santorini

The island of Santorini

The island of Santorini

Santorini lies at the south end of the prefecture of Cyclades islands in a distance of 128 miles from the port of Piraues. The area of the island is 75 square Km and its population 7.328 people. Santorini, one of the best-known of the Cyclades, differs from the other islands in the group thanks to its geological morphology, the result of action by a volcano now dormant.
Thousands of tourists visit Santorini every year to witness one of the most majestic sunsets, offered when on top of this wild rock. The most southern of the Cyclades islands has become a meeting place for romantics who wish to admire nature’s wild intervention in the south Aegean.
Santorini is like three islands. One side is the caldera with the villages of Thira, Fira, Firastefani and Oia perched so far above the sea that it may as well be a painting. The towns of Perissa and Kamari attract to their black sand beaches, thousands of people. The third part of Santorini is Akrotiri, known of course for the famous ruins from the Minoan period.

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MYSTIQUE SANTORINI, GREECE

One of the more southerly islands in the Cyclades, Santorini (also known as Thira/Thera and, in Minoan times as Strongili) is, perhaps the most enigmatic and fascinating. Although part of an island group, and sharing that group’s general history, Santorini is unique in many ways. Although mainland Greece and the islands have suffered volcanic eruptions and earthquakes throughout their recognised existence, none has been more violent and catastrophic than those endured by Santorini. The exact date

Much myth and mystery surrounds the ancient inhabitants of the island we now know as Santorini and it has even been associated, tentatively, with the drowned civilisation of Atlantis. True or false as regards Atlantis, the island enjoys a well authenticated history of strategic importance and power dating from Neolithic and Bronze Age times with archaeological evidence that Akrotiri was an important Bronze Age port. Excavations at Akrotiri, started in the late 1960s, have uncovered a site from Minoan times that has become recognised as one of the best outside Crete. Preserved under layers of volcanic ash a prosperous, sophisticated city has emerged of buildings in streets and squares with walls and staircases still largely intact. Storage jars, Minoan frescoes, everyday artefacts and evidence of hot and cold running water systems have all been found pointing to the wealthy existence of the inhabitants. However, few transportable items of value, and no bodies have yet been found during the excavations so it is generally believed that there had been indications that the volcano was about to erupt and the citizens had taken their valuables and evacuated the island.

Over hundreds of thousands of years the island had seen volcanic eruptions and the formation of a drowned caldera which gradually filled again as the volcano re-established itself and erupted again. Before the catastrophic eruption of the Minoan times the outer ring of the caldera, small islands almost touching each other, was almost complete, with just one entrance between Thera and the tiny island of Aspronisi. The exact date of the eruption is still uncertain as carbon dating and similar tests seem to contradict some of the archaeological evidence that has been uncovered. It is, however, considered to have taken place some time between 1650 BC and 1500 BC. After this devastating eruption, thought to be 4 times the size of the Krakatoa eruption of the 19th century, the centre of the volcano collapsed completely taken with it the major part of the caldera above the water-line. Covered in volcanic residue and ash to a depth of 60m. the island remained uninhabited for generations until the Phoenicians established a base on the island and, reputedly, called it Callista. About 300 years later, around the 9th century BC, Dorians followed and founded a city high on the mountain Mesa Vouno and subsequently naming the island and city after one of their leaders, Theras, and only becoming known as Santorini (after St. Irene) in the 13th century when the island came under the jurisdiction of the Venetians.

Adjectives to describe this island have to be superlatives! Everything about the island is extreme …….. the steepness of the cliffs and mountainsides to which the gleaming villages cling, the depth of the water in the lagoon within the caldera, the stunning beauty of its famed sunsets, the taste of its wines, the drama of its beaches of black sand, the absence of rivers and the evidence of its ancient history at every turn. Add to this the tingle of excitement at the thought of all this perched precariously on the edge of a far from extinct volcano, which periodically rumbles and stirs to remind man that it does still hold power to destroy, and you understand the unique attraction of Santorini.

The main villages for visitors to the island and all with the instantly recognisable architectural styles of the island, include Emporio with views of the old windmills; Fira (Phira), the island’s capital with nearby beach, Gialos; Imerovigli, a traditional village near to Fira but higher up the cliffs with nearby beach, Paradise Beach ; Oia, a beautiful village from which the most marvellous sunsets can see with nearby beach, Cape Columbus; Karterados, Pyrgos, with nearby beach, Gialos; and Perissa, a traditional wine producing village.

Perhaps only one word can describe the Santorini mustique experience …………. unforgettable!

Samothraki Island, Unaffected by Modernity

Samothraki Island, Unaffected by Modernity

Stubbornly retaining its natural beauty, Samothraki remains untouched by this modernizing, globalizing day in age.

The island of Samothraki is one that wins you over on your first visit, enchanting you with the crystal waters of its waterfalls, its lush vegetation, and the imposing Mt Saos. According to Homer, it was from the peak of this mountain that Poseidon spectated the Trojan war.

Built amphitheatrically along the slopes of Mt Saos, lies the Hora. The town looks more like a well-designed theater than an ordinary island capital, with its two-story red-tiled houses and quaint cobble-stone streets. The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (Koimesis Theotokou) is worth a visit for its valuable icons and the supposed heads of the “Five Martyrs of Samothraki.” The ruined medieval Castle, a 1400 remnant of the rule of the Genovese Gatelouzo family, is another must-see. On your way to the castle, stop at one of the many bakeries that makes the traditional “gorgi” rusks and delightful leavened bread.

Continuing south, go up to the church of Panagia Krimniotissa, which, as it clings to the cliffs, offers excellent views of the island’s nicest beach- Pahia Ammos. On your way down, visit the renowned eatery Profitis Ilias and taste some of the wonderful goat on the spit.

To the north of the Hora is Paleopolis, the island’s archaic and Hellenistic center, where you can view ruins of the Ancient City and the Sanctum of the Great Gods. This is where the Cabeiri Mysteries took place, rituals that supposedly aimed to secure life after death. But since the initiated were not allowed to talk about these ceremonies, historians and archaeologists cannot make conclusive claims.

East of Paleopolis is Therma, a small town that becomes very busy in the summers, due to its therapeutic sulfurous springs. From Therma, begin either the hikes to peak Fengari, or the path that leads to Gria Vathra, both of which will offer spectacular views. Be sure to stop by the Vathres, the stunning waterfalls that run from the peak of the mountain, creating small natural pools on the way down, and in turn leading to new waterfalls.

Next, traverse the ravine of Fonias, a gorge that also springs from the peak of the mountain, creating many more waterfalls on its way down. If you are less adventurous, perhaps take a stroll through the riverine forest, redolent of beautiful perennial plane trees and matchwood. Stop by the Medieval Tower, a structure that offers exquisite views of the river.

Since roads do not reach all parts of the island, there are some places that you will need to visit via boat, in order to experience the magnificent beauty. For example, you will need to take a boat to see the waterfall of Kremastos, a cascade that falls into the sea after a 100-meter drop. Similarly, you must travel by water to see the adorable Mediterranean seals that have found their haven in the sea caves of Samothraki. If you get this far, be sure to make it to Vatos, a beach of unique beauty, surrounded by high rocks with caves, and situated a bit to the west.

Eating out:
With its specialty being the goat on the spit, Samothraki is famous for its fine traditional food. The island’s best taverna, “O Vrahos,” is situated on the road to Profitis Ilias. Also, be on the look out for “O Sotiras,” an eatery situated in the forest, just above Hora. There, you will fine exquisite roasted goat and magnificent fried potatoes, in addition to many delectable traditional “mezedes.” Instead of a refrigerator, the taverna uses the basin with frozen running water to preserve food. A plethora of tavernas, such as “Akrogialim” on the road to Lakomma, or “Limanaki” on Kamariotissa beach, serve unbelievably tasty seafood.

At Kamariotissa beach is also “Klimataria,” the tavern of Mr. Antonis that has remained open for more than twenty years. On the eastern side of the island, you can visit the delicious “Perivoli tou Ouranou,” at Therma, as well as the eatery of Mrs. Maria, a sweet woman who has converted the lower part of her house into an “ouzadiko.” Ask for her homemade leaven bread, along with the cheese that she produces herself. Predictably, the omelet made from eggs and vegetables from her yard is also divine.
For dessert, definitely go to Hora’s “Aggelonia,” for crepes and loukoumades, but don’t leave if you haven’t tasted the fantastic spoon sweets. The owners are known across the island for their amazing figs, morello, quince, “praousti” (wild prune), and walnuts, all of which are preserved and then sweetened to perfection.

Where to stay:
You will find more rooms for rent than hotels on Samothraki, since, unlike most other Aegean islands, it is not a touristy island. At Kamariotissa, you can find “Aiolos” (2551-41795), and on the road to Paleopolis is the hotel “Kastro” (25510-89400). At Therma, you can stay at “Caveiros” (25510-98278) or at “Mariva” (25510-98230 & 98258), where Mrs. Chryssoula will show you what Samothracian hospitality is all about. If one of them has not opened yet due to the weather, you can find many rooms for rent in Kamariotissa as well as in Hora.

How to get there:
You can get to the island either from Kavala or from Aleksandroupoli, with a ferry or a flying dolphin. There are also routes once a week from Lavrio.

Useful Telephone Numbers:
Municipality of Samothraki – 25510 41584
Health Center – 25510 41217
Police – 25510 41203
Port Authority – 25510 41305

Incredible Crete

Incredible Crete

VIDEO

A spectacular video made by the official Crete’s tourism portal www.incrediblecrete.gr featuring a cinematography that brings tears in most people’s eyes without anyone in the film saying a single English word.
It perfectly displays the Cretan “philoxenia” which in Greek means kindness, generosity, friendliness and hospitality.

Visit Crete for the optimum Mediterranean traveling experience, and trust me you will leave with similar incredible memories.

Santorini, Strange Beauty

Santorini, Strange Beauty

Santorini is consistently voted as one of the 10 most beautiful landscapes in the world. A great ancient civilization flourished here, until a huge eruption in 1623 BC destroyed everything, leaving in its place a unique scenary.

Santorini is one of the most popular destinations worldwide, and is considered to have one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. One can find hotels and restaurants of a very high standard, as well as other more simple solutions for accommodation and food. The famous sunset is best watched from Oia. Visit the unique Vlychada beach with to its volcanic rocks and black sand, as well as the more cosmopolitan Perissa.

Santorini also produces excelelent wines, that are exported to most European countries. During the last few decades, the expanse of vineyards has minimized greatly, due to touristic development on the island, and is currently confined to almost 6000 acres. Even so,  new technology and better-educated winemakers, have contributed to the wine’s enhancement.

Santorini’s main variety is the Asyrtiko. This forms the basis of VQPRD Santorini, together with the Athiri, the second white variety on the island. A third variety, the Aidani, is also produced. The Asyrtiko is considered to be one of the best white varieties of the Mediterranean and results in wines with high acidity and fruity flavours. Particularly in Santorini, the Asyrtiko develops unique characteristics, due to the peculiarity of the ground. We also meet the marvellous Vinsanto, an amber-coloured, sweet wine.

Top Santorini Hotels:

Enigma Suites – Oia, Santorini,
Iconic Hotel – Imerovigli, Santorini
Nefeles Hotel – Fyra, Santorini
white pearl villas – Oia, Santorini

Top 3 Restaurants:

Koukoumavlos – Fyra, Santorini
Τel.: 2286023807, 6979719289
Papagalos – Oia, Santorini
tel.: +30 228 607 1469, +30 694 220 5923
Vanilia – Fyrostefani, Santorini, Τel.: +30 22860 25631

Gourmed Tips:

• One must definitely try the sun dried tomatoes, the fava and Santorini’s wines.
• Take the boat to Caldera and walk on the ground of Nea Kameni.

Wine factories to visit:

Gavalas Wine factory, Megalochori, tel. 22860-82552

Boutari Wine Factory, Megalochori, tel. 22860-81011

Chatzidakis Wine Factory, Pyrgos, tel. 22860-32466

Kanava Roussos, Kanari, tel. 22860-31349

Beans, Green/Red Choricero Pepper and Chorizo

Beans, Green/Red Choricero Pepper and Chorizo

A Mediterranean, (specifically Spanish) will have two reactions to this soup: the first is a sensory one, “yumm”, the second is a mental one, “oh..not only is this yummy, but it is actually healthy!”. If you are vegetarian, just take out the chorizo. Meateaters, make sure to get top quality chorizo, as sausages are often used to disguise bad quality meat.

Ingredients:

500g haricot beans
1 onion
1 medium sized leek
1 normal sized carrot
1 fresh green or red chorizero pepper
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp olive oil
140 – 175 g chorizo sausage

Procedure:

  • Soak your haricot white beans over night
  • Chop onion in brunoise
  • Chop leek and carrot in medium size pieces
  • Deseed and cut your chorizo pepper into 1/2cm thick pieces

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and once warm add the carrot, onion, leek, garlic clove and bay leaf.

2. Once slightly cooked and lightly browned, add the beans and enough water to come 2.5/ 3 cm above the beans.

3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 1½ hours, or until the beans are tender.

4. Stir occasionally and add some cold water, (not hot), if necessary during the cooking.

5. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a small frying pan, and then fry the chorizo for 2-3 minutes until crisp.

6. Once cooked, take out the bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste

7. Serve the stew scattered with chorizo and drizzled with oil.

Tips

The finished stew should have a soupy consistency. If it doesn’t, take a ladel of beans, separately pass them through a blender and re-incorporate them into the soup.

Sarah A. Lewis

Sarah A. Lewis

Sarah is a writer raised in Los Angeles and the coast of Maine, today settled between Milan and Sifnos, Greece.  She is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the Instituto Superiore di Architettura e Design, with degrees in religious studies, art history, and landscape design.  She has since entangled herself in the intimate politics of a small (but exceptional) Italian restaurant, all the while reporting on topics such as art, gardens, Italian eating habits and horse meat.  Driven by a remarkable appetite, she will continue to write about Italian recipes, ingredients, kitchens, and farms, here at Gourmed.com

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver

James Trevor “Jamie” Oliver MBE FRCGP (Hon) (born 27 May 1975) is a British chef, restaurateur, media personality, known for his food-focused television shows, cookbooks and more recently his campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools. Nicknamed the Naked Chef, he strives to improve unhealthy diets and poor cooking habits in the United Kingdom and the United States. Oliver’s speciality is Italian cuisine, although he has a broad international repertoire.

 

Dimitris Chatzinikolaou

Dimitris Chatzinikolaou

 

Graduated from the University of Bordaux as a certified wine taster (D.U.A.D.), with a Master’s Degree in viniculture (D.E.A.) and a doctorate in microbiology.  He was given the French nationality, in honour of his perennial contribution to new white wine production methods .

Returning to Greece, he opened up new horizons for the wine scene in Greece by creating the first Technology and Marketing Consulting Office and naming it “Oenos, o Agapitos” (wine, the beloved).

His elaboration on the creation of new wine-making units, the vinification of selected varieties and his contribution to the formation of the idea of the “small producer”, are only three examples of his activities as a Technology of Wine Consultant.

In wine marketing, his main focus is the improvement of the packaging of wines (creating new labels and bottles) and the promotion of the extended wine choices of the consumer.

Various articles in newspapers and magazines, radio and television shows, books and web publications have earned him recognition as a pioneering wine journalist, for his promotion of quality wine in our Greece.

In 1993 he founded the first School of Wine in Greece, with, at present, more than 2.500 alumni.

He has published ten different books in Greek, as well as the first International Oenical Atlas(Eleytheroudakis Editions), written in Greek.

His book Favorite Wineries to visit, is an elegant album of wineries which are open to the public in the 250 illustrated pages.

Jenni Pressfield

Jenni Pressfield

Jenni Pressfield is a former healthcare worker, who specialized in helping people with their diet. Once she became a mother, she decided to turn her efforts to freelance writing about the subjects she studied and now contributes to a number of different sites, writing about health, food and fitness