Monday, 11 November 2013

Won't Forget The Amnesia Cafe.


Thought I'd write a bit more about the South Aegean, since their cookery demo reminded me of it (oh, and by the way, there are recipes for the dishes here).   I LOVE Greece, and have visited it a lot. I once did a piece on the wine of Santorini, some of whose vineyards are so tiny that their delicious wine doesn't make it to export at all!

Santorini is both tremendously scenic and very touristy, but it still has its share of quaintly named local businesses, such as the "Nemesis Holiday Apartments" and (my favourite) the "Amnesia Cafe."   The island centres on a crater which was left when a volcano blew up, and many houses and hotels are built on the inside of the crater walls, with astounding views.    I stayed in a lovely hotel called "Chromata" which was built into the rock with views out to sea..  


You could sit on the terrace next to the infinity pool (above) and  gaze over a huge expanse of blue to the island of Nea Kameni, on the other side of the crater. When we went over in the boat to explore Nea Kameni, it was incredibly bright and hot. The land was smouldering with yellow sulphur and the sea was remarkable greens and blues. I wouldn't have been surprised if a dragon had slithered round the corner. 


 I still have a bottle of my favourite wine from that Santorini trip. It is called "Kallisti" and I should have drunk it long ago as you see from the state of the label. Perhaps we'll have it at Christmas....




You might remember I went to another South Aegean island, Rhodes, earlier this year. Rhodes is well served with Swedish and Scandi coffee houses, of all things (great cakes in this one,  the "Agora")





 but my favourite culinary "find" there was George and Maria's Falafel House, at 16 Mandilara Street.  George is half Egyptian, and the falafels are made from his Egyptian dad's recipe. Although it's a simple and low priced place, the food is a great mixture of Greek and Arabic, and everyone is as friendly as can be. 

Here is George bringing us tea bags from his store room so we could choose what flavour of tea to have. His wife Maria did most of the cooking, he looked after the guests and large numbers of friends and family who were constantly dropping in  From the outside, the restaurant doesn't look special, but his daughter had painted the place up with charming wall paintings of local scenes and fairytales.  


George+ played old school rebetiko music in the background because he liked it, and some of the customers enjoyed a sing-along.  And here is a photo of a truly delicious vegetarian meal we had at George & Maria's for a very low price. Lovely ingredients, beautifully cooked.   


As for the wine .... we had retsina, which only ever tastes right in Greece and is the best thing I know for creating that "Amnesia Cafe" feeling.    What with the fumes of retsina and the rebetika, we really felt as if we had stepped back into the 1980s and into some remote village taverna.

Here's some rebetiko, in case you don't know what it sounds like.  The singer is the wonderful Glykeria.  I always think this type of music sounds best played at maximum volume, as it would be in a old fashioned taverna, so hit that volume knob...  


And I like this little film of what looks like a fun rebetiko event. 

45 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. Thank you
    A good way to start Monday. I'll dance to the music later in the morning.

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  2. Well, this post is making me incredibly hungry. I long for some sun and falafels right not. Sigh. Not happening. I am stick writing in London!

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  3. Ahhh- this makes me long to go back to the Greek islands. I'm transported back, even now. The food, especially, looks so very good!

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  4. I too, am mad about Greece. Every year we think we'll go somewhere else and then end up going there again. (Unsurprisingly, a lot of my magazine stories have been set there.) We love the food and spend all day planning where to eat!

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  5. I want to teletransport there RIGHT THIS SECOND! So much.
    Another world. Thanks for opening a window.

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  6. It's years since I last went to Greece ... looks like it's time I went back!

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  7. The views, the wine, the food - no wonder you like it there. I don't have a ticket but at least I can check out the recipes on the link you provided.

    Darla

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  8. Seeing this table with lots of dishes and bowls I fell getting hungry, Jenny. I love Greece as well but haven't been to Santorini although been to Crete, very close to it.The first photo is genial!

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  9. I am so pleased I have just eaten otherwise I would again be ravenous. That place looks wonderful and I adore the picture of the side-by-side boats.

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  10. It all sounds like perfection!

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  11. Mmm, that looks like wonderful food. And having just returned from sunny Turkey to gloomy England, I'm missing that part of the world, right now!

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  12. We too have been to Greece a number of times, but never made it to Santorini, a place we'd really like to visit. Have been to Crete and Mykonos and from Mykonos to Delos.

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  13. Oh what a treat especially on a wet grey London day

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  14. What a wonderful summery post, Jenny!
    I love Falafel, but haven't had one in a long time, even though we have several vendors in Ludwigsburg. Somehow it just never occurs to me when I am in town.
    I am emailing the link to this post of yours to my sister. She's been to Santorini herself many years ago, and I know she'll love the first picture with the cat.

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  15. I would love to visit Greece some day!
    The food seems very yummy!
    And love the music too!
    Thanks for sharing.

    ***
    Have a nice week.

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  16. What a great post! I could close my eyes after seeing all your pictures, hearing about your visit, and watching the video and imagine being there watching the musicians and dancers and finding one of the many cats to pet a little. ;)

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  17. The Amnesia Cafe - - what an intriguing name! I've never been to Greece but have always had fantasies about what it would be like. Thank you for transporting us there. The infinity pool is so relaxing - - and that food looks wonderful (what an unusual cheesecake).

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  18. I want those fantastic views. I want that strawberry cheesecake. I want that vegetarian meal. And I want them now!!

    For a moment I thought that was a real bicycle up on the wall there!

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  19. I've been to Greece but I haven't made it to Santorini---yet. But you beautiful pictures make me want to get there in a hurry.

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  20. A young member of the family was on Santorini for his honeymoon....he keeps saying he's tempted to get married every year just to return there.

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  21. Oh Jenny, you are terrific when you talk about Greece! But hear Glykeria from an English blog sounds so outlandishness...Thank you for your great post, really special.
    Wish you have always happy moments to enjoy!

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  22. If there is a heaven and I get there, I hope it looks like Santorini. I spent one beautiful day there but will remember it forever.

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  23. Beautiful memories of a grand place. Greece captured my heart years ago, too.

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  24. You've succeeded in making me hungry! And the music is enough to transport one to Greece immediately, if only in your mind.

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  25. I enjoyed this so much! I'm sitting here in a freezing Tokyo, but just looking at the sunshine makes me feel warmer. Also ... that food? It's to die for. Woman cannot live on rice alone. ;)

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  26. Suddenly I want to go to Santorini, it looks so stunning. I have never been to Greece, but live in hope!

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  27. Great photos of a stunning area. I could quite easily, and comfortably stay at that hotel! Beautiful cat, too....I can but dream! :)

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  28. I have never been to Greece. I r e a l l y want to go. There just isn't enough time in life to do everything. I wonder whether, if I ask nicely, I can have another one to do all the things I haven't done this time?

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  29. Lovely view, great food. Quirky cafe name. Cool! :)

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  30. I always love it when a post from you pops up on my google friend reader! Today it is 11 degree (F) and last night we had our first snow. So stepping into the Aegean is like a little precious treasure this cold morning! I would love to have George's food -- your plate looked wonderful, the music terrific, and I can imagine it smelled to die for! Thanks for the journey!

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  31. You've made me want to go there and eat that food right now!!

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  32. I am so jealous! In the 1990s, I had a chance to teach in practically every country in Europe as part of a study abroad program. When I finally was offered Greece, I had to turn it down due to a prior commitment. I am still disappointed. I have never been there and it looks fantastic! Thanks for the virtual tour.

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  33. It’s a few years since we were in Rhodes but our memories are very pleasant ones. I seem to remember the food was good too.

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  34. Now I'm hungry and thirsty once again, but also feel like dancing, as well! I saw Mikis Theodoradakis (the composer of the soundtrack to "Zorba the Greek" amongst much more) live in concert back in the Seventies; he and his troupe were just fabulous...absolutely fabulous (to coin a phrase or title)!

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  35. Oh My Goodness, what a wonderful post.
    I have always wanted to visit Rhodes.
    The Strawberry cake looks fabulous.

    cheers, parsnip

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  36. I went in a few Amnesia Bars in my youth but never an Amnesia Cafe.

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  37. I dribbled my way through this post Jenny and for the scenery as well as the food!

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  38. That second photo, top to bottom, is postcard material. That dish looks succulent. I enjoyed this post a lot.

    Greetings from London.

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  39. What great comments, and thank you very much. Hmmm, John, I am with you on the Amnesia bars :). Yes Lee, I think Mikis T. made that sound quite popular didn't he. I love to hear it in Greece but these days it is not so common, or at least in Rhodes it wasn't. Well, I guess the place has to move with the times.

    JJ, how frustrating - perhaps the best thing is to go to Greece and make up for the lost time .....

    Thank you so much for your nice comment, as ever, Jeanie. :)

    There are certainly loads of beautiful cats, Rita. Most of them semi wild but they always seem happy and active I took a whole lot of photos of different ones in different settings which I'll post someday.
    Graham, I often wish I had another parallel life too to do the things I want. I suspect most of us do really - I'd visit the "other life" when there was nasty or boring stuff going on in this one. Oh, well, in a way we do have our imaginations at least!

    @Things and Thoughts, I am really sorry I don't know your name, I thought you would have a comment - I love your beautiful Greek blog. . I wouldn't have known about Glykeria except some people who were listening to her in a village told us all about her and then we bought some CDs.

    Wendy, I must check out your blog again to see if you have any links to Greek stories on it. It's a lovely background for stories. I did one once about the island of Chios, which is not a tourist island but extremely beautiful and interesting.

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  40. This lovely post has reminded me why Greece is high on my list of places to visit. By the way I have answered your question about the Buddhas on Travel Tales, thanks for taking time to call by and comment.

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  41. Sunlight, warm breeze, breathtaking color of the sea, old civilization, good wine… have been my image of Greece, and this post tells me I am right. Rebetiko, which is new to me, is another intriguing and fascinating sound other than Portuguese fado. Thank you for this post, Jenny.

    Yoko

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  42. Santo ruin has always been one of my favourite places ever since I once woke up one day on a boat looked out of the window and wondered why there was an island that appeared to be covered in snow. I have never been to Rhodes but it is definitely on the list.

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  43. My husband would love for you to adopt him. He loves to try new foods. Mind you, he is a bit too old to be adopted but he is housebroken.

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  44. What a fabulous post! I would definitely like to visit the Greek Islands sometime soon. Your posts on Rhodes certainly inspired that as did my friend Ola's posts on Chios. And I've always wanted to go to Santorini. That infinity pool looks amazing, as does the green water, but it was the vegetarian platter which impressed me the most. Yum. My favourite type of food.

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