Archive for the 'Greek' Category

Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine – Los Angeles (Glendale)

Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine - Glendale

A few of my favorite gal pals and I are packing our bags and flying to Portland for a weekend of serious face stuffage next month. To plan and plot our ambitious dining itinerary, we recently powwowed over a most homey and comforting Greek-Armenian dinner at Elena’s. This trip is going to be epic.

Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine - Glendale

Hourie grew up in the neighborhood and has been dining at this three-decade-old restaurant for as long as she can remember. According to a 1997 Times write up about the place, “Elena Tchentchenian is the woman responsible for the cultural mixing. She was born in Greece but reared in Armenia, which accounts for the Armenian touches.”

Every meal at Elena’s begins with a basket of warm flatbread accompanied by the most addictive garlic “sauce” ever. Rumor has it that the sauce gets its body from mashed potatoes!

Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine - Glendale

When I arrived at the restaurant, Lien and Hourie were already diggin’ into a sumptuous mezze spread. There were pretty pink pickles that make my mouth-water just thinking about them…

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Bolognese Sauce with Cloves and Cinnamon

Spaghetti Bolognese

This bolognese sauce came into my life during the summer of 2002 while I was living in New York City for an internship at YM magazine. Every day after work, I walked from my office on the edge of Madison Square Park to my brother’s apartment on East 22nd for dinner. Most suppers were uneventful and consisted of boxed macaroni and cheese, or something equally processed and convenient. Sometimes though, when the heat wasn’t too overbearing in his apartment, my brother whipped up something extra special for us to eat. Spaghetti bolognese was a rare treat from that sticky summer in the city.

My brother learned how to prepare this sauce from his friend Anastasia. The secret to its fragrant profile and unique flavor is whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. While it might seem strange mingling warm spices with pork, beef, and tomatoes, it works beyond beautifully in this situation. Two hours of slow and low simmering on the stove top marries all of the flavors together, creating a thick, hearty, and complex brew. One bite and it’ll be obvious that this ain’t your average meat sauce.

  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • .75 pounds lean ground beef
  • .75 pounds lean ground pork
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 ounces)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Dried spaghetti (1 pound)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Spaghetti Bolognese

Whole cloves are the secret to this sauce’s success. Make sure to fish them out to avoid crunchy bits of bitterness. Same with the cinnamon sticks.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add in sliced garlic and cook until its edges are golden, about three minutes.

Arde’s Bistro – Los Angeles (Burbank)

In this 498.3 square mile metropolis with notoriously bad traffic, meeting a friend for a meal can mean an hour-long commute. When my Valley-dwelling friend Sam and I wanted to meet up for lunch, it made sense to dine somewhere in the middle to save a little time and gas.What city is halfway in between Pasadena and Sherman Oaks? Why Burbank, of course.

Eating out in an area that neither party is familiar with can be a bit of a crapshoot. To avoid a dining disaster, I called upon my sometimes trusty, but oftentimes flaky friendYelp. Since Arde’s Bistro was the number one rated restaurant in Burbank, I figured it would be a good enough spot to hit up.

Mother and daughter duo Arde and Nina opened up Arde’s Bistro in 2000. The restaurant is smallish in size and laid back in attitude. The menu reflects Arde’s previous training as a Greek, Armenian and Lebanese cook, but with a couple of California-inspired additions like wraps and salads thrown in.

We started off our late lunch with an Appetite Teaser Platter ($10.95), which included hummus, baba ghanouge, stuffed grape leaves, a feta turnover, falafel, a small Greek salad and a side of Tahini sauce. Sam’s favorite of the bunch was the flaky and salty feta turnover. I was especially mad about the pleasantly tart stuffed grape leaves, with the smoky baba ghanouge coming in a close second. The falafel were decent, but paled in comparison to the one’sMama made back in Philly. I like my falafel spicy and rustic.

The generous Appetite Teaser Platter was served with warm pita and lavash—a soft, thin flatbread. Both were excellent vehicles for scooping up the hummus and baba ghanouge.

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J.K's Greek Cafe – San Diego (La Mesa)

July 10, 2007
Cuisine: Greek

7749 University Avenue
La Mesa, CA 91941

Phone: 619-464-1915

Gyro Plate – a perfect blend of ground beef and lamb broiled rotisserie-style served with two sides ($8.95)

Gyro – Thin slices of gyro meat rolled in pita bread served with tomatoes & onions with Tzatziki sauce on the side ($4.65)

I tasted my first gyro in 1998. It was the summer before my junior year of high school and I was taking Drivers Ed at Helix High School. One day after class, my high school BF surprised me with the Greek treat for lunch. We enjoyed our gyros from J.K’s on a picnic table outside the adult education classes, which was super romantic at the time. Since that fateful afternoon, I’ve consumed a lot of Greek food in a number of different cities, including Athens, and have developed an affinity for the cuisine.

I returned to J.K’s the other day with my cousins Michael and Jimmy to see if their gyros were still delightful after all these years and fortunately, I was not disappointed.

Jimmy, Michael

Located on University Avenue, J.K’s doesn’t boast the prettiest interior (or exterior for that matter). For that reason, I highly recommend getting food to go, which is exactly what we did. Although the restaurant’s space is dark and dated, the service is always polite and friendly.

Michael and I both ordered gyro sandwiches, while Jimmy went with a gyro plate. The gyro sandwiches were stuffed to the brim with savory slices of lamb and beef, tomatoes, and red onions. I feel that the tomatoes are negligible, but the onions are essential for an outstanding sandwich. J.K’s gyro meat is well-seasoned and its texture is the perfect combination of charred and moist thanks to hours of slow roasting on the rotisserie. The Tzatziki sauce served on the side is cool, mild, and creamy—it cuts through the meat’s saltiness beautifully. The toasted pita bread is fragrant, thick, and effortlessly holds everything together. J.K’s gyro sandwich is truly as spectacular as it was nearly a decade ago.

Jimmy’s gyro plate contained the same meat as the gyro sandwiches with the addition of a small Greek salad and stewed green beans in a tomato broth. Jimmy enjoyed each component of the plate and ate every last morsel. I had a bite of the stewed green beans and found them mushy and flavorless. I’ll stick with the gyro sandwich.

J-K's Greek Cafe on Urbanspoon

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