We’re Off To An OPA-licious Start!

April 1st not only marked the start of Month 5 of my 12 in 12 journey, it was my daughter’s birthday as well, and what better way to launch the Mediterranean diet, and celebrate Telli’s special day, than to dine at an authentic Greek restaurant? OPA!

While everyone was out getting their prank on, we headed across town to the Danforth (famous for all things Greek in Toronto) to savour mouth-watering cuisine that Zeus, Athena, and the rest of the toga wearing gods and goddess’ feast on.

I don’t have a clue how to make elaborate Greek dishes, let alone pronounce them, so we were in for an adventure of gastronomical proportions when we arrived at Avli’s. OPA!

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Telli, Nathan (her boyfriend, and artist extraordinaire), Marisa (her bestie, and my adopted daughter) and I, studied our menus, grappling over all the delectable choices, finally deciding on dishes we would never attempt to make at home.

We started with Taramosalata (fish roe with olive oil and lemon juice), Kopanisti (feta cheese, roasted red pepper and olive oil), and Melitzanosalata (eggplant with onion, parsley and garlic) dips served with pita bread, and grilled calamari. OPA!

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Telli enjoyed the grilled sardines and rapini – OPA!

Nathan had the meat moussaka (eggplant zucchini, potatoes, and ground beef with béchamel sauce) – OPA!

Marisa sampled the chicken gyros – OPA!

And I devoured the seafood pie, which was filled with shrimp, scallops, salmon, mushrooms and feta topped with a thin phyllo crust – OPA! The seafood swam in the most flavourful tomato, garlic and parsley sauce I’ve ever tasted – I would have drank it by the cupful if they served it that way! The herbs and spices alone enhanced the meal and took it to the next level. Double OPA!

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By the end of the evening, our bellies were full and our taste buds danced like Zorba the Greek – OPA! I didn’t need an entire serving of baklava to satisfy my craving for sweets – actually, I split this gem with Nathan and it was the perfect topper to a meal that proved it’s all about quality, not quantity. OPA!

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I’m not sure how much I’ll lose on the Mediterranean diet (if anything, if I keep eating meals like this), but I can tell you that just a few days into the plan, this has been the most flavourful to date!

I’ve also learned I love saying the word ‘OPA!’ … OPA!… OPA!… OPA!… Say it with me… OPA!

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My daughter said it sounds like I have OPA Tourette’s…. Don’t worry honey, it’s just a phase. I’ll snap out of it when we dine at our next stop on the Mediterranean Express… OLÉ!

For my Week 18 food journal click here.