A touch of the unforeseen landed me on the island of Paros for a short visit in October. The tourist season in Paros is very short, only three months, June, July, September. As a result in the first half of October the options for a decent meal to the visitor are limited.
Initially I wanted to go to Ventouris, a fish tavern I have enjoyed in the past, but as I have heard the tavern was closed. Instead, I opted for the fish tavern of Damianos, 100 meters from Ventouris. Here is my report.
The tavern is literally by the sea. However, the days before my arrival there were quite strong winds that prevented the fish boats from fishing. The result is that the fresh fish available was minimal (literally). When nature tries you you have to resort to the means by which man has been able to preserve food. In this case, salt curing provided the answer to the question: “what do you recommend for today?”
Manos brought to me the red mullet fillets that have been salt cured, then thoroughly cleaned from the salt and stored in olive oil, thin slices of garlic and rosemary. The taste was wonderful, intense, full of flavor, and the flesh juicy and firm. Eduardo, the Peruvian who has made Paros his home for the last 15 years, told me the story of the dish. It started from a village on the Peloponnese and was modified by Damianos, the owner of the tavern.
The next delicacy was salt cured frissa, the large sardine fished in the waters of the Aegean. Here what impressed me was the balance of the salty taste, and the moist flesh of the fish. One thing is obvious, Damianos knows how to salt cure fish!!!
The island of Naxos can be seen from Ambelas. It is less than 5 nautical miles away. Manos told me that they had received some nice potatoes from Naxos. they boiled them, dressed them with olive oil, and served with parsley, onions and capers which grow in abundance on Paros. I Was lucky to taste this dish, that in its simplicity was magnificent!!!! The flesh of the potato was sweet, soft and almost creamy. The combination with the onions and the capers was harmonious.
This dish of assorted vegetables came to partner with the main protein dish of the meal, chick peas!!! Chick peas grown on the island of Paros are limited in quantities but delicious. They cook them in the oven with plenty of onions and herbs (mainly oregano). They are soft, tender, and have smoky flavor.
At the end, a simple and delicious local sweet, called “patsavouropita”, literally translated as “rag-pie”. It is made with fillo, and a mix of eggs, milk, flower, and a bit of lemon peel.
Eating is Damianos was a pleasure of discovery of the technique and joy of salt curing done with expertise and skill. But the potatoes with the onions and the capers topped the bill for me as the simplest and most flavorful dish. Talking to Eduardo after the meal, he promised to me that next time (assuming that fish and seafood will be available) he will prepare the original Peruvian cheviche. For those who have tasted the original Peruvian cheviche, this sounds like a very good reason for another quick visit to Paros. Thank you Eduardo, Manos, and Thodoris, for a wonderful meal and your hospitality.