It's All Greek To Me

Apparently, people like to eat.

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PatrickRsGhost
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It's All Greek To Me

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:53 am UTC

Due to the snow storm we had here in Georgia yesterday, I opted to stay in a hotel close to work. When I checked out today, decided to eat at a Greek restaurant I'd passed by for the last year or so on the way to and from work. I'd keep telling myself I was going to stop there one day after work, but never got around to it. Finally did so today.

It was the most excellent Greek food I'd ever had. The place is called Mykonos Taverna, named after the tiny island off the coast of Greece. Had the gyros, which was full of meat, topped with an ample amount of lettuce, tomato, and onions, and, of course, Tzaztiki sauce (shut up, Firefox). Got full from the gyros itself (about half a pound of meat, not to mention all the veggies and the pita bread...a 7-inch piece of pita, mind you. Not those skimpy 5-inch models most restaurants might use), but wanted some baklava so bad that I asked for it to go. Even though it was a long drive home yet, still wanted some fucking baklava.

And yea, all was awesome. As I expected it to be. Told mom about it, and now she wants to go. Doubt dad would be interested in going, especially since it'd take about an hour to an hour and a half to get there. I'd say it's fucking well worth it. The only downside was the price: muy expensive. Lunch was $17, not including tip. Throw in tip and you've thrown away a whole $20. But it's $20 well-spent.

So, gyros, souvlaki, paidakla, moussaka, baklava, pastitsio, spanakopita...what's your favorite Food of the (Greek) Gods?
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:06 am UTC

Proper gyros is pretty darn good, though most places in the US use cheap mystery meat. And a giant pile of lettuce. Lettuce has no place on gyros (or shawarma).

Other good dishes: avgolemono, moussaka, saganaki (especially with Halloumi, though that's not so Greek).

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:42 am UTC

There's nothing wrong with putting lettuce on a gyros. God knows people could use more vegetables in their diet, and it tastes good, dammit.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:10 am UTC

Hey, if you like it, go for it. I've tried it both ways, and prefer it without. I have nothing against lettuce in other situations, but for some reason it just dilutes the flavor of gyros (iceberg is a particularly bad offender). Onions and tomatoes have the opposite effect -- they complement and magnify the flavor of the meat. Not that authentic recipes are always better, but there's a reason you don't find gyros with lettuce in Greece.

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:14 am UTC

Nath wrote:Proper gyros is pretty darn good, though most places in the US use cheap mystery meat. And a giant pile of lettuce. Lettuce has no place on gyros (or shawarma).


As for the mystery meat, I imagine most places in the U.S. might use pressed beef or pork, seasoned with the seasonings usually found in gyros meat. This is wrong, either way. You're supposed to use lamb or goat meat. Lamb can be found in the meat section of a very decent grocery store, like Harry's Farmer's Market or Publix. Goat meat may be found in most farmer's markets or international/ethnic-specific stores, as would lamb. Primarily, Hispanic and eastern-European stores.

As for the vegetables, I think it's solely an American thing. I'd prefer the gyros without the veggies. Just the meat and Tzatziki sauce is fine, although I wouldn't say "no" if you threw some feta cheese on there. Maybe even better if said feta was melted slightly. Although, the tomatoes and onions do help bring out the flavor of the meat a bit, especially the seasonings.

Speaking of which, McDonald's has been promoting their new "Big Mac Wrap". The first time I saw it, I thought it looked like a gyros. I could never buy one, since my brain would explode, telling my mouth that if it looks like a gyros, feels like a gyros, almost smells like a gyros, it should be a gyros. But when I'd bite into it, my brain would say "ERROR! ERROR! IMPROPER FILE NAME DETECTED! POSSIBLE VIRUS! SHUTTING DOWN!"
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:51 am UTC

I've had pork gyros in Greece, so it does exist, but it might require fattier pork than typically available in the US. And it had a few vegetables, though not as much as most US gyros. It might even have had a few bits of potato thrown in; I can't remember for sure. I associate potato more with chicken shawarma.

I don't think I've had goat gyros. The taste would work well, but I don't know how well goat would roast. I tend to eat goat slow cooked or pressure cooked.

You know, I just realized we've had basically the same conversation in this thread. Though you seem to have made a 180 on the subject of tzatziki. :)

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:47 pm UTC

Nath wrote:You know, I just realized we've had basically the same conversation in this thread. Though you seem to have made a 180 on the subject of tzatziki. :)


That was the only place I found any semblance of conversation about Greek foods, but I didn't want to resurrect a portion of a thread that as a whole had nothing whatsoever to do with Greek foods as a whole. Two or three posts on the subject of Greek foods within a 6-page thread does not constitute saying it's about Greek food.

As for tzatziki, if made right, it's rather tasty. I think the problem I've encountered with tzatziki in the past is that when my parents made it, they used whatever plain yogurt was available at the store, which is usually a bit more sour than Greek yogurt. The cucumber and the mint didn't help all that much. You have to have a perfect balance of the cucumber, mint, and yogurt to make a good tzatziki. It's really rather tricky.

I've had smoked goat meat served up like chopped barbecue beef or pork. I've also had it cooked like ground beef in a lasagna and chili. To me it tasted a bit like beef. It was at a meeting dealing with meat goat farming, which was something my dad wanted to get into. He drove me all the way out to near South Carolina, where we listened to a lecture on meat goat farming, and sampled some barbecued goat meat, ground goat meat in a lasagna and chili. The barbecue was excellent; the lasagna was OK; the chili was FAIL, but I think they left out some of the spice in case some people either didn't like it very spicy, or else had a sensitivity to very spicy foods. I imagine you could roast goat meat the same way you can with lamb, pork, or beef. Just prepare it the same way the recipe calls for the lamb to be prepared.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:00 am UTC

In the Chicago area much of the gyros served is made by Chronos-the NY Times online has a video about them. They use a mix of lamb and beef, ground and flavored then shaped on a core, so that the spit can be fitted in the cone. And they make a very nice product.
As for great Greek foods-spit roasted lamb or kid, galactibourikos, pastitsio-most of it is pretty awesome.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby poxic » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:16 am UTC

For me, Greek is one of many cuisines that can produce some amazing food, and some meh food, depending on who/what/where/so forth. My allergies and restrictions limit me to spanakopita, olives without much spice added, and hummus without much lemon. I did love many other dishes before all of the restrictiveness happened. My favourite was probably moussaka, with (lentil soup + hot sauce + lemon juice) close behind. *nomnom*

I've fortunately found a small Mediterranean deli that does the most wonderful hummus, of the sort that makes you think "wtf this doesn't taste like hummus! This tastes like ... ... the best hummus I've ever had, om nom nommitude". Their black olive dip (/spread/sauce) is equally holycrapthisisgood. Since the deli is near where friends live, I like to buy a small tub of each and some pita or chips most times that I visit. (When one has an unruly number of allergies, it's only polite to arrive self-sufficiently fooded, I think. :wink: )
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:29 am UTC

Do you associate hummus with Greek food? I think of it as more middle eastern -- Lebanese and Syrian, in particular. A lot of places seem to lump all Mediterranean food together, which isn't surprising since they tend to use similar ingredients and techniques, but the seasonings tend to be quite different.

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby poxic » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:39 am UTC

I think of hummus as going along with Greek food, I guess. It's part of what you'll find at a Greek restaurant, the way you'll find muffins at an American or Canadian coffee shop. I probably used to think that hummus was Greek but I've learned me some things since then. (The hummus served by my favourite deli actually makes me think of Lebanese food, extra herbs and whatnot. But hey, if the subject was Canadian food, we'd be mentioning muffins at some point.)
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Decker » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

There's a place near where my brother lives called Mythos that makes a fantastic Chicken souvlaki.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:01 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:In the Chicago area much of the gyros served is made by Chronos-the NY Times online has a video about them.

I remember watching that video—and I feel like there was an article that went along with it, and that either the video or the article claimed that a majority of gyros in the country uses that same company's meat.

There's nothing that pisses me off quite like ordering a gyros and getting some crappy griddle-cooked frozen strips instead of proper slices off a vertical spit.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:08 pm UTC

The annoying thing is when they actually do use a vertical spit, but with crappy gyro meat product instead of strips of meat. Gives completely the wrong texture, but people think it's proper gyros because it's from a vertical spit. I'd rather just take the griddle-cooked stuff and have them call it something other than gyros.

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:59 pm UTC

I've always called the strips-of-meat-on-a-spit product shawarma, and the ground meat gyros. Shawarma is a wonderful food, but gyros are also wonderful.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:01 am UTC

Gyros and shawarma are both roast meat sliced off vertical spits. They are basically the Greek and middle eastern versions of the same dish; there's also the Turkish version, doner kebab. They just tend to be served on different kinds of bread, with different accompaniments.

The ground meat product is a shortcut.

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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:03 am UTC

Nath wrote:Gyros and shawarma are both roast meat sliced off vertical spits. They are basically the Greek and middle eastern versions of the same dish; there's also the Turkish version, doner kebab. They just tend to be served on different kinds of bread, with different accompaniments.

The ground meat product is a shortcutblasphemous abomination.


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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Bakemaster » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:25 am UTC

The shaped cone ones are still pretty tasty, as long as they're cooked right. Not as good as honest-to-goodness-lamb-on-a-stick, but I'd choose it over just about any other fast food. Including pizza.
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Re: It's All Greek To Me

Postby Nath » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:37 am UTC

Oh, sure. They used to fill my meat-on-a-stick quota until an actual shawarma place opened up close to where I live. It's just not the same dish.

(Sadly, I found out at lunch today that said shawarma place has reverted to ground meat for their lamb, but the chicken and beef still appear to be real. And since they get the accompaniments right, even the lamb version is still above average.)


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