|'Notos' Chef and Owner, Constantin Erinkoglu|
|Fleurs de Pontos - A traditional Notos dish|
Since my 2010 blogpost I have dined at Notos twice. That second time was yesterday, when four of us came to the restaurant for dinner to celebrate the birthday of one of us. The previous time I didn't quite have the opportunity to talk to Constantin directly because he happened to be abroad for the day, but yesterday it was my lucky day. I spoke to our charming and utterly hospitable young lady waiter about my wish to meet him and soon later he came to our table. I was stunned by his openness, charm and hospitality. Not a single sign of success inspired arrogance whatsoever, but abundant humility and full of respect instead. But above all I was struck by the strength of his thought stream, his ideas and humble opinions concerning the current state of our country. His eyesight darkened when he referred to the state of our Greek economy and the fact that tradition risks to perish in the wake of current turbulences. He seemed to know Morocco quite well, and he admitted he enjoyed travelling to places like Marrakech occasionally, as well as to its neighbouring villages, where he could still experience the sights and sounds of the past but also the genuine hospitality of endogenous Morrocans, living in a discipline carved by a whole set of old virtues and past traditions, yet untouched by the perils of globalisation and the media. "We used to be like them before, in Greece", he said, but "we seem to be losing this gradually and for good".
He offered us a bottle of excellent Cabernet wine (2004) from the Peloponnese, and he chatted with us for a few more minutes enjoying a glass in our company. I asked him about the current course of his business (the restaurant of about 75 seats was packed at about 9pm) and whether it was still hard to assure a reservation and had to be proactive months in advance. "We used to be like that when we were located in a 25 seat space before", he said, "when people had just discovered us, and some attractive reports appeared in the press". After that we moved here and we don't seem to have a problem for years now. We seem to manage well, within reason of course. If you only called the day before or same day, well, then you naturally risk to face occasional unavailability, but under normal circumstances we can accomodate bookings rather well. Nobody should have to reserve a restaurant months in advance. What would be the point of such a thing?" he remarked. "No, we don't have a reservation problem", he said. "Spread the word".
As I was thinking about the title of this blogpost this morning, I replayed yesterday's scenes in my mind. And thinking about Constantin I concluded: Indeed, hard work and humility mostly go together with quality.
PS. I omitted to critic the quality of the dishes we had yesterday, as I would have to fall into a repetition of superlatives. If in doubt about my own opinion, as I might be considered biased being a 'DNA related' compatriot, ask Belgian ex-prime Minister and current MEP Guy Verhofstadt instead, a great fan of Constantin's, many other BVs (Bekende Vlamingen - Famous Flemish people), or the scores of past and current high ranked functionaries of the Commission. My choice of fleurs de Pontos were simply divine, and the main course of lamb with quince slices, what can I say, simply to lick your fingers, as we Greeks usually admit... Not to mention the pantespani as desert...(sigh)