Tuesday, June 23, 2009

lunch in thissio

Thissio is where the cool kids go in Athens. We went there for a fabulous dinner with the fam, and also hung out there during our last day in Athens. It’s a neighborhood not far from the Acropolis and the ancient Agora, and there are a lot of fun places to hang out, as well as a seriously lively flea market with an eclectic mix of beautiful antiques and fake Ray Bans. Oodles of fun!

There are a lot of fabulous outdoor cafes like this one:

thissio lunch restaurant

Our last day in Athens was a particularly scorching one. It gave us an opportunity to see the ingenious way charming outdoor cafes like this one have figured out to battle the heat:

thissio lunch restaurant and blower

Misters! It’s like the things they use for vegetables at the grocery store! Probably the design is like a hose attached to an electric fan, but it is soooooooooooooo refreshing to get misted by that every once in awhile.

Onto the food!

We began, of course, with psomi (bread), which I ate copious amounts of and- gasp- DIDN’T GET FAT FROM THE CARBS! Being in Europe was a refreshing reminder of the utter irrationality of American carb-phobia.


thissio lunch bread

And this was an especially fab loaf- SUPER crusty, and soft on the inside.

I wanted something on the light and refreshing side, given the heat of the day, so I suggested beginning with a salad. Since we had the traditional khoriatiki salata more or less every day, we decided to mix it up with this guy:

thissio lunch salad closeup

A salad of fresh lettuce, green onions, and FENNEL <3<3<3. Vair delicious, especially with more of that lemon squeezed on top.

Next we got what the waiter strenuously recommended (incidentally, whenever possible in Greece- get a recommendation!), which was the imam bayildi. Really it’s Turkish in origin (duhhh just look at the title- it’s so delicious the Imam fainted!). It’s pretty funny, the Greeks are NOT fond of the Turkish, but it doesn’t stop them from borrowing a delicious recipe or two.

thissio lunch imam bayildi

I have a hard time even describing the lusciousness of this dish. Clearly they had a quality oven back there, because the vegetables were teeeeeeeeeender and luuuuuuuuuuuscious and caaaaaaaaaaaramelized. I NEED to make this again. Also, this picture is really not showing the massiveness of this dish. Just believe me when I say it was huge, and I left this meal STUFFED.

Finally, a quite uniquely delicious dish.

thissio lunch mussels

Saganaki traditionally refers to hot cheese, sometimes theatrically flamed. This on the menu was called “mussels saganaki”, but what it really was was mussels, tomato, feta, garlic, herbs, and ouzo (! I actually never got around to drinking ouzo in Greece, but this cafe was actually an ouzeria, so I was glad that I got to at least try it in a recipe). Those simple ingredients, skillfully cooked in that same fab oven--- soooooooooooooooooooooo luscious! The sauce was like CRACK, I was so glad I had that yummy lovely crusty bread to soak it alllllllllll up!

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