Savory delights in Attica and the Saronic islands

A trip around Attica, just like the rest of Greece, is a unique gastronomic experience. Although the greek tradition values simple meals with fruit and cheese, it can, at the same time, offer exquisite and top-level dishes. The land of Attica and its surrounding islands do not simply treat their visitors with local food treasures; they stimulate their senses, becoming a must-go for foodies.

Without a doubt, someone can taste all the renowned greek delicacies in Attica. Dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves) and tzatziki sauce are the stars, along with unique PDO products, such as feta cheese and, of course, the acclaimed traditional recipes, like the tasteful savory pies (cheese pie, spinach pie, wild weeds pie and others). In Athens and Piraeus, visitors can experience the flavor of all popular greek dishes. Menus offer a plethora of choices, whether grandma-like or with a modern, yet challenging culinary approach, since Greek chefs make their experiments respecting the past and unleashing their imagination.

Just outside the urban fabric, at the villages of Attica, there are still recipes prepared with processes tracing their history back to centuries ago. A typical example is the region of Mesogeia and their famous Gkogklies, a kind of pasta originating from the arvanitic cuisine, which loyally embraces the rural cooking philosophy: less but fine simple materials, produced on a local – or even family – basis, filling for body and soul. Strictly handmade, they can only be served in the traditional way, tossed in plentiful browned sheep butter and sprinkled with dry mizithra cheese on top. Mousounta, the local crustless spinach-pie of Attica which survived through the mists of time, is another must-try. Although it may seem simple to make, it needs skills and experience to create that perfect crunchy yet non-greasy bite.

An island tour hides even more gastronomic gems. Every single island has either big or small tasty secrets that every foodie must discover. When in Spetses, try the Fish a la Spetsiota, a traditional recipe with few and simple materials, celebrated for its caramelized sauce into which the fish is slowly cooked. Hopping to Hydra, visitors can easily realize that its culinary history is still alive and kicking; as a variation to the gkogklies pasta of Mesogeia, locals use just flour and water to prepare their own fresh shell-shaped pasta, served with rich browned butter, the perfect match for fresh seafood.

Platetsi, a unique oil bread, is the local dish οn the island of Salamina. Sailing southwards to Aegina, food lovers may try the best-known local pistachios in every single main or side dish. Islanders can boast of many local delicacies including Katsoula, a tiny delicious fish, exclusively found into Aegina waters during summertime. Its playful color, combining vivid orange with blue highlights, is an eye-catcher that inspires gastronomic experiments. In general, the fresh and delicious fish of the Argo-Saronic Gulf, are the key ingredient for specialties offered all along the Saronic Islands, Piraeus and the other coastal areas of Attica.

However, the top notch of the traditional local cuisine of Attica is actually the most remote one. On the beautiful island of Kythera, cooking has evolved through centuries in its own unique way, being far less influenced by other parts of Greece.

Having invented a fanciful idiomatic expression for the local version of “Ntakos salad” (“Vrechtoladea”), the people of Kythera still make the famous local oil rusk, a perfect add-in to their meals. Locals keep making their own specialties, imparted from one generation to another, exclusively using top-quality homegrown products.

The original sausages, accompanied by local oil rusks and a galore of rich-flavored cheeses (ladotyri, mitato, fratsia and others) make up a unique gastronomic experience for visitors who must not leave the island without tasting the local butter and voutirotsikoudo, a spicy cheese spread made of sheep milk.

All the above are simply starters that whet one’s appetite for the main “stunning” courses: aubergines with sour-milk (xynochontros) trahanas and venetian pastitsio, a really unique dish mostly prepared at the Chora of Kythera, slowly cooked inside dough. However, grilled artichokes are the cream of the crop; visitors will love them as much as locals do.

A good meal is a key factor whether for a good short outing, a long excursion or your scheduled holidays. Attica and its culinary landscape can fully meet this expectation, calling visitors to explore tastes and dishes linked to the Attican land and prepared by its people. A “hearty” visit with countless gastronomy options, all year long, which has to be included on your bucket list.

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