A Lunch in Athens…


By the third day in a new city, the frenetic tourist activity levels typically associated with days 1 and 2 starts to die down. We no longer feel compelled to do as much as we humanly can in each 24 hour period. An hour at this museum, a languid walk through a park, a little window shopping and a totally unstructured late lunch at a neighborhood taverna, watching the pedestrians go by… Knowing we had another 5 days in town, we quickly succumbed to a more relaxed pace of life. Even the food selection is less intense, we order by feel or desire, and in this case, no distinction between appetizers and main courses. We also order more judiciously, without wanting to taste the entire menu. At this lunch, we wipe out every single morsel of food between the three of us… To start, we had an utterly superb roasted eggplant salad. I believe it also had roasted red capsicum or bell peppers mashed along with it. The eggplant was denser than our watery versions here in manila, and I wonder if these were slow-baked eggplants rather than grill roasted eggplants… that way, the moisture would evaporate over a longer period and the remaining pulp would be more substantial than not. A very generous addition of terrific olive oil, and a whole loaf of crusty bread, and life was good indeed…


The owners of the taverna suggested we order the fried cheese, served with toasted sesame seeds and a wedge of lime or green lemon. It was surprisingly good. Crisp on the edges and slightly chewy in some parts. I would like to learn how to do this. I hope I find a recipe for this. And the lime juice was the perfect complement to the salty cheese. Also terrific with bread…


We tried Greek salads or tomato salads at nearly every meal we had in Greece, and frankly, were never disappointed with what arrived at our table. This version had some pickled mild green peppers and some olives and that wonderful slab of goat cheese…


And finally, we had some meat and potatoes, in the form of little patties, I think made with pork and chickpeas that were grilled. Their texture was unlike normal little hamburgers or pork patties, dry and lighter than usual. The large home-style fries were substantial and laden with olive oil. Again, the spritz of lemon or lime a refreshing flavor highlight to the dish. We lingered at this lunch, savored every morsel, wiped serving dishes clean with the last remaining bits of bread. And at some Euro 20-25 for three people, this was the kind of lunch time eating we would do for most of the rest of our visit…

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13 Responses

  1. There is so much truth in what you observed about tightly wound up first few days of any vacation. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the concept of guided tours where they herd you from one tourist trap to the next. And also why a people who thrive on lovely nutritious food such as you presented above would almost corner the traffic in the worst quick meals in North America.

  2. Hej Marketman!
    May I hazard a guess that the meat patties were made of lamb, as you were unsure what the meat was? Sometimes minced lamb could be deceptively so mild in flavour that it could easily pass for pork. And also in southern Europe, pork meat is sometimes more expensive than lamb meat.

    Mr. Apicio, there are guided tours that are value for money, although one has to be selective indeed and perhaps pay a bit more. I had been on a recent whole day wine tour in Bordeaux and it was such a well-guided, relaxed (a number of wine-tasting sessions helped) tour of the Medoc region that my faith in guided tours has been restored.

  3. I will bring you cheeses from Titan next week, including one for frying or grilling (had that at a surprise party for a Greek friend, Kathy, last weekend) and it was good. Also grilled Greek sausages were very good.

  4. Talking about cheese……does anyone know where we can get rennet (in powder or tablet form) in manila?

    I check with UPLB and they only have it in liquid form, but the couriers wont accept it for shipment.

  5. the Haloumi or Haloum cheese ( which is made from goat milk) will be excellent for fryimg or even grilling. Its available here under the Lemnos brand. Perhaps there might be another brand also available in Santis which i think might be imported from Cyprus. That lunch looked delish!

  6. will get back to you.. i will tell you more about those patties. i do that all the time and never fails…just bit busy

  7. the roasted eggplant in your picture looks so delicious! i’ve planted a lot of eggplants in my garden. they’re loaded with flowers and i am hoping to harvest by the end of july. nothing like freshly picked eggplants fom the garden! aside from my usual eggplant recipes, i will try to cook the greek style roasted eggplants. thanks for giving me this idea, mm….

  8. Again, the post MM, really makes me hungry, thanks!!! The eggplant dish seems easy to make, I’ll try to make my version based on the ingredients you suggested.

  9. Good morning Market Man!=)

    All I could say was “aaaaahhhhhhhh!” while reading your description of the eggplant salad. I can taste it in my mouth even by just reading.=)

    Keep the posts on Greek food coming. I would not mind salavating, as I am always educated by your posts.

  10. Hello! I’ve been a lurker on your site for some months now, but this post made me come out of the shadows. I’m making my way to Greece next year and now you’ve whet my appetite, in more ways than one! Thank you for all your food tales. I gobble them up with gusto. :)

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