Eat This Now: Kalamarakia at Orea
Terrible picture taken after I'd already tasted it...
Orea, a wine bar that's in a building off the beaten track in Placentia that's housed other Greek restaurants, calls itself a taverna, and like other tavernes, it's a place for meze, little small plates of food to accompany wine. (Greeks get a pass on my usual contempt for small plates, because meze have been around since Archimedes got up out of his bathtub and ran naked, wet and screaming through the streets of Syracuse.)
While there are a hell of a lot of tempting meze, from dips (but where is the taramasalata?) to salads to grilled brochettes, every table ought to have a plate--a cast-iron plate which will burn your tootsies if you touch it--of kalamarakia, squid steak.
Why? Because knowing how to cook fish and seafood simply and wonderfully is part of the DNA of every Greek on Earth. Squid has to be cooked either for thirty seconds or thirty minutes in order not to turn into rubber bands, and Orea's thick fingers of squid--no tiny tentacles or windsock bodies--adheres more to the thirty second side, after which it's doused with olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, and parsley. That's it.
Tender, savory, amazing, simple; bust out your thesaurus and find synonyms for "delicious". Yes, your breath is going to stink, but the nice thing about Orea is that it's a wine bar, so you can douse the garlicky fire with a nice Pinot Noir or something.
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