The best holidays I've ever had have been spent in Greece and I think a big part of that country's charm is it's food.
I'm lucky enough to have a friend, Val, who lives on Corfu where she runs a secluded holiday retreat in a hidden part of the island - so often known only for its over-developed resorts.
The best parts of the holiday are Sundays when Val takes the day off from tending her gorgeous garden; her converted olive-press studio apartments; and the 101 ways each working day she finds to help her guests enjoy their break.
On Sundays we take off to secluded beaches with bags of bursting peaches, feta cheese salad and cold bottles of Greek wine. By sunset we are in some jasmine scented taverna surrounded by loudly laughing Greek faces and tables heaving with food.
Tzatziki, spiced hummus, taramosalata, dolmades, saganaki, calamari and, my favourite - gigandes - which are giant beans cooked in tomato sauce. Although all of these can be eaten as a starter, the best way to eat Greek food is to have it all at the same time.
Nothing beats a table laden with plates of these foods and maybe some souvlaki kebabs, some kleftiko (slow-roasted lamb) and grilled sardines or sea bass. You all dig in together and after a meal like that it‹s impossible not to be friends with everyone around the table and probably at the neighbouring tables too.
To repeat such a feast and such an atmosphere at a restaurant in London, with its distinct lack of sun-drenched beaches, is a tall order.
But The Real Greek has a very good try.
Founded in 1999 by celebrity chef, Theodore Kyriakou, the first branch opened in Hoxton to critical acclaim winning Best New London Restaurant.
The concept was expanded in 2003 with the opening of Clerkenwell, bringing this new take on delicious Greek street food to more Londoners. The openings continued across London with Bankside (2004), Marylebone (2005), Putney (2005) and Covent Garden (2006).
It was the Marylebone restaurant on Paddington Street that I visited.
With its modern, rustic and intimate interior and friendly staff, it is the ideal place to share a meal with friends and family.
Mezedes, souvlakis and sharers are just some of the dishes available with a wide selection of wines to complement the tastes and textures of the food.
It's as close as you are going to get to the real thing, while staying here in cold old England.
The Real Greek,
Nearest tube: Baker Street
020 7486 0466
020 7486 5048