Several of the postcards I sent to friends began, “We’re eating our way through 17 days in Europe.” Our vacation days tend to be planned meal-to-meal. Some days I feel like all the hikes and sightseeing are just to kill time before the next feast.
Most mornings we ate granola, brought from home in our single effort to be budget-conscious, but on one extravagant day we had a big fatty Greek breakfast: a chocolate croissant and some sort of traditional Greek twisted pastry. Not pictured, but already inhaled: a delectable apple tart. We decided for this dessert-at-breakfast after stumbling across this bakery near the Ia bus turnaround. They do good work. Note the surly baker ducking behind the counter to avoid being in the photo.
Our favorite restaurant in Ia is called Neptune. We ate there our first night on a recommendation from Rena, the innkeeper; then we returned on our last night because it had been the best place we’d eaten.
We ate tzaziki (yoghurt with cucumber and garlic) at least once a day. It may be the ideal appetizer for bread lovers.
I remain mystified that Greek restaurants do not serve pita bread, except within gyros. Table bread tends toward the Wonder end of the spectrum — squishy white stuff, although with a rustic-style crust, which sometimes is genuinely rustic but sometimes just stale. It’s edible but not great. It’s better with tzaziki.
(Yoghurt, insofar as it’s squeezed from the nipples of goats, is obviously not vegan. But I’d rather immerse myself in the culture (acidophilus in this case) than attempt to maintain my mostly-vegan diet while on vacation.)
More favorites from Neptune: Greek salad (yes, they really serve that in Greece, everywhere), stuffed tomatoes (the best on two islands — I speak with authority on this matter), spinach pie aka spanakopita.
We have found the food to be inexpensive on both Santorini and Naxos. A lunch of two or three salads and appetizers — plenty of food for two — costs about €10. Dinners, during which we’d attempt to ingest everything on the menu that we could pronounce, never cost more than €35, including drinks.
One night I made a mistake: I ordered a “mixed fish grill” plate. The fish was all fresh and perfectly cooked, but required too much fiddling for my taste. One of the fish was whole, head and fins and all. The prawns were the same. I disparagingly call this a “surgery plate” because extracting the edible bits from the discards takes more effort than I’m generally willing to do. Call me picky, but I like the chef to prepare the food for me. At the end of the meal my plate of bones and bodies was bigger than the initial plate of food. It was ghastly to look at, maybe because it was looking back.