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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eat Greek Tonight at La Palapa

Eat Greek Tonight at La Palapa
By Lynn Prince

If you haven’t visited Greece, La Palapa will bring you some of the tastes, aromas and images needed to make your dream a reality.

The charming outdoor dining palapa, with its seductively romantic location and captivating view of the emerald green Sea of Cortez, has become one of the most popular bistros in San Carlos. The faint scent of garlic, lemon and herbs fill the air with their tantalizing aromas. Passionate and lively Greek music softly resonates in the background, when live entertainment isn’t present.

Their varied menu is a culinary delight. Traditional Greek dishes like Spanikopita, a spinach and feta cheese pastry, are given loving treatment. The gyro and souvlaki sandwich with its tender, delicately marinated strips of lamb (also available in pork) nestled in a bed of warm pita bread are among my favorites.

Chef Rafael’s authentic Greek salad with its crumbly textures of feta cheese, delicious olives, red onions, cucumbers and delicately flavored dressing, please the eye with splashes of color, and is a culinary hit with the senses. The Caesar salad is among the best I have ever had, and is served in a unique way, with portions big enough for two people.

As the sun slid down across the Sea of Cortez and dropped behind the Baja peninsula, a storm came in and light sprinkles touched the blue tablecloths . . . cobalt blue, so reminiscent of Greece. A rainbow appeared as our appetizers were served, and I felt as though the “gods” were smiling on us as we feasted on Dolmadakias—stuffed grape leaves, a wonderful delicacy popular in Greece as well as other Mediterranean countries. We also sampled wonderful garbanzo bean hummus with toasted pine nuts on the top, and Saganaki, a Greek cheese that is fried and served flaming.

For our main course we dined on fresh, grilled Dorado, delightful spices encrusting it. La Palapa also has great lamb chops, calamari and delicate crab cakes to tempt the palate. And Rafael’s eggplant Mousaka and Greek lasagna are superb.

We topped our meal off with Baklava—little golden diamonds of crisp fillo pastry layered with a filling of walnuts, and dripping with the sweetness and promise of an aromatic honey syrup. We call them dessert, but the Greeks say “sweets.” They are generally not eaten after a meal in Greece, but during the day . . . their full flavor best enjoyed with a steamy cup of fragrant Greek coffee. All of it can be enjoyed with Greece’s favorite alcoholic imbibers, Metaxa and Ouzo.

La Palapa is truly a tantalizing dining experience, all that is missing is Zorba and the lively “horeftika.” Rafael promises to teach us this lively Greek dance in the near future.

KALI OREXI/BON APPETIT!
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ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday: Mark Mulligan – Trop Roc, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday: Bobby & Leslie Sahlen – Musical Mix
Friday & Saturday: Eric Holland – Balladeer, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Located next to Posada Condominiums on the beach.

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