The Weekly Whisk - 10/18/19

Musings from a foodie…

There are lots of reasons for travel to Greece.  We try to go there at least once a year.  Fabulous culture, fabulous people and fabulous history.  Our most recent trip took us up to Meteora – a region in the north central portion of the Greek mainland.  The geology is fascinating and I’m still unsure exactly how the peaks were created.  But, long story short, at the beginning of the 11th century, monastic monks came to the area and started living in caves in these up-thrusting pinnacles on the edge of the Thessaly valley – a flat land area that extends to the Aegean Sea.  These same monks eventually gravitated to the tops of the pinnacles and created monasteries that were literally located upwards of 1,000 feet above the floor of the valley and could only be reached by ropes and ladders.  Following World War II and the civil war, the area returned to its civil roots and now is the second most sought tourist attraction in Greece after the Parthenon with more than 3 million visitors per year.  And, once you see them, you understand.  So, travel to Meteora is an experience to behold and one that should be in your bucket list. 

There are two small communities that huddle near the bottom of the pinnacles.  One is Kalambaka, a town of about 12,000 that hustles and bustles.  To satiate the soul, there are many tavernas in the area.  I got several recommendations but the one constant for a “You’ve-got-to-check-it-out” restaurant was Taverna Gardenia [* * * * ]. The Plakias Brothers run the place and do an outstanding job.  Not only is the place friendly but the food is Greek through and through.  During our most recent trip we were on a Souvlaki hunt.  We opted for Chicken Souvlaki which was cooked perfectly.  We added an order of meatballs which were special because of the mixture of finely diced mint mixed in the meatball.  The tomato sauce was more-or-less pure Italian :-)  .  And, what Greek lunch would be sufficient without Tzatziki, grilled saganaki cheese and a tomato-onion salad dressed with olive oil and salt (yes, that’s it – a “perfect” olive oil is the trick).  Following lunch, they surprised us with Greek milk cake made with semolina flour and sweetened with honey.  The best part was the final of Karathaki (the fruit surrounding the walnut), Kadoni (a Greek fruit that I could not figure out); and, Viceno (dark cherries) – all having been marinated in a sweetened sauce for a fair amount of time.  At €59.00 (or, $64.95) – the price for a very filling luncheon for four was exceptional.

As I said, there are lots of options for food throughout Greece.  In the fact, the night before, we stopped at a Gyros walk-in place for dinner at €7.00 (= $7.71) for two. Again, stuffed – what a deal.  McDonalds, watch out!!  So, if you head to Meteora try Taverna Gardenia – Kastraki (no need for an address – just head to the town square) – +30 24320 22504 –  The ambiance, the friendliness, the service are exceptional – and, all of that is on top of the Greekness!  Good luck…  PS – save time for the monasteries… We’re headed to Egypt tomorrow so the next recommendations are likely to come from somewhere inside the ancient land.  As always, more later…

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