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The Belvedere Club – Mykonos, Greece

I found out about this restaurant from the chef himself, George Calombaris, whose restaurant The Press Club I went to in Melbourne back in March.  Our first night in Mykonos we decided to stay at the hotel and try The Belvedere Club out.  What a great first dinner!  The setting was beautiful and serene with tables set out by the gorgeously illuminated pool.

We started with the truffle pita (I can never ignore a dish that involves truffles) as well as the saganaki, crispy calamari chips (too curious not to try them:)) and the traditional horiatiki Greek salad.  All were wonderful!  The calamari chips were especially interesting – they resembled thinly shaved and fried onion rings but were much lighter and were very pleasing.  Because we splurged on our appetizers, we ordered the fresh fish of the day to split which ended up being plenty of food.  And of course we saved room for dessert!  The warm chocolate pudding with hot white chocolate sauce didn’t disappoint.  Perfect ending to a delicious Greek meal!

Grilled pita bread with truffle oil & black salt

Crispy calamari chips, garlic mayonaise and lemon

Saganaki

“Horiatki” Greek salad

Fish of the day

Warm chocolate pudding with hot white chocolate sauce

Alegro – Mykonos, Greece

Alegro was the first restaurant we tried when we arrived in Mykonos.  It was suggested by our hotel and being that it was on the water front, it sounded like a great place to grab small bites and a drink before dinner later that night.  The setting was perfect – situated on the waterfront with front row seats to all the boats and cruise ships nearby.  Beautiful!

Our choices were pretty easy to make.  Saganaki, made with Metsovone cheese, ended up being one of the best we had our entire trip to Greece!  Wrapped in delicate filo (phyllo) and drizzled with honey…it was perfect and not heavy at all while lots of other versions have a tendency to be.  The calamari was fried, however it was the lightest I’ve ever had.  There was definitely WAY MORE calamari than breading and it was cooked perfectly and in large rounds.  Very good!  Last was the zucchini balls which were amazing!  I wish I could go back and order those again.  Formed into cakes, they were soft and moist with hardly any filler allowing you to taste the ingredients really well.  Yum, yum, yum…go here!

Our beautiful view along with some local white wine and Mythos beer

Saganaki

Calamari

Zucchini balls

 

 

 

Morimoto – Napa, CA

My husband and I were lucky enough to have Morimoto do the sushi for our wedding welcome party but we had never been to the restaurant in downtown Napa itself.  I recently went with a friend and I’m already dying to go back.  I didn’t even have any sushi!  I started with the Spicy King Crab with tobanjan aioli and micro-cilantro…wowzers!!!  I can see why my friend had me order my own and didn’t want to share:)  It was rich but not too crazy of a portion if you go with a lighter entrée which we did.  Otherwise it would be a great starter to share with a group.

For our entrée we split the Tempura Calamari Salad which was perfect!  The calamari was cooked perfectly and not too heavy considering it was fried.  Yum!

To end the meal we splurged on the “S’mores” which I think was new to the menu.  Definitely a great choice…I don’t think there was a morsel left on the plate:)

Madeo – West Hollywood, CA

This was my first time dining at the popular Northern Italian restaurant Madeo and I can tell you that it won’t be my last.  It was one of the best Italian meals I’ve had.  I normally opt for fish dishes (and I still did this time) however I always rely on my husband for a bite of pasta.  He chose wisely and went with the classic Spaghetti alla Bolognese made with a veal meat sauce and honestly…it was probably the best we had both had.  Simple and far from fussy, the tender meat and perfectly cooked pasta intensified with every bite.  It was sad when it was gone.  My sister-in-law went for the special Veal Meatballs which I think we all assumed would be coming with pasta however it didn’t BUT, these meatballs were melt in your mouth good.  Perfect from start to finish.  They were delicate and soft not over mixed, hard or dry.  They (aside from my Cafe Lago meatballs) are the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted.  Next time I go if these are on the menu I’m getting them!  Another dish in the mix on our table was the Osso Bucco which was also to die for.  The veal shank was cooked the way it was supposed to be with the meat falling off the bone.  Absolutely delicious.  I guess what I’m getting at is that you can’t really go wrong at this restaurant, or at least that’s what my first impression has led me to believe.  The ambiance won’t blow you away but there’s something nostalgic about it and you’re bound to find some famous faces in there which is always fun:)

Carciofi e Parmigiano – baby raw artichokes and Parmigiano cheese and rucola  *SO good!  A light dish that got eaten quickly…everything about it was well balanced and seasoned perfectly.

Prosciutto e Melone – Parma ham and melon  *Classic Italian dish…how can you go wrong?

Fagioli e Aragosta – Italian Cannellini beans with diced lobster and Rucola salad in a lemon dressing  *This was such a beautiful flavorful starter.  Plenty to share but honestly something I could eat everyday.  DE-lish!

Calamari Affogati – sautéed squid in tomato sauce  *Some of the best calamari I’ve ever had!  you need a spoon to get some sauce with every bite:)

Branzino di Mare al Carciofi – filet of wild sea bass baked with white wine and artichokes  *On the special menu…VERY good!

Vitella Arrosto – sliced roasted leg of veg from the cart  *We didn’t order this but as we were paying our bill…STUFFED…we all salivated while the chef started carving this beautiful meat and then carefully coated each delicate piece with some au jus.  Thankfully our waiter saw our oh-so-descreet drooling and had the chef make us a plate.  I can’t describe how flavorful this was.  It was on the special menu but seriously if you go and it’s on there and you have enough people to share with…GET IT!!!

Milos – New York, NY

I found out about Milos on Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter GOOP which featured New York.  I knew from her write up that it was going to be a pricey meal (she didn’t disappoint there) however, being Greek and having high expectations, it ended up being one of the best meals I’ve ever had!

The space is fairly large with white walls, tall ceilings and every seat was filled.  We had an 8pm reservation and were there until 10pm something.  New York is a non-stop city that’s for sure.

If your wallet can stand the price tag, put this place at the top of your list.  I am already looking forward to going back to NYC and having a delicious dinner at this fabulous spot.

I loved this detail…heads of garlic were used to hold down the cheesecloth used as a wall separator.  Brilliant!Just like in Turkey this past summer, we got to go pick out our fish for dinner.  Fish is flown in twice daily to the restaurant so you know you’re getting it fresh!Octopus – sashimi grade Mediterranean octopus char-grilled
Grilled Calamari – stuffed with Cretan Anthotiro, feta, manouri cheese, and fresh mint.  Served with fava, saffron.Grilled sea bream – served with olive oil and lemon sauceOur little fried fish:)  I can’t remember the name of it but it was recommended that we get it fried and holy cow was it good.  It was so buttery and tender.  I could have eaten a few of this little guys.And to end the night…what else would we order at a Greek restaurant besides Loukoumades?!

Saint Demetrios Greek Festival – Seattle, WA

This is something I look forward to every year.  As a young girl my family and I used to attend church at Saint Demetrios and every year when the Greek Festival would roll around I would beg my parents to let me work the pop machine…coolest job EVER!  I have fond fond memories of the festival and love that it’s still around and going strong.

My husband and I moved back to Seattle 3 1/2 years ago and conveniently settled into the Montlake area where our house is in walking distance to the church.  Don’t misunderstand me here…I’m not going to church on Sundays, I’m going to the Greek Festival everyday I possibly can when it happens the one weekend out of the year.  Oh how I love the gyros, spanakopita and loukoumades.  Being a good Greek girl, I’ve learned most of the traditional recipes that I grew up on and make them quite often at home so I definitely get my fix but experiencing it straight from the source is a totally difference experience all together.

If you missed it this year there’s always next.  Just remember that it’s always in September on the weekend when the Huskies have an away game.  Opa!

The star of the day…the Gyro!

Kalamari (Greeks use a lot of K’s) – something I’ve never had at the festival but it was really good and topped with a little tzatziki which was a great addition and very tasty!

Meatballs over rice…can you really go wrong here?

Pastitsio – this is one of my favorite Greek dishes

Dolmathes – not ‘Dolmas’ people!

Spanakopita and Tiropeta (mine’s better I swear!)

Loukoumades…AAAAMAZING!  Little fried nuggets of goodness in a honey glaze and topped with cinnamon…need I say anymore?

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