On the Greek island of Lesvos the coffee and the drinks have one thing in common – they’re both strong enough to put hair on (anyone’s) chest. The food is simple, the ingredients top quality, and the pastries are so sweet you get high. The graffiti is political, the sea is so salty that swimmers can float about in it in the sweltering summers.
The week I spent there is now a bit of a distant memory, but this being my first European vacation, I reckon I made a pretty good job of it. As one is supposed to whilst on holiday, we ate daily until near bursting, and when we couldn’y fit in any more to eat we went in search of a beach and a drink.
Phillip’s mom is from Lesvos and we were fortunate enough to try her traditional Greek dishes most nights, followed by some super sweet local pastry. Kleftiko, dolmades, tzatziki, octopus in red wine with clove, sauteed squid, moussaka, okra in tomato sauce, spanakopita, horiatiki, fried courgette flowers, etc were brought along every day. By Wednesday I decided that Phillip’s mom shamed my cooking skills and I seriously considered becoming a librarian, which is what I planned to do with my life before becoming sidetracked by a crayfish somewhere in my teens.
Greek food is simple and reliant on good produce, and Greeks are not into spicing their food heavily (no , thats apparantly what the Turkish do). Lesvos is pretty much a self-sufficient island, and most of the little villages around the island (little as in 40 – 180 inhabitants) are known for some kind of speciality – Phillip’s ancestral village, Lisvori, is known for its bread. We managed to navigate an excuse for a road to obtain some of this bread before siesta – and it’s that good that Ida ate the better half of a loaf on the way to the next village.
Not content with the seafood nirvana I reached on my trip to Lisbon earlier this year, I tried as much as the island had to offer. Every restaurant does octopus in vinegar/red wine, as well as sardines which are served fresh, lightly salted with sea salt, or fried. Red mullet, squid, octopus (meat)balls and of course there’s always the option of choosing a fish from the small displays and having the kitchen grill it for you. Mischa even ordered shark at some stage (well did you know what Galeos Fish meant on a menu), which is served with a kicking skordalia sauce. Enough garlic to keep you healthy for a year.
On our last night we went to a fish restaurant in a village neighbouring Mytilini, owned by a family friend of the Prokopiou’s. Inside the kitchen (!) we were shown a catch of Red Roman that had just arrived, and chose our dinner. Obviously it was roasted to perfection, and filleted into portions tableside. The fish was cooked by someone who knew what they were doing, and the meat, still moist (you can overcook Red Roman quite horribly- at which point the only thing you can do is cry) flaked beautifully off the bones. It was simply served with lemon and olive oil (the island’s oil is much lighter, and less peppery, therefore more food friendly than the mainland versions). A fitting end to a stay on a beautiful island.