BY Angelos Rentoulas

| Aug 31, 2017

Gastronomy

Vacation Guide: How to Eat, Drink and Think Local

By seeking out local products you will not only eat and drink well on your holiday, but also be supporting the agriculture that gives life to the Greek countryside year round.

When in Greece…

Sushi’s great, as is tagliata and chimichurri, but I would propose that when on holiday in Greece one should support the tavernas and restaurants that cook Greek food. It doesn’t have to be traditional Greek dishes but at least dishes made with local products. However, buyer beware, as in recent years ever more restaurants have started making a big dong and dance about how they only use vegetables from their own private gardens and meat raised on the nearby hills. Some do, but certainly not all.

The tomatoes grown on any given Cycladic island cannot feed all of its many summer visitors. So how does one identify the places that may be being a bit more economical with the truth? Asking a few telling questions will do the trick. Where is your garden? Do you produce enough vegetables for the entire summer, for all of your customers? Where do you get your fava (split peas) from? What oil do you use? What feta? If you’re left feeling a little unsatisfied by the answers, perhaps opt for somewhere else for your meal.

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Support local (bottled) wines

Dishes on Syros taste even better when accompanied by a glass of “San ta Maratha”, the Assyrtiko wine from a small winery on the island. On Milos, the traditional local fare pairs perfectly with the local rose produced by the Konstantakis winery, a blend of Mandilaria with Roditis and Moschato grapes.

Of course, not all islands have wineries, but even if they don’t certainly a neighboring island will. So reward those bar and restaurant owners who support local winemakers and ask the others to stock these wines (demand always stimulates supply). And never order anonymous, chyma (unbottled) wine of dubious provenance and quality.

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Vinsanto & Assyrtiko © (L) VisualHellas.gr , (R) Vangelis Zavos

The best souvenirs are edible

You can keep that vacation feeling going a while longer if, as you leave, you fill your bags with local delicacies from your holiday destination. A cheese from a small creamery; organic, locally produced charcuteries (Cycladic louza for example); a bottle of small-batch wine you won’t find elsewhere; a jar of excellent honey and so on. And don’t forget the sweets: almond cookies (amygdalota – ideally made with locally grown almonds), honeyed pasteli (the original Greek energy bar made with honey and sesame seeds) and spoon sweets made with any and all local fruits. These are all best purchased at shops (after having sampled them) rather than from roadside stalls where they are likely to have been exposed to the sun and heat reducing their quality.