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Πέμπτη, 4 Αυγούστου 2011

Ierapetra - Okso, traditional rakadiko in all it's glory.

My fellow foodies, given I'm on holiday in Crete I can't really post anything on Athens, at least until September or so when I get back. I couldn't face not posting anything though, so for the next month or so expect some articles (anyone who's interested that is!) holiday-style. My appetite is as great as ever and I am on the rampage traversing the exotic, hot, LOUD island of Crete. Consider it a small tribute to my semi-Cretan nature.

To start off, naturally I opted for a little typically Cretan "rakadiko" (a small restaurant-cafe style of place, veeeeery common around these parts, where raki is sold -and obviously drunk- in exceedingly large quantities, accompanied by yummy mezedes. In other parts of Greece these establishments would usually be called "mezedopolio", ie places selling mezedes, little bite-sized delicacies, but since raki is the predominant spirit (litteraly and metaphoricaly) in Crete, they're called rak-adiko.). Anyhow, the one I've chosen is called "Okso" ('Οξω), meaning "outdoors" in a very rustic yet jovial-sounding Cretan accent.

White House Wine

Choriatiki Salata
Rustic yet jovial is around about the same characterisation I would use to describe the atmosphere and food here. You have the stereotype dark waiters, running about, sweating and desperately trying to keep up with everything, people shouting for more raki and grub, as they laugh and jokingly mock each other whilst all the while keeping an eye -and fork- on the diminishing food in the centre of the table (after all, you can't POSSIBLY have your own plate at a rakadiko!! Shock horror for my visiting English cousin, who ended up hungry since all her -Greek- eating companions grabbed everything in sight). As for the food itself, whether it's the little mezedes brought free of charge with the order of spirits, that usually consist of "house-food", (that is to say dishes prepared by the cook in the variety he wishes each day and served on small plates to keep customers happy and relatively sober, yet whetting their appetites for more), or whether it's the actual orderable dishes for people more than a little peckish (yes, yes, enough with the pointing fingers, we all know that means me), it is fab fab fab.

Meat platter (this one just with pansetta on)


Meat pie
We usually order some lovely crispy fried cheeseballs, chips, amazing meat pie (with a mixture of mince and chicken I believe with some heavy spices going on, covered in soft crust with sesame seeds) and mushroom pie (the same soft crust only filled with yummy local mushrooms, melted cheese and bacon). A salad (Choriatiki, all the usual ingredients, ie tomatoes, onions, cucumber, feta cheese, green peppers, fresh olive oil, with the interesting in this case addition of capers). A mixture of selected grilled meats, ie panseta, souvlaki (chicken or pork), beefburgers (or as they're known here "Biftekia"), kebabs, accompanied by chips, salad and flour- or whole-grain flour-pittas on a huge wooden chopping board. If you do decide to visit, get as much panseta as you possibly can. All yummy, juicy, yet crunchy and charred, trust me, it is to die for!

The same meat platter

Also, their house wine (white or red) and raki is top notch. What's more, everything is in cute small portions (apart from the meat!) and soooo ridiculously affordable. When there's quite a few of us we usually end up paying something totally absurd, like 3-6 euros each, and believe you me, we are STUFFED!

Anyway, given it's one of my favourite stops for the summer, and right on the pedestrian district by the sea and always FULL of people, I though it was only acceptable I began with this place!

In a nutshell:
Do you get your money's worth? Most definitely! Starters are priced around 2-5euros (the meat pie is only 3,50euros!!) and the meat is 3euros per panseta (the most expensive cut of meat there). Anyway, depending on the size of the group of people expect to pay between 3-10 euros per person.
Is it worth it? Hello??! Good food, good prices, good atmosphere, what's not to like? :) Just make sure to get there 9.30 at the latest if you want to get any sort of seating, as it's constantly packed throughout the week (hmmm, I wonder why!)
Will I go again? Yeah, yeah, I think we've established I'm there quite often. I'll be there again soon, so I'll post some better pics then.
P.S. You'll recognise the place by it's playful multicoloured chairs. :)

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