Thursday, June 25, 2009

cliffside perfection

This may- MAY- have been ONE OF my favorite meals in Greece. Qualifiers are always necessary when discussing favorite meals in Greece, cause… everything is flippin’ delicious!

On our first day in Rhethymno (the city we stayed on the outskirts of in Crete—if anyone wants any travel advice, feel free to ask—I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing what we did, actually), my little sister demanded that we vegetatate on the beach.

While I lurve the beach, when I spend too much lying still getting direct sunlight, some weird physiological reaction happens and… I ralph! So in an effort to prevent this I went for a looooooooooong walk into town. At the end of my walk, I found a string of ADORABLE restaurants in the Old Town, overlooking the Venetian harbor. I know I had to get back there!

On the day after Sumeria Gorge, we knew we wanted to keep it low key. My sister was actually feeling sick, so she stayed home (her sick food of choice was an entire Toblerone bar and a bag of Cheetos… can you tell we have different eating habits?), but my Mom and I decided that it would be a perfect day for a leisurely walk to the beautiful harbor.

Here was the restaurant we picked (there were a bunch of similar ones lined up, as there are apt to be in pretty locales in Greece. I did my usual selection process—which has the most happy looking people. It served me well!)

rhethymno restaurant

And here was the view from our table (!!!):

rethymno restaurant view

Not bad, eh?

The meal began with some SUPER fab bread. The bread we had in Greece was really just divided into Good and Even Better, but this was definitely in the Even Better category. Fabulous soft crumb on the inside, seriously yummy sesame seeded crust.

rhethymno cliffside lunch bread

And dippers! Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasty tapenade and what I thought was just butter and kind of neglected cause I was going nuts on the tapenade, but then my Mom was all “!!! There is yogurt cheese action happening in here!” mmmmm.

rhethymno cliffside lunch bread spreads  

So as per usual, we ordered mezze to share. Our cousins had gotten us Cretan bread salad in Athens as a preview for our later trip, and we knew some was in order. The one that came was HUGE!

rhethymno cliffside lunch salad

I actually tried to ask our waitress how many different kinds of greens were in there, and she had no idea. MANY! And they were all SO GOOD! There were some standard (delicious) ones- your raddichio and arugula, mm. However, there is a green that is pretty much only found in Crete (do I remember the name? Of course not), and it’s that bad boy gorgeously topping our salad. IT IS SO GOOD!

Along with the faaaaaaaabulous greens, the salad had tomatoes, shredded carrots, the not-feta cheese, bread, and tasty tasty dressing. The overall flavor profile skewed sweet, actually, and it was SO GOOD! The best salad I’ve had… I really can’t think of a better one I’ve had. Perfect ingredients, perfect flavors.

Everything on the menu sounded equally delicious, so the other things we ordered were specials. Generally specials are a good idea in Greece- the chef goes “Hey, look at beautiful fresh produce item X, I think I’ll make dish Y out of it”. You can’t go wrong.

Fava bean puree:

rhethymno cliffside lunch fava dip

SO GOOD! I think it was probably quite simple in terms of ingredients-- fava beans, olive oil, onions, parsley, salt and pepper… not a whole lot else?—but when you have fresh perfect fava beans, why adorn them with a bunch of other stuff? This was craaaaaazy good shmeared on the bread.

Finally, the piece de resistance:

rhethymno cliffside lunch sardines


There are no words. The English language is just lacking in the ability to describe the perfect smokey charry olive oily fresh vibrant flavor of these sardines.

Perfect. They were perfect.

At this point our chairs were kind of buckling. We didn’t finish all that food, but we came really quite closer than I thought we would. However, in Crete they have a little practice called COMPLIMENTARY DESSERT.

Look, just look, at this beautiful heavenly thing:

rhethymno cliffside lunch dessert

That is perfect Greek yogurt (not Greek-style yogurt! Actually Greek, hahahah!), and on top are preserved oranges. OH MY GOODNESS! I don’t know how they do it (although you can bet I’m going to try and learn) but I take it that the wise, awesome-cooking people of Crete concluded that two seasons of fresh perfect ripe oranges just isn’t enough, so they should preserve their oranges in sweet syrup, somehow making them soft enough (while still retaining a pleasant chewy flavor) to eat the entire zesty sweet thing, peel and all.

I was trying to think of the words to describe this, and I decided an analogy would be somewhat apt (my mother agreed with me): what fine wine is to Welsch’s grape juice, this is to orange marmalade.


Finally, this menu had a cute typo:


Aw, Gordon.

And another one we encountered in Prevali, tee hee!


1 comment:

Olga said...

That's one amazing view! Everything looks delicious, but I'm not a fan of sardines :)

Re red peppers, Harris Teeter had them on sale...I seriously thought they forgot to put 1 or 2 in front of 50 cents!