'Snapshots from Greece' on Serious Eats

Snapshots from Greece: Spanikopita's Cousin, Hortopita

Will the real spanikopita please stand up. Whoever's running the spanikopita marketing campaign really deserves a raise. I was in Greece for almost a week before I realized that what I thought was spanikopita—layers of crispy phyllo dough stuffed with a cheesy, leafy green mess of joy—actually wasn't. It was hortopita, a savory pie cousin that contains horta, or edible wild greens such as dandelions, chard, kale, and lamb's quarters. Horta directly translates as "grass" in Greek, but refers to about 80 different greens (step aside, spinach) growing all over the country—alongside highways, in fields, and many other places with dirt. It's delicious alone (sauteed with lemon and olive oil) but obviously a few hundred times better when feta... More

Snapshots from Greece: Spoon Sweets

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shade of figs. While Greece is great for the salty fiends (olives, feta, and Santorini capers), there are plenty of opportunities to get cavities there too. Syrup-submerged fruits and nuts known as spoon sweets are common to eat alone or with cheese, and for years have symbolized sweet hospitality. A couple we visited wouldn't let us leave with a net-zero calorie intake, so they pulled out the coffee and little plates for spoon sweets. It was something like the Greek answer to British teatime.... More

Snapshots from Greece: Loukoumades from Krinos in Athens

"Krinos kind of feels like the Greek version of Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, minus all the powdered sugar on the ground." Cafeteria can mean mystery meat and hair nets, or it can mean landmark Athens doughnut hotspot. Since 1922, the good souls of Krinos have been frying loukoumades, or small doughnuts in ring or ball form (in this case, ring) drenched in a honey-citrus syrup. Even though it's on a shopping street near Omonoia Square, instead of being attached to a high school gym, it still gets the cafeteria classification because self-service cutlery and plastic trays are involved. Though there was a pile of fried rings waiting when I approached the counter, they apparently weren't fresh enough. They... More

Snapshots from Greece: How the Boutari Family Saved Xinomavro Wine

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece and will be sharing her adventures with us as Snapshots from Greece. —Ed. The Boutari men. More Greek Snapshots Nescafe Frappe Assyrtiko Wine from Santorini Koulouri The Modiano Market in Thessaloniki Fage Yogurt Souvlaki from O Thanasis in Athens The story of Boutari wines sounds a little familiar. It's like a bizarro Greek version of the Mondavi family in California. Two brothers in the wine business who, after experiencing some friction, decide to split off and go their separate ways. In the case of the Mondavi brothers, Robert left Peter and the rest of the family at the Charles Krug Winery to start... More

Snapshots from Greece: Nescafe Frappe

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece and will be sharing her adventures with us all week as Snapshots from Greece. —Ed. As a foam supporter, I was pretty happy about the Nescafe Frappe all over Greece. It's about 35-percent foam, 55-percent super strong instant coffee, and 10-percent sludge sitting at the bottom (percentages may vary; all of that was guesstimated). But the foam is some of the best coffee foam around. The micro bubbles don't dissolve into the drink while you're drinking it—they just sit there until you find a proper scooping device. Talk about some long-lasting, high-definition foamage. To make a frappe: In a tall glass, add a... More

Snapshots from Greece: Assyrtiko Wine from Santorini

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece and will be sharing her adventures with us all week as Snapshots from Greece. —Ed. The Sigalas Winery is one of Santorini's best. Photograph by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen. When most people think of Greek wines—that is, if they ever think about Greek wines—they think retsina. Sadly, it's been nicknamed alcoholic Pine-Sol since it was first created with pine resin to help boost the shelf life 2,000 years ago. This hasn't been so great for the rest of Greek wines, especially the non-piney, non-sucky ones. Assyrtiko grapes growing on Santorini. On Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands and a hot tourist magnet,... More

Snapshots from Greece: Koulouri, the Thessaloniki Street Food

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece and will be sharing her adventures with us all week as Snapshots from Greece. —Ed. I didn't spot a single hot dog cart in Thessaloniki, but there were a few umbrella-shaded vendors selling koulouri, or biscuit-like rings covered in sesame seeds. They are bagel-shaped, or maybe bagels are koulouri-shaped, considering these date back to the Byzantine era. Unlike bagels, they yield more of a crunch than a chew, along the lines of biscotti.... More

Snapshots from Greece: The Modiano Market in Thessaloniki

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece and will be sharing her adventures with us all week as Snapshots from Greece. —Ed. I feel like travelers can be lumped into two categories: those who get a high from scouting out the local market, whether an average grocery chain or indoor hall with various stalls, and those who don't really care. Some of my strongest associations with cities are the markets—Eastern Market in Washington, the Delvita chain in the Czech Republic, and the English Market in Cork, Ireland. It's like a breathing museum with interesting characters, local produce, and, the always fascinating, foreign brands and packaging. In Thessaloniki, the second largest... More

Snapshots from Greece: Fage Yogurt

"It seems to spark an obsessive quality in people." As a Fage enthusiast, I was pretty excited to visit the yogurt's motherland. Within the first few hours of arriving in Greece, I wandered into a corner convenience store and zeroed in on the fridge section. There it was in Greek letters: ΦΑΓΈ (pronounced fah-yehhh). Greeks eat yogurt around the clock: at breakfast (even though they're not big breakfast people), as a snack, and definitely for dessert. To counter the tartness, they pour on the honey. Greeks have a lot of pride in their honey, especially thyme honey, claiming it's some of the best golden sticky stuff in the world. Because of the country's long sunshine periods, the Greek bees can... More

Snapshots from Greece: Souvlaki from O Thanasis in Athens

Note: Our own Erin Zimmer just returned from ten days eating and drinking her way around Greece. This is the first of her snapshots from that trip. —Ed. I had two priorities during my quick day in Athens: see the Parthenon and digest something from the souvlaki-kebab-gyro family. Luckily there's only one ancient temple devoted to Athena, but there are plenty of kebab-rotating, meat spit-shaving men that look they could be the best. Though my Rough Guide to Athens recommended O Thanasis just off the northeast corner of Monastiraki Square, I needed a second opinion. "The best, the totally best," said the guy who sold me an international converter at a teeny electronics stall along the Eolou Street bazaar. That... More

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