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Few delicacies are more fraught with peril than the octopus. It’s rubbery when undercooked, mushy when overdone, and grisly to look at, even under the best of circumstances. But in the hands of a master, sometimes miracles occur. At his flagship midtown restaurant, Anthos, the great Greek American chef Michael Psilakis roasts his octopus tentacles in white wine and ouzo until they’re perfectly tender, then seasons them unconventionally in a wood smoker. After that, he crisps the octopus in a frying pan, then plates it with yogurt flavored with lemons and fennel pollen, and a warm salad made with chanterelles, pickled onions, and wheels of frizzled lemon. The result is a mix of soft, charred textures and creamy and tart tastes, all bound together with an unexpected overlay of sweet, delicate smokiness. It’s the kind of savory seafood confection even an octopus hater can love.
From the 2009 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine