I may be biased given my Greek heritage, but I think authentic Greek cuisine (I am not including the ubiquitous gyro) still represents the values of slow, farm to table cooking made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. Whether you are a vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, it’s easy to find a wide variety of healthy dishes when traveling to Greece. For many though, the act of Greek cooking seems arduous. However, it does not need to be difficult.
Meet Chef Maria Krina. Maria is a co-owner of Droseriko restaurant in Patras, which is the capital city of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese. She has made a splash in Greece for being outspoken about what is happening with food production around the world and for using purely organic, raw materials from local producers in Greece and Cyprus. Her specialty is highlighting the forgotten Greek dishes of yesteryear.
Presently, she is a chef and kitchen manager for various hotels and restaurants on Syros Island, and just recently, Maria launched Cooking Tales, Hands On Greek Cuisine.
Maria is offering two, new cooking experiences that are just perfect for both the novice cook looking to expand his/her repertoire of dishes or the experienced chef looking to get better acquainted with Greek cuisine:
Syros Island Culinary Experience
This hands-on 8 day cooking trip (which can be expanded to 15 days) invites you to experience the culinary traditions and culture of Greece. With a combination of cooking classes and gastronomic walks around the island of Syros, Maria will inform you about the philosophy and techniques that characterize Greek cuisine and give you the skills to cook these dishes at home. Each recipe is cooked by two people, who will work together under Maria’s guidance. Come share with Maria as she tells the tales she has collected through the years, passed down from generation to generation. Cook, learn, laugh and enjoy real Greek hospitality.
General Itinerary – Offered from May to October
Day 1 – Arrival, transfer and check in at the hotel. Maria Krina, who will share with you the secrets of Greek cuisine the following days, welcomes you at the hotel with a light dinner in the hotel’s dining room with salads and sandwiches made of traditional Cycladic products. We will get to know each other and talk about the itinerary.
Day 2 – After a free morning, you will go on an afternoon guided walk in the medieval settlement of Ano Syros. At the end of the walk, you will have a rest at a traditional coffee shop, overlooking Ermoupoli and the port, drinking local Raki or handmade soft drinks (lemonade, sour cherry juice, orgeat) and testing Cycladic cheese, Louza (cured meat) and capers with barley rusks, olives, sea fennel and wild artichokes from Tinos island.
Maria presents some traditional food products of Cyclades and proposes their possible use in cooking.
Day 3 – This morning, you will have a hands-on cooking lesson and lunch afterwards, enjoying the delicious dishes you have prepared. The duration of the course is about 3 hours and the menu includes legumes and vegetables, the basis of Greek food. In the afternoon, you will have free time to swim, walk around or relax.
Day 4 – Today, you will have a guided visit to a local dairy factory, as Cyclades are famous for their unique cheese products. We will taste their cheese, which we will use in the cooking class of the next day. This experience will be followed by a traditional lunch at a tavern at Posidonia area. After lunch, the rest of the afternoon and evening will be yours.
Day 5 – This morning, you will have another morning cooking lesson with Maria followed by lunch. The lesson will cover grains and pastas dishes cooked the local way. The rest of the afternoon will be free.
Day 6 – After a morning guided tour in Ermoupolis, you will visit a small company that makes desserts (Loukoumia). You will learn how these delights are made, the history of Loukoumia in Syros and will taste the different kinds. You will then visit one of the famous mansions of Ermoupoli, and talk about the bourgeoisie of Syros, the circumstances of its creation and the differentiation between the urban cuisine of Ermoupolis as opposed to the rural cuisine of the villages. You will taste local spooned-sweets served in the traditional way and liqueur citron from Naxos. Next, you will have a guided visit to the Church of the Assumption where the work of El Greco “The Assumption” is kept. In the churchyard, we will try ritual breads and dishes with Raki and we will talk about the connection of Greek traditional cuisine with the Christian Orthodox tradition. The rest of the afternoon will be free.
Day 7 – This morning, you will have your final cooking lesson with Maria followed by lunch. The lesson will cover dishes with meat and eggs. The rest of the afternoon will be free.
Day 8 – After breakfast, depart for your onward journey.
For those who want to experience Greek cooking and culture during the Greek Orthodox Easter Holiday, Maria is offering a special Greek Easter Culinary trip from April 26 – May 3, 2016. During this trip, Maria and her partners will introduce you to the Greek Orthodox Easter customs and help you gain a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the our religion. You will be participating, like a local, in selected church ceremonies, celebration feasts and village gatherings. You’ll visit organic farms, and make traditional Holy Week dishes promising for an unforgettable experience.
Contact us for pricing or if you are interested in learning more details about these trips.