Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

Want to know more about me? Friend me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or even look up my New Yorker cartoons on instagram! NB; different platforms not all food related)

A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs - we are waiting for your call!).

Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Doing It Greek-Style!

Kit takes us to the Alpha Ouzeri, Jim’s Greek Tavern and covers a little bit of the Greek scene in Melbourne… 

I was going to title this article “It’s all Greek to Me”, but my wife suggested that was too clichéd and I’d have to try harder.

How about:
“Losing My Marbles over Greece”?
“I’m Slipping in the Greece!”?
“Euripides Trousers… Eumenides Trousers!”???
“Doing it Greek style” it’ll have to be then.

I’m not of Greek ancestry(.com).  However, I am a classicist, enjoy olive oil, seafood, char grilled meats, democracy and a good argument.  Hell, I’ll even throw a discus if it gets me a dolmade.

Want to know what's hot in Melbourne's Greek scene?  Read on...

As a Melbourne boy, I would be into Greek culture (including yoghurt).  Melbourne is the highest Greek population city in the world outside Athens.  Don’t believe me?  Wikipedia says:

According to the 2001 Australian censusMelbourne has the largest Greek Australian population in Australia (151,785), and the largest Greek population of any city in the World - outside of Greece.

So it must be true.

The Greek “street” in Melbourne has forever been Lonsdale, near the corner of Russell St; it’s a City of Melbourne recognised “precinct” , has a Hellenic museum, and of course Marcos Baghdatis (Greek Cypriot – shh! Don’t mention the troubles…) always used to go down there after the Australian Open to eat at Stalactites.

The Greek community is not only huge here but has been in Australia for yonks, as evidenced by this 70’s multicultural Australia ad:
(*the video is missing, sorry...)

Writing about Greek food in Australia is almost redundant, so engrained into our cultural psyche is it, but I did have two very nice experiences lately which lead me to jotting these notes.

Jim’s Greek Tavern

32 Johnston Street, Collingwood VIC 3066
(no website – how cool is that?)

For my last birthday I went to Jim’s Greek Tavern, a “Melbourne Institution” that has been around as long as I can remember.  I have fond memories of going there with my parents when I was eighteen (some twenty five years ago), Dad bringing a bottle of retsina (pine rosin flavoured white wine, rough and awesome), and then after dinner rolling down Johnson St to the Tote to watch some bands with my pals.  I saved a fortune on booze that night!

I still use and endorse Jim’s.  The space out the back easily holds multiple bookings of twenty and more, and did so the night we went there; the second sitting at 8pm.  We just got them to “send the food”.  The service was VERY slow (stopping half way through the meal for about forty minutes), in no small part due to the cooking staff having a fight with each other and somebody nearly getting stabbed with a knife.  The staff are all Greek men, and the waiters wear muscle t-shirts, so grab your Bonds Raglan™, a bottle of retsina and ouzo, and go-go-go.

The food was spectacularly delicious.  I’m not sure how they do it; char grilled meats over coals, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt and pepper?  Probably (or as they say in the vernacular “Πιθανώς”).

The set menu was forty five dollars a head, and the place is BYO so there’s savings a plenty for the non-drinkers in your party.

If you’d like to get the best out of this place, can I suggest booking a table during the week (not on Friday and Saturdays when the place is stuffed with birthday parties smashing plates), and if you can’t go the whole hog and stuff yourself silly, try the seafood selection.

Alpha Ouzeri

342 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
03 9078 0582

Ah, now this is what I call service.  I’d been past this place a few times on the way back from the swimming pool, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

An ouzeri is a kind of tavern that serves ouzo.  Do you like ouzo?  Me too!  Lucky, aren’t we?  Let’s try a couple of different kinds…

We were the only people there for a Thursday lunch, and had the set menu: $49 and the food just kept on coming. We found pain relief in ouzo, and strung the meal out for several hours, talking and having a generally nice time to a musical soundtrack that sounded like a Eurovision fetishist's wet dream.

If you can’t come at Jim’s, as a bit low brow, I’d like to heartily endorse the Alpha Ouzeri.

So there you have it: my recent "Doing it Greek Style" top tips.  Please enjoy them responsibly, restrain yourself from dropping any goats out of windows, and as they say in Greece:

Μπορεί να έχει μουστάκι, αλλά δεν νομίζω ότι μπορείτε να τρίβετε μου σεελαιόλαδο και να αρχίσουν πάλη μαζί μου. Είμαι μητέρα σας! 

Trans: I may have a moustache, but don't think you can rub me in olive oil and start wrestling with me.  I'm your mother!




Anonymous said...

Jay Rush I gotta say that one was not as good as the last time I went to Jims, I kinda reckin they were a little off their game.

Kit Fennessy May I quote you?

Jay Rush Is may I quote you the new Kit catch cry! Well heres mine....scampy tampy dooblady sqqit

Kit Fennessy said...

Molly: I'm eating at cafe santorini in oxford st, sydders tonite Kit Fennessy I'm doing food Greek style!! Molly