed him a menu, and then helped him select a combo meal. 

After five minutes, our food was ready. The pita was fluffy and crispy on the outside. The pork was sliced thin, juicy and tasted of the grill. I would have preferred a bit more tzatziki, but in hindsight, too much sauce would mask the pronounced flavour of the white onions and meat.

 I can see why L loves gyros so much. You get something far more delicious and fresh for less than the price of a Big Mac. I’m also a fan of Mythos. It’s a clean, light and well-balanced beer. 

The next day, we wandered around Fira and admired the breathtaking views of the blue water and sky. The beauty was almost worth suffering through the crowds of selfie-taking tourists and the annoyance of avoiding the rampant quads speeding through the tightly packed streets. Santorini is stunning, but it is so overcrowded with poorly behaved tourists that I wouldn’t recommend coming here over Athens or Naxos.

For dinner, we dined at Meraki, a restaurant known for authentic and inexpensive seafood. We ordered fried zucchini (€6.50), saganaki (€7), fried squid (€11), and beets (€5). For beverages, L drank Alfa beer (€4.00, 500 ml), and I ordered half a litre of house white wine (€5.00). 

The fried cheese’s exterior was crunchy, and the interior was soft, with a slight chew. The honey was light and sweet, while the nuts added a toastiness to each bite. L enjoyed the saganaki so much that we order this at almost every subsequent dinner. 

The batter on the zucchini was so light it reminded me of tempura. The zucchini tasted like it was just plucked from a garden. The flesh was so sweet and juicy and melted on your tongue. This dish is worth ordering again. 

The calamari was so delicious that L declared it the best he’s ever had. The squid wasn’t heavily battered, which allowed you to enjoy the toothsome texture.

For dessert, we ordered a chocolate biscuit with whipped cream. The dessert was simple and not overly sweet. Our server told us it was homemade and similar to a cookie.

The service was genuinely warm and hospitable. We were treated to raki, their homemade liquor, when we were finished. I thought it was tasty, as the spice reminded me of a cinnamon bun. We enjoyed our food so much that we vowed to come again. Part two of Meraki coming soon…

Greece · Restaurants

Athens – Day one

I met up with L in Athens, Greece. After sampling the food for only 10 days, I can confidently state that the food in Greece surpasses what I’ve consumed as a tourist in Japan, France, and Italy. For this post, let’s listen to “The Children of Piraeus, Never On a Sunday” by Nana Mouskouri

L had already spent time in Athens, so he brought me to his favourite tavern, Old Tavern of Psarras, for a snack and drink before our flight to Santorini. Greece has changed L. He now enjoys tzatziki, olives, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and feta. I know why because, in Greece, everything tastes better than what we can get in Canada. 

We picked a spot in the shade and ordered two appetizers and a Mythos beer. I never liked yogurt until I tried it in Greece. The tzatziki (€4.50) has a thick, dense velvety texture and a fresh, light flavour. Our dip was zesty and herby from the dill and cucumber, the perfect foil to the warm, salty pita bread. 

The leaves on the dolmades (€4.50) were so soft and warm that even biting into the grape leaves was a sensual experience. The rice mixture was creamy and bright with infused flavour. L mentioned the food goes well with the hot climate. For dessert, L wanted to visit his go-to bakery, Tzatzos S.A

We walked over to Tzatzos and sat on the patio. L ordered two baklavas (€2) and two more beers (€3).

Holy smokes – the baklava at Tzatzos makes everything else I’ve tried before taste like sawdust. The honey was so light and sweet, more like nectar than the heavy stuff I’m used to in Calgary, Savino Pizzeria being the exception. The pistachios and almonds were toasty with a wood-like spice and the layers of phyllo pastry were light and brittle. 

Oh my Zeus, if I can eat this well as a tourist, imagine what you access as a local! L said in the last five days he was in Athens, he never experienced a bad meal. I know when L travels, he doesn’t research where to eat, so I could only expect even greater things to come.