Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Greek Valentine

As I entered the Greek restaurant on a very chilly Saturday night, I grabbed a small table in the bar as well-dressed socialites in sequined miniskirts and to-die-for boots stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men sporting business-casual wear, nursing handcrafted cocktails and downing shots of the mystical isle's minty, anise-flavored liqueur. My own attire for the evening channeled the flowing robes adorning goddesses in Greek Mythology. I chose a gorgeous teal number by DJ-Jaz with silky fabric draping gracefully front and back from a congregation of faceted crystals at the single, ruched shoulder, a steal I happened upon earlier in the day for just $10 at my local JCPenney store in Baltimore County.

To highlight my Hellenic persona, I added some vintage crystal earrings that belonged to my late grandmother, a silver-metal bracelet-watch which I picked up in the Dallas-Fort Worth international Airport a couple of years ago, a blue-green crystal fashion ring from BCBG in Las Vegas, and a dazzling bracelet of azure crystals made by my high-school pal, Lily Williams, in northern California. I completed my look with a quilted silver handbag by Adolfo given to me by my best friend’s mother, Joyce, in Spokane, and my favorite black patent platform pumps by Call It Spring.

George Aligeorgas, owner of Ouzo Bay
restaurant, greets a dinner guest

Reservations at Ouzo Bay (, the hottest new restaurant in Baltimore’s progressive Harbor East neighborhood, were not easy to come by. I had to be content with a seating for dinner at 9:15 in the evening on Valentine’s Day weekend, although the reservation was made weeks in advance. At my arrival, for a cocktail and appetizers at around 8:00 p.m., the place was absolutely hopping.

Succulent lamb shank
 My dinner date and I shared a sampling of spreads on pita points as I sipped a lemony Aegean Daisy cocktail in a vain attempt to sooth a sore throat and laryngitis I’ve been harboring for almost two weeks now. At precisely 9:15, we were shown to our seats and were greeted shortly thereafter by the restaurant’s owner, George Aligeorgas, who pointed out that we were seated at his "favorite table".

Baklava came adorned with ice cream,
cinnamon stick and spun-sugar
I chose a magnificent lamb shank for my entrĂ©e while sipping a memorable 2004 Baron de Ley Reserva rioja, recommended by astute beverage director Julian Albornoz. And far be it for me to reject that most delectable of desserts, baklava (similar to gastris of ancient Greece), artfully displayed with spun-sugar embellishments by Baltimore’s newest confection sensation, pastry chef Akis Anagnostou, when it suddenly appeared in front of me as a gift from the charismatic proprietor.

Shortly after leaning in for a photo, George treated me to a nightcap of his restaurant’s signature Ouzo liqueur. Were his charming attentions in tribute to my Grecian gown?  Who knows?   But it sure made for a marvelous evening.

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