In 2011 I embarked on a random trip to Europe thanks to $900 return flights to London. Yes it was with Air Asia but I live to tell the tale. A highlight was the idyllic coast and delicious food of the Greek Islands including Santorini, Mykonos and Ios. Now there is lots of debate over what country invented what food. With my Lebanese background I am honestly biased. I do know the Greeks invented maths but it looks like they also are experts at bankruptcy. I am learning this in the book I’m reading, Michell Lewis’ Boomerang which are about countries in Europe who suffered from or contributed to the GFC. Wow that sounded so boring I almost fell asleep writing it. The book is actually quite interesting and you learn about how Greece ended up in this financial position (or lack of finance in this case). This has nothing to do with food but now it will. There are some Greek delights that I remember fondly from the trip including dolmades (vine leaves), spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) and mousaka (lamb and eggplant layered dish). On this beautiful night, Perth’s Mediterranean climate was a perfect setting for my first dining experience at Estia Cafe in Inglewood. Our table was outside and though slightly neglected in the beginning while we waited to order, it was nice to feel the breeze while sipping on New Zealand sparkling white. I was torn by many options on the entree. It’s probably because I’m used to the meze style of eating, similar to tapas where you have a few small plates to share. We decided not to fill up on entrees and instead share the dips and pita. The three dips were tzatziki (yoghurt and mint), melitzanosalata (eggplant) and taramosalata (caviar). I absolutely love tzatziki and you will find me eating it at least a couple times a week. It’s quite easy to make but I definately amp up the garlic content in my version of this Greek favourite. The eggplant dip was milder than my family’s version of babaganoush (the Lebanese eggplant dip). My mum’s eggplant dip wins this round sorry Estia. A slight criticism from all three of us at the table was the dip and pita ratio. We ran out of pita quite early on with plenty of dip going begging. I think it’s a money making strategy as we reluctantly paid the extra for more pita. For mains I got the prawn saganaki, which came in a small claypot with prawns, roast vegetables and a tomato saltsa, halomui and feta and more pita. I should have just waited for my main because I didn’t eat much of the pita on my plate. The prawns were quite sizeable and I did find this dish flavoursome. The secret is in the herbs. I come from a herb family thanks to my green thumb dad. His garden is packed with parsley, oregano, basil, mint and rosemary. Don’t forget his beloved lemon trees (all 6 of them). I know that’s not a herb but it’s still an essential ingredient in Mediterrean cooking. I will give credit where credit is due to the Greeks for their delicious prawn saganaki. My friend Fran was very happy with her spanakopita as evidenced by the scraped clean plate. I must admit and I didn’t say it on the night, I had food envy from Kirsty’s octopus salad. I just thought it would be grilled octopus on the plate but this had the fresh touches of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and mint to make this a perfect summer salad. The photos below will make you hungry just looking at them. Though the dessert menu was tempting we were too full on pita (maybe we shouldn’t have ordered the extra serve). I would definately go back to Estia. Will I take my mum and dad? Probably not because it’s a bit like anything you can do I can do better, I can make tzatziki better than you. Why do you think I’ve never taken my parents to The Prophet in Victoria Park (see Treat 35). If I closed my eyes and used my imagination with the warm summer breeze and aroma of herbs I could imagine myself back in Santorini. Then I’d open my eyes realise I wasn’t in paradise but instead sitting half a metre away from busy Beaufort Street. An excuse to eat my feelings with delicious Greek offerings from Estia Cafe. Sometimes all you need is pita.
THE FOOD JOURNEY