Monday, August 1, 2011

POPI'S TAVERNA: The Crossroads of the World

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I have had the privilege to eat at many fine dineries across the world.  Some had great food…and others, well, let’s just say the food was not so great.  And, I have paid exorbitant prices just for the honor of sitting in a 4 or 5 star restaurant and eating 1 star food but still paying the 4 or 5 star prices!

But I must confess, the places I enjoy the most are those with the most simple furnishings, sitting with common folk (like myself), and eating the simplest of foods.  One such place located here in the little seaside village of Amoudara is Popi’s Taverna.  Now, Popi refers to it as Mavrakis Beach and I think that probably is the “official” name.   But, over the years, my friends and I have come to call it simply…Popi’s Taverna or just "Popi's".  I first went to Popi’s Taverna in 2008.  By 2009 I had become a regular customer of Popi’s.  I clearly remember one afternoon, after I had finished a cold Mythos beer, I asked Popi if I could have another.  In her very sweet manner and in her Greek accent she answered, “Bobby, please make yourself feel at home here.  If you want another beer, please just get up and get it yourself from the cooler.”  At that moment, I knew that I had been accepted into Popi’s family of customers and that I was one of them!

Popi’s little taverna is located about a block (perhaps less) from my apartment, at the end of Naxou Street where the road runs into the Mediterranean Sea.  If you get your feet wet, then you know that you have gone too far and need to back up a little.  There, in a little non-descript, white­washed building on the right side of the road sits Popi’s Taverna.  Her taverna is furnished simply and unpretentious – the chairs are a white plastic and the tables are metal and covered with white enamel.  Popi rents out spaces on her beach complete with beach umbrellas, sun beds and small tables upon which drinks or food can be placed while catching some “rays”.  Inside the covered, but open-air space of her taverna, one can order cold beer, assorted juices, soft drinks, chilled wine, raki and coffee.  Popi also has a little freezer with various ice creams treats.   If you are hungry, don’t ask for a menu – there isn’t one.  But, Popi will tell you that she can prepare a nice Greek salad, or an omelet, or a sandwich - usually ham and cheese on a toasted baguette and dressed with only the freshest of tomatoes, onions and green peppers.  But…but…but, if you talk  to Popi really nice…give her  a big smile…and ask her in the  nicest of tones, you might…just might be able  to persuade Popi to fix you one of  the finest…most delicious…tastiest fish filet dinners that has ever delighted your palate!  I am not sure what kind if fish it is…perhaps sole…perhaps something else.  But, it has the most pleasant taste – not an over-powering fishy taste, but a mild flavor that will have your taste buds begging for more!!!  Popi fries it in olive oil to perfection, places it on the plate with an order of freshly cut and fried potatoes and a few tomato slices along with a soft baguette of bread.  A glass of white wine provides a nice accompaniment to the meal.  All of my friends who  have ever  gone down to Popi’s  with me and sampled her fish  filet  dinner have agreed that it is  one  of the  tastiest, most  delightful   fish  filet dinners  ever eaten!

Another of the reasons that I enjoy going to Popi’s Taverna is the people I meet there.  There are always people from distant countries who have come to Crete on their vacation, and at any one time there can be people from several different countries sitting together and enjoying each other’s company under the roof of Popi’s Taverna.  That is why I often refer to Popi’s Taverna as…The Crossroads of the World!  I really enjoy sitting there talking with travelers from other countries and learning about their customs and their cultures.  Under the roof of Popi’s Taverna we truly all become brothers and sisters in the family of Mankind!

Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

ABOVE PHOTO: One of the large
 bamboo umbrellas that can be
sat under at Popi's Taverna.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Popi's Taverna at
the end of Naxou street.

 ABOVE  PHOTO: A few people
enjoy a cold drink and relax under
the cover of Popi's Taverna.  Popi
is  seated far left and often joins
her customers in conversation.

ABOVE PHOTO: An elderly  Greek
gentleman enjoys a cup of Popi's freshly
made coffee.
ABOVE PHOTO: Sunbathers enjoy
laying out on Popi Mavraki's beach in
front of her little taverna.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Sunbathers on Popi
Mavraki's beach enjoy the late
afternoon sun. 
ABOVE PHOTO: One of Popi's beautiful
Greek salads topped with only the very
best feta cheese along with a baguette of
bread and a chilled glass of wine.

ABOVE PHOTO: Popi proudly
displays her famous fish filet dinner.
This has got to be the best fish dinner
in all of  Greece!!! 
ABOVE PHOTO:  This fish filet
dinner only lasted a few minutes
after this photo  was taken!

ABOVE PHOTO: A chilled glass of wine
at Popi's Taverna.  Notice the  beach umbrellas
in the background and those same umbrellas
upside down in the glass of  wine!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Bobby, thoroughly enjoyed your depiction of the ambience of Popi's. Please tell her for me that her longer hair-do looks good!
Regards, Jim Janakes

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to read about Popi, and to know that she is doing fine! :) I visited her ten years ago when I was staying few months in one of her apartments. She is such a lovely person. She even invited me to come and dine with her family at her home because I had some fever and she thought I was too sick to make my own dinner. I haven't met many people more friendly or giving than she is! Really special person, miss yopu Popi :)

Wish you all the best!!
-Sanna, from Finland

(and Popi, if you can get my regards, I'd like you to know that I have a family of my own now: 7 years old son and 3 years old daughter! :)

Bob (Bobby) said...

Dear Sanna,

It will be my pleasure to pass your comments along to Popi. I am sure she will be glad to know that you are doing well.

Your Friend,

Bob Armistead