October 4, 2009

The Virgin Traveler: Because it's all about the food.

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Greetings from the Old Port in Chania, Crete! I have been so busy the last few days. Mostly eating the incredible food here. A lot of lamb, feta, goat cheese, olives and yogurt. The thick, creamy, mild Greek yogurt that is so pristine and beautiful, topped with sticky honey or served with tender lamb for dinner.

The first night we were here, we ate at a restaurant on a sidestreet, away from the waterfront, which can be overcrowded with tourists and is like walking through the gauntlet, as the hosts of each restaurant stand out on the sidewalk and try to persuade you to eat their food. "Please, we have very good food." Or like one gentleman: "Please, don't be like the 65 year olds. Come, listen to what I have to say before you walk away, please. You can't just walk off like that." But we did, we walked away like the 65 year olds.

At the restaurant, while watching the musicians that looked like that Tony guy from that dancing with celebrities show, I ordered the fried lamb - I thought it would be an interesting take on fried chicken. But it was more like braised lamb - in olive oil, I think, served with french fries. It was good though, the lamb was incredibly flavorful and fell off the bone and the french fries only got better when sopping up the juices.

The next night we went to a very popular restaurant in Old Town, called Tamam. We got there before the dinner rush (around 9:00 at night) so we were able to get a table easily, though packed against the wall.

They brought us bread and olives and a disk of butter with chives, garlic and pimentos in it. So incredibly delicious. I must remember to make some of that when I get home.

Jen and I ordered a Cretan salad to start, along with some saganaki (fried cheese). The salad had delicious creamy goat cheese on it and potatoes that were boiled in broth or something very flavorful - these potatoes, you can eat on their own, with no dressing, butter or anything. I must figure out how they cook them!

For my main dish, I had stewed lamb over yogurt and served with pita bread and fresh herbs dancing a bit in the sauce on top. This is easily the best meal I've had here, so rich and dense with flavor and heavenly.

Saturday night, we pushed our bedtime and hung out in Old Town, eating dinner at 10:00 and watched the young people head over to the clubs. It is an incredible skill to maneuver in 3-inch heels on cobblestone, but they do it and they don't fall. Even though I did. Yes, flat on my face on the cobblestone, even though I was wearing flats and had not had anything to drink.

But anyway, we sat at a corner table on the waterfront, eating a huge plate of appetizers, including Cretan pies, boiled potatoes, grape leaves, tomatoes, fried eggplant, hummus and tzatziki. We watched a group of kids, dressed in jeans and bejeweled t-shirts from a nearby club get into an argument, yelling, and pushing, but never punching. Police, nowhere to be seen. We were anticipating a big fight, but it never happened. And then, we were tired from all the anticipation and walked back to our apartment around 11:30 and went to bed.

I found a cooking class to take, hopefully this week, at an old Cretan farmhouse outside of town. I'm so excited about the possibility of tasting cheese and olives and cooking Cretan food all day. I have also determined that I'm going to go snorkeling or scuba diving or something. Oh! And also. I'm going to buy some hiking shoes and hike the Samaria Gorge. I know. It seems like I'm a different person, wanting to do all these outdoorsey things. Well maybe I am.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! And I'm glad Tamam turned out to be as good as the reviewers said it was. Sounds like this trip is doing what good travel does: Growing your self. ;-]