After my big night on the town in New York with a long-awaited arrival in my bed at 4:30am, Sunday greeted me all too quickly and despite the lack of sleep (early riser here) I was determined to continue my tour of New York.
One of my curiosities was to visit Astoria. It’s known as New York’s Greektown and the Greek population of the New York City area is rivaled only by that of Melbourne, Australia.
My goal was to see if the Greeks in Astoria had a larger availability of Greek products than what I can find in Toronto’s Greektown (Danforth) and to conduct some quick price comparisons.
By and large, Toronto has all that New York offers by way of Greek products, some prices in New York were cheaper but nothing was really out of whack pricewise and, I breathed a sigh of relief (many Greeks in Toronto feel they pay exorbitant prices).
Fast forward to Sunday night and I didn’t have any firm plans with anybody but hey, I’m a big guy and I can handle myself in the city. Armed with my New York City guide, I flipped through the dining pages and found some Greek restaurants I’ve been meaning to try out.
Tonight Molyvos was on the dance card. I assume the restaurant got it’s name from a town of the Greek island of Mytilini (Lesvos) and the restaurant has been around for years and despite my dining on a Sunday, business at this centrally located eatery was brisk.
Upon entering Molyvos, one is put to ease with the warm, dark wooded decor and you’re immediately greeted and seated by the hostess.
The service here is prompt, efficient and one never gets the sense that they are being rushed. I was given a wine menu, an appetizer/meze menu and a dinner menu…all on offer on this cool New York City night.
For starters, I opted for a glass of Babatzim Ouzo with ice and I was given some complementary Roasted Red Pepper Dip to hold me until my orders arrived.
I opted to try their “Garides Saganaki” which was refreshingly different from the way I serve it. The Molyvos approach to the Greek classic was to (of course) serve it in a two-handles Saganaki vessel but the sauce was more of a broth than a thick, tomato sauce.
The use of butter and olive oil was obvious, diced tomatoes, some chillis rounded out the sauce and the ‘must have’ shrimp and feta finished off the dish. This “take” on Garides Saganaki was a pleasant surprise as the addition of Greek basil was the star heb (usually oregano).
For my entree, I chose the skate wing with pastourma and a walnut avgolemeno with a bed of rice pilaf. The skate wing was pan fried, a bit of corn meal was detected in the crust and the thins slice of pastourma sandwiched between the two skate wing pieces gave the dish a wonderful and earthy taste.
My dinner was enjoyed with a pairing of a white Assyrtiko from the island of Santorini and it also paired well with my dessert. I capped the evening with a well-made Greek coffee (made by a non-Greek) and served with their Revani with kumquat preserve and whipped cinnamon cream.
Once again, the highlight for me was the Garides Saganki and if you want to see my usual approach, have a look here but if you want the Molyvos-inspired version…here’s my take on a bread-dipping heavens-to-goodness Garides (shrimp) Saganaki.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 pads of unsalted butter
1/4 cup diced onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 hot chilli
1 pint of roasted cherry tomatoes
1 small red pepper, diced (1/3 cup) 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. dry Greek Oregano
1 shot of Ouzo
a few leaves of Greek basil
1 cup of Greek feta, cubed
salt to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
- In a saucepan, add your oilve oil and butter and over medium-high heat, add your onions, garlic and peppers and saute for a minute or two then reduce to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the onions have softened. Now add the wine and tomatoes and bring to a boil and then reduce back to a simmer and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Take off the heat, adjust seasoning (very little salt needed as Feta will finish the dish), add your Ouzo, parsley and oregano and stir in.
- Set your oven to the Broiler setting and begin assembling your Saganaki vessels for baking. Using a ladle, pour the sauce equally into each baking vessel and then divide the shrimp into each serving. Top each serving with the cubes of feta and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the the shrimp have turned pink and your cheese is golden.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and place some basil leaves in each bowl and serve with some wedges of pita bread.
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