The Greeks have always been about democracy, and anyone can afford Restaurant Milos whether they have an expense account or live paycheck to paycheck. The secret is Marketa, the shop separated from the tony restaurant by glass shelves stocked with jars of imported goods.
At the helm is Steve Rhee, a Korean-American chef from L.A. who helped expand Marketa’s meze concept to include a communal table with raw specialties like skorpina or lobster sashimi made with seafood flown in from the Mediterranean using techniques he learned in Japan.
Put together a sampler of little plates like taramosalata (whitefish roe mashed with bread and lemon) and htipiti, a blend of red bell pepper, feta and oil. Both are good with grilled bread and a glass of slightly sweet, flinty malagousia white wine from the Epanomi region of Greece.
There’s also beluga lentil salad, baby beets with mint yogurt and Cretan-style dakos (barley rusk topped with grated tomato, crumbled feta and wild oregano). Idiazabal, the hard, nutty, Spanish ewe’s milk, is good with thyme honey or any of the Greek spoon sweets that are offered to guests with a glass of water. Choose from jars of chestnut, fig, apricot, bergamot peel, plum and white cherry preserves in sugar with lemon.
Take home pickled capers from Santorini, hand-harvested sea salt from the rocks of Kythiria or extra-virgin olive oil from Patras. There’s also bottagra (pressed gray mullet roe) sealed in beeswax, smoked sturgeon and porcini and pork paté. Greek sweets include galaktobouriko (custard between phyllo sheets) and walnut baklava. Kali Oreski! (Bon appétit!)
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.