Your time has come. Let us regale in all that is food with the wonderful folks of Culinary Backstreets - our absolutely favorite food tour company. This was the third one we did and it did not disappoint. It is not just he food which is always copious, delicious, and truly local. It is the depth of history, culture, society that is a part of each of these presentations. This walk while scheduled for 5 hours actually went 7! You definitely got your money's worth.
So let's get started!
They make true milk products and handmade pastries
Everything here is 'real' Greek yogurt
Everything else in the world is 'Greek style' yogurt
And they make pastries with hand rolled phyllo which is thicker than machine rolled so they use fewer layers when the produce their products
Ready for the tasting
Spanokopita and a pastry with a custard made from milk and semolina
The Spanokopita was very good. Although the pastry was thicker it was very crisp and the filling was dominated by the spinach not cheese
On the right is Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts
On the left is a milk product that is like super cream with honey on it
Next stop a place that makes only one thing
A deep fried treat from Crete
They are fried to order and then slipped into a sugar syrup
Somehow the sugar syrup is absorbed but the outside stays crisp
You see these all over town
Yellow kiosks selling a bagel type bread with sesame seeds on them
An architectural interlude
This tour was about hidden gems in the main downtown area
This is part of the state bank building complex
But underneath it because there is ALWAYS history underneath everything in Athens
Back to the food
Into the major market in town
There are nothing but butchers here
At least a hundred of them
They all specialize in one kind of animal
Pork butchers, lamb butchers, beef butchers, poultry butchers, etc.
Tour de Heads
(Our guide, Constantine, told us the fur is on because in the unscrupulous days, people would substitute cat.
On to the Seafood area
Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads, fish heads fish heads eat them up YUM!
Given how much Wife and I love fish
How difficult it is to get good fish in Albuquerque (near impossible)
It is torture to go through this area and see the wonderful product
Next stop a hole in the wall snack place for workers in the market
You can get a shot of booze or a beer and snack plate for about 6 dollars
Prepping an order - Father and daughter perhaps?
The plate consisted of some batons of bread, some pickled peppers, some olives, a small sausage, some fried cheese, a tomato slice and a patty made of lamb meat
A traditional Greek style coffee roaster
Which also makes a variety of poached fruit including baby eggplant!
They have a cafe next door which produces the coffee by cooking it in tiny copper pots over wood fired hot sand! We saw this method promoted in Jordan as well
Coffee and the poached baby eggplant
Mister Hand calls forth fruit and vegetables
A variety of wild local greens amidst the lettuces
Beans and pulses
Everything fruit like including rose hips
A cornucopia of dried vegetables
You soak them, stuff them with rice and meat filling and cook them
Team Food Tour Culinary Backstreets Athens
Constantine, Julie from California (though she lived in Corralles NM once!) and Wife
Surely your appetite is just stimulated now and you are ready to really eat right?
We go to cured meat and cheese
This area is dominated by Armenians
A selection of Greek cheeses
They are all sheep or goat's milk or combination but almost never cow
Real Feta can only come from certain parts of Greece and has to be made with the sheep/goat milk combination
Possibly the best stuffed grapes ever
The leaves are fresh, not cured in vinegar
The rice had a distinct and dominant flavor
A plate with three kinds of cured meat and three kinds of cheese along with twice cooked bread (kind of like non-sweet bisccotti)
Let's take an Orthodox art break!
"I disapprove of this focus on the profane act of food consumption"
And yet the angel comes down and gives the Virgin her itinerary for her food tour
The Patron Saint of Food Coma
Hey! Look up there!
We still ARE in Athens
Okay the snacking part of our tour is over
Now for real eating
First a seafood place
Fresh anchovies marinated in lemon
Yellow peas cooked flavored with onion, olive oil and herbs
Fresh seasonal greens
Boiled 10 minutes
Flavored with olive oil and lemon
Grilled Squid or cuttlefish
I've noticed over many, many years that most people other than Anglo-Saxon cultures like food with flavor over soft texture. This is and example. Not as rubbery as some squid I've had but not tender but great flavor
Feta cheese baked with tomatoes
Ah, our guide sees we are still a little wan from lack of food
On to souvlaki
Thought I couldn't eat any more
I finished it it was so good
The balance of meat flavor, the sauce that did not over power, just the right amount of onion and tomato and grilled pita that was a major component not just there to hold it together
I'd like to say we didn't eat for a day but as you will see in the next post that is not the truth!