Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Zesty's lives up to its name

I can still taste the Greek salad, an hour after the last bite of crispy, refreshing green pepper. The idea originaly was to go to Frenchies, up the drive on Commercial. It was decided that it was too bright, so the restaurant X usually conducts her interviews in for her magazine was our new destination. Zesty's. The darkness was welcoming, though the constant stares of a man in the corner annoyed my friends. The starer soon left. Perhaps his eyes were tired. We were left almost alone in a spacious restaurant and the food began to arrive.
X said it wasn't really a Greek restaurant, just a place that had Greek food. My experiences with such places, particularly in Saskatchewan, has, up until now, been disastrous. When the zuchini sticks arrive, I suspect it's closer to White Spot, a "family" restaurant for people not concerned with the quality of the food. Zuchini sticks are like french fries for slightly altered taste buds. Not really enthnic, but not Macdonalds either. More a snack than a restaurant course. But before I could dive into them, still awaiting the all-essential tsaziki sauce, Opus's chicken (the restaurant's signature chicken) was before him, as was X's own private Idaho of fries. Then my garlic prawn meal arrived, with the Greek salad, potato, rice, bread-a sort of a portable universe of starch with guest vegetable galaxies. And the prawns. Were they of this planet? Hints or Arabian Nights type spices. Far to the East of Greece. It was like my tastebuds climbed upon a magic carpet. What was that spice? Something to found empires fighting for.
Opus suggested I try his chicken. Under the carmelized onions, Opus detected balsamic influence. It reminded me of every bbq'd chicken I'd ever eaten and ever will, though they will all be different. A Platonic essence of crackle. The first kiss of fire upon chicken. Only a bite but it was memorable. Opus swore the next time he was in Vancouver he'd come to Zesty's and eat it again. And he lives far away.
Earlier this afternoon I purchased a very good kitchen knife. Fumiyo decided that the old one was getting beyond sharpening and something new was needed, before our fresh new tomatoes were mangled into anti-antipasto. Thankfully there's a knife store at a nearby mall. The salesman explained that the Japanese style was popular for tomato-chopping, although the particular knife was German. It's weighted at the tip to make slicing the most challenging fruit a breeze. I just tried it bisecting a small section of orange. The orange was so ashamed at its lack of resistance it blushed itself into tomato parody.
Is the magnificence of the Zesty's Greek fusion tangents due to the quality of their knives, I wonder? How much more can be done when one can control the size of ingredients? It borders on mathematical fantasy.
There has to be some explanation why some dishes are so good, and others with the same ingredients aren't. Knives surely help. But expectation helps even more. If you expect something to taste great, and rely upon the expectations of others to make a living, it'll probalby taste great. One gets spoiled expecting greatness in Vancouver restaurants. If only that were true for everything.


At 2:23 PM, Blogger Elayne said...

Isn't "anti-antipasto," in fact, pro-pasto?

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