Visit Parea For True Greek Mezes
The Greek way
Its mid-winter on a Tuesday afternoon, and I'm driving along Corlett Drivein Illovo towards the Greek restaurant, Parea.
The afternoon sun is dimming and a chilly winter wind is blowing into myface. I've got the moody blues - I'm still reeling from the onslaught ofmonthly debit orders - the first of the month is always a dreaded time for the old bank balance. The recent overtime I've put in at the office and the never-ending weekend parties have also taken their toll on my normally stable temperament.
Needless to say, I'm feeling a little kak. But, I still have a meal at Parea to look forward to, and I'm really looking forward to reviewing this landmark restaurant - I used to live with my ex-girlfriend across the road, and throughout the bouts of load shedding we used to sit for hours on end in the dark playing board games and drinking whiskey to the sound of Parea's humming generator.
I arrive, and greet Alex, the co-owner. I seat myself at a table, where I wait for my mate Tracy - a friend who I've not seen in a while. Tracy is taking the pics for this restaurant review.
Tracy arrives, and Alex joins us. He offers us glasses of traditional Greek Ouzo - an aniseed flavoured spirit, with a high alcohol content - and pops a block of ice in each glass. According to Alex, the ice supposedly activates the drink in order to give you the rapid effect of intoxication. However, Tracy believes that the "kick" is attributed to the high dose of sugar in the drink. Both explanations seem possible, and I take my first sip of what would prove to be, many, many more.
Chilling and chatting amongst each other, I look forward to the variety of food that should be plonked in front of me at any moment now.
Alex and I chat about his father who lives in Greece. I'm hoping to get some cool stories from his time spent in his home country; I know that his recipes are heavily influenced from his native Greece. I remember one particular tale he told me about the history of his signature mussel dish. That particular dish blew me away the last time I ordered it - it's like no other mussel dish I've ever tasted. The mussels (minus their shells) are sautéed in a tomato, garlic and herb sauce that has a "dip-like" quality to it. Alex decides to spoil us by ordering the mussels - I'm certainly not complaining!
The rest of the food arrives, and our lit smokes quickly get stubbed out as we prepare to arm our paws with pita bread and forks.
We scoop, dip, chop, slice and sip our Ouzo. My problems melt away.
The mezze way of eating is quite a sociable affair. Plates are passed around, morsels are snatched from communal serving dishes, and inevitably comments are passed on what's good, great, or even not so great. Combine that with sitting on Parea's terrace, whilst listening to the nostalgic traditional Greek music, and it's a recipe for instilling Mediterranean passion straight into your heart! I find myself talking louder, using my hands more expressively, and, of course, ordering more Ouzo.
Finally, we are full and satisfied.
Alexs' mom joins us at the table. We order coffee, and pick on houmous and feta, which are still within reach on the table.
My mind starts to wander with the music. Why did the Greeks go from a powerhouse nation that brought us philosophy, athletics, culture and politics, to a sleepy little country that generates few newsworthy stories - and even then its usually only the odd sport victory? I tossed and turned the question in my mind all the way home. Finally, I decide, that the Greeks have it all figured out - the secret to happiness is good food, fine wine and great sex, amongst a few other things. The simple things in life are what count most of all. At the end of the day, everything we do is in pursuit of these three ideals.
Parea is located on 3 Corlett Drive, Illovo. It is open Monday to Sunday 10am till late
For booking call Alex on 011 788 8777.by Adam Kasan