If you want to learn what taltsene, aivar and soot makalo are, or if you’re just interested in immersing yourself in the gastronomy of western Macedonia, you’ll need to take a short detour to Xino Nero, a small village of 300 inhabitants where the sparkling water of the same name is bottled. In the restaurant run by the Kontosoros family (Tel. (+30) 23860.812.56), operating here since 1989, the menu includes delicious local dishes, and there are great local wines from an enviably well-provisioned cellar that duly honors the wine production of the wider area of Amyntaio.
It’s worth getting them directly from the source as well, as some of the most remarkable wines of the country are produced here and you can visit the wineries, situated quite close to each other, and enjoy wine tastings and walks in the vineyards. Book your appointments to see well-known wineries such as Ktima Alfa (Amynteo, Tel. (+30) 23860.201.11), Ktima Karanika (1st km. Vegoras-Levaias, Amyntaio, Tel. (+30) 694.532.6267) and Ktima Kyr-Yianni (Agios Panteleimonas, Amyntaio, Tel. (+30) 23860.61.185), all located on the plateau of Amyntaio near the shores of lakes Vegoritida and Petra.
At a very short distance, about 1.5km from the Kyr-Yianni estate, is an organic Florina pepper production facility and a restaurant, both run by the Naoumidis family (Agios Panteleimonas, Lake Vegoritida, Amyntaio, Tel. (+30) 23860.612.38, 23860.698.1008). There you can pick up delicatessen products made with their own organically grown Florina peppers, such as peppers stuffed with cheese, pepper tapenade, pepper honey and sun-dried peppercorns, and you can sample local dishes while enjoying views of Lake Vegoritida.
There are other local products, too, such as Prespes beans. They come in two types: the large-seeded flat bean and the elephant, or giant, beans, both PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status products of the Prespes area. Don’t leave the vicinity without picking up supplies from Pelekano (Lemos, Prespes, Tel. (+30) 23850.518.55), the Agricultural Cooperative of Bean Producers of the Prespa National Park.
An extended version of this article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.