Heads & Tales: Saturday Night at Ammos

Saturday would be my first full day in New York. In any city a Saturday is going to be exciting but in New York, we’re talking electric.

The day started off with myself making my usual fry-up of bacon & eggs, toast, juice and coffee. Soon after, I headed out and took the train to the bottom of Manhattan and paid hommage to the site of Ground Zero.

Security was very tight with respect to people taking photos and the property was fenced off and covered by a green tarp to block any decent photos from beingt taken. The most logical explanation I heard was that the World Trade Center was being rebulit and that the location of safes & storage is what security was trying to protect. Any other theories out there?

The rest of the day was spent exploring TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal), Greenwich Village and Chelsea. I have been to all three of these neighborhoods before but one new attraction was the Chelsea market.

It’s a converted warehouse that’s turned into a long market with many shops catering to food enthusiasts and it also houses some office space, including the operations of the Food Network.

The late afternoon saw me return to my apartment, feed and walk Stiva the wonder-pooch, recharge my batteries and plot the evening ahead.

My first contact with a New York area food blogger was with Maria of “Kali Orexi”. Maria is a native of Astoria who now lives in Queens and she’s only just begun her Greek food blog, which translates into “bon appetit”.

I left the dinner & drinks suggestions open to Maria’s choosing…afterall, I was the visitor with no idea of the New York Greek food scene.

It was agreed that we’d meet at Ammos (literally translated as Sand). Ammos is located just behind Grand Central Station and for those of you who have not been to New York, a visit to the main hall is well worth the subway trip to take a few snaps, watch the hustle & bustle or perhaps even take it a drink or a bite from one of the cafes & restaurants perched atop of the hall.

I arrived early at Ammos but I was promptly greeted by Maria, her sisters and husband. As with Greeks, formal introductions melted away and we all became quite comfortable with each other as we sat down, shared in array of Greek dips and pondered what to eat for dinner.

Maria turned out to be as friendly, charming and hospitable as her blog is. I encourage you to visit her blog as she shares some wonderful Greek dishes enjoyed by her family.

Most of us chose seafood and I was pleased that much of the fish was grilled whole and as a bonus, presented to the customer de-boned.

I chose the grilled lavraki, which is also known as Loup de Mer in French. Lavraki is also known as a European sea bass, much of it is today farmed but it’s a wonderful product and perfect for either baking or grilling.

After dinner, we ordered an array and desserts and shared the different offerings of Karydopita, yogurt with sour cherry spoon sweets, kataifi.

After all that food, wine and dessert…us Greeks have to burn off those calories and lucky for us, a small ensemble band was geared and ready to perform comtemporary Greek hits.

The music was loud, the liquor flowing, Greeks on their feet and dancing up a storm!

From being seated at the door to being driven home to the apartment I was staying at, Maria and her husband were most gracious hosts and I hope to soon return the gesture of their warm hospitality.

In the meantime, I’d love to share a new way that I like to grill and present sardines. Fresh caught sardines are still affordable and are one of the most enjoyed fish by Greeks.

Although they can be fried or baked, grilled sardines seem to be the favourite to prepare them. Here, I’ve taken the souvlaki concept and applied it to grilling sardines.

The method helps keep your fish in tact, allows you to easily flip the fish during grilling and the presentation is no doubt an eye-opener when you’re served a plate of these beauties.

As always, I prefer buying whole fish as this allows me to inspect the fish and confirm it’s freshness (bright- not-sunken eyes, firm body, bright red inner gills and smelling only of the sea).

I was delighted to see fresh sardines being sold through much of New York City and I hope some fish mongers in Toronto are paying attention: WE NEED MORE FRESH SARDINES!

There’s no rocket-science here. The sardines are scaled and gutted, heads left on (to help secure the skewers) and the fish is brushed with vegetable oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and adorned simply and deliciously with a Latholemono.

Pre-heat your gas grill, brush(clean) your grill surface well, wipe the grill surface with some vegetable oil and grill your fish.

Sardines take a mere two or three minutes a side and a warm potato salad and some sauteed bitter greens round out this wonderful Greek seafood dish.

Kali Orexi!

© 2008 – 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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73 Comments for “Heads & Tales: Saturday Night at Ammos”

Bellini Valli

says:

I have enjoyed reading your tales of the Big Apple Peter. The city holds many secret and wonderful places which you are already aware of some. It’s wonderful to have such gracious hosts to show you around and give you a little more insight!!

Maria

says:

My sisters had been telling me to visit Ammos with them for months … it took a visit from you to get me to go! We had fun — I just hope your ear drums didn’t suffer any irreparable damage!

kellypea

says:

Sounds like you really packed in some good times! I’ve never tried sardines, but you’ve made them sound completely delicious, of course.

Your photographs of NY are beautiful…

[eatingclub] vancouver || js

says:

You know my heart goes pit-a-patter when I see grilled whole fish like these!

Sounds like all-around good time was had by all. Love the pics.

Núria

says:

You are so lucky Peter!!! Your holiday in N.Y. sounds fantastic… aaaahhhh I wish I was there too :D

I see that your abilities to dance some Flamenco are high ;D

Perrea, perrea

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

Another wonderful NYC tale! It sounds like a perfect Saturday. I’m jealous – in a good way.

Rosie

says:

What wonderful posts to read on your holiday to N.Y.C. I have never visited myself but through your writing I feel like I have been there – thank you for sharing Peter :)

joanne @ frutto della passione

says:

Sounds like a great evening Peter and I love the photos. Can’t wait to read more.

Sig

says:

Oh Big Apple, my favorite city in the world! And the ready availability of fresh sardines just bumped it up a notch for me… It is one of my favorite fish to grill, but here in Seattle we find fresh sardines only once in a blue moon!

glamah16

says:

I see you dressed with out cause for scandal.Your week in NYC sounds like you go the royal treatment. I love how you grilled the sardines. Makes for an excellent presentation.Whos the babe your dancing with?

Stacey Snacks

says:

Peter,
Excellent photos!
It looks like you had a great time everywhere you went.
We forgot to talk about Chelsea Market……glad you got to check it out.
You ate and drank well.
Stacey

Laurie Constantino

says:

Everything about your trip sounds like it was thoroughly fun. I’m glad you got the chance to meet Maria; I’ve really been enjoying her blog. As for sardines, I really miss them when we’re in Alaska – they really are one of my favorite fish – they have a huge amount of flavor and aren’t as bony as many small fish. Kali Orexi indeed!

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels

says:

Loved seeing the NY photos. Very nostalgic for a former NY-er like me. As for the tarp over WTC, my opinion is that it is a shroud of disgrace because they have not progressed in 7 years! It was aptly named ‘ground zero’.

you definitely know how to have a good time…opa and out

P.S. I’m hoping for more. Did you get to Anthos?

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Enjoyed all the pictures Peter, I hope you have alot more coming. Your hosts were perfect, and look at you, getting down on the dance floor!! Thanks for introducing Maria’s blog, I went over for a quick visit but I’ll be going back for sure.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

maybelle's mom

says:

Yum, those sardines look good–but again I am stopped early in the post…your usual fry up. I liked you but now I am starting to revere you. Wish I had the time for a fry up in any regularity that I could say my usual fry up.

Dragon

says:

Sounds like a wonderful time in NYC. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better way to prepary sardines.

PeterMarcus

says:

Wonderful looking sardines. Again, reminds me of Venice.

I’ve heard it said that if you take the Manhattan phone book and open to the restaurant section, then eat at a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can’t eat at every restaurant listed in the phone book in a normal human lifetime.

Not that I don’t want to try…. NYC is in my top-3 places to eat, it’s wonderful, isn’t it?

Peter G

says:

What a great opportunity to Meet Maria and indulge in some greek food in one of the most “eclectic” cities of the world. I’m really enjoying your NY adventures Peter!

Allison Ann Aller

says:

I’m a textile blogger but am so glad I found my way to your circle of friends and Greek table, too!
I am really enjoying your travel tales…

Colloquial Cook

says:

Ahhhh, du loup de mer, je vois, je vois… ;-) thank god you’re here to translate.
Can’t believe I missed the ammos part of your trip! Now I’m jealous!

FoodJunkie

says:

I think you should make it your priority to start meeting all the bloggers! Sardines are such a great fish and so underrated.

ΕΛΕΝΑ

says:

Amazing photos Peter, so you had a great great time, that’s so nice!!!
And …. as I can see, you are a great dancer ;-)

Lori Lynn

says:

I can’t wait to try fresh sardines!
Enjoying reading about your trip and I’m off to visit Maria’s blog right now.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

What a fun trip. There is no place on earth like New York City. I miss living just a short train ride away from that city.

These pictures are fabulous. I love seeing the Greek dancing. And those sardines look delectable. I live in socal and I have yet to find a fishmonger selling fresh sardines or loupe de mer or anything interesting. What a treat to have that everywhere in NYC.

Mango Power Girl

says:

Looks like a fun time in NYC Peter! I’m really missing it…am so close but won’t be able to go :( so going to live it up through your nice shots :)

Gloria

says:

Peter I see,I see you really enjoy your trip to New York, aahhh!!! these greeks are so lovely, I think you really enjoy the life!!!
How Vall I enjoy your tales of NY. (Yes I love NY)
I saw you dancing, so nice!!!!! Gloria, LOL

(IM a little jealous,ji, only a little)

The Short (dis)Order Cook

says:

You learn something new every day. I haven’t heard of Ammos before. Now I have a new restaurant to try. Thanks for hte tip.

Love that photo of you shaking your thang!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I’ve never seen sardines like that–looks tasty! As for the trip, still looks fun (esp the dancing! ;-) )

Helen

says:

Looks like you had a fantastic time in New York Peter. I’ve never been but it’s on my list, very near the top! Sardines are also one of my favourite fish, along with mackerel. There is somethign about grilled sardines and I love the presentation of them too.

Dhanggit

says:

You are in NYC, i’m so jealous! I remember enjoying so much great restaurants there. That fish dish looks good but not as great as you shake your hips..lol! I love that photo of you dancing :-) Hope I could do same thing, enjoying good good and good company! oh im glad to be back !!

Zen Chef

says:

Wha..t? Who’s the foxy blond!?
How come we didn’t hear about her? Where are you looking? hahaha

The grilled sardines look fabulous!

Dawn

says:

Great photos Peter. I miss nyc so much. That shrimp dish with the pita to soak up all that sauce looks so good right now.
And you always find the hot babes! LOL