Taverna Glyfoneri

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As long-time summer residents of this island, we naturally have our favorite places to eat. While most tavernas will offer a lot of the same traditional offerings, each one has a specialty so to speak. This particular taverna is probably one of our favorite all-around places. They cook everything well. Plus, we love the location of Taverna Glyfoneri.
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Situated on a secluded cove, the taverna has it’s own private beach.
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On this particular day, it was getting ready to storm, but normally the waters are a bright aqua blue and clear as as diamond.
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During the lunchtime rush, families often stay for hours with the adults enjoying their meal indoors and the kids playing in the sand down below. Interestingly, there is a single room cabin that is also located on the cove.
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I mentioned the cabin in passing to my parents and they told me that years ago, they met a German who had lived there for upwards of 50 years. Since he bought his house before there were proper roads on the island, he used to take his small boat to Limenas (the port city on the island) to stock up on provisions before heading back to his own private paradise. He was none too pleased when the taverna purchased the land immediately next to his and invaded his quiet sanctuary.
Anyways, back to the food. One of the beauties of island life is that the cuisine is perfectly suited to my pescetarian diet. In fact, it’s probably because of my exposure to the “Mediterranean Diet” that I could easily give up pork, beef and chicken, but not my beloved fish. Ordering food at a Greek taverna would be an interesting experience for a foreigner. Unlike at most American restaurants where you receive a menu when you are seated, the most common first question to ask a waiter is, “What do you have today?” He will then go through the list of the fresh seafood that was delivered just hours before from the fishing boats and he’ll also include a list of the baked dishes that are being featured that day. Since we’re regulars, he’ll also throw in advice on what looks good and what to avoid.
In Greece, you start every meal with meze (appetizers) and a lot of times, that’s all you order. Since it’s generally family-style eating over here, everyone just samples from each plate and you order more as you see fit. Also, food is brought out as it is ready, so there’s a steady stream of plates arriving from the kitchen. For our meze, we ordered:
Zucchini sliced incredibly thin and lightly fried in olive oil. It was served with a tzatziki dipping sauce.
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We also ordered Gigantes, which are giant beans baked in a flavorful tomato broth. These are my father’s favorites.
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Then, there were the vleetes, which were sauteed greens seasoned with (what else) olive oil, lemon juice and salt. We usually make these at home with endives, but the vleetes are much more tender and almost sweet when cooked. Delicious.
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We also ordered three seafood dishes. My father ordered the grilled sardines.
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I know that sounds gross to most Americans who only know sardines in the salted, canned variety, but they are actually quite good fresh. Since they’re grilled, they have a nice smoky flavor that doesn’t taste “fishy” at all.
My mom ordered a lightly fried white fish that the waiter recommended.
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It was served with scorthalia, which is a garlic dip that goes great with fish. And I ordered what I usually do upon first arriving on the island, calamaria.
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These have been a favorite of mine my whole life, but there are only three places on the island that I will order them. Calamari is really easy to screw up and overcook and there is nothing worse than overcooked squid.
We all shared and passed our plates around, munching contentedly on the fresh island fare. It’s amazing how good you feel feasting only on local ingredients that are in season. I’m pretty sure that aside from the breathtaking sunsets and gorgeous beaches, eating is probably one of my favorite things to do here.
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