Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Enjoy Kokkari Cola

The girls at work and I share a weekly lunch together, and it is a time where we sample the restaurants in San Francisco's Financial District and its vicinity. This past week, we splurged at a pricier restaurant, and enjoyed a leisurely two-hour lunch at the famed Kokkari Estiatorio.

To start, we ordered an appetizer platter layered with thick wedges of grilled Middle Eastern flatbread-style pitas. The pita bread was soft, chewy, and had fluffy, air-pocket-filled, pancake-like interiors. The pita segments came with chilled cucumbers sliced on a bias, a lone kalamata olive, and three types of chilled pita dips.

The first dip was astonishing. It was delightfully cloud-like and creamy. It was favosalata, or a whipped feta dip permeated with the pungent essence of green scallions and the nectar-like fruitiness of extra virgin olive oil. It was so funny to see the reaction of my co-workers as we each took turns sampling the favosalata dip. Like dominoes, upon tasting the heavenly feta and olive oil dip, each lady would widen her eyes, arch up her brows, and breathily murmur, "Mmmm."

The other dips were also delectable. The pita platter came with a rich and creamy tzatziki so thick that the yogurt, cucumber, and dill mixture didn't just coat the back of the serving spoon, it tenaciously clung onto the spoon in a gravity-defying clump similar to a tremendous dollop of sour cream. The platter also include a mashed melitzanosalata, which is similar to a baba ganoush of roasted eggplant. In the eggplant dip, I could taste sweetness of the roasted garlic and tomatoes, and I could see the green specks of parsley dotting the eggplant mash.

My co-workers ordered dolmathes, or grape leaves tenderly yet tightly wrapped around tiny logs of rice, sweet currants, and earthy pine nuts bound together by a light olive oil dressing; watermelon and feta salad made with sugary bricks of chilled and seedless watermelon, crunchy kernels of toasted pine nuts, leaves of Greek basil, and a golden drizzling of extra virgin olive oil; and

a Greek-themed ravioli stuffed with wild greens and feta cheese and coated with a fresh sauce made with summer tomatoes and dill.

I ordered the lamb souvlaki, or grilled lamb skewers made of spiced ground lamb firmly pressed onto wooden skewers by the steady grip of a chef. The spice blend melted the gamey aftertaste of lamb into a faint fragrance, and the moist meat provided a toothsome resistance as I bit and tugged each mouthful off of the skewer. The roasted tomato retained its fresh sweetness and juiciness, but the roasting process had reduced and concentrated the liquid and rich tomato flavors so that it had the intensity of a sun-dried tomato.

As we ended our meal, we agreed with one another that sometimes, the Financial District has its share of derelict duds. However, the hypnotizing Mediterranean flavors and the bustling ambiance of Kokkari convinced us that Kokkari was definitely not one of those.


  1. Hi PE - You sure got them coming fast and furious!

  2. Hey PE,

    While I like Greek food, I'm not a huge fan of it. Still, those pictures have me drooling.

    ... "It's 12:51am. I had skipped lunch and had an early supper. I've been food blogging for the past three hours, and the latest round of photos from that devilishly tempting fox PE has-"

    Darn. I tried Lee's Sandwiches last night. Screw it, I'm going to bed. Hungry.


    - CP

  3. wow, such an indulgent and delicious lunch break! i wish i did that during my mealtime at work. i want to try that dip!

  4. Wow, talk about speedy updates! Your rate of high quality posts per week definitely puts me to shame!

    I frequently read your entries during my lunch break. I may have to set aside a different time during my day to read from now on as your entries frequently cause me to be quite discontent with whatever I happen to be eating. Your descriptions/pictures make my lunch seem tasteless..haha.

  5. Oh my. Oh my.
    That is one lunch I would have LOVED to eaten with you all!

  6. I had a backlog of pictures Kirk! I tried to get 'em out there as quickly as I could! Hope I wasn't too overwhelming though. :)

    I love Greek cuisine Chubby Panda! Wow, a three-hour blogging marathon is amazing! I never keep track of how long it takes me to blog--I'd be too depressed.

    Interestingly, I am always jealous of your Times Square lunch dibs Pink Nest! But I agree, sometimes my co-workers and I take "extended" and unwarranted lunches! Yikes.

    Jinerous, I was on a roll this week! Plus, I just did "stream of consciousness" and didn't really try to impress by what I wrote. That is why I was able to churn 'em out like a madwoman!

    We have to learn how to make Greek food Rachel! I'd love to see your final product if you try some Greek recipes.

  7. So colorful! And it sounded soooo refreshing. I am reminded of the SNL skit where someone walks into a Gyro place and the proprietor keeps asking him "You-a-like-da-sauce?"

    Great review as always.

  8. PE,

    Oh nononononono. I don't write for three straight hours. I mean, my posts would be five page essays if I did that; single-spaced. When I say "food blogging", I include reading other people's blogs, doing background research, trawling Chowhound, etc.

    - CP

  9. Haha Elmo Monster, I did! I-a-like-da-sauce!

    Background research huh Chubby Panda? You are still one intense guy!


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