Κυριακή, 27 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Italian cuisine, thoughts and recipes.

The previous week due to some personal reason I had lunch out of my house 2 days in a row. Since I was near the north suburbs of Athens I decided to visit 2 wine restaurants I always wanted to try nearby. I am not going to go for a full review since I tried only 1 dish out each restaurant but you will get the point.
First one was Whispers of wine in which I had a nice Orange sauce Salmon filet with a fairly priced glass of Chilean Sauvignon blanc. It was a really small nicely decorated wine restaurant in which I will certainly return one day to taste more dishes. The main reason for my post is Dal professore, from which I was totally disappointed. First of all when you have such a small wine list you can’t be missing my first 3 choices! The waiter was keep coming back telling me that they run out of this wine while the list had only one rose and even this was sold out! On the other hand someone needs to explain me why the prices are so ridiculous for the daily food of Italians in Greece. For some strange reason Italian cuisine is considered luxury. You can’t set the price for an average pizza over 15 euros!!!
 Salmon Fillet at Whispers of wine
pizza at "Dal Professore"

That being said I decided to prepare an Italian dinner on my own this Saturday and give you the recipes because restaurants need to understand that they should offer something better then what you can cook at home in these days. The menu was
Linguini with Hazelnut Pesto wine: Tenuta Cocci Grifoni 100% Passerina
Pizza Margherita wine: Villa di Monte Chianti

Both dishes ended up good and if you follow the recipes you will see yourself it is very easy to prepare something really tasty at home. The wines in the dinner was a white from 100% Passerina which is mainly planted in Piceno and matched nicely the pasta. The "Pizza" wine was a chianti from Villa di monte which was simply amazing! Sagniovese at its best!

Linguini with Hazelnut Pesto
400 gr Linguini De Cecco
80 gr Grated parmigiano Reggiano
100 gr Hazelnuts
100 gr extra virgin olive oil
Few fresh estragon leaves
2 toast breads soaked in milk
Few flakes of smoked salt
Lime pepper

Boil the Linguini for 8 minutes in salted water. In the meantime put in the blender 70 gr of hazelnut plus all the other ingredients and blend until you get a creamy sauce.
Keep a spoon from the water that you boiled the pasta, put it in the pot together with the sauce and the linguini and mix it. Serve with some extra grated parmesan, the remaining hazelnuts and a couple leaves of estragon for décor.

Pizza Margherita (2 pieces)

Pizza dough:
4 cups of flour
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 yeast sachets
1 ½ cup of lukewarm water
2 t.s sugar
1 t.s salt

1 Barilla napoletana sauce
250 gr mozzarella di bufalla
Extra virgin olive oil

We mix the yeast sachets with the sugar in a bowl, add ½ cup of lukewarm water and leave it for 5 minutes. We add the flour, salt, remaining water, ¼ cup of Olive and kneed well until the dough doesn’t stick in our hands (we add flour if needed).
We put the remaining olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel and leave it for one hour in a warm place. We kneed well again separate the dough in 2 pieces and cover the bowl again with the towel for 30 more minutes. 

Σάββατο, 12 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Sale & Pepe, North Italian culinary ambassador

Sale & pepe is the Italian restaurant of sommelier Ivan Ottaviani at the area of kolonaki in the center of Athens. Located by the hills of Lycabetus in a very narrow alley this is certainly a restaurant that you need to search a lot to find it. My first good impression was the beautiful decoration which travels you to south tirol in the borders of Italy and Austria. Wooden walls, chairs and tables with a mix of style between a typical North Italian trattoria and Austrian stuba. Second good impression was the wine list, the biggest I have ever seen! The list had at least 100 pages and it was mainly focused in the old world with prices starting from 25 Euros a bottle and ending to chateau petrus… The Greek vineyard was represented by all regions and there were also options from older vintages. Thumps up also for the amazing wine glasses as they are an important part when you want be a considered a serious wine restaurant.  The only reason not to give a 10 of out 10 in this wine list is the prices which I believe should be reconsidered. I decided to go with an Italian wine as I strongly believe in the regional match of wine and food.  The wine was a 2009 Fattoria Zerbina Ceregio Sagniovese and It was love at first smell! Color was ruby red while the nose was full of wild berry. The tannins were pleasingly dry, as much as I like them to be, despite the young age of the wine and finish was long.
Mr Ottaviani kindly offered us some Pumpkin gnocchi while we waited for the first course which was a fennel soufflé that I enjoyed very much.  My main course was an Arrosto made of Chianina beef. Chianina is an Italian breed of cattle and it is used for the famous bisteca alla fiorentina. The meat was cut and grilled in very thick slices but it was a bit more cooked then I wanted it. The chocolate fondant with orange sorbet was the prefect way to end this dinner.
What I should mention in the first place is that we used a coupon for 50% discount on the dishes which in the end brought a very reasonable amount of the money to pay. The standard menu prices though come from another period of Greece before crisis. I can accept such prices for a restaurant that has something new to offer but sale & pepe is a typical north |Italian trattoria and that’s how they should charge the customers. Mr Ottaviani who is a real gentleman should think twice about the prices if he wants to have more then 3 tables on a Saturday night.

Cuisine: 6/10
Wine List: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 10/10

Δευτέρα, 7 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Vezene = Gastronomic paradise

As far as gastronomy is concerned 2013 started  the perfect way for me. Lately I was reading more and more articles about a restaurant that among other things serves wagyu beef. Wagyu (literally Japanese cow) refers to several breeds of cattle, the most famous of which is genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its marbling characteristics and quality, and commands a high price. In several areas of Japan, beef is shipped with area names. Some examples are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef. Being my self a huge cattle meat fan it was a matter of time before I book a table there and try this breed.
I called 2 days before the day we wanted to go and the restaurant was already booked for the early shift. We managed to get a table at 22:30, which lately I try to avoid as I am having issues to digest. I was eagerly waiting for my date with Wagyu though that i decided to put aside this fact. When we arrived the first thing that i immediately appreciated was the big sized table as the size of it is a big factor for me to enjoy my dinner. The menu is small but has lots of different types of food that can please almost everyone. The wine list on the other hand, from my point of view, lucks choices up to 40 euro. With Greek winemakers dropping so rapidly their prices due to the crisis i expected more choices at the area of 25 to 40 euro a bottle.
Anyway the main attraction was the food there so let’s start with it. I tried 3 different dishes. The truffle fries was potato chips fried in truffle oil with parmesan on top and the result was astonishing. Pizza Margherita with cherry tomatoes and rucola was simply the best pizza I have eaten in Greece and way better then many I had in Italy the past years. The materials were top quality and the dough was crispy and perfectly thick. For the end I kept the best of course. Wagyu flat iron steak medium rare cooked is the best dish I ever had in my life! Sometimes you realize how difficult it is to describe something with words, every bite was like heaven. The meat was perfectly grilled, it was juicy and almost melting inside my mouth like butter, while the taste of the meat itself defines for me perfection. Now i just can’t wait for the next time i will be there to try more dishes, Vezene is the best restaurant in Athens and they just made a new loyal customer.
Cuisine: 9/10
Wine List: 6/10
Service: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10

more info: www.vezene.gr


Here i am, finally making a blog about the things i love more in life. "Eyzwisths" is a Greek word meaning someone who loves to have a good life. What makes life good? In my occassion it is Food, wine and Travelling. I would like to share with you my cookings, the restaurants i dined in and impressed me or dissapointed me, wines i loved and last but not least places i visited around the globe worth checking out. 
Stay tuned and always remember... Life is short to drink bad wine