"Robyn, you need to take a picture of that sign!"
The sign in question that Lauren was referring to touted the mouthwatering offerings of baby lamb, baby goat, and baby pig. All babies, all the time.
I wasn't planning on whipping out my camera in the drizzling rain while on our way to Taverna Kyclades to meet up with Tristan for lunch, but it's not every day you read an awning that uses the word "BABY" so prolifically in relation to food. And you know how amusing the word "baby" is. Very amusing.
I will spare you a photo of what was hanging in the window, mostly because I didn't take one. The window was too fogged up to take a clear photo, but the image of the bulging blue eyes of whatever skinned animal that was hanging, its full length and pink meatiness displayed to passersby, is burned into my skull.
And then we dug into a delicious Greek meal!
As soon as Lauren, Jones, Tristan and I sat down to lunch at Taverna Kyclades, we were presented with two large logs of bread. Toasted. Sprinkled with sesame seeds. Drizzled in olive oil. And sitting in a pool of more olive oil. One bite of the warm, soft, thinly-crusted bread made me wonder why I had never before come across this obviously superior way of serving bread. This is the way it should be: pre-soaked in fat.
If you finish the bread, they'll automatically replenish your table with even more stomach-stuffing carbs. Let that be a warning to you. Or something to strive for.
"What's horta?" asked Tristan. He had his eyes on the salmon steak lunch special that came with either rice, lemon potatoes, or horta.
"You could ask what it is," I suggested.
"NO, LET'S JUST ORDER IT!!!"
"Are you su-"
His eyes lit up with glee, as they tend to do when he gets excited. Tristan isn't 100% human; he is partially made up of candy and Lite-Brites. These components become apparent in his glee-filled states.
So it turns out horta is a pile of something green and leafy. We couldn't tell exactly what kind of green leafy substance it was, but it definitely tasted grassy. Not really bitter, but an approximation of what I would imagine a fistful of lawn would taste like. I didn't love it, nor hate it.
The thick salmon steak was simply cooked with little seasoning, which is my favorite form of salmon and pretty much the same way my mom cooked it while I was growing up. Moist, tender, sweet, fatty goodness—I wouldn't ask for anything more.
I ordered the saganaki (fried cheese) lunch special with the intention of balancing out the nutrients (or lack of) with bits of Tristan's salmon and greenery. In the end, I nearly OD-ed on the cheese—thick, rectangular slabs of salty cheese, generously battered and deep-fried—and even with Tristan's help, it was too much food. Of course, it tasted great—like five fried mozzarella sticks in one—I just couldn't get it all into my belly. My stomach appears to stop digestion when faced with gratuitous amounts of melty, gooey cheese. Thank god it came with a salad of lettuce, cucumbers, raw onions, and tomato chunks to make me feel mildly healthy as I swallowed mouthfuls of coagulated milk.
I liked Jones' fried calamari, which doesn't really say anything since I almost always love fried calamari, assuming it's not tough and rubbery. This was...not tough or rubbery, just good ol' tender rings of lightly breaded, deep-fried squid. In all my experiences of eating squid, this is the only way to make it taste good. I probably don't like squid; I just want the fried bits.
His fried calamari were accompanied by large wedges of lemon potatoes, or "potatoes injected with lemon juice." Seriously lemony.
I didn't try Lauren's grilled shrimp, but I think she liked it. Because she kept eating it. That tends to be an accurate sign of palatability.
On the way to Taverna Kyclades we had passed Martha's Country Bakery, which aside from exuding a warm visual presence also blasted us with the potent aromas of "baked" and "sugary." And this was from across the street. If that wasn't enough reason to go in, it also got an enthusiastic "GO THERE, YOU WILL LOVE IT!" from my very food-minded friend, Carol. (I should also mention that Taverna Kyclades was recommended by my other uber food-minded friend, Joyce! Fooding is a lot easier to plan when you have people who will do it for you.) Yummy smells and personal recommendations tend to result in good times.
In this case, the good times came in the form of "baked goods overload."
There were cookies.
There were cakes.
And adorable cupcakes.
And scones, and muffins, and breads, and tarts, and oh my god why can't I live here?
While I was tempted by the carrot cake bathed in an angelic halo of light, I sprung for the dainty pistachio cupcake. I can't recall whether the frosting possessed much pistachio flavor (a smidgen, at least, in addition to the "green"), but the cupcake itself was exceptional. Martha's cupcake had that perfect combination of sweet, moist, light, fluffy, non-crumbly, buttery, and vanilla-tinged flavor going on, my favorite part of which was the tender crumb that didn't fall apart with every bite and shower cake bits onto my lap. And although I felt like the smooth sugar-loaded frosting shaved away my tooth enamel with every bite, I still enjoyed it. (The frosting, not the sensation that my teeth were writhing in pain. Not that the cupcake wasn't worth the sacrifice of potential tooth decay—it totally was.)
Tristan highly approved of his spinach pie. Having skipped trying the spinach part, I at least approved of the phyllo dough portion, which I could pick off the pie in crispy sheets of butter-soaked goodness.
- Tristan replenishes his caffeine levels. Lauren ate an M&M cookie. And I probably wanted another cupcake, but that would've been overkill.
If the world would just saturate itself with bakeries like Martha's Country Bakery, I'm pretty sure we could wipe out depression and melancholy.