...I have other names...if you are interested...


ZORBA's


 

Our first day exploring Sitia and we came upon a restaurant that I remembered from my last visit some years before when I was an emerging unqualified food preparation artist.

Now, recognised as one of the best ten restaurants in the whole of Crete for traditional and foreign foods that offers quality and value that won't have you rushing out for more Euros, it is a refreshing relief from some of the places we've all encountered at home. As well as the snug interior with its oil paintings and sketches, Zorba's  now extends onto the marine walk inside a tasteful marquee with plants, bright Greek blue chairs, a wide view of the harbour and bobbing boats.

Zorba's is now the focal point of the harbour and my, how it has grown.




On the side that leads to the marina you find what used to be the main entrance but which is now the doorway to the spacious kitchen. Just inside, above an arch, you can still see a huge still from the moving film, 'Zorba the Greek', showing a close-up of the face of Anthony Quinn: eyes closed, dancing, passionately absorbed. It's nailed to the wall and now a little paint splattered but still I feel a swell of emotion every time I see that picture.


Our host came to the door when he saw me taking a photo of the mighty Quinn and we chatted. The restaurant has been there since 1973 and he loves it as much now as he did when he opened it. He asked me where I was from and when I told him, I couldn't believe he was serious when he said, "Hey, Liverpool, there is a man who comes here who you might know. He is from Liverpool too. Crazy mad about football like me. I think his name is Dave. He is a Post Office manager in there."
"I don't think I know him."
"Don't you like football?"
"Er, actually no. Are you a fan?"
"Olympiakos. The best."
I held out my hand, "My name is Tony. This is my wife Sandy. You must be Zorba."
"My name is Yiannis, but everyone calls me Zorbas. I have many names if you are interested." Then, with a sweep of his arm, he raised his cap and led us inside.

'Come, have a look.'

This page is not intended as an advertisement but
since Zorba's must certainly be considered a place of high entertainment, what with the proprietor's great sense of humour and the abundant sense of filoxenia, I hope to be excused for including it amongst my favourite dining places. I have always enjoyed good food whether it be Lobster Thermidor or scrambled egg on toast, and as long as it is cooked with love and care I will enjoy it.

 

So it was, that whilst we sat in the marquee overlooking all that silent blue wonder that we met his essential waitress, Angela, a real asset to his restaurant.Angela is very slim, has long legs that would give Aphrodite a run for her money, and a smile to launch a thousand ships. Angela brought a tray with coffee and rakis and a mezedes of cucumber and meat balls, 'From Zorba', and then stayed to talk. She told us she spoke a 'salad' of languages, 'Just enough to make our diners feel welcome and to maybe have some fun.'

She returned to her duties and Sandy watched full of admiration as Angela sliced through her loaves with the relentless skill and confidence of a butcher.

Later I had fish soup of incomparable texture and flavour whilst Sandy enjoyed an exciting spinach carbonara that gave her eyes that certain smile. We sipped white local crassis that was not too strong and perfect with our lunch. From then on we went there almost every afternoon whilst we were in Sitia, tasting grilled calamari, tuna salads, mezedes of tomato, cucumber, dolmades, souvlaki and taramasalata. We had grilled sardines, cheese bake, tzadziki, special raki mezedes, cheese pies.

The food at Zorba's is outstanding so thank the gods there are plenty of interesting hills to climb. We had at least two other favourite entertainment centres, the Kali Kardia taverna and the magic cake shop of Fokion Kalabokis where each evening, we'd sit in plump sofas out on the pavement and almost faint with delight testing their imaginative cakes for our dessert.

One evening, just after we'd been to the bank, when we were about to pay our bill at the Kardia, Sandy realised she had only a large note and nothing smaller with which to pay for our fruit juices. I scooted round to the cake emporium and the bank (closed) without any success until I asked Zorba. Even though business was very quiet, he thrust his hand into his pocket pulled out the customary wad and peeled off three tens and a twenty with a shrug and a smile. Like the ancient Minoans, these Sitians have a great sense of balance between up and down.

 

zorba'sfront

 Our last meal at Zorba's was a delicious unhurried lunch.

I'd popped in earlier to drop off two NASA pictures I'd downloaded from the web taken of Sitia from space. Zorba had gone to the market so I left them on the counter with a grecofilia card. By the time we returned for that lunch, he was there - arm around my shoulder, hugging the breath out of me, overjoyed with the pictures I'd left and already full of ideas about transposing the name Sitia with the name Zorba's as seen from space. "It is possible? I can do this?"

 



We had a magical saganaki, aubergine imam (aubergine stuffed with courgette and feta (unmissable) - and a baklava made for the gods...

                                      

...believe me, that man is a natural artist...



 
 
www.grecofilia.co.uk

©2016

- PERMISSION TO COPY.The content of this website is the Copyright of Tony Brown and is protected by international copyright law. You are welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes only and you have my permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it's entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided the article is copied and re-published in it's entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact me for permission first.