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Funky Gourmet – Athens, Greece

I am SO glad this restaurant was recommended to me.  I feel like it’s one of the best kept secrets in Athens although it’s not-so-secret seeing that it just received it’s first Michelin Star.  Funky Gourmet is owned and run by Nick Roussos, Georgianna Hiliadaki and Argyro Hiliadaki, the first two mentioned being the head chefs.  Both were in the house the night we ate there.

The whole meal was absolutely incredible!  So fun and playful…it was enjoyable from start to finish.  Favorites for me included the “picnic”, pesto pasta that we got to make and cook ourselves (not really but I love that they let you think you’re doing it:)), and Greek Salad sorbet – that was nuts!  I was hesitant to try the foie gras truffle (simply because I don’t care for the taste of fg) but I was pleasantly surprised.  It truly tasted like a chocolate truffle!

At the end of the meal I have to say, I was shockingly NOT stuffed but 100% satisfied.  If you’re in Athens be sure to check this place out.  It’s a special experience that you’ll never forget.  Hats off to the chefs!

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Lucky’s Souvlakis – Santorini, Greece

While researching where to eat on the island of Santorini, there was one spot that just kept coming up – Lucky’s Souvlakis in the town of Fira.  It was actually so good that my husband ended up ordering a second one!  He first went with the traditional pork gyro while I chose the chicken version.  Considering he ordered the chicken for his second, I think that says something about mine:)  Both were tasty and full of Greek flavor.  Do yourself a favor and go here if you’re in town!

Gyro Pita

Chicken Pita

 

 

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

Sakis – Mykonos, Greece

While strolling around the island of Mykonos we came upon Sakis, a very popular gyro spot to both locals and tourists.  The fact that it was packed was a great sign!  I’m not sure if you know this but in Greece, traditional gyros have fries in them…kind of like a California burrito…amazing!  How come we don’t do that in the states?  I opted for the authentic “pita gyro” made with pork and topped with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and fries…SO good!  This place is busy for a reason.  By far the best on the island!  And you can’t beat the price – €2.50 euro – cheap!

 

 

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

 

 

 

Braised Lamb Shanks (Kokkinisto me Manestra)

Recipe courtesy of Kokkari

Lamb is a staple in any Greek household and this recipe will make you fall in love if you aren’t already.  You can make this a day ahead which helps the spices mellow and flavors improve.  It’s a very hearty dish perfect for a night when you’re craving comfort food and something to warm your tummy.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon each ground allspice, ground toasted cumin, ground nutmeg, Spanish smoked sweet paprika and garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 6 lambs shanks, 1 1/2 pounds each
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, cut across stem end to expose cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup Italian tomato paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • Chunk of myzithra or ricotta salata cheese for serving

In a small bowl, combine the spice mix ingredients.  Rub the shanks all over with the spice mix, coating them evenly.  (You can cover and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)  Preheat the oven to 350ªF.  Season the shanks well with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Working in batches, sear the shanks on all sides until well browned, about 5 minutes per shank.  Transfer to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits.  Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and herbs.

Return the shanks to the pot, meaty end down.  They will fit snuggly.  Add water to come halfway up the sides of the shanks.  Bring to a simmer and stir in 2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cover tightly and bake until the meat is fork-tender and pulls away from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours.  Let cool in the pot, then refrigerate overnight if desired.

Skim all surface fat.  If refrigerated, reheat the shanks over medium heat.  Discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs.  Remove the garlic, and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves back into the post.  Set aside and keep the shanks warm.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain and return to the same pot.  Add about 1 1/2 cups of broth from the lamb shanks and stir well.  Divide the orzo among 6 shallow bowls.  Top each portion with a lamb shank, then spoon some of the juices over the lamb.  On the large holes of a box grater, grate myzithra to taste over the lamb and orzo.

Serve immediately.

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