I slather another slice of the plush pita bread with an unreasonable amount of the salty spread, rendering the carbohydrate almost imperceptible to my palate. The pita bread is wonderful – perhaps the best I’ve had – but at the moment, all I can think about is how much I want to pick up the serving bowl of whipped caviar and lick it clean.
But that would be terrible manners.
Especially when there are nine other (hungry) people sitting at the table.
I’m at the Great Greek in Sherman Oaks courtesy of my very tall and very Greek friend Anna who has coordinated the dinner for our table of food bloggers – most of whom haven’t had much experience with the cuisine. I’ve dabbled in Greek before – or at least America’s version of Greek (pitas, hummus, falafel), which is really more Middle Eastern – but prior to this evening, hadn’t experienced the joy of whipped caviar.
Not that I’ve never had caviar.
I’ve had caviar.
Two whole times to be exact.
But never like this – never serenaded into a creamy state where its pungency is placated into a subtle briny kiss.
I reach for the plate again, ignoring the fine iterations of the other dips on the table – hummus, yogurt tzatski and eggplant melitzanosalata. They are well-done, but my eyes can’t seem to stray from the caviar and the accompanying pita. I can scarcely bear to leave it alone on the table when we are summoned by the jovial staff to dance around the interior of the restaurant. (I thankfully make it through the jerky kicking motions without falling – or losing my claim over another serving of the tarama.)
Even when the other dishes in our Greek deluxe family-style feast ($23.95/per person) begin circulating the table – tender braised lamb, a chicken kebab that defies the criticism that white meat is “bland,” seasoned meatballs, fried calamari, orzo pilaf, etc. – the simple dip still lingers in my head as the most memorable bite of the festive evening.
I can still taste it when I arrive home that night – a sweet and salty reminder of the one dish I didn’t get a chance to photograph. I almost don’t want to brush my teeth lest I wipe away the memory.
And when my brother sends me a text from China moments after I finally do opt to brush my teeth, I don’t respond, “How are you doing? Have you found me a present yet?”
Instead I write back, “I just ate fish eggs. They were delicious.”
Before waiting for his response, I promptly fall asleep – dreaming about a heaven that is lined with pillows of the fruits of my dear friend’s mother land. And in this version of heaven, it would be perfectly acceptable for me to lick the plate.
The Great Greek
13362 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423