I forgot to mention what happened to the scallops from the Joe Patti’s Seafood excursion last Friday. Just a sprinkle of salt and pepper is all that was needed with these pristine bivalves, and then I seared them on an electric griddle smeared with that good Greek olive oil (from the isle of Crete actually) that a waterfront neighborhood grocery called The Shoreline sells. Walk into The Shoreline and follow your nose until you reach their deli in the back: olive salad, Greek feta, and oregano compete for your attention with the sweet honey and walnuts of flaky backlava pastry.
The sight of those mavrodaphne bottles takes me back to a time in Tallahassee, Florida eons ago when I wore that off-one-shoulder long chocolate brown dress to a benefit for the Greek community (AHEPA). My hair was long then, past shoulder length. I was watching the old men dance (oopah!) through a haze of tall white candles and ouzo when a strand of my hair swung forward, wicking flame from a candle. The little old ladies reacted immediately, pouring the dregs of their cocktails on my head. “Dahlink, do you know you’re hair is on fire. . . ooh the smell!”
And the party went on.
There is a well-known watering hole for politicians in Tallahassee called The Silver Slipper. It has been run by the Kalfas family for decades. I lived in Tallahassee for about ten years in the 1970s and worked in and around The Capitol. Papa Kalfas, scion of the restauranteur family, was tall and elderly when I knew him. He always wore a formal, old world style black suit, and in its pockets, he kept a supply of half-packages of Lifesavers. Click here to read about the history of how Papa “Jimmy” Kalfas came from Greece with no money and finally was able to found The Slipper. I had many dinners there, in one of their little private booths with the heavy drape provided for secrets, political and otherwise. . . but that’s another story.
Papa Kalfas’s eyes would light up at the sight of the many young women, myself included, who decorated the restaurant when the legislature was in session. “Ah, good evening, dahlink, beautiful gull,” he would say, reaching into one of his many pockets. “Here, this is for you,” and would press one of those half rolls of Lifesavers in some young woman’s hand. Then he would put a finger to his lips and whisper conspiratorially, “But don’t tell Mama!”
Mama Kalfas was generally at the cash register, taking care of business, but never far away from Papa.
The scallops were tender and sweet; same for the walk down memory lane. We ate them with slow-roasted Roma tomatoes and garlic-tossed angel hair pasta (not on fire).