Category Archives: greece

Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis in Mykonos, Greece

For the more adventurous traveler to Mykonos, Greece, the barren strip of Agios Sostis might be more ideal, with its silence and B.Y.O. nature seeming more genuine than the 8-Euro umbrella rentals and surrounding internet cafes of its more famous counterparts. On a summer day as you are scorching from inadequate shade, an old man peddling homemade pastries will try to sell you some, and you’ll regret not taking him up on his offer as soon as he leaves.

There is only one source of food and refreshments bathrooms in the whole of Agios Sostis, and that is the infamous Kiki’s Taverna, where the line is long but you can drown your impatience in a dented copper-plated pitcher of white wine, handed to you with a couple of shot glasses whose authentic feel matches only the Greek chatter of locals waiting for their turn to be seated.

On that afternoon we were sitting on wooden chairs lined up outside the taverna along with several other parties who seemed to know the deal there at Kiki’s, so we just followed suit. Our Greek friend had recommended the taverna and we had started to drink the wine from the copper pitcher when she struck up a conversation with a single mother holding a place in line for her son, a friend and her daughter. We raised a glass to each other and shared squash seeds we had saved from our ferry ride to the island.
Inside as we got seated, the lady introduced us to her friend, the epitome of classic Greek goddess beauty if there ever was one. Suffice it to say our jaws dropped and we spent the rest of the meal elbowing each other because of the eye candy. To repay the graciousness they bought us dessert, and we toasted to our meeting, exchanged numbers, smiles, promised each other we’d write…

The food at Kiki’s Taverna is everything you would expect from a secluded, popular and secretive hole-in-the wall without even a sign or electricity. Food is served fresh and fast off a grill you can stand before and choose the fish of your liking. There was definitely nothing to be desired after a salad with the sweetest and juiciest tomatoes, artichokes, porkchops, and octopus.

Greek…errr…garden salad…should I tell you about Greek tomatoes*?

Artichokes in Olive Oil

Grilled Porkchop

Grilled Octopus

After our meal we were taught about the Greek ritual of telling fortunes based on the coffee sediment left at the bottom of one’s cup. Our new friends from the line bought us dessert to return the gesture of the pumpkin seeds we offered while we waited.  “I will visit you in New York!” is such a common thing we hear when we travel, and people almost never follow through (and we rarely want them to). What we did want to take with us was that meal, its warmth and the experience of copper pitchers, wooden tables, and waddling out of a nameless taverna to jump in clear saltwater and wade any remaining worries away.
 
An old church on top of a hill at Agios Sostis

A basin with calm water where we took a freezing post-lunch dip.

* Our Greek hostess said that only three things can be grown in most Greek islands: grapes, olives and tomatoes. The tomatoes are supposedly from a hybrid strain orginating from Egypt and require no watering – it gets its water (and all its flavor!) from the air and the soil. I couldn’t find any reference to these Egyptian strains but did find a lot of information glorifying Santorini’s grape tomatoes for being very flavorful, sweet and not requiring a lot of watering.

About Kiki’s Taverna: NY TimesFood & Wine

More on Greece:
Alternative Views
  Babulas Taverna in Mykonos
Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis
A Mykonos Meow: Photo Essay
The Daily Applause at Oia
No Name Taverna Delights, Santorini & Mykonos
Mykonos and the Taverna at Agios Sostis
Oia: The Taverna at the Bottom of the Cliff

Mykonos and the Taverna at Agios Sostis

The Greek island of Mykonos is unlike its beautiful and mysterious sister Santorini, in that it’s actually the popular and sociable sister with her own charms and hidden gems. If Santorini is known for its magnificent views and sunsets (soundtrack: Enya), three hours away by high-speed ferry is Mykonos, hopping like an Ibiza party scene, club music blaring from beer-sticky speakers behind half-naked, gym-chiseled pretty boys on X.

Mykonos is a diverse scene of gourmet restaurants and shops, and appears to be the fashion hub in Greece with American and European designers selling wares throughout the whitewashed maze of alleyways of the town. At night the gay boys fill the streets with their tight shiny clothing and strong colognes. Monstrous cruise ships line the shore and fill boats with party-goers headed to the island for some fun before the ships head to their next destination after midnight, long before the booming club music finally stops at dawn.

Needless to say it’s not a world wonder but Mykonos’ popularity as a gay Mecca and a party place has its advantages. It’s probably the most tolerant of the islands as it is more exposed to tourists, particularly Americans and their burger cravings as well as the various drawls of the English language accompanied by less-appealing swaggers. The masses of gay men who cruise in Mykonos have made hotels gay-friendly by default, a feat that would be difficult to accomplish in discriminating Santorini, where good accommodations are few, expensive and sparse – not really conjucive for partying but more for endless staring into the Calderra and/or a romantic partner’s eyes.

There’s more to the island than clubs and shopping though, as it has its own share of decent beaches on the predominantly flat land. The more popular Paradise and Super Paradise beaches are there with their lined up beach chairs and palm umbrellas. The cafeteria-style dining isn’t bad at all, but for the more adventurous traveler the barren strip of Agios Sostis might be more ideal, with its silence and B.Y.O. nature seeming more genuine than the 8-Euro umbrella rentals and surrounding internet cafes of its more famous counterparts. On a summer day as you are scorching from inadequate shade, an old man peddling homemade pastries will try to sell you some, and you’ll regret not taking him up on his offer as soon as he leaves.

There is only one source of food and refreshments bathrooms in the whole of Agios Sostis, and that is the infamous Kiki’s Taverna, where the line is long but you can drown your impatience in a dented copper-plated pitcher of white wine, handed to you with a couple of shot glasses whose authentic feel matches only the Greek chatter of locals waiting for their turn to be seated.

On that afternoon we were sitting on wooden chairs lined up outside the taverna along with several other parties who seemed to know the deal there at Kiki’s, so we just followed suit. Our Greek friend had recommended the taverna and we had started to drink the wine from the copper pitcher when she struck up a conversation with a single mother holding a place in line for her son, a friend and her daughter. We raised a glass to each other and shared squash seeds we had saved from our ferry ride to the island.

Inside as we got seated, the lady introduced us to her friend, the epitome of classic Greek goddess beauty if there ever was one. Suffice it to say our jaws dropped and we spent the rest of the meal elbowing each other because of the eye candy. To repay the graciousness they bought us dessert, and we toasted to our meeting, exchanged numbers, smiles, promised each other we’d write…

An old church on top of a hill at Agios Sostis

A basin with calm water where we took a freezing post-lunch dip.

More on Greece:

The Daily Applause

In Oia, the hilltop town in the Greek island of Santorini/Thira, hundreds of people crowd the viewing decks daily to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. It has been said that Santorini is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and that is why thousands of people make their way up the mountain everyday from cruise ships that dock there from all over the world. This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend four days on the island just soaking it all in. I will betray my own anti-cliché sensibilities and call the experience as it is: breathtaking.

Mornings would begin by stepping out of our cave house to a view of the solid blue Aegean sea and red volcanic rock. We ate our hotel breakfasts overlooking this view and on some mornings I would just sit there and be overwhelmed. The food from the simplest and dirtiest-looking taverna was phenomenal. I recall, putting a piece of bread soaked in olive oil for the first time in Greece, closing my eyes and being overpowered by the taste of it. Olive oil. It was a flavor explosion, like Greek tomatoes, feta, capers and seafood. It was impossible to resist gluttony.
But the best ritual would be in the afternoons, while the sky was turning orange and the people filled the hilltops with their cameras and exclaimed their oohs and ahs. We would be watching them and the water over glasses of wine and meat and cheese from the local store, waiting for this ball of fire to sink what seemed like the end of the world, wondering how many people are actually staring in the same direction. And then it happens and we get our answer. When the sun goes down and all you can see is this cool tangerine sky, an applause would erupt from the top of the hill. They must be mostly tourists who clap but then it gets you thinking. They have been traveling all over to see the world’s major sights, but here they are gawking, some even sighing, as they applaud something as mundane as a setting sun.
You.
Must.
See.
Santorini.

A Mykonos Meow: A Photo Essay

I was just minding my own business when someone started taking my picture
Who are these people?
I guess it doesn’t hurt to pose.
 Just like this.

This is my majestic look.

This light is bad for my eyes.

Or am I a Chinese cat?

I know I’m a little dirty but I’m also a pretty cat.

Don’t you just love these colors?

All this showbiz is just tiring.

You’re gonna have to do it without me.

Though I must say, the magic hour works for me too.
Even after sunset!
You know this is gonna cost you, right?
A cold drink to push that bacon and eggs down…
Thanks, that was yummy!
An empty plate and no competition. I love it!
I guess you’re deserving of my company.
But not for long.
All that food just made me so sleepy…
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