Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Real Gyro, Sort Of and Being a Food Blogger at 4 a.m.: Bairaktaris, Athens - GR

When my friend from Elementary + Jr. High + High school by way of Dusseldorf, showed up at my Athenian flat in a more than slightly inebriated state, I knew my chances of having a quiet evening discussing 7th grade woodshop and home ec mishaps while sipping on Greek red wine were shot. He came all the way from freezing and apparently dreary Germany and wanted to paint the town red, damnit. Gone were my hopes of wearing Aunt Mary's oversized (as in American XXL size) forest green cashmere turtleneck so I quickly changed into something black and somewhat snug fighting and off we went to hail a cab for downtown adventures. Upon arrival to Syntagma, after dodging an annoying looking club our cab driver recommended, I asked my friend if he was hungry.

 Nope, but maybe after a few drinks. 

A few drinks later, two to be exact. We set foot to find something to nibble on. I rolled the dice with a walk to Plaka - also known as Souvlaki Row (by me, at least), in hopes of finding something promising and super Greek. There was a light on at the corner and as we got closer shiny happy Greek waiter/host faces appeared. Not only that, but it was Bairaktaris, known around these parts for having the best souvlaki / gyros in town. 

I made a quick negotiation with the waiter outside the establishment. 

I wanted 2 gyros and he countered with 2 lamb kebabs. It was 4 in the morning, so that was reasonable.

I have been to Bairaktaris before; usually these tables are saturated with tourists and Greeks. Not at 4 in the morning in the middle of winter. 
Bairaktaris is the poster child for Greek kitsch. Inside there are pictures of all the famous people who ate here, i.e, Socrates, Aristotle, Zeus, Jesus, Scary Clowns, jk. 
It was really late and I was already feeling like Mr. Rogers about 4 hours ago. I dug deep into my food blogger battery and honed in on what was about to be laid out in front of us. Must....Blog.....Food.... I did a quick power wake up and rolled up my sleeves, ready to do some work! Our lamb kebab gyros came out quickly. The pita was dense, soft and lightly grilled, I suspect with a few lashings of olive oil. The kebabs were pure lamb goodness - a lovely earthy gamey sensation that contrasted perfectly with the tangy rich tzatziki and crunchy crispness of the fresh tomatoes and onions. I was really happy with everything until I commented to my friend about half way through that they put a lot onions in these. 

"Oh really, I only have a few pieces in mine," he said devouring his last bite.

Oh well, I like onions anyway, especially red ones. Needless to say, the next morning (well that same morning) as I went to check in with Srg. Aunt Mary and before I even said anything she wafted me away saying:

"Wooooooh you smell like kremedia (onions)! Go rinse your mouth out!"

My dad washes his mouth out with cologne. He never actually wears it, just saves it for garlic and onion ODs. I prefer listerine, but didn't have any, so I just had to rough it along with everyone else around me. 
Because everything is better in twos. And it's obvious which one I ate. 2 lamb kebab gyros and 2 waters for 5 Euros at 4 a.m. on a Saturday in Athens.

Monastiraki 2
Athens, Greece


yutjangsah said...

Ouu you smell like blogger! go wash your teeth out with some anti-blogger mouthwash! I had no idea Jesus ate at a kebab shop. I'm a goin there! Sounds like fun - much funner than wearing an XXL turtleneck at home.

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

Hey Anna
As your significant mother I felt the need to check up on you. Gyros, real or not at 4 a.m. can be bad for the digestion not to mention other things bad that can happen to you at 4 a.m in any city. Be careful and get your rest, you should have adjusted to the time zone by now and be sleep at 4 am.

I heard about the protest and demonstrations in Sintagma Square, but by the time you went there most people had probably gone home, so maybe going late was in your favor this time. With all the things happening to the Greek economy, as I am reading what do you think will be the sustainable product for the food industry of Greece?

Take care and don't forget to brush your teeth.... Love you as always MOM

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Anna A. said...

Sook - Can you smell me all the way from LA? Awesome. Jesus awaits for you in Athens... or maybe the Great Greek for now.

Mom - Don't worry baby I'm doing excellent and glad you miss me ;)) See you Wednesday!

Kung Food Panda said...

Gyro, the perfect 4am food. I love it!! :)

Diana said...

I hear lemon helps with bad breath. Maybe suck on some of those the next time?

Anna A. said...

Kung food - Wouldn't recommend it as a daily habit, but every once in a while, a 4am gyro is necessary =)

Diana - Maybe that's why lemon and garlic/onion go so well with each other, although usually the garlic/onion still wins

CaliforniaKat said...

My favorite place is Thanasis. You disappoint me. ;) LOL

Anna A. said...

Cali Cat - ok ok I respect that. But they weren't open at 4 in the morning.

Debra said...

did you bring one of these home for me in you luggage? Pretty please... *fingers crossed*

Anna A. said...

Debz- HEY! You are an official commenter now =)Yesss! It wouldn't be the same if I brought one home, so we'll have to make some or find some in Cali.

sharon said...

Anna Baby, I live vicariously live through your vivd photos and colorful culinary experiences! Your blogs bring me so much joy, not to mention bring out my carnivorous side! Arrrr!