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 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.
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.
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