In Bizarre Foods Athens, part of the Delicious Destinations series featuring Andrew Zimmern, the host and his crew visited numerous restaurants in the city, showcasing a variety of unique and delicious dishes. Here is a convenient list of all the addresses and dishes highlighted in this exciting exploration of Athens’s food scene.
Gyros and souvlaki are dishes of hand-selected roasted or
grilled pork, beef or lamb stuffed in fresh, warm, chewy and tasty flatbread. Vegetables,
and tangy herb and garlic spiked yogurt sauce are stuffed into the bread, along
with the meat. The difference between gyros and souvlaki is the manner of
cooking meat. Souvlaki is prepared through grilling skewered cubes of meat over
an open flame. To make gyros, long strips of meat are stacked on a vertical
rotisserie that turns slowly in front of the heat.
Bairaktaris Taverna is known for its gyros and souvlaki all
over Athens. It serves gyros and souvlaki dressed with tangy tzatziki, onions,
grilled peppers and blistered tomatoes.
DISH – Loukoumades
WHAT IS IT?
Loukoumades are traditional Greek balls of dough generally
served warm, soaked in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. The dough is made of
flour, water and yeast. It is then
cooked in oil to be served as dessert.
Krinos Bakery offers loukoumades with a twist – theirs are ring shaped. The ring shape allows the dough to cook more evenly than the balls. They allow customers to choose their own toppings: anything from honey, nuts, ice cream, caramel, chocolate – whatever their customers prefer.
ANDREW ZIMMERN ATHENS DISH – Spanakopita
WHAT IS IT?
Spanakopita is a savory Greek pie, made with tangy spinach
and feta filling, and sheets of flaky phyllo dough. To make the phyllo, flour
is mixed with water, salt, olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. It is then
rolled and stretched repeatedly to make the dough “alive”. Phyllo, spinach,
salt, olive oil and feta cheese are then layered. It takes 5 sheets of phyllo
to make a serving of spanakopita: 3 at the bottom and 2 on top. It is typically
served as a side dish or appetizer.
Thessaloniki Bougatsa in Psirri is one of the few bakeries
in Athens that still make phyllo by hand.
ANDREW ZIMMERN ATHENS DISH – Koulouri
WHAT IS IT?
Koulouri is a popular on-the-go breakfast in Athens. These
bread rings are made through mixing flour, yeast, fresh butter, salt, anise,
olive oil, and sugar. The resulting dough is twisted and dipped in lemon water.
The rings are then coated with sesame seeds before they go into the oven.
Pnyka is one of the bakeries in Athens that supply koulouri
to transient vendors found on street corners in Athens. The bakery was founded
over 40 years ago and still uses equipment from the 19th century to
mill its own flour. Its mill houses stones from the island of Naxos and is used
up to this day to grind whole wheat grains into flour. Pnyka uses sweet,
natural honey instead of sugar in its koulouri.
DELICIOUS DESTINATIONS ATHENS DISH – Dolmades
WHAT IS IT?
Dolmades are bundles of grape leaves stuffed with rice,
herbs, onion and minced meat. The leaves are traditionally hand-rolled, but
these days, it is not uncommon to see canned dolmades being served in Greek
Taverna Louizidis continues to serve hand-rolled dolmades.
Mama Athena, its 85-year old founder, can be seen in the middle of the
restaurant, singing, laughing and rolling up to a thousand dolmades a week.
The world famous Greek yogurt is simply yogurt in Athens. It
is made through filtering milk and warming it to 194⁰F then allowing it to cool
for about an hour. Live cultures are then added. The live cultures convert milk
sugars into lactic acid, thickening the yogurt and giving it its characteristic
Stani, opened in 1931, is the only dairy bar left in Athens. It makes its yogurt from 95% sheep’s milk and uses live cultures derived from the first batch from 1949. It serves generous portions of yogurt to its customers the traditional way, topped with honey and walnuts.
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