Category: Memorable meals: Dining in Greece (page 1 of 5)

Taste Greece at Mia Feta, the only-one-of-its-kind feta bar and food shop in Thessaloniki

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Mia Feta Feta Bar in Thessaloniki Greece

Mia Feta and some of its many dishes and products are seen in a collage of images from social media pages for the Thessaloniki restaurant and retail shop

 

“Nettle risotto with feta mousse, truffled feta ravioli, feta panacotta with bee pollen and tomato jam. Who knew feta wasn’t just for Greek salad?” — the Mia Feta website

 

Feta fanatics: We absolutely LOVE feta. It’s our favourite cheese, and it seems we just can’t eat enough of it during our trips to Greece. 

Want to see big smiles instantly appear on our faces? Just watch when restaurant or taverna staff serve us a crunchy Greek salad topped with a thick slab of delicious, creamy feta!

We love feta when it’s baked into food, too — savoury spinach and cheese pies, or stuffed peppers and eggplants — and enjoy it as a component of bean, briams or vegetable dishes (called ladera in Greece).  It’s great on its own, as well, or with bread that’s been toasted and brushed with olive oil and a dusting of oregano. Fried feta with a sesame crust and honey drizzle is heavenly, while a watermelon salad with feta is a refreshing cool treat on a hot sunny day.

So you can bet your bottom Euro that, when we finally get to Thessaloniki for the first time, we’re going to make a beeline for Mia Feta, which bills itself as “the world’s first feta bar.”

 

 

 

 Mia Feta recently celebrated its 8th anniversary of business as the flagship store of Kourellas, a family dairy that has been operating in Greneva, a town in the mountainous western Macedonia region of Greece, since 1960. Not only is Mia Feta a farm-to-table restaurant and bar, it’s also a retail food shop that sells the Kourellas line of dairy products as well as Greek wines and artisanal gourmet food items — such as cold-pressed olive oils, jams and spreads, olives, hand-made pastas, herbs and beverages — from producers around the country. And while feta is its signature product and namesake, it isn’t Mia Feta’s only cheese specialty — the restaurant and shop both offer a range of creative dishes and innovative products made with other cheeses, including anevato, anthotyro, graviera, kefalograviera, kefalotyri, kasseri and moschotyri.

Mia Feta is open daily for breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner.

For breakfast and brunch, there’s a yogurt bar that features a variety of toppings such as fruits, nuts, seeds and sauces, while customers can choose from a menu selection of cheese pies and tarts, omelets and other egg dishes, sandwiches, coffee, tea and more.

The all-day menu lists a range of hot and cold dishes: soups; salads; cheese, vegetable and meat appetizers; mains like burgers, pastas, risotto, sausages and chicken; an extensive variety of cheeses (besides feta); a cheese fondue; cold cut plates; light bites and sharing plates; and desserts.

We would particularly love to try their chickpea and lentil salad with beetroot humus, feta, red pepper, sun-dried tomato, lime, bacon and kale; the Santorini fava beans with mushrooms, wild greens and crumbled smoked feta cheese;  and the cheese variety plate featuring feta, anevato, kessari, kefalograviera, and moschotyri cheese with tomato and oregano. Among others!

 

Products available from Mia Feta Feta Bar in Thessaloniki

An image from Mia Feta’s Facebook page shows a few of the specialty food products available in the shop and its online retail store

 

For  anyone who can’t make it to the feta bar in person, products can be ordered online, through the e-shop on the Mia Feta website. Delivery is available throughout Greece and by DHL courier to anywhere in the world.

If you’re interested in reading more, have a look at the following:

♦ The Travel.gr Greece experience website profiled Mia Feta in its November 7 2021 article Three superb Thessaloniki delicatessens and a feta bar;

♦ In the post A feta bar in Thessaloniki, published on the Madame Ginger food, cooking and recipe website,  writer Eleonora Kanaki called Mia Feta “one of the best places in Thessaloniki” to eat drink and shop. 

♦ The Insights Greece travel, culture, design and style website wrote about Mia Feta in the article Thessaloniki: Home to world’s first feta bar

And for extensive information about feta, see the Greek Gastronomy Guide tribute to feta.

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Mia Feta Feta Bar is located at 14 Pavlou Mela Street in Thessaloniki (Tel: +302310221120).

Web: Mia Feta Feta Bar

Instagram: @miafeta_fetabar

Facebook: @miafetafetabar

 

Central Macedonia: A great four-seasons travel destination

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This is the lead video in a Central Macedonia tourism campaign that invites visitors to come “do something great.” The promotion includes four additional short films (see below) that will tempt travellers with fabulous photography of great things they can see and do in the region.

 

Greatness abounds: It’s widely known as the historic home of its king, Alexander the Great, in ancient times, but the mainland Greece region of Central Macedonia wants more people to discover that it’s also an incredible place for tourists to visit 365 days a year.

The region already attracts more than 7 million visitors annually, drawn to such internationally-known destinations as the city of Thessaloniki, the holy monasteries at Mount Athos, the beach-blessed Halkidiki peninsulas, and the tallest peak in Greece, Mount Olympus.

But Central Macedonia isn’t even on the radar for countless other people who have been to Greece, or who might be planning to visit, and aren’t aware there’s so much more to the country than Athens and the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes. Crete and  Corfu. To show those potential visitors why they should give Central Macedonia a closer look, the region has produced five promotional videos that highlight the vast array of vacation experiences available for all types of travellers and their holiday activity preferences.

With spectacular cinematography, the 2-minute videos showcase some of the region’s magnificent landscapes and natural scenery, exciting outdoor sports and adventure activities, arts and cultural attractions, beautiful beaches, and its traditional and contemporary cuisine. The sheer breadth of the region’s natural and human-created wonders may be an eye-opening surprise to people who aren’t familiar with this part of Greece.

The “Do Something Great” video, posted above, is the primary film for the tourism campaign. Published on YouTube and shared on social media platforms, it provides a general cinematic overview of Central Macedonia’s appealing travel attractions, while four other videos, posted below, shine a spotlight on destination features that appeal to specific visitor pastimes:

♦ Taste the Great! whets viewers’ appetites with images of mouth-watering traditional and contemporary cuisine;

♦ Sun the Great! displays brilliant scenes of gorgeous coastal landscapes to show that “nothing beats a sunny day on the beach”;

♦ Experience the Great! profiles some of the thrilling outdoor activities that sports enthusiasts can pursue, such as: mountain biking; skateboarding; surfing; rock climbing; scuba diving; alpine skiing; boating; and river rafting; and

♦ Admire the Great! spotlights cultural attractions, including: art galleries; museums; historic sites; monuments; memorials; churches, temples and monasteries; and music entertainment. 

 

Each of the videos is well worth watching, and the full series takes only 10 minutes to view. We don’t have a favourite to recommend; although we’ve notched half a dozen viewings for the food film, and at least two apiece for the rest, we enjoyed them all.

If you’re interested in learning more about the region after watching the clips, you’ll find the Central Macedonia travel website (pictured below) is a great place to start your research and holiday planning.

 

Central Macedonia tourism website

 

Mykonos restaurants, bars, clubs & more: What’s new for 2021

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Baboulas Ouzeri on Mykonos

Baboulas Ouzeri has returned to the Mykonos Town harbourside alongside one of the island’s most-photographed landmarks — Mathios, the oldest hand-hewn fishing boat on Mykonos

 

Updated on August 25 2021

 

Island unlocked:  After a long winter of Covid-19-related lockdowns ended and Greece reopened its borders to international tourists in the spring, Mykonos quickly bounced back to life.

Visitors arrived on Mykonos to find many familiar faces — their favourite bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels and shops — open and anxiously waiting to welcome them back.

Also eager to greet them were dozens of newly-established businesses opening their doors for the very first time — bakeries, cafes, coffee shops, bars, cocktail lounges, street food and casual eateries, fine dining restaurants, live entertainment venues, retail stores, hotels, rental accommodations, and more.

These new traveller-focussed enterprises further expand the already vast variety of drinking, dining, leisure and lodging choices on Mykonos, further cementing the island’s solid position and reputation as one of the top summer holiday destinations in the world.

In this post, we will introduce you to many of this year’s newcomers, along with some of the noteworthy newbies from last year. (We’re including them since this is essentially their first full summer of operation — the 2020 season started late and ended early due to disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic, while few people were able to visit Mykonos because of international travel restrictions.)

 

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Azul Condesa

Azul Condesa modern Mexican restaurant in Mykonos

With its “modern Mexican cuisine” and sweeping patio views of the sea and sunset, Azul Condesa has been drawing crowds since it opened on May 28.  The menu includes nachos, soups, salads, starters, ceviche, tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, fajitos, burritos and main courses, along with beverage list ranging from classic and frozen margaritas to sangria, tequila, shots and a  selection of popular cocktails.  The restaurant takes pride in its homemade corn tortilla flours for tacos and burritos, and in its picanhas, beef tagliata and other meats seasoned in “unique and exceptional marinades of our Mexican chefs.”  You’ll find Azul Condesa in the Argyraina area, along the peripheral highway above Mykonos Town.

Facebook: @azulcondesamykonos

Instagram: @azulcondesamykonos

Web:  Azul Condesa Modern Mexican Cuisine 

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Mykonos Social by Jason Atherton

Mykonos Social restaurant on Mykonos

Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton has chosen Mykonos as the location for his first restaurant in the Mediterranean. Designed as “a bespoke, all-day dining destination,” Mykonos Social opened June 16, and boasts impressive sea views from its open-air patio perched above the private beach of the luxurious  Santa Marina Resort at Ornos. When they’re not mesmerized by the views, guests will be gobsmacked by the food — the menu features Atherton’s creative interpretations of  Mediterranean and Greek cuisine. The restaurant bar serves Tiki-style cocktails and fine wines, while an in-house DJ plays the perfect tunes to match the clientele’s mood and the sublime resort atmosphere.

Facebook: @MykonosSocial

Instagram: @mykonossocial

Web: Santa Marina Restaurants & Bars

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Platis Souvlaki Grillbar

Platis Souvlaki shop on Mykonos

People staying in the Platis Gialos beach area won’t have to travel into Mykonos Town anymore to get a taste of Greece’s favourite fast food treats — gyros and souvlaki. With the June 11 opening of Platis Souvlaki Grillbar, at the Argo Hotel, visitors can now grab a budget-friendly gyros on their way to or from the beach. The grillbar menu includes gyros and souvlaki served in either pita sandwiches or meal portions, vegetarian pita, sausage and kebab pita, chicken skewers, salads, appetizers and more, all at reasonable prices. Platis Souvlaki joins three other shops that opened at the Argo Hotel last summer — a bakery, fashion boutique and hair & nail salon, which you can read about on page 2 of this post.

Facebook: Platis Souvlaki Restaurant

Instagram: @platissouvlaki

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Woba Street Food

Woba Street Food Project on Mykonos

The Lakka area of Mykonos Town is always bustling with pedestrian traffic since it’s home to the Fabrica bus station and dozens of cheap ‘n cheerful cafes and bars.  Woba Street Food Project by Haris Papazoglu has been drawing even more people to the area since it opened on June 12.  Woba’s handmade, steamed bao buns have practically been flying out of the kitchen since opening day.  The buns come with a choice of main ingredients including chicken, port, tempura shrimp, creamy mushroom, Caesar, rib eye and duck. There’s even bao buns with hot dog or chicken nuggets, and sweet boa with Buenno or banofee.  The menu also offers buckets of chicken wings, nuggets and fried chicken; four varieties of fried potatoes; shrimp chips, crap popcorn and other finger foods; and Thai chicken or crispy duck salads.  

Facebook: Woba Streetfood Mykonos

Instagram: @woba_streetfood_mykonos

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La Barran

La Barran Bar on Mykonos

Owned and operated by a couple of young lads who were born and raised on the island, La Barran  cocktail bar quickly captures attention with its slick and curvaceous white bar and its distinctive illuminated ceiling. It’s situated on Enoplon Dinameon Street, which winds through one of the busiest bar and nightclub districts of Mykonos Town. (Regular visitors will know the location as the premises previously occupied by the Replay clothing store.) La Barran opened in late  April, and has been a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike ever since.

Facebook: labarranmykonos

Instagram: @labarranmykonos

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JackieO’ Cantina

JackieO Cantina on Mykonos

 Mykonos welcomed a new arrival to the JackieO’ family on June 21. The JackieO’ Cantina is a casual  eatery situated right next door to its eldest sibling, the highly popular JackieO’ Town Bar on the Mykonos Town seafront. (The middle child of the family is the JackieO’ Beach club at Super Paradise.) The cantina menu includes a selection of dosas, gyros, souvlaki, salads, sides and beverages. Customers can either dine indoors or sit at tables on the open-air patio overlooking the harbour — a great spot for people watching.

Facebook: JackieO’ Mykonos

Instagram: @jackieomykonos

Web: JackieO Mykonos

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Koozen

Koozen restaurant on Mykonos

For summer 2021, Aeolos Resort has opened a new in-house fine dining restaurant, Koozen, which offers a menu of Greek and Mediterranean “comfort cuisine” created by renowned Greek chef Athinagoras Kostakos, culinary director of the Meraki restaurants in London and Riyadh, as well as Scorpios and Noema on Mykonos. For Koozen’s a la carte menu, Kostakos has conceived dishes that will take diners “on a trip to the traditional flavours of Greece, with modern touches,” says the Aeolos Resort website.  Guests seem to be enjoying their culinary journeys; in reviews posted on TripAdvisor, they have praised the service, flavours and high quality of the food, and have commented that Koozen’s prices are very “reasonable” and “affordable” by Mykonos standards.  Koozen opened in May, and operates from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Instagram: @koozen_mykonos

Web: Aeolos Hotel Restaurant

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Drunk Monkey

Drunk Monkey bar on Mykonos

The Covid pandemic forced restaurants and bars around the world to add delivery and take-out service options to keep their businesses afloat during lockdowns. On Mykonos, two young entrepreneurs saw a promising opportunity and  established Drunk Monkey, a take-away cocktail bar that also offers delivery service. The bar opened in early July of 2020, inviting visitors to “explore the island with a cocktail” and reminding them: “Cocktail first — Because no great story ever started with a glass of water.” The bar’s distinctive take-out containers and logo were soon spotted all over the island. You’ll find Drunk Monkey next door to Niko’s Taverna, behind the Mykonos Town Hall.  This year the bar opened July 20 for its second season.

Facebook: @drunkmonkeymykonos

Instagram: @drunkmonkeymykonos

Web: Drunk Monkey Mykonos

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PERE UBU Mykonos

Pere Ubu Mykonos restaurant at Kalesma hotel on Mykonos

PERE UBU, the in-house restaurant at the new Kalesma luxury hotel, has been making its mark as one of the island’s top destinations for fine dining under the direction of Chef Costas Tsingas, whose gastronomic philosophy “blends fresh local produce with high-end culinary craft”  to take diners on a refined journey through flavour.” “From Athens to New York, he watches, listens & tastes, creating a culinary tapestry that touches on the best of global gastronomy. Connected to the world, rooted in Greece, PERE UBU Mykonos is a journey into contemporary dining,” the restaurant’s social media pages say. “We serve small ‘mezes’ plates, full meals or light lunches by day, and by night PERE UBU transforms into a vibrant social hub with innovative cocktails and gratifying menus,” the Kalesma website states. Indeed, the restaurant has regularly hosted sunset entertainment by DJs Yiannis Mitsokapas and Evridiki from Zucca Radio, and on July 22 held a special summer barbecue feast “guided by the culinary craftsmanship of Beastalis.”

Facebook: @PereUbuMykonos

Instagram: @pere_ubu_mykonos

Web: Kalesma Mykonos Fine Dining

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What a Ride

A collage of photos of the What A Ride toasteria in Mykonos

The take-away shop What A Ride quite literally became the toast of the town when it opened in early July, offering a satisfying and scrumptious street food alternative to burgers, gyros and souvlaki. Its signature toasted sandwiches — “no ordinary toasties,” as the shop proudly proclaims — have been taking its customers’ tastebuds on a deliciously fun ride.  The menu includes such tantalizing toast fillings as steak, cheese, and lobster, and What a Ride sells a selection of craft beers and wines to complement its custom toasties-to-go. You can find the toasteria on Polikantrioti Street near the harbourside promenade. It operates from early evening until the crack of dawn, so it’s a perfect place to grab a late-night bite to eat while clubbing and bar-hopping (or an early breakfast if you manage to party until daybreak).

Facebook: What a Ride Mykonos

Instagram: @whataride.mykonos

 

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Farma House

Farm House music club on Mykonos

A “new concept” venue spotlighting the “experimental sound of Mykonos,” Farma House is an open-air lounge where guest DJs play sets from sunset until late at night. It describes itself as “the other place” of the after-hours Sanctus club in Mykonos Town, and features some of the artists who perform there. Farma House opened on June 25, and  its DJ lineup so far this summer has included Brina Knauss, Patrice Baumel, Arodes, Ivory and Joy Rapotez. The club is situated at Ftelia beach on the site of the former Farma restaurant.

Facebook:  @farmamykonos

Instagram: @farmahouse_mykonos

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Baboulas

Baboulas Ouzeri on Mykonos

There’s always plenty of new things to discover on Mykonos, but occasionally something old is suddenly new again on the Island of the Winds. Like Baboulas Ouzeri, for example.  Long-time visitors to Mykonos will remember Baboulas, which is situated on the harbourfront area of Mykonos Town called Kaminaki. With its traditional tables and chairs positioned on the rocky shoreline alongside a brightly painted fishing boat named Mathios, Baboulas was one of the most picturesque places in town — a veritable magnet for photographers long before Instagram existed. Mathios was an island icon, attracting tourists eager to snap pictures of octopus hanging from its sail ropes against a stunning backdrop of shimmering turquoise water and the whitewashed buildings lining the opposite side of the harbour.  Starting around 2012, the Baboulas location began operating as a restaurant called Salparo Seafood. But this year Baboulas is back, offering simple and authentic Mykonian cuisine, ouzo and Greek spirits — and friendly service — “just like the old days.”  And while much has changed on Mykonos during its hiatus — especially the island’s culinary scene, which has seen the arrival of scores of high-end restaurants — Baboulas is proud to call itself “the least gourmet restaurant on the island.”  Baboulas re-opened on June 14 and will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. 

Facebook: @baboulasmykonos

Instagram: @baboulasmykonos

 

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Parthenis Cafe

a collage of photos of Parthenis Cafe in Mykonos

The Parthenis men’s and women’s clothing shop at Alefkandra Square has been a Mykonos retail icon since it was opened in 1978 by internationally-recognized Greek fashion designer Dimitris Parthenis.  The boutique has long been a must-visit shopping stop for fashionistas, who appreciate the Parthenis  aesthetic  that combines “comfort with simplicity, enveloped through a timeless twist of elegance, deeply linked to the essence of Greek summer.” This summer, the shop added a cafe and lounge, which has been designed to exude the same characteristics — “simplicity, comfort and elegance” — as the clothing brand and the historic house in which its flagship Mykonos is situated. The outdoor space offers visitors a place to enjoy the Little Venice scenery and sunsets while relaxing with a cocktail,  glass of wine or a meal, with a DJ playing music curated to follow the local mood, rhythm and flow.

Facebook: @partheniscafe

Instagram: @partheniscafe

Web: Orsalia-Parthenis

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where we preview more of the exciting new places to drink, dine, party and relax on Mykonos.

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First vegan hotel in Greece, Koukoumi, set to open on Mykonos this summer

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 This 2-minute promotional video explains the inspiration and philosophy for the new Koukoumi Hotel, and features beautiful views of famous Mykonos landmarks and island scenery 

 

Holistic lifestyle hotel: The first — and only — authentically vegan hotel in Greece is set to open its doors on Mykonos this summer, promising to bring both “a breath of fresh air” in hospitality and a “new life philosophy” to the Island of the Winds.

Situated on a hillside near Ano Mera, in close proximity to Kalafatis, Kalo Livadi and other top southern coast beaches, the 4-star Koukoumi Hotel is a project of the Kontiza family of Mykonos. The property has been designed in traditional Myconian architectural style and boasts 14 “boho chic” suites, a  restaurant featuring ethnic, Mediterranean and Greek-inspired vegan and raw cuisine, a swimming pool, spa and fitness center, and its own fruit and vegetable garden.

“Koudoumi” is a Myconian word which translates as “sheltered from the wind” and “a cozy place for snuggling.” To stay true to its name, the hotel has been conceived as “a peaceful sanctuary” where sophisticated travellers can “enjoy life without harming animals, the environment, or [them]selves,” the Koukoumi Hotel website explains.

Rooms include spacious standard, superior and executive suites that can accommodate up to 3 guests each, as well as deluxe and master suites that can sleep two persons each.

The hotel restaurant will offer a completely vegan menu, and pledges that its delicious recipes “will challenge you to reconsider everything you believed about food before!”

The Koukoumi Spa has been designed as a “haven of relaxation”  in which guests can detox, de-stress and rejuvenate “with soothing massages, healing treatments for face & body or by using the sauna.”

The hotel also has an indoor fitness center, staffed by a personal trainer and sports nutrition advisor who can tailor cross-functional training programs to help guests develop their own specific physical fitness programs and wellness goals.

Reservations can be made through the online booking page of the Koukoumi Hotel website, or through the hotel’s listings on booking.com, TripAdvisor and Expedia.

Below are several renderings of rooms and hotel facilities; additional images and information can be found on the Koukouimi website and on the Koukoumi Facebook page. A number of photos also can be viewed on the hotel’s Instagram.

 

A rendering showing an exterior view of Koukoumi Hotel on Mykonos

A rendering of the swimming pool at Koukoumi Hotel Mykkonos

Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos fitness room

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

A rendering of a suite at Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos

Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos 2020 opening announcement

 

A look back at our fabulous Greek Easter feast on Lesvos

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Roasting lamb on the spit at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Lamb roasting on the spit at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Staff at Delfinia Hotel in Molyvos roast lamb on the spit — the main course for the hotel’s special Greek Easter holiday meal in 2019

 

Memorable meal: Today — Sunday, April 19, 2020 — is Easter in Greece, the country’s biggest and most important holiday event of the year. Last year, we got to celebrate Greek Easter for our first time ever while vacationing on Lesvos island. Although it was only 12 months ago, it feels much, much longer, since time seems to have slowed to a crawl during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We were staying at Delfinia Hotel & Bungalows in Molyvos at the time, and jumped at the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Greek Easter meal that the hotel was hosting on its open-air, seaview breakfast patio. 

It cost us €25 each, an absolute bargain for the excellent quality and splendid variety of delicious food that was served. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the afternoon feast, we managed to snap a few photos of some of the delightful dishes we enjoyed, and have posted them below. 

Delfinia Hotel Lesvos Greek Easter menu 2019

The menu for the Delfinia Hotel’s Greek Easter meal

 

Greek Easter dinner salad buffet at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Greek Easter salads and cheeses at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Two views of the wonderful salad and cheese selections on the buffet

 

Greek Easter dinner side dishes at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Rice and baked pasta side dishes on the buffet 

 

Greek Easter dinner side dishes at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Three of the side dishes:  mushrooms (top), zucchini fritters (center) and cheese pies

 

Greek salad at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

We started the meal with a Greek salad, olives and tzatziki

 

Greek Easter side dishes at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

Next up was a plate of yummy baked pasta, cheese, rice, cheese pie, zucchini fritter and mushrooms (all so delicious, we went back to the buffet for seconds)

 

Greek Easter kokoretsi dish at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

The first main course was a large serving of kokoretsi. If you love organ meats, you would love this spit-roasted traditional dish.

 

Greek Easter lamb and potatoes at Delfinia Hotel on Lesvos

The centerpiece of the meal: spit-roasted lamb with roasted potatoes

 

Red dyed eggs for Greek Easter

Baskets of red-dyed eggs for the Easter game of tsougrisma 

 

The buffet  included an array of mouth-watering Greek sweets and pastries, which we unfortunately forgot to photograph before devouring them.

The afternoon feast lasted a few hours, following which we took a long walk through Molyvos to get some exercise and work off some of the gazillion calories we had just consumed. [Click here for links to previous blog posts in which we have published photos from our walkabouts in the beautiful town of Molyvos.]  

Greek Easter won’t be the same this year because of social distancing rules and lockdown restrictions in Greece during the Covid-19 pandemic, so there won’t be any group festivities like the one we enjoyed at Delfinia Hotel. With luck, though, things will return to normal for next year and, with even more luck, we might get an opportunity to experience another wonderful Easter meal in Greece. 

Top Greece travel reads of 2019: Greek food and wine

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Screenshot of Aegean Blue Magazine Issue 80 article about Vegan food in Greece

“Long before it became a fashionable trend and part of a new philosophy, dishes without any meat or animal products were a fundamental part of Greek cuisine, and they remain so today,” says the introduction to an Aegean Airlines in-flight magazine article about vegan food.

 

Feta. Greek Yogurt. Plant-based cuisine. Local Greek Island specialties. Wine bars in Athens. Vineyards open to visitors. These are a few of my favourite things in Greece, and they’re also the subject of magazine and newspaper articles I found particularly informative and instructive to read in 2019.  If you love food and wine yourself, and have a trip to Greece in your sights for 2020 (or later), the publications I spotlight in this post will give you an advance taste of the culinary and oenophilic delights you can plan to experience.

The articles I have selected as best reads for 2019 cover some topics that interest me personally, and others that will be useful to people who have emailed me or asked questions on social media or online travel forums that I regularly follow, like the Greece forum on TripAdvisor.

For instance, there’s a question that has become increasingly common in the past couple of years: “Will I be able to find vegan food & restaurants in Greece?” The answer: “Absolutely!” Brand-new restaurants specializing in vegan cuisine have been popping up in Athens, Mykonos and other major tourist destinations in recent years, while many existing eateries have been adding a range of vegan dishes to their menus to meet rapidly rising customer demand. But even in off-the-tourist-path places, travellers won’t have any trouble finding delicious meals that haven’t been prepared with meat or animal products.

As writer Nana Daroti notes in the article Vegan: Made in Greece, which starts at page 110 in Issue 80 of Blue, the Aegean Airlines on-board magazine,  Greeks are devoted to vegetable dishes known generally as ladera, and which can be found everywhere from “summer seaside tavernas to mountain retreats.”

“Olive oil, vegetables, beans and grains play leading roles in Greek recipes, not because they’re fashionable, but because they’re encoded in the Greek DNA,” Daroti explains.

For me, a far more difficult challenge than finding vegan food is shopping for wine in Greece, and not just because the labels on many bottles are written only in Greek.  Since we’re not familiar with local varietals and vineyards, we can never be certain what might suit our palates, and often wind up choosing a bottle at random and hoping we like it. We’ve found some pleasurable hits that way, but also some sorry misses. Happily, buying wine should be considerably less confusing on future holidays thanks to Wine Plus Magazine, which devoted its 2019 summer edition (Issue 57, pictured below) to all things a visitor needs to know about Greek wine.

In a welcome message, Editor Maria Netsika says the issue takes readers on “a journey through the wines of Greece … a travelogue to pleasure.” The Wine Plus trip itinerary includes the regions of Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Aegean islands, Ionian islands, and Crete, and visits not only the country’s leading vineyards, but also lesser-known wine makers. For each region, the magazine suggests “must try” and “must buy” local cuisine and food products, and provides directions to vineyards and wineries to help visitors plan their “oenotourism stops” in whatever area of Greece they may be travelling. Directories highlight specific regional wines, and conveniently include photos of the bottles.

Cover of issue 57 of The Wine Plus Magazine special issue on Greek wines

The Summer 2019 edition of The Wine Plus Magazine is a veritable encyclopedia of Greek wine, packed with everything you need to know about Greek grapes, vineyards, wine regions, production, and more.  

 

Please turn to page 2 to see more of my favourite articles about Greek food, wine and beverages from 2019.

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Lonely Planet profiles NE Aegean plus 4 ‘secret,’ timeless islands

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Lonely Planet magazine

Greece gets front-cover prominence on the cover of the Lonely Planet newsstand issue for May 2018

 

The secret’s out: I had a strong hunch I might find something interesting to read about Greece when I walked into the magazine department at my local bookstore yesterday.  When I turned into the travel section, my premonition instantly proved accurate — standing at eye level on the front shelf was the latest edition of Lonely Planet, its cover graced with a photo of a blue-roofed Greek Orthodox church illustrating its “Secret Greece” feature story. 

In another pleasant delight, I realized I had seen that very same church in person — on Astypalea, during our island hopping holiday in 2009.

Astypalea is one of seven islands featured in Lonely Planet’s May issue and, in another curious coincidence, the article about it recommends staying in the very accommodations where we spent several nights: Fildisi Boutique Hotel

The magazine highlights two other islands we have been to — Hydra and Sifnos — and, in yet another surprising stroke of serendipity, spotlights four more that I had been seriously considering for our upcoming vacation: Lesvos, Chios, Ikaria and Kythera. (We have already made plans to spend our time in and within sight of the Peloponnese, but Lonely Planet suddenly has me wondering if I may have made a mistake.)

The main focus of the magazine’s Great Escape cover feature is the Northeast Aegean group of Greek islands; specifically, Lesvos, Chios and Ikaria. Stepping ashore on these particular isles “introduces olive farmers and wild honey, hidden villages and untouched beaches, and perhaps the secret to long life,” the feature story introduction says.

Reading the Lesvos profile quickly made me crave Greek cuisine, though I should have expected that given the article’s headline: “Savour the many flavours of Greece on Lesvos, from olive oil to ouzo and orange wine.”

The second feature story invites readers to “discover a centuries-old tradition of mastic cultivation and the fortress-like villages that grew rich from it” in southern Chios.

The third main article introduces Ikaria, one of the world’s unique Blue Zone locations where residents “enjoy longer lives than anyone else in Europe.”

One-page mini profiles for Astypalea, Kythera, Sifnos and Hydra appear in the magazine’s “Secret Greece” feature as examples that, “even in the well-known Greek island groups,” visitors can find “the odd place that’s little changed over the decades.” Each profile includes short thumbnail descriptions for “Why am I going?”, “Where should I stay?”, “What am I eating?”, and “What am I drinking?”

The island articles are all good reads, and just might entice you to consider the Northeast Aegean for a future trip to Greece, especially if you haven’t considered that region of the country before. (They probably will make you feel peckish for Greek food and beverages, too.)

See if you can find a copy of the magazine at your local newsstand before it sells out.

Where to dine, drink and shop local in Kyparissia’s Old Town

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Palia Agora in Kyparissia

Street view of Palia Agora, where a selection of scrumptious mezes topped off our enjoyable visit to Kyparissia 

 

Fab food & drink: Take us to a town or village with sensational views and scenery, and we will probably like it. If there are archaeological sites, or historic buildings or places close by, we will certainly like it even more. Picturesque streets and interesting architecture?  Beautiful beaches, majestic mountains or scenic seasides in the vicinity? A relaxed setting and laid-back atmosphere? Those are guaranteed to tick off even more boxes on our “like” list.

But a destination won’t completely win our hearts if we don’t go home with fond memories of restaurants and cafes. (We’re not foodies or wine snobs by any stretch of the imagination, but we do like to eat, we love good coffee, and we enjoy sipping some nice wine as well.) Since Kyparissia has many of the characteristics that make us happy on holiday — plus really good food and drink in particular — we couldn’t help but love our short visit there in May 2017.

What impressed us on the food & drink front were three places we discovered in the charming Ano Poli (Old Town) district of  Kyparissia:  a shop selling a wide range of local food items and other Made in Messenia products, a comfortable cafe-bar; and a delightful estiatorio – mezedopoleio. Conveniently and coincidentally enough, all three establishments were located  just a stone’s throw apart on Eleni Chameri Street, the main road of Ano Poli.

Here’s a closer look at each:

♦ Palia Agora

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

Palia Agora’s beautifully decorated bar and dining room 

 

A late lunch at Palia Agora was the highlight of our afternoon in Kyparissia. We took one of the tree-shaded tables in front of the restaurant and ordered wine and a selection of cold and hot mezes (small plates perfect for sharing),  then sat back and relaxed while our meal was prepared. The local wine was delicious, and the food was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best meals of our spring 2017 vacation. Some of the standout dishes included the grilled pleurotus mushrooms, local sausage, pork slices accompanied by potatoes and pieces of oranges, the fava with olives and onions, and cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios. Equally impressive was the friendly and efficient service. We would go back to Kyparissia just to have another meal here, the food was that good.

Not surprisingly, Palia Agora is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Kyparissia by TripAdvisor, and it recently received the 2018 Gold Award for Quality and Taste from the leading Greek gastronomy website estiatoria.gr

You can read over 200 customer reviews, and see more than 100 photos of the restaurant and its tasty dishes, in the Palia Agora listing on TripAdvisor.   There are dozens of additional photos on the Palia Agora Facebook page.

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

The grilled pleurotus mushrooms (left) were divine.  Also tasty were the cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios, and served with a salad and  pita. 

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

From the restaurant’s Facebook page, a photo showing the Palia Agora sign, entrance and part of its streetside dining area

 

Palia Agora restaurant in Kyparissia

If you visit Palia Agora for a meal but sit outdoors as we did, make sure to take a peek inside the restaurant to check out the lovely decor and the interesting interior design details, like the light fixture above. 

 

♦ Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar

 

Algorithmos cafe bar

Street view of Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar, which occupies the ground floor of this beautiful building on Eleni Chameri Street

 

Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

In addition to its streetside tables and indoor seating area, Algo-rithmos has an open-air balcony out back, where customers can enjoy views of Kyparissia and the sea

 

We stopped at Algo-rithmos for two coffee breaks during our walkabouts through the Old Town and to the Castle of Kyparissia. We sat at one of the tables out front, next to the street, both times, but we could have chosen to sit inside or on the town- and seaview veranda at the rear of the building had we preferred.

Though we only ordered coffees and tea, the cafe has a full bar serving beer, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Snacks and light food dishes are available, too. The shop interior is cozy and comfortable, with an eclectic interior design (there’s a bicycle, musical instruments and several bookshelves mounted on the walls, and a stack of hardcover books suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room.)

The service was friendly and prompt, and we liked the music that was playing.

You can read more about the cafe-bar in the customer reviews posted on the Algo-rithmos listing on TripAdvisor.

 

Allgorithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

This image, which Algo-rithmos provided for its listing on TripAdvisor, shows part of the cafe-bar interior

 

♦ Messinia Gi

Travelling shopaholics won’t find many stores to browse in Ano Poli, but they will find it worthwhile visiting  Messinia Gi, especially if they like to support regional artisans by “shopping local” for food, fashion accessories and other items to give as gifts or to take home for personal use or souvenirs.

Messinia Gi boasts an extensive selection of food, beverage, fashion and souvenir products made either locally or in the  Messenia region.  Food items on offer include sweets, healthy snacks, honey, packages of handmade pasta, olive oil, olives, herbs and spices, nuts and many more. General merchandise includes jewellery and other women’s fashion accessories, personal care products, and ceramics. (You can view dozens of photos of the shop’s seasonal and regular merchandise in the albums and posts on the Messinia Gi Facebook page, and see additional pictures on the Messinia Gi listing on TripAdvisor.

We picked up postcards and several local food items to bring home for friends and ourselves, including jars of delicious figs stuffed with nuts, while our friends walked out with several bags containing what looked to us like enough food to prepare a week’s worth of meals once they returned to Athens.

The pleasant young lady who was minding the store was very helpful in explaining the contents and sources of the various food items we were considering, and in making suggestions for products to try.  

If you’d like to take home some tastes of Messenia, be sure to visit the shop while you’re in or near Kyparissia.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

If you visit the Old Town, you’ll find a vast variety of local products at Messinia Gi. The made-in-Messenia items make great gifts or personal souvenirs.  This photo of the storefront is from the Messinia Gi page on Facebook.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

Local product displays are shown in this photo that Messinia Gi management provided for the shop’s listing on TripAdvisor. Below is another photo of the store interior, also from its TripAdvisor listing.

 

Messinia Gi  shop in Kyparissia

 

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