Mazi restaurant in Notting Hill, bit of Mediterranean breeze in London

I’ve never been to Greece, so I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on Greek food, however, what they serve at Mazi near Notting Hill Gate, is pretty extraordinary. A rather cosy restaurant, with tables closely, but cleverly placed, it has a lovely warm atmosphere. I’d say that it follows the latest trend that seems to be happening in London (like at my other favourites Wormwood & Cepages), where dishes are meant for sharing and served as ‘tapas style’.

It initially took a bit of time to get served, apart from the on the house welcome shot, which we got straight away. However throughout the evening the waitress and waiter established a sort of a rhythm, where all the food arrived just at the right time. We started with Grandmama’s Meatballs from Smyrna with handmade crisps. Such a clever name for a dish, makes you feel like at home!

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Followed by another jar with cuttlefish..

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And then we took the leap to hot plates, starting with cool souvlaki with pork strip in rice paper. As I’ve never had Greek food, I’m not really sure how souvlaki is supposed to taste like, however according to my hubster it did taste like souvlaki, even if it didn’t look like one.

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My husband then chose shredded rabbit stifado with pearl onion cream, which was wow so amazing. Extremely tender, felt like it had been cooked for days, in a nice way. The onion cream was nice and smooth and it was great to have little bits of veg too.

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However, I saved myself mostly for the shiitake mushroom and potato dauphinoise mousaka. Partly because I know what it is and also because I love potato dauphinioise. It didn’t disappoint.

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One would think that after such a hearty meal, we were full, but the quantities were just right, which left us room for dessert. And not just one dessert, but two!

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I was recommended to get the galaktoboureko soaked in sweet syrup with milk custard by the waiter and it’s like he read my mind. The custard inside the pastry was gorgeous.

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My hubster went for the portokalopita, filo cake with orange and cardamom and Greek coffee ice cream.Have to say I think mine was a lot more exciting, perhaps because I really like custard, but I would also recommend his dessert.

During your evening there, don’t miss out on visiting the loos downstairs. There’s an abundance of philosopher’s quotes to soak in for you.

MAZI
12-14 HILLGATE STREET
LONDON
W8 7SR

Amanohasidate, road to heaven and sandwiches

Our stop after the tropics of Okinawa was Amanohasidate, which is one of top three scenic views in Japan. It a 3,3 kilometre long sandbank with approximately 7000 pine trees. Many people go to Amanohasidate to see the view of the sandbank from top of a mountain, as it appears like a road to heaven. Two hour drive or train ride away from Osaka, it’s quite easy to access.

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Both locals and tourist stroll along the sandbank and admire the sea stars and jelly fish swimming about. There are also quite a few girls dressed as geishas around.

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By the time we arrived to Amanohasidate, we’d been in Japan for a week. We’d been indulging in Japanese food for days.. sushi, ramen, miso soup, rice, seaweed pancakes, green tea and so forth. I’d never experienced it in my life, but I had become desperate to eat some plain solid bread. As it seems to happen in Japan, whenever you desire something, for example you’d need a taxi to pick you up or you can’t find a bin, so the shop keeper runs out from the shop to take your rubbish and dispose it, it somehow appears. As such, only a couple of  houses away from our ryokan, we discovered the most amazing coffee shop in Japan – The Jou Jou cafe. There were fresh fruit juices, bagels, freshly made bread and muffins. And coffee.

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Brother, sister and mother trio manage this little cafe. The coffee making skills have been acquired in San Francisco and the bread making skills have been learnt over years. I have never in my life enjoyed a ham, lettuce, egg and tomato sandwich as much as I did then. There was a note on the blackboard at the restaurant saying ‘We want to make a wonderful life for you with coffee and bread and we are always looking forward to seeing you.’ I could not have agreed less, that’s exactly what they did.

If you visit Amanohasidate by car, then a place worth to visit is Ine. Small fishing town, it’s full of ancient houses and men depending their livelihoods on fishing. We were welcomed by a grandfather with his grandson, showing us a photo of a huge tuna fish they had recently caught.

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As always in Japan, as we were leaving Ine and thinking of taking out some cash, we spotted a cash machine taking international cards in a small fishing village. Only in Japan.IMG_20150417_172832

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