Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Manhattan Beach Greek

In early September I made my annual trip to Burning Man and the theme was Rites of Passage. For me, this held particular meaning because the moment I came back from the ten days out on the Playa I moved right into my new home in Venice Beach. I had bought a bike for the Burn and settled into my new home with the intention to begin bike riding again regularly. I made a vow to use my car as little as possible, instead biking when I could to go about my daily life. One of my friends who I met at Burning Man is a man named Ray who coincidentally, I came to find out, lives only a four minute bike ride from my new place. Last weekend, he helped me begin my new biking goal by taking me on a 22 mile round trip ride along the coast from Venice to Manhattan Beach.

Riding along the coast was interesting as we passed the cities of Marina Del Rey, El Segundo and Playa del Rey and watched all the weekend revelers on the sand. Fit young things playing beach volleyball were interspersed with the RV set who plopped their chairs in the ground around smoky smelling barbecue grills. Serious speed roller bladers whizzed by me as I pedaled feeling the long lost muscles in my thighs become rejuvenated. At the end of the jaunt, Ray rewarded me with a meal at an upscale Greek restaurant in Manhattan Beach called Petros., which touts itself as serving Hellenic-California cuisine.

We had to power our way up the steep road from coast to the restaurant and by the time we arrived, locked our bikes, and took our seats, I was ready for a nice glass of foreign red and a healthy meal to accompany my new healthy, physical routine.

An open air atmosphere and serene beige interiors weaving the in and outdoor seating areas were dotted with simple, peach and light pink lead crystal candles on the table centers. It was unadorned and elegant, just like the simple bread basket filled with nice olive studded dark and sweet, sesame crusted white slices, upon which we spread a garlic and fava bean spread from a pool of high-caliber olive oil.

Lucky for me there was a special peach salad of the day in honor of the fruit's fresh seasonality. A crisp white plate appeared with five plump, grilled shrimp surrounding a magnificent bed of arugula towering atop diced, moist peaches. The arugula was mixed lightly with olive oil and manouri cheese  so that it became a fluffy, creamy and peppery dream in each bite that mixed perfectly with the room temperature, perfectly ripened peach chunks. The charred bite of the shrimp added to the salad, blending into the perfect combination of juicy, light and tangy that my taste buds were singing for. It filled me up but was light enough to give me fuel to head the 11 miles back home afterwards.

Ray had traditional chicken souvlaki and the menu boasted all the regular Grecian fare from spanakopita to lamb kebabs, but it was this special salad that impressed me and will have me going back for more. I could easily get used to this 22 mile ride with a delicious pit stop midway to rev up my body's fire.

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