Dinner in the Plaka
About 9:00 p.m. we walked into the Plaka, the oldest section of Athens, right up against the side of the Acropolis. We planned to have dinner at the Tavern of the Seven Brothers, which friends had recommended to us. As we walked into the Plaka, though, we found that there were no street lights and very little light coming from anywhere. It was a moonless night, and we could barely see where to walk in the narrow lanes, let alone find any street signs. The area was completely silent without another soul stirring.
[We returned to this same tavern 20 years later and found both the tavern and the Plaka totally changed. The once dark streets were so completely lined with lights (mostly gaudy neon) that there was little difference between night and day. The old tavern had kept its name, but it had become a chintzy auditorium. The main room had been greatly enlarged and filled with cheap, wooden folding chairs, packed tightly against each other in very close rows that left no leg room. There was a short performance of traditional Greek singing and dancing. Then the audience was quickly ushered out and replaced by a new one. We felt we were being hustled rather than entertained.]
Jane ordered a special fish filet, and
I had the “new-born” veal. The veal was served as a boneless mound of meat with a delicious sauce and artichokes. It was unbelievably tender. All the food was quite good.
I wanted to try the retsina wine that I had read about. Our host gave
me a little in a glass to taste. (It was the house wine.) Darrell swirled it in the glass and sniffed it before taking a sip. It tasted like turpentine, so we ordered a bottled wine instead.
I went through the same procedure again. Again the wine tasted like turpentine. Over the protestations of the host,
I insisted it was retsina. Finally, the host had Jane taste it, and she pronounced it fine, with no hint of the resin taste. In sniffing the retsina,
I had so filled my sinuses with the resin smell that everything tasted like turpentine for several minutes.