GREEK TREATS PART 2

Of all the lovely restaurants at which we ate in Santorini, one of our favourites was ‘Floga’ in Oia.

Situated at the bottom of steep set of steps (all the steps in Oia are steep, your thighs will be mighty by the end of your trip, don’t even think about taking high heels!) it shares the route that the donkeys use to take goods down to the port. Charming to watch, less charming when you have to follow them down and the donkey clean up man hasn’t appeared yet…

With a small(ish) outside terrace and larger cave style seating area inside, Floga boasts the most spectacular view of the caldera.  Intimate tables laid for 2 are exquisitely set and candles sparkle in the warm night air. Floga is a deeply romantic and, for me, just the right amount of cheesy. Gorgeous waiters beam at you as they pour hearty glasses of wine, smug couples glow in candlelight, surreptitiously taking selfies when they think the others aren’t looking.

We are given the smuggest of the smug tables – right in the middle of the dramatic large centrepiece window, giving the best possible view.

 

Floga view

The view to the right from our Smuggy smug table.

Extra smug points in fact because for everyone else there you are the view. I whisper this gleefully to Mr TGE who rolls his eyes and attempts to refill my wine glass to distract me. A horrified waiter promptly wrestles the bottle from him, aghast that we would even try to lift a finger for ourselves! Each of the waiters wears an earpiece, I assume so the kitchen can tell them the moment the food is cooked to perfection? (I don’t know, maybe they’re listening to The Archers…?) They glide effortlessly between the tightly packed tables with gleaming smiles, like really helpful sharks. They offer delicious things, refill glasses before you realised it was nearly empty (glasses are never allowed to be empty) and are so attentive that at times they risk crossing over into pervasiveness. It’s a narrow line to walk and they mainly succeed in staying on the right side.

Floga wine

Delicious Greek red wine

Romantic ballads play softly in the background and the moon shines brightly, causing ripples of silver light to dance across the ocean. Between the wine, the moonlight, the view, and Mr TGE/gorgeous waiters, I’m misty eyed.  I give myself up to the ambience totally. It’s the kind of place that, if you were so inclined, you could roll your eyes at, but why would you? We drink a delicious hearty red wine and as we gaze into each other’s eyes a familiar tune begins to play…

Mr TGE’s eyes widen in alarm. “Don’t”, he warns, “no seriously don’t”.

“Nobody will mind” I assure him, gathering my skirt in preparation, “they’ll join in!”

“They won’t! This isn’t Mama Mia-”

“-Yes” I continue, “it basically is. We’re in Greece and they’re playing ABBA, they WANT you to stand on the table and sing, they’ll all join in, you watch…”

At which point our main course arrives, Mr TGE breaths again and I have to content myself with singing Super Trooper gently under my breath.

We both ordered Lamb neck in honey, thyme and aged vinsanto sauce served with fresh baked mashed potatoes aromatized with carrot. ‘Aromatized’ I understand from the mash to mean ‘has bits of it in’ and I like it – the mash is creamy and smooth with flecks of carrot throughout.  The lamb is unbelievable, generous in portion and so soft in falls apart. It’s sweet, but not overly, the vinsanto sauce (vinsanto is a Greek desert wine) lifts the dish to another level, giving it both a sharp and sweet bite. I could lick the dish clean if I wasn’t so full. There’s a dramatic curl of pitta bread which is there more for aesthetic affect than taste. Again, it’s a touch that could annoy others but I think is fun.

Floga lamb

The dishes are whisked away and we discuss how entirely full we are and how we can’t possibly order a dessert. Obviously we order the baklava.

I’m a sucker for baklava, I know it’s an obvious thing to order when in Greece and not particularly adventurous – but why fight a classic? Our waiter grins at me when he places the enormous slab in front of us.  “It’s a corner bit” he whispers conspiratorially, “they’re the best bits.” The sweet pastry is delicate, flaky and fantastically nutty. The middle layers were gooey and sweet with honey and a hint of what I think was rosewater. Served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream, we are well and truly stuffed by this point; however, dinner was not quite done…

Baklava

As well as the bill, we are delivered a couple of complimentary drinks, a fairly standard gesture for most of the restaurants in Oia. However, these are not standard glasses… they are smoking, bubbling and billowing dry ice like tiny witches’ cauldrons, particularly effective in the moonlight.  Presented, as everything is, with a flourish it’s a totally unnecessary, super-ostentatious and delightfully fun way to end the night! Again, it’s another trick which I imagine would make some people roll their eyes. I’m not so sure what my Uncle Tim’s (who’s a proper food critic, no seriously, like a real one, he judges pies and everything, you can read his stuff here -https://riponia.wordpress.com) opinion would be. It’s a gimmick for sure, but on a warm spring Santorini night when you’re in a beautiful restaurant shimmering with candlelight, full, happy, ever so smug and slightly tipsy, why not relax and enjoy?

AirBrush_20170505223952

With wonderful (if slightly keen) service, a beautiful view and even better food, Floga was the perfect holiday restaurant.

Advertisements

GREEK TREATS PART 1:

You’re sitting on a balcony; a warm breeze brushes your hair out of your eyes as heat from the afternoon sun blooms through you. You settle more deeply down, legs stretching in the sunshine. The sounds of gentle laughter and chatter reaches you; glasses softly clink and corks pop. You sigh as your shoulders begin to drop, the smell of summer flowers in the air. You take another sip of your gin and tonic, the ice clinking against the glass, cool in your hand. You consider rising, perhaps to move into the hot tub, but why would you? Everything you need is here. You’re warm, you’re full, you’re comfortable and nobody needs you to be doing anything. Your time is your own. You sigh and take another sip, closing your eyes and letting the minutes flutter past like butterflies…

20170503_140404

Well that was my week, how are you all doing? After a manic few weeks Team TGE packed up and sodded everything off for a week in Santorini, the stunning Greek Island famous for its caldera view. What is a caldera, I hear none of you ask? A caldera is a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of a volcano into itself, making it a large, special form of volcanic crater (thanks Wikipedia) and is substantially prettier than that description makes it sound.

IMG-20170512-WA0020

We stayed in Oia which is (I think) the prettiest part of Santorini with the picture postcard views of tumbling white buildings and wonderful sunset views. You also can’t move for outstanding restaurants, in 6 days we only managed a fraction of what the town had to offer and that’s just in Oia! So, in Part 1 of the Greek Adventure, here’s a whistle stop tour of delicious Greek things we ate…

 

IMG-20170512-WA0008

Stuffed squid

Fresh squid stuffed with manouri cheese and tomato. Beautifully tasty and tentacles the right amount of crispy. Oh stop it, you eat calamari don’t you? Mr TGE bravely tried a tentacle and declared it ‘nice’ before sticking very solidly to his Greek salad. Wimp. Served at Skala in Oia. Incidentally this is perfectly placed for people watching while still getting a sea view.

IMG-20170512-WA0015

Soutzoukakia

Original Soutzoukakia served with yellow rice cooked in onion broth, delicious little kebabs of ground meat which are lightly fried then bathed in red wine with herbs and tomato sauce, done in the style of the Greeks from Smyrni. Soutzoukakia was considered an aphrodisiac food usually cooked as a special treat for the groom on weddings and engagements (description supplied by Karma) Served at Karma in Oia.

IMG-20170512-WA0011

Saganaki of dreams

Saganaki with Kefalotyri cheese. This is a traditional Greek dish and although simple BLEW.MY.MIND. It’s essentially pan fried cheese, this was Kefalotyri cheese which tastes a bit like halloumi. It’s deliciously salty and, as it has a high melting point, was crisp on the outside and outrageously gooey in the centre. We were recommended to cut it into smaller chunks and squeeze lemon all over of it, which we dutifully did. They weren’t wrong. I could eat this by the trayful and it was perfectly complimented by the hearty chicken salad and pitta bread loaded with pesto and fresh tomato. It’s the lunch of dreams and served at Pergola in Perissa which is on the opposite side of the island. 

One of our favourite places which had no view to speak of but incredible food and service was Melitini, set a street or so back from the main walking strip that runs through Oia. Because it’s not directly on the caldera and lacks a sea view the prices are incredibly reasonable. I totally forgot to take any actual photos of the lovely mezze that we enjoyed as I was on holiday mode and just ate it, so use your imagination. The star dish was the deceptively simple sounding fried potatoes; first boiled whole, then cubed, rubbed in paprika, oregano and garlic, before being deep fried to a perfect crisp. We demolished them. There are rich, hearty lamb meatballs served with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a Greek Salad of feta, fat ripe tomatoes and local olives, warm pitta served with a pile of fresh creamy tzatziki… it’s Greek food at its best with typical warm Greek service to match.

IMG-20170512-WA0064

Ammoudi Bay at sunset

 

One night, to truly enjoy the sunset we head to Ammoudi Bay at the far tip of Oia. It’s a little fishing port built into the bottom of the caldera and features 4 fish taverns. We opt for the ‘Sunset Tavern’ (well, why not?) and after ordering a litre (I love a place that serves wine by the litre) of the excellent house white wine, we are ushered to the fish counter to choose from the catches of the day. Our eye is drawn to a rather large red snapper and we settle back to our water front seats to watch the sun begin to set. It is a spectacularly beautiful place (though obviously, you pay for the privilege, it’s one of the less budget friendly options) and a wonderfully peaceful place as well. The fish arrived expertly filleted with a range of vegetables on a huge silver platter. Delicately flavoured and incredibly fresh it was gorgeous. We just about have enough room for a slab of baklava for pudding which was the perfect end to a perfect meal. To get back up to Oia you can either take a taxi, a donkey taxi(!) or you can climb the 250 stairs back up the cliff yourself. After big promises of a taxi guess who ended up clambering up those steps, sweating and muttering dark thoughts as Mr TGE sprang up like a little mountain goat miles ahead? Yeah. This Girl.

IMG-20170512-WA0012

Amoudi Bay

 

I can’t end this blog though without mentioning our incredible hotel – The Alta Mare by Andronis. Perfectly situated in the centre of Oia’s walking street it has 10 rooms – each with a hot tub on the balcony and stunning caldera views. Between the fruit platters, glasses of fizz, bottles of wine, cocktails and chocolates we feel pretty thoroughly welcomed. Breakfast is served on our balcony each morning and then we choose between lazing by the infinity pool or asking the reception staff to arrange something lovely like a luxury yacht trip for us. It’s absolutely heavenly and I can’t recommend it highly enough, thank you to the team that looked after us so well.

 

Part 2 coming soon…