Monday, August 15, 2011

Going Greek - Kandouni's in Oia

Our hotel in Oia was the Aethrio Hotel, but "hotel" in Santorini means it had 18 rooms. The Aethrio was a little like being in a version of the board game Clue. There were 3 entrances/exits, two of which felt like secret passages right up to the main shopping street.

The main entrance was into a "main" back alley of Oia. This alley was a secondary street of the main street and had some shops along it. It also had 2 great restaurants that were less than 100 feet from the main gate. One was Roka's, where we went for mezes (appetizers) and drinks one night. The other was Kandouni's.

DB~ scoped this place out as we were checking in. It had an outdoor, enclosed courtyard with soot marks indicating where the candles were inset to the walls. We passed by it a couple of times at night and it was a really cool scene with the candles lit up.

We made our reservations for 7 pm one of the nights we were there. Here's a little interlude about dining in Europe. You can sort of tell the nationality of people by what time they show up for dinner. The Americans are used to eating at 6 or 7, plus are usually goofed up by jet lag, and are waiting for the places to open at 7 (this was usually us). The Australians are totally goofed up time wise, so they roll in at 7:30 pm. The Spanish are refreshed after their afternoons siestas, so they cruise in at 8 pm. The Germans arrive precisely at 8:30 pm, because everything they do is precise. And finally, when we were leaving our dinner at 9 pm (dinner is 2 hours minimum rush), the French take over the restaurants. Which is ironic since the French are usually the ones being taken over.

After some small talk with our server who was a music student at some school outside of Chicago (not sure if he was an active student or not), we ordered an appetizer of pureed fava beans. Side note 2 - hummus, although associated as Greek, is actually more Middle Eastern but we still thought we would see it. It was rare to see on menus. Saw some pureed eggplant, but it was mostly fava beans. The meze at Kandouni's was excellent.

The piece de resistance, especially for DB~, were our main courses. DB~ has always dined well, even before me, but we jointly "stepped our games" up while together. When we go to these restaurants in Pittsburgh, she enjoys them all and gives good feedback, but for this meal she RAVED about it.

The dish was called Butter Risotto. A healthy portion came out on the plate and was cooked perfectly. If you don't mind the store on risotto it can go sideways on you, but this one was spot on. The flavors associated with it are what won her over. It had some local mushrooms, capers, and peppers that were woven into the risotto. The two things that made it stand out were a mellowed out balsamic drizzle over top of it, plus some grated hard Greek cheese. It wasn't myzathira and I don't have a recollection of what is was. There is chance, because Kandouni prides itself on being a fusion style, is that it was an Asiago grated cheese.

DB~ called it the best meal of her life. Even now, 3 weeks removed from it, she still goes into a trance like state when she recalls it.

As for me, I went with a pork steak wrapped in bacon. I also had a balsamic blended glaze on the steak which accented the perfect temperature and composition of the meat. It was a tenderloin, which is my kryptonite when I see it on a menu, but rather a "steak" cut. It was paired with a whipped potato mix, sprinkled with some peppercorns, plus a wilted greens mix.

Since we were 1 of 3 tables occupied at our dining slot (see above), we were able to talk with the owner quite a bit. He was a younger man, possibly late 30's, named Panos. It was great to get some insight from him about life on Oia. He really had no use for going to the mainland of Greece, especially the "smog filled and polluted" town of Athens. He had some friends that moved to the "big" city of Fira, which is the capital of the island and not that much bigger ultimately, but he was very content with his life in the village of Oia. He had everything he needs there.

DB~ and I were wondering about that part. There isn't a super market on Santorini, as you will later see we drove the whole island on our last day, but there also aren't a lot of markets per se. They have a lot of little corner pharmacies here and there, but we didn't see a ton of markets where locals would shop for rice, fish, and meat. We were a little stumped on how people get things on this island.

There are so many food type posts I want to post, so I think the next post will be about our "food porn" night out in Oia.

1 comment:

  1. The "food porn" isn't going to involve any adult sized litter box requests, I trust?