Who said that Greece is only famous for ouzo, raki and good wine? Greek beers may not be as popular as in other European countries, but there are some serious efforts worth mentioning, and even more worth tasting!
Though most Greek beers are not widely known, there are some, like Volkan Beer from Santorini island that have been awarded internationally. So if you’re the type who enjoys an ice-cold brewsky while watching the game with buddies, or loves sitting by the fireplace with friends nibbling on a Greek “meze,” search for these quenchers…μπύρες
Greece has long been a family holiday favorite with itsbeautiful blue waters, child-friendly beaches and abundance of flavour-packed fare. Make sure you sample all the country has to offer with our pick of delicious dishes…
A mainstay of any Greek meal are classic dips such as tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic),melitzanosalata(aubergine), andfava(creamy split pea purée). But the delectabletaramasalata(fish roe dip) is a must. This creamy blend of pink or white fish roe with either a potato or bread base is best with a drizzle of virgin olive oil or a squeeze of lemon.
Greeks have been cultivating olives for millennia…some even say that Athena gave an olive tree to the city of Athens, thus winning its favour. Greek meals are accompanied by local olives, some cured in a hearty sea salt brine, others like wrinklythroubes, eaten uncured from the tree.Similarly, olive oil, the elixir of Greece, is used liberally in cooking and salads, and drizzled over most dips and dishes.Many tavernas use their own oil.
Each region in Greece, in fact, each household, has its variation on the classic grape leaf-wrapped rice parcel. Eaten as a finger food, some stuffed vine leaves incorporate mincemeat with the long-grain rice, others, simply a heady combination of thyme, dill, fennel, oregano or pine nuts.
Variations on moussaka are found throughout the Mediterranean and Balkans, but the iconic Greek baked dish is based on layering: sautéed aubergine, minced meat fried pureed tomato, onion, garlic and spices like cinnamon and allspice, a bit of potato, and then a final fluffy topping of cheese and béchamel sauce.
Greeks are master of charcoal-grilled and spit-roasted meats. Souvlaki is still Greece’s favorite fast food, both the gyros and skewered meat versions wrapped in pitta bread, with tomato, onion and lashings of tzatziki. At the taverna, local free-range lamb and pork dominate, though kid goat is also a favorite.
Settle down at a seaside taverna and eat as locals have since ancient times. Fish and calamari fresh from the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas are incredibly tasty and cooked with minimum fuss – grilled whole and drizzled withladholemono(a lemon and oil dressing). Flavoursome smaller fish such asbarbounia(red mullet) andmaridha(whitebait) are ideal lightly fried.
Sometimes in the form of a patty, sometimes in a lightly fried ball, make sure to try these starters any chance you get. The body of the fritter is usually made of grated or pureed courgette blended with dill, mint, or other top-secret spice combinations. Paired with tzatziki, for its cooling freshness, you just can’t lose.
Along harbours, octopus hung out to dry like washing is one of the iconic images of Greece. Grilled or marinated, it makes a finemeze(appetiser), or as an entree stew it in wine sauce and serve it with pasta.
Octopus with rice
Feta & cheeses
When in Greece, be sure to sample the vast array of fresh cheeses. Ask behind market counters for feta kept in big barrels, creamy and delicious (nothing like the one in plastic tubs in markets outside of Greece). Or, sample graviera, a hard golden-white cheese, perfect eaten cubed, or fried assaganaki. At bakeries you’ll findtyropita (cheese pie), at tavernas, salads like Cretan dakos, which is topped with a crumbling of mizithra, a soft, white cheese.
Greeks love their sweets, often based on olive oil and honey combinations, with flaky filo pastry. The classic baklava is a start, layering honey, filo and ground nuts. Or trygalaktoboureko, a sinful custard-filled pastry. Simply, pour a lovely dollop of local thyme honey over fresh Greek yogurt.