In Athens, I regress back to the lazy teenager I once was. Even though it’s May, it’s hot enough that my brain begins to tick into action after the sun has set. Even then, there is only a skeleton crew operating. It turns out that interminable grey days are boon to productivity rather than the bane of it.
Yesterday, the radiant sunshine was accompanied by a cool breeze. This coupled with sucking down two ice laden frappés (turns out that frappés are not a quirky habit but an operational necessity in these parts) in quick succession made me decide to go down to Kifissia and try out PBox. A diminutive eatery I had earmarked on my last trip but missed when I found them closed for lunch.I suffer from mild bouts of spring fever. Among the squat bitter orange trees that line the narrow pavements in my mother’s neighborhood of Holargos it’s not too bad but once I get to Kifissia all villas, nestled in verdant gardens, my sneezing takes on the frequency of machine gun fire. Entirely worth it, I love Kifissia and its lack of high rises tottering on pillars. You would never see one neighbor talking to another in a wife beater ribbed white undershirt, hairy nipple poking out through the saggy arm holes in Kifissia (something you will see frequently in most neighborhoods).No, in Kifissia, everyone is elegant, coiffed and sunglassed. The older ladies wear large chunky jewelery perhaps to complement their large hair (I don’t think they every truly said goodbye to Dynasty). Every female over 10 years old has a flawless mani-pedi with that telltale sheen that speaks of a trip to the salon as opposed to a home job. 10% of the stores are for rent here as opposed to the rest of Athens where I would put the number closer to 60%.
P Box is an all day eatery that snags a lot of them. The menu runs along two different veins, Greek or Japanese / Asian / International. The Greek part is simple fare, cheeses and meats from around Greece, grilled halloumi from Crete for instance and sausage from Lefkada. And then a faffy aspirational menu, carpaccio, blue cheese tart, something 3 tables away with way too much truffle oil gaining in pungency as the heat got to it- lots of green salads with things on top, say chicken or tuna. I’m lamenting this lack of conviction to going with local when it occurs to me that most of the tables have ordered the aspirational stuff with a favouring for the large bowls of frilly salad leaves.Criminal really! The tomatoes here are so fleshy and full of juice that I cut them straight into the bowl I will be eating them from. From the two tomatoes I cut up for lunch today, I had over a cup of tomato juice to which I added 1/4 cup of organic olive oil from a greek monastery and a shower of oregano that the 80-year-old mother of a friend of my mothers picked herself in Chania. Such purity and strength of flavour and there they go eating a frilly leaves with overly sweet Dijon mustard dressing.
Ach! It makes me think of that story of the ‘lazy’ fisherman by Heinrich Böll. Where a tourist tells a fisherman how he could increase his takings, make more money and retire early.
The nonchalant fisherman asks, “Then what?”
The tourist enthusiastically continues, “Then, without a care in the world, you could sit here in the harbor, doze in the sun, and look at the glorious sea.”
“But I’m already doing that”, says the fisherman. (Excerpt taken from Wikipedia, see link provided above)
Not everyone can have the wisdom of that fisherman and see the inherent value in simple things.People rave about the desserts but when I saw a vacherin of strawberries arriving at two adjacent tables I decided I preferred to take the short walk down to the Kayak ice cream shop where I picked up a scoop of lemon and Greek basil ice cream.
Locations in Kifissia, Kolonaki and Thessaloniki for more details check their website www.p-box.gr