A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Monday, July 03, 2006

les confessions

I would like to dedicate this post to my sister who is celebrating her birthday today. Even though we are now adults, she will always be my funky, stylish and rebellious sister. The first time I ever had Greek food was with her. So it may not have been the most authentic, but to me it was quite exotic. I am embarrassed to admit I didn't care for it. How could I not like Mediterranean food? In my defense, my palette was not very adventurous at this time. I was a typical teenager who preferred burgers and fast food pizza. I remember looking down at the gyro wrapped in pita hoping it may taste like a burrito. Cindy was pouring the tzatziki sauce with one hand and steering the car (a gray Toyota Corolla I might add) with the other. I was quite apprehensive about trying lamb with yogurt sauce. The new flavors and spices caught me off guard, but I didn't want to disappoint my cool, older sibling. I wanted to prove I could be sophisticated and open-minded but I am sure my lack of enthusiasm was apparent. Happily, my experience and love of Greek cuisine has greatly expanded.

My farewell dinner would be spent dining at Taverna Kyklades in Astoria, Queens. The first time I ate there, I didn't even know where we were going. I thought we had fallen off the face of the earth. Not only did the subway go above ground, but it was the last stop on the N train. Yes, I was one of those Manhattanites. That breed that thought you needed a passport to travel to another borough. Going to Brooklyn Heights was an adventure for me. Pitiful, non? A good meal is worth any amount of travel. Moving away from NYC has deepened my appreciation for its strong identities and it goes beyond ethnicity. You develop great pride and affection for your neighborhood and community.

The atmosphere is boisterous and it's all about dining en famille. An entire loaf of egg and sesame bread arrives as we are seated. It is toasted to a deep golden brown and is served in a platter full of pale green olive oil. We only order 2 appetizers but it is more than enough for 5 hungry bellies. A plateful of dolmas served with the same fruity oil as the bread. The copious amount of oil brings out the bright and clean flavor. The feta in the salad was melt-in -your mouth creamy. The highlight of the menu is the fresh seafood and generous portions.

Just a few blocks down, we chanced upon Martha's Country Bakery. The shop window caught the attention of Karen's keen eye. It showcased a wonderful display of fruit tarts, pound cakes, bread puddings and the ubiquitous cupcake. Inside, we found a dizzying array of tortes, cookies and palmiers bigger than your head. This town is cupcake crazy, and sadly most are quite ordinary. Good bakeries and good cupcakes are few and far between. They decorate theirs with a sunny fondant flower and sprinkles. (I think the technical term for them is jimmies, but that's another story) My choice of german chocolate was gooey and sweet and brought to mind my first taste of coconut. It is remarkable how one simple flavor can have such an impact.

Can it be possible that my trip is over? Maybe I can commute from the Triangle to NYC. The duration of the flight is the equivalent of a subway ride from Wall Street to Inwood. It's just a thought.

Taverna Kyklades
33-07 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, NY 11105
tel: (718) 545-8666

Martha's Country Bakery
36-21 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105
tel: (718) 545-9737


Anonymous Karen said...

From my Agatha Christie reading days, I've also heard the term "hundreds and thousands" used for sprinkles.

I have to make it back to that bakery! It was so warm and inviting.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had great faith you'd come around to the wonders of the Greek cuisine. Although next time I introduce you to a new cuisine let's hope it's not with one hand on the steering wheel. (I do miss that 72 Toyota Corona--it was a great car!)

4:06 PM  
Blogger DiveBarIntellect said...

That bakery was quite delicious, although I'd definitely stray from the red velvet cupcake the next time.

3:15 PM  

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