Monday, May 18, 2009

Two meals in Athens

Just to let you know, we DID find the restaurant that I so stubbornly wanted to eat at in Athens. And yes, much to my dismay, we DID pass it twice the first day. Ouch.

We found To Kouti, a cute little place with a great patio view of the Acropolis, without any drama this time. To Kouti means "the box" in Greek, and it is a tiny box-like restaurant. I was taken with the view and the menu--each menu is inscribed inside a different children's book. Some of the books are Greek, some are English, some are German, some are French. It's lots of fun trying to decode a children's book in a language you don't know. It's a good way to pass the time.

ps: my rudimentary German says that this book is about how everything is good on your birthday, Rosi!! And you gotta love that overbite.

Another good way to pass the time is to drink wine on the patio and watch hordes of people walk by because it's Sunday, which means it's market day. On Sundays there's a huge open-air flea market smack in the middle of the Monastiraki district, and we saw all kinds of swindlers and tourists and peddlers and gypsy-looking people.

There were little kids no older than Miss D. darting about, selling little packets of Kleenex or boxes of matches. There were some very persistent and annoying street musicians just dying to give you a serenade. There were clusters of African men hawking VERY fake looking Louis Vuitton bags. My favorite was a little old man, very stoop-shouldered, pushing a huge music box down the street on 4 wheels. He turned an old fashioned looking crank on the side and it played tinkly little notes. I am still wicked pissed that we failed to get a photo of him.

We needed the diversion, because the service at To Kouti is quite, um, leisurely. But it was a gorgeous day and we gazed at the Acropolis and smiled at the children and drank wine. Not a bad way to spend 2 or 3 hours. Plus, the food, when we eventually got it, was very good.

They bring bread to the table in little boxes (of course!) and it comes with a yummy, subtly spiced fava bean dip. Because the tomatoes in Greece are sooooo good, I got both tabbouleh and Greek salad and both tasted fresh and herbaceous and delectable.

We also got meatballs, which (sorry hubby) came over a bed of more Greek salad. The meatballs were flavorful and so tender that they melted in your mouth. And they weren't deep fried, like a lot of the meatballs in Greece are, so I felt rather virtuous.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the market and exploring the ruins of the Ancient Agora and we got lost a lot, but that was okay. We definitely walked off lunch.

Greeks eat dinner late, as do many people in warm climates. Restaurants don't really even start to get hopping until 9pm and many are open until 2am. We strolled into Daphne's Restaurant around 9:45pm and it wasn't that full; it was buzzing when we left.

Daphne's has gotten lots of good press in the guidebooks and in the hotels, so I wanted to eat there. Plus, it's got one of the best names in the world--how could I resist?

We had a delicious starter of eggplant salad ("good" eggplant, naturally) spread on warm bread, and shrimp "Saganaki" (shrimp in a sauce of tomato, ouzo and feta cheese).

For an entree, my husband ordered...rabbit. To be fair, Daphne's is well known for their rabbit, but still. He wanted to eat Thumper? Weird!

Now don't ask me why I don't think it's weird to eat cow or fish or chicken. I know I should be an equal-opportunity carnivore, but I'm not. I think it's weird to eat rabbit. Especially rabbit still on the bone, which gives me the willies just thinking about it.

I had to poke fun at my husband while we waited for our food, so I reminded him of that old episode of Bugs Bunny where the king keeps yelling at the cook, "Where's my hassenpfeffer?" And the king never gets it, of course, because Bugs Bunny is far too smart to end up as someone's dinner.

The rabbit came in a wine sauce that they called "Mavrodaphne" sauce and it's a delicately spiced dish that, my husband assured me, was very good. I had a lovely piece of fish.

Of course we got lost on our way home and had a nice hour walk trying to find out hotel. Cardio, man! It was a peaceful evening for me (eg: slept like the dead) but when I woke up, my sweet hubby was kind of sweaty and glassy eyed.

"I had three crazy-ass dreams in a row," he said.

I live for this stuff. I made him tell me about them all. They were all VERY odd, but the weirdest one involved Sebastian Bach , the lead singer from a very hair-band group called Skid Row (and my husband hates hair bands). Sebastian was following my husband around the world in the dream, crying about his lack of job opportunities.

"Where the heck did that dream come from?" I said.

"Hell if I know," he said, but his eyes were still bugging around in his head.

"Maybe you just weren't meant to eat Hassenpfeffer," I said.

"Revenge of the Hassenpfeffer...sounds like a bad movie," he replied. "I'm not eating it ever again. I don't need any hair band dudes in my dreams again. Even IF they need my help getting employed."


  1. Um, yeahh.... I just licked my computer screen. I am so jealous. And HUNGRY!

  2. LOL too cute! My dh doesn't have hair like Sebastian but needs a job, think your dh can help him out, LOL

  3. Hi- Your stories of Greece bring back memories!
    I use to work in a cheesy night club in Crete called the Cinema club. I'd come out sounding like a drag queen most nights- lovin' my 20's!
    I am glad I found your blog it is really entertaining, I am following with interest.
    P.s I am also a rabbit lover (to eat) but hubby's dreams are making me think again)

  4. Hi Camilla and Amy! Camilla, how did you manage to work in Crete? How incredible!

    Amy, have you seen my hubby (the one with the shaved head :) ) He can't help Mark out with the hair.

    Kathy, I apologize for posting those photos when you are on a diet. That was not nice. But it's salad, at least?

  5. I am so hungry right now...especially after the inadequate dinner I had tonight!

  6. The first time my mom served rabbit, I cried, "I will not eat Thumper!"

    Damn, everything else sounds good. Must go to Greece.