You know what makes me happy? OK, it's obvious...food. Thus, it would come as very little surprise that Greece made me one very happy Von Strudel.
We all have Greek friends whose Mums and Yiayias make the most amazing food, and we’ve all vied for an invite to Greek Easter to sample the pastitsio, moussaka and tyropita at one stage or another.
Well my friends, it was like all my Greek Easters had come at once.
Staying within spitting distance of the Acropolis, we were literally surrounded by Greek restaurants, each with a multi-lingual spruiker posted at their entrances, promising the best mixed grills for two for EU20.
Jet-lagged from our flight from New York, when it got to the eating hour, all we knew was that we wanted some Greek lamb and we wanted it now. Trying to find the most affordable 500ml Amstel, our stomach’s got in the way of our budgets, and we settled for a nice looking touristy place, where a dapper, greek, silver fox had promised us free shots if we dined at his restaurant. Sold.
We settled in to look at the menu, and after sounding out the names (oh, so THAT’S how it’s spelled) we decided on dips to begin (tzatziki and eggplant) as well as a refreshing stein of Amstel (EU4). Chunks of fresh bread were brought out in a basket, and we ravenously tore into them, swiping licks of greek yoghurt and cucumber, eggplant and olive oil before devouring it all in 5 minutes flat (possibly less).
A Greek salad (yes, a greek salad in Greece is the same as back home) with a thick slab of feta on top arrived next, with Patatas: crudely cut potatoes deep friend and doused in salt.
Taking our time between ‘courses’ to chat with newly arrived friends J & L, we eagerly awaited the holy grail of our meal – lamb shoulder baked in a bag with potatoes and lemon. It was good, I wouldn’t go so far to say very good, but it was what we were after: lamb.
The next day, having collapsed in to bed full and maybe a little tipsy from happy hour at the hostel roof-top bar, we began the day afresh. When lunch time came (although these days lunch time can be anywhere from 12-6pm, usually around 4pm) we found ourselves just outside the touristic area, and what a blessing that turned out to be.
For those who’ve not had the privilege of having gyros in Greece – get thee to a travel agent. Simple, fresh, and not a ten-tonner like the doner kebabs of Brunswick St, the Greek gyro is manageable, but certainly filling. Flat, freshly made pita bread is wrapped around pork (or chicken..sadly summer is not lambing season) straight from the revolving spit, doused in garlic sauce, lettuce, onion and tomato...and wait for it – chips...I mean fries. It’s simple, it’s GENIUS, it’s delicious. Chips/fries in a gyro. Loves it. And for a measly EU2, you’re on to a budget-traveller winner (remember, I’m meant to be a budget traveller...)
Finally, there’s no way I can end a blog entry about Greece without a knod to the most unbelievable Greek Yoghurt and honey I have ever had. Not normally a fan of Greek Yoghurt, the home of the stuff certainly knows what to do with it, and does it well. Seriously good breakfast nommage.
PS - had the BEST freakin' Moussaka in Fira, Santorini, watching the sunset, with a glass of Santorini wine. Life doesn't get much better!