We first dined in Athens the evening before our ocean departure. It’s clear the city has felt the effects of the country's economic crisis - building after building is polluted with graffiti. It's a little sad to see, but dinner at Varoulko Seaside offers some grace and heightens hopes. This waterfront restaurant showcases the culinary soul that is still thriving in Ancient Greece. Chef Lefteris Lazarou opened the restaurant in 1987. "Lazarou was the first chef in Greece to cook a seafood menu at a fine dining restaurant and to introduce the public to less known and previously neglected types of fish." - USA Today
In the morning, we had time to see some of the famous sites of Athens before heading to the port. The Acropolis is the most obvious landmark, sitting high on the hill overlooking the city. We did not have time for a full tour sadly, but we did visit the Acropolis Museum and got as close to the Acropolis as possible. We also got to explore the temple of Zeus before our afternoon embarkment.
During our first night, just as the sun was epically setting, we dined at Toscana. I smiled at the beautiful Versace dish wear in front of me. The meal began with the olive oil trolley — a cart filled with olive oils from various regions of Greece and Italy to be sampled with bread. Don’t mind if I do! The menu offered a variety of traditional dishes, Lasagna Bolagnese, Osso Buco, Risotto — but I went with the evening’s special for my main course, Gnocchi with Porcini Mushroom and Truffle. To get my juices flowing, I started with the Minestrone Soup and Beef Carpaccio. Two simple offerings, but if done right, there are few things better.
The Carpaccio, crowned with aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Arugula and Lemon-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil, was as it should be, pink in color and soft as white sand as it hit my tongue, disintegrating into sweet, saltiness.
The Gnocchi, was rich, as to be expected. It nearly sent me over the deck’s edge just after the first bite. Creamy and decadent, the truffles romanced me as they always do.
More to come next week! You can also see the "Munching the Med" videos on my video page!