Fringed by a long beach and surrounded by Mediterranean pine trees, Garbi sits on the coast of Kavouri with the Aegean sea as backdrop. Its stunning setting alone is a hook that attracts many customers but it isn’t the only reason patrons have been regularly visiting this fish restaurant for years: this family-owned establishment in the bay of Vouliagmeni is known for preparing traditional Greek seafood with a twist.
“Our concept has been to maintain the long-established recipes without losing ourselves in the crazy modernist cuisine,” says Angeliki Garbi (pictured), the second generation to run this restaurant. “We strictly use fresh Greek products, adapting our cuisine to today’s modern requirements.” In 1929, Angeliki’s parents decided to open their second restaurant 30 minutes away from Athens, where they set up a cabin by the beach. Here her father grilled fish that was brought in daily aboard caïques (traditional small wooden boats used by fishermen in the region), while her mother would be in the kitchen preparing her famous dessert kataifi, a multi-layered filo pastry with nuts, covered in honey. In 1959 the Garbis decided to move, so they packed their pots and pans and headed to where the current restaurant stands. Although the venue changed, the recipes, quality of the food and convivial atmosphere have stayed the same.
Angeliki’s daughter Elisabeth and nephew Pavlos comprise the third generation working here. Elisabeth is studying to become a sommelier and focuses on finding domestic producers who make wines from organically harvested grapes. Of their guests she says, “We feel they are invited to eat at our home. That’s not something you’ll find written on the menu.”
You will find, though, chef Giorgos Tselementes (pictured) serving up dishes like the kritharaki, a type of pasta shaped to look like long rice, served with prawns instead of the customary red meat. The Garbis decided they would use the ingredients found on the coast instead of having to import beef, staying committed to the fishermen of the nearby islands to get their daily delivery. (If you visit Garbi, ask for fish caught by Mr Kostas, a seasoned fisherman from the island of Leros.)
Just like the fish, nearly all ingredients at Garbi are local: extra virgin olive oil from the famous Kalamata olive groves, feta cheese from Giannena and shrimps from the island of Simi. And while the menu keeps a largely local flair with an array of traditional mezze and main courses, a few plates offer an exotic touch – such as the Greek sea-bass ceviche, marinated in lime and sprinkled with red peppercorns. At Garbi there’s space for both old-world recipes and modern interpretations – as long as the fish is fresh.
260g of orzo, al dente
4 peeled shrimps
8 peeled prawns
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¾ onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, minced
100ml fish stock
70ml Greek virgin olive oil
Blend one garlic clove, peppers and half onion.
In saucepan, sauté the blend in 50ml of olive oil. Add tomatoes and half a glass of water, salt and pepper. Remove.
In a pan, sauté the seafood, crushed garlic and remaining onion. Douse cognac. Add tomato sauce and fish stock. Bring to boil.
Remove the seafood. Add orzo. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve with the seafood.
Greek yoghurt mousse with fruit preserves
500ml Greek-style yoghurt
200ml vegetable whipping cream
250g strawberries, cleaned and halved
2 oranges, top and bottom parts removed, rind mildy grated
In saucepan, add strawberries with 200g sugar and cognac. Stir often until it boils. Then simmer for 15 minutes, or until syrup reaches desired consistency.
In saucepan, cover oranges in water and bring to boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until toothpick easily pierces through. Remove and slice each orange in six.
In saucepan, mix 250ml of water with 250g of sugar and bring to boil. Add the orange pieces and simmer until syrup reaches desired consistency.
For the mousse, blend yoghurt with cream.
Serve mousse in between layers of the fruit preserves.