Two things first.
One, call me ignorant of a major world cuisine, but I've never loved Mediterrean food. Italian, Greek, parts of Spain, lower France....not really for me. I love fatty hearty brown and white gravy dishes -- the tomato is good -- don't get me wrong -- but such foods have always kind of bored me. Good Italian is good Italian, but would I spend $100 to eat a haute cuisine Italian or Greek meal? No, I wouldn't.
Two, I always approach Cat Cora episodes of Iron Chef America as "Oh. It's a Cat Cora episode." I know that's terrible, but only Mario Batali got me less excited than her.
So imagine my surprise when the gentlemen friend, his parents and I ate at Cat Cora's new restaurant at Disney World, Kouzzina
(that's a link to the dinner menu -- can't find an official site). It was AWESOME!
We started out with the sampler -- two skewers, cashews (sweet and cayenne peppery!), olives, pita bread with hummus and tzatziki (everyone's fave gyro sauce -- yogurt and cucumber). Then I had the flank steak (good, but less exciting than what everyone else got), the GF had the fisherman's stew (AMAZING, especially the red broth, although the chunks of fish, scallops, shrimp, etc. were impressive), his mom, the cinnamon-stewed chicken (mmmm!) and his dad, the pastitsio (they describe it as Greek lasagna, but it reminded me of shepard's pie too -- the meat sauce was cinnamony and the pasta just yummy!). We had dessert -- baklava (formerly my only giant Greek weakness - I LOOOOOOVE baklava. It's in my top five desserts of all time, easy.) and yogurt ice cream, which was shockingly good. Just that little bit of tartness and all that creaminess. Mmmm....
There was an important bit of magic -- Cinnamon. Dude. Meat and cinnamon, yes. I've had that in Middle Eastern cuisine (which I do like quite a bit) on lamb, particularly...but with beef and chicken? Sure!
Which brings us to last night's cooking extraveganza. The GF's parents got us Cat Cora's cook book, so we made our first Greek meal -- Spicy Gypsy mussels (first time cooking those -- and we didn't get sick from them! Yay!), Greek Potato Salad (lemon juice in the dressing, plus kalamata olives making it more Greek) and Peppers Stuffed with Meat (cinnamon among the spices) and Rice. Delicious!
So I will no longer dismiss the Greeks or Ms. Cora. Apologies to both! I was ignorant -- thanks for the education!