Baklava

10 of the Most Mouthwatering Desserts That Travelers Will Find in Greece

Desserts play an important role in Greek culture. Outside of touristy restaurants, most eateries will provide free dessert at the end of a meal, which serves as a mark of hospitality. Providing a free dessert course rounds out the meal and helps ensure that everyone enjoyed the entire experience. The dessert served depends largely on the restaurant and the season, but Greeks take their sweets very seriously. However, visitors do not have to gamble on which free dessert they might eat. Many of country’s sweets are available as street food or in local bakeries. Some of the tastiest desserts to try while traveling in Greece include the following:

 

  1. Baklava

Perhaps the most well-known Greek dessert to foreigners, Baklava consists of thin sheets of phyllo pastry layered with honey, nut, lemon, and cinnamon. Generally, the Turkish version of the dessert uses pistachio while the Greek version features walnuts. However, individuals can also find pistachio-laden baklava in Greece. The exact flavor of baklava can vary considerably between regions and even between restaurants, so it can be exciting for tourists to try it at multiple locations. In addition, Greeks make variations on the traditional baklava, including one that swaps ice cream in for some of the layers, which makes for a more refreshing and less sweet treat.

 

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  1. Galaktoboureko

A very traditional Greek dessert, galaktoboureko uses layer of phyllo dough and melted butter to make a crispy crust around a creamy milk custard. Then, the entire dessert is dipped in syrup. Generally, the dessert is served while it is still warm, although many people request that it be chilled first. Sometimes, the custard comes flavored with a bit of rosewater for a truly delicious floral undertone.

 

  1. Loukoumades

One of the most common street foods throughout Greece, loukoumades are sort of like donut holes. The dough is plopped into a fryer as small balls that puff up to a crispy golden brown. Then, bakers dip the balls into either syrup or chocolate and finish them with a variety of different items, such as nuts and cinnamon.

 

  1. Bougatsa

Purists will say that bougatsa is a breakfast item, although many people choose to eat it throughout the day as a snack. Bougatsa is roughly the equivalent of a croissant in that it is a buttery, flakey baked good. When eaten for breakfast, the pastry typically has a semolina custard, although a savory version containing various types of cheese is also available. Typically, the sweet version gets a cinnamon and powdered sugar finish.

 

 

  1. Diples

With a name that derives from the verb “to fold,” diples are sort of like a fried Greek turnover. Bakers create thin sheets of dough that are rolled into strips and then cut into rectangles. Finally, the rectangles are folded while being fried so that they become very crispy. The finished pastry gets a dusting of ground nuts and cinnamon followed by a drizzle of honey.

 

  1. Melomakarona

These Greek cookies have a soft texture and can prove very sweet as they are traditionally dipped in syrup or honey before being covered in ground walnuts. Greeks most traditionally serve melomakarona during the Christmas season, although it is not impossible to find them at other times of the year. Olive oil keeps the cookies very moist while giving them a unique flavor. The most traditional melomakarona preparation involves only honey, flour, and olive oil, although cinnamon and orange syrup may also be added for different flavors.

 

  1. Portokalopita

People who like orange should definitely seek out portokalopita while in Greece. This cake comes out extremely moist with a very unique blend of flavors, including orange and cinnamon, as well as the tang of Greek yogurt. Syrup also soaks into the cake, giving it a unique texture. Most people believe that this cake originated from Crete, but it can be found elsewhere in Greece today.

 

  1. Ekmek kataifi

One of the most popular desserts in Greece, ekmek kataifi derives its name from the type of pastry used to make it. Kataifi resembles angel hair pasta. This thin pasta is wrapped around a center of nuts and then baked in the oven until it’s crispy. Finally, the whole nest is dipped into a syrup. The most traditional nuts used in this dessert are almonds and walnuts, but pistachios can be used, too. Visitors will not find many other desserts around the world with a texture quite like ekmek kataifi.

Ekmek Kataifi Pagoto

Image courtesy Alpha | Flickr

 

  1. Kalo prama

The name of this dessert literally means “good thing.” The cake is made with semolina and flavored with rosewater and almond. While still in the pan, syrup is poured over the cake. Then, the cake is cut into small, bite-sized squares, which makes it very difficult to stop after just a single piece.

 

  1. Halva

 

Another famous dessert from Greece, halva has many different preparations. Some people use semolina flour while others will use flour made from sesame or nuts. Generally, bakers add both cinnamon and raisins to the mix. The desert has a smooth, but heavy texture that makes it very filing. A more modern preparation of the desert actually uses the dough to create small truffles.

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mykonos

The 5 Best Destinations in Greece for Foodies

The Greek diet is world renowned for being tasty and healthy, and travelers to Greece will have no trouble finding a delicious meal regardless of what part of the country they visit. However, serious foodies who want to taste the best of local cuisine will find that some Greek destinations offer food a step above traditional fare.

Here are recommendations from bloggers and travelers for the best Greek destinations for foodies.

 

  1. Santorini

Santorini, one of Greece’s most popular destinations, is famous for its caldera, historic towns, Greek culture, and beaches. While its food may not top the list for many travelers, foodies should not overlook Santorini’s unique flavors and ingredients.

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The island is built on volcanic soil, which has produced fruits and vegetables with strong, distinct flavors. The foods most often associated with Santorini include cherry tomatoes, capers, fava, and white aubergines. Chefs use local cherry tomatoes in one of Santorini’s best-known dishes, tomatokeftedes, or tomato fritters. This dish is made by chopping tomatoes with onions, spicing the mixture with marjoram and fresh oregano, and adding flour and local cheese such as feta. This batter is molded into patties and fried in oil.

Most of Santorini’s restaurants serve tomatokeftedes, but some notable versions can be found at the Cave of Nikolas in Akrotiri and at Taverna Roza in Vourvoulos. Selene in Pyrgos serves a sandwich with warm tomatokeftes and fava sauce.

 

  1. Crete

Greece’s biggest island offers a smorgasbord of local delights, including a variety of local cheeses. Each Cretan region seems to have its own specialty cheese, including anthotiro (soft white cheese of goat or sheep milk) in Sfakia and ksigalo (creamy cheese with a sharp taste) from Sitia. Visitors can find the island’s most famous cheese, graviera (a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk), throughout the island.

Dakos salad is another Cretan specialty not to miss. This dish is made of hard bread slightly soaked in water to soften it, along with tomatoes, olive oil, and mizithra cheese. Excellent Dakos salad is served at Kohilia Taverna, where it’s even better paired with mizithra cheese and marinated sardines. At or paired with lamb and stuffed tomatoes and peppers at Kouzina in Chania.

The mountainous southern region of Crete is home to sfakianes pites, or pies that look like regular pancakes but are rich in taste thanks to flour, honey, cheese, and raki, a traditional Cretan liquor. Some contain Cretan soft cheese in the middle. After the pies are lightly fried, they are best topped with thyme or heather honey.

 

  1. Ios

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Naturally, seafood is popular on the Greek isles, but the island of Ios offers another take on protein. This island boasts a long-time tradition of sheep farming, and as a result, its restaurants tend to offer excellent mutton and lamb dishes but few seafood dishes. One of the best dishes on Ios is mastelo, which is lamb shoulder slow-cooked in the oven with red wine and dill. The resulting meat is tender and soft with tasty juices worth soaking up with your bread. Want to try the dish? Head to Rigani Meze & Wine at the port or Vilaeti in Pano Kampos.

 

  1. Naxos

This island in the Cyclades in the South Aegean is home to some of the best potato dishes in Greece. Potatoes are prevalent throughout all Greek cooking, but Naxos’s climate and soil give the potatoes grown there an especially flavorful quality. As a result, Naxos has been the hub of potato seed production in Greece since the 1950s.

The restaurants in Naxos offer a variety of potato dishes, all worth trying. A few suggestions include potatoes and stuffed peppers at Oasis or potatoes, cheese, and kitro at Flisvos Beach Café in St. George Beach or potatoes and lamb at Irini’s in Naxos Town. Visitors who’d like to truly immerse themselves in Naxos potatoes should attend the island’s annual Potato Festival, held each summer. This event draws thousands of people who wish to try imaginative and traditional recipes cooked with potatoes, as well as traditional Greek dancing and celebration. In 2017, Naxos farmers broke the world record for largest quantity of potatoes served by cooking 650 kilograms of Naxos potatoes using 550 liters of local olive oil and 22 frying pans.

 

  1. Milos

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This island’s unique topography has produced “volcanic food,” or dishes cooked in ovens submerged in the hot sands of Palaiochori Beach. Geothermal currents run under the ground and create enough heat to thoroughly cook food. Some cooks place a variety of components, such as lamb, potatoes, vegetables, or fish, in a foil packet and cook it in the buried oven. The result is steaming hot food with a one-of-a-kind smoky taste. You can try foil packet meals at Sirocco, and while you wait for your food to cook you can enjoy the stunning views of the beach. Menu items include potatoes with local butter, eggplant with oil and garlic, and chickpeas with lemon.

cheese

7 of the Most Delicious Cheeses You Should Try While in Greece

When traveling throughout Greece, you will encounter a number of unique national and regional foods. Tourists should ensure that they pay special attention to Greek cheeses, as there are a number of incredible varieties. Throughout history, cheese has played an important part in the country. In Greek mythology, the god Aristaios, the son of Apollo, is credited with bringing cheese to the Ancient Greeks, along with honey, olives, and medicinal herbs, which remain among the important ingredients in the country. Following are some cheeses that you must try in Greece.

 

1. Feta

The style of Greek cheese that is most well known outside of Greece is feta, which dates back millennia. This cheese, which is made from either sheep’s or goat’s milk, is typically stored in large barrels filled with a brine for at least two months before being served. The cheese is soft, but not creamy, and has a sharp, salty flavor. While many Greek dishes use crumbled feta to complement other flavors, it can play a much larger role in some plates. One popular appetizer features a slice of feta with a pour of olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano. According to a 2005 decision by the European Union court, only cheeses produced in Lesvos, Macedonia, Thessaly, Thrace, the Peloponnese, and mainland Greece can be called feta.

feta

 

2. Kefalotyri

One of the most popular hard cheeses in Greece, kefalotyri has a sharp flavor with only a hint of salt that closely resembles parmesan or gruyere. The cheese undergoes an aging process lasting several months, which helps to create the sharp flavor. Both cow’s and sheep’s milk varieties are sold throughout Greece. Kefalotyri remains one of the most common cheeses for preparing saganaki, a dish consisting of pan-fried cheese that is served with pita. Cheese also plays a role in some sauces and stews, too. Often, visitors will find it paired with fruits or wine on a cheese board.

 

3. Manouri

Among dessert cheeses, manouri is a staple, although it can also be used in savory dishes as a type of spreadable cream cheese. The fresh cheese may also appear crumbled in salads. Manouri is made from either sheep’s or goat’s milk. In Athens, visitors can find many sweet pies made from phyllo dough, manouri, and other fillings. The cheese comes from the central and northern parts of the country. Some people eat the cheese for breakfast as an alternative to yogurt.

 

4. Kasseri

While most cheeses served in Greece are white, kasseri is a popular yellow cheese with a medium-hard texture. Generally, the cheese, which is made using only sheep’s milk, undergoes an aging process that lasts about four months. The cheese, which may seem slightly stringy, is a popular option for making saganaki, although it can appear in other traditional dishes. Kasseri is an unpasteurized cheese, meaning that it is not treated with heat to kill microorganisms. Instead, the aging process makes the cheese safe to eat.

 

5. Graviera

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Graviera, which can be found all over the island of Crete, is a hard cheese made from cow’s or sheep’s milk. Often, a blend of different types of milks is used. The cheese has a very mild flavor that is almost a little sweet. Due to its mild flavor, graviera is extremely versatile. Sometimes, it is used as a garnish for pasta dishes. However, it can also be sliced and served as an appetizer or as part of small plates called mezedes. Crete ages all of the graviera served on the island for at least five months. People can also find graviera on Naxos, Amfilochia, and Lesbia, where each offers its own unique flavor.

 

6. Metsovone

As its name implies, Metsovone originated in Metsovo, a small village in the mountainous region of the northern part of Greece. Frequently made from cow’s milk, the cheese may also use sheep’s or goat’s milk. The cheese is created using a pasta filata technique, which is the same way that Italian producers create provolone. Many people serve the cheese sliced along with their meal, although it is also ideal for grilling. Tourists who visit Metsovo should make sure to try the traditional dish consisting of grilled metsovone and cayenne pepper.

 

7. Anthotiro

The name anthotiro means “flower cheese.” Anthotiro, which has been produced in regions across the country for centuries, can be purchased in either fresh or dried varieties, similar to mozzarella. The fresh variant has a soft texture and a creamy taste with a bit of sweetness. Often, Greeks eat it with honey and fruit for breakfast, although it can also be made into a savory dish with oil, tomato, and wild herbs. Dried anthotiro has a much drier and saltier flavor, as well as a tougher texture that makes it a great topping for both pastas and salads. Anthotiro is very similar to mizithra, which is often served fresh with honey for dessert or aged in cloth bags to be used with pasta.

Greece

8 of the Most Charming Small Town to Visit While Exploring Greece

Many travelers who come to Greece concentrate their time in the country’s major cities, including Athens and Thessaloniki. Considering their incredible cuisine and exciting attractions, it’s hard to stay away. However, tourists should also consider spending some time in one of the many small towns scattered across the mainland and its islands. These towns can give travelers a truer sense of Greek culture and expose them to the country’s famed hospitality. Some of the most charming towns for tourists to visit include:

 

  1. Chania

Located on the island of Crete, Chania boasts a number of historic buildings that have undergone a meticulous restoration process. In fact, Chania has become recognized as one of the best-preserved old towns in all of Greece. Visitors will find narrow winding streets and architecture that draws influence from Venetian, Ottoman, and Byzantine culture. Historians have called Crete the cradle of Western civilization, and Chania remains one of the sites for exploring this heritage.

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  1. Molyvos

The capital of Lesvos, one of the most famous islands from Greek history, Molyvos is situated in a heavily mountainous area and provides incredible dramatic landscapes from vantage points across the town. Visitors will likely first notice the massive Byzantine castle located in the mountains, while the city itself appears to spill out from the mountains, with hundreds of stone homes descending the slopes and gradually creating a network of streets. While in Molyvos, visitors should take some time to relax in the nearby hot springs of Eftalou, the nearby hot springs. The city also offers gorgeous beaches and a thriving nightlife.

 

  1. Parga

Vacationers in the Epirus region are often drawn to Parga because of its beautiful homes that dot the slopes of Pezovolos hill. Parga has some of Greece’s finest beaches, including Valtos and Lichnos. Visitors should be sure to explore the Venetian castle at the top of the hill and take in the historic architecture of the town. They also shouldn’t skip out on the traditional Greek fare in the local cafes, as Parga has become known for its wonderful seafood dishes that make the most of the local freshwater fish.\

parga

  1. Monemvasia

Monemvasia is a tiny island village off the Peloponnese coast, linked to the main island by a small causeway. A medieval town featuring earth-colored buildings with red tile roofs, Monemvasia formerly served as a fortress village, and the old castle still sits at the highest point of the island. The walls of the fortress also still stand. Guidebooks often refer to the village as one of the most romantic destinations for travelers.

 

  1. Galaxidi

Directly on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, Galaxidi looks like a postcard. A former naval town, Galaxidi features a number of mansions that once belonged to sea captains. Today, they belong to some of the most important shipping families in the country. One of the neoclassical mansions has been transformed into an inn for travelers who wish to stay right on the water. A small maritime museum here gives visitors a sense of the town’s history as well as an informative glimpse into the bustling Greek shipping industry.

 

  1. Nafplio

One of the most popular day trips from Athens, Nafplio served as one of the nation’s most important seaports during the Middle Ages. Visitors will find traditional Greek architecture and a beautiful waterfront area that remains brightly lit throughout the night. One of the biggest attractions in Nafplio is the National Bank of Greece, which has become a textbook example of Mycenaean Revival architecture, a style also known as 20th-century neo-Mediterranean. Travelers should also take time to explore the churches dedicated to saints Nicholas and George, as well as the old clock tower.

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  1. Karpenisi

In the central part of the Greek mainland is an area known as Little Switzerland. Here, visitors will find the small town of Karpenisi, which has become a popular destination among winter sports lovers. The town offers tourists plenty of natural beauty, from alpine forests to whitewater rivers. While in Karpenisi, tourists should have some of the leek sausages that the town has become known for, as well as the unique, award-winning prosciutto made from a breed of pig native to the area.

 

  1. Xanthi

Called the city with a thousand colors, Xanthi has a vivid décor that makes it instantly recognizable. A sort of melting pot of cultures, Xanthi has an interesting architecture with clear influences from a number of different peoples that have occupied the area. The population here remains diverse, ethnically and religiously. The town, which is located in Thrace along the crossroad between Europe and Asia, was once known for its tobacco industry. More recently, the town has become famous for its traditional carnival, held once a year in either February or March.