Santorini Deliciously Closer Than You Think
Walking towards Santorini (the restaurant, not the island), Mariam Raymone was captivated by the gorgeous design and the sweet aromas that instantly transported her on a culinary trip to this delicious Greek island.
Santorini is all about having your hair in a cute messy bun, wearing a white cotton dress with strappy sandals and John Lennon shades, and a Sylvia Plath book by the sandy beach. Quite picturesque, right? Well, it’s time to snap back to reality and realise you’re broke and enjoying that beautiful Greek island is a far-fetched dream.
I’ve never been to Santorini, but I’ve been to a few other beautiful islands in Greece; however, this restaurant is a bite of Greek heaven. Upon entering, royal blue wooden doors welcomed me with warm stone and whitewashed walls, inspired by the blue dome-topped houses of Santorini. I sat down on the white leather couch and began scanning the menu – my indecisive side took over me.Being in a Greek restaurant, it seemed idiotic of me if I didn’t try their khoriatiki (Greek salad). Served with pita bread that was subtly seasoned with oregano, salt, and sweet paprika, infused with warmth in a little orange basket, the bowl of Greek salad was placed in front of me. Being the salad lover that I am, I noticed the slice of feta cheese resting on top of the freshly cut vegetables; unlike other restaurants, they served it right. I pushed the fork into the feta cheese covered in olive oil and oregano, and it slowly and satisfyingly broke into pieces. The balance of vinegar and olive oil, with the sweetness of the perfectly-cut red tomatoes and cucumbers, were seamless; I paused to relish the flavours. “Several Greek restaurants used to exist years ago in Egypt; they were traditional and authentic, and I wanted to revive that by opening this restaurant,” Owner Eleni Kelesidu told me. I could tell this was only the beginning of my enticing food journey."I am Greek and my mother is a great cook; I believe that we serve a unique array of different platters. We have around 30 or 40 Greek dishes varying from seafood items such as grilled octopus to the traditional moussaka,” she tells me. One of their unique dishes is the Tou Psara – pasta with fresh shrimp, calamari, mussels, and tomato sauce. However, the creativity doesn’t stop there; they prepare fine grilled calamari stuffed with cheese. Bet you never tried that now, did you? I was surprised to learn that moussaka was originally Greek; however, they prepare it slightly different than how we Egyptians do it – they add zucchini, potatoes, ground beef, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, béchamel, and of course the actual eggplant. I was also amazed to know that dolmadakia (vine leaves) also come from Greek origins. Clearly we’ve learned a thing or two from the Greeks. My journey of food tasting finally came to an end with their mirsini: chocolate crème caramel cake. “Most of our clientele are international world travellers, and some who like to be experimental and adventurous, and who like to try different cuisines, which is why they usually come from the other side of town,” Kelesidu reveals. This heavenly dessert was named after Mirsini Lambraki, a celebrity chef and and food TV presenter, who trains their chefs. I took a silver fork and dove into the firm yet fluffy chocolate cake, coated with a layer of smooth crème caramel. I could sense the spongy inside with a layer of crispy chocolate at the bottom. Topped with caramel sauce, I took the first bite and I could instantly sense this delicious treat melting in my mouth. The fusion of the scrumptious base, the cushioned centre, and the creamy top, was the perfect blend of textures capping a pleasantly authentic culinary trip to Greece we won't soon forget.
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