Ayse Meze Lounge

Visited a nice restaurant in Frederick, MD that provides ‘the best of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese Cuisine in small dishes.’ This was Ayse Meze Lounge.



Went for lunch, and while they have a lunch menu, was easier to look over the dinner menu with all the small plates. They say to get about 3 per person. There were so many choices that it was hard to pick! While milling things over we of course started with some babaghanoush. I was thrilled with this because it is very hard to find it without dairy.  Bring it on! So smooth!


Then we opted for the Mantar – mushrooms, almonds, dates, oregano, brandy. Such and amazing taste. Could have eaten pounds of this stuff.



Next was Pancar – roasted beets, arugula, manouri, walnuts, sherry dressing. The cheese on top is goat cheese so loved that I was able to eat it!


Then Enginar – baby artichokes, roasted peppers, grilled onions.


We also had some dolmas, but I didn’t get a picture of those. The lunch was very nice and very filling! Five plates/meze between two of us was more more more than enough!! They have an outdoor seating area that is quite nice and evening entertainment. Will definitely check this place out again.

Fetta’s Greek Tavern, Cairns, AUS

When in Australia, one must eat Greek!  Was on a tour bus on somebody mentioned this great Greek place in Cairns.  Sounded good so decided to check it out.  The name — Fetta’s Greek Taverna.


Got there, got a table and right away we knew this was authentic Greek.  Was tough to understand the staff because of accents, we could not figure who our waiter was vs who the (apparent) drink order taker was.  We asked a lot of questions and the waiter sort of gave answers but we couldn’t totally understand him.

Most important thing for me to get at a Greek place is an appetizer and we and opted for the Melitzana, an eggplant, onion & garlic dip.


After that we decided to split several small dishes.  We went for dolmas, a village salad (with true feta) and octapapodi (octapus marinated in olive oil, vinegar, garlic & oregano).


For wine, the waiter wasn’t overly helpful but this guy sitting next to us piped in and gave us amazing help and suggested a wine I would not have jumped on, but so glad I took his advice.  We opted for the Bay of Stones Merlot.  Not what I would expect from a Merlot.  This was another amazing dinner in Great Barrier Reef world.  This place is just great!


Mykonos Grill

Another restaurant tested…received a recommendation to check out Mykonos Grill in Rockville, MD from a good friend.  I had driven by it countless times (when going to Bed, Bath & Beyond) and was glad to hear it was worth checking out.


Got there sort of early and the hostess asked if I had a reservation.  No, but was able to get a table for my friend and me.  Within 30 minutes that place was packed!  Wow, this place i obviously popular.

My friend and I split a bottle of Greek Red.  Can’t remember the name of it (no correlation to the amount we drank).

They come out with their warm bread and the super seasoned lemony olive oil — so good!

We ordered some Melitzanosalata right off the bat;  a smoked mousse (no dairy) eggplant froth, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs.  Similar to baba ghannoush.


Based on their specials that night, we opted to split their roasted Branzino, a whole Mediterranean bass, white moist tender flakes, delicate flavor.  It was so nice.


The servers were so nice, all the service was great, the place was packed and the dinner just melted in your mouth.  I can’t believe I had driven by this place so many times.  Glad I finally went.


Cava Mezze

It’s definitely the time of year to try new places. A recent restaurant visit took me to Cava Mezze in Rockville, MD.  This is the real restaurant vs the fast-food version, which is Cava Grill.

The restaurant offers a wide selection of shared plates (like tapas) and good drink menu.

They start you off with super warm pita bread and nice olive oil and harissa.

After looking over the wine list, we opted for a house wine, Black of Kalavryta. Wow! It’s labeled as a dry Greek red.  Got a slight hint of leather and some great dark cherries and strawberries.

Jumping ahead, we asked if we could buy bottles to take home, and it was not possible. Going to do some research as to who makes this stuff.

The waitress suggested 2-3 tapas per person, so we ordered 2 each to start and sort of share.

Taramosalata — salmon roe, lemon, breadcrumbs.  First I had to look up what this really is.  Per Wikipedia: Taramasalata is a Greek and Turkish meze made from tarama, the salted and cured roe of the cod, carp, or grey mullet mixed. Let me tell you: tasty!

Roasted Cauliflower — cumin, olive oil, fried capers, lemon yogurt. Such a nice taste from the roasting and apparently the yogurt was amazing!!

Octopus — grilled octopus, black beluga lentils, green harissa.  OMG, enough said.

Lamb Chops — two baby chops, crisped potatoes, extra virgin olive oil. Perfectly done.

This was a phenomenal dinner. The only thing bad is that it had taken me so long to get there. It is a small place so when you check it out, make a reservation.



I have walked by, read and heard about Roti for quite awhile.  Finally got to have it the other day at a catered event.  Lives up to the hype!  From hummus to salad to pita to all else, stuffed forever!  Very fresh, you can see/tell everything that’s in your food and absolutely delicious.  I’m a big Mediterranean food fan so was loving all of this.  Highly recommend checking it out if you can.


Beef & Rice



Greek salads, mostly devoured


Pita chips





You say dolmades, I say dolmas

In the end, they’re all the same.  I was making dolmas the other night for a supper club, for the 2nd time in about 8 years because they are a food that I do not enjoy preparing but thought I’d give them another try.  I have wondered about the difference in the two names so did a bit of research.  And, it’s not rocket science.  Based on various sources, dolmas OR dolmades is just the plural form of dolma.  So on we go.

I checked out several recipes and after weighing my options I went for Tyler Florence’s.


I made a couple substitutions because I had them on hand and they wouldn’t alter the taste too much:

-almonds vs. pine nuts

-veggie vs. chicken stock

-dry vs. fresh dill

So to begin, prep the onion, fennel, lemon zest.

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Saute the onion, fennel, nuts, zest and rice…ahh, smells good. Then add some stock and when done stir in dill, parsley, S&P.

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Dolmas 005


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Then you blanch the grape leaves.  I think this is what the recipe I used years ago didn’t have me do so that caused tearing (both ripping and water coming out of my eyes from frustration) issues.  You do that for 5 minutes.

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Dolmas 008

Then the true work begins.  Get those leaves separated.  Have one ready, put about 2 tablespoons of mixture in the center, be strategic in rolling (all in the recipe), then place in a dutch oven.  You roll and roll, then roll some more.  Eventually you run out of filling.

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You put the pot on the stove, put some stock to cover the dolmas half way, some olive oil and lemon juice.

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They cook for about 30-40 minutes and voila!  I was a bit disappointed in mine.  The rice wasn’t quite done, but I didn’t determine this until too late.  I made, I ate, I will next time and thereafter forever enjoy them from elsewhere (aka restaurant or storebought).