We know that the typical Greek cook knows their way around a lamb, and meat of most types is a pretty important part of the national diet. But with its exotic climate and ancient traditions of social and family eating, it’s no surprise that the country produces a huge wealth of non-meat treats as well.
Here are some of the best…
1. Manouri cheese is a delicious goat’s cheese, lighter and creamier than feta, and every area producing milk has its own version. Delicious whether eaten as a sweet or savoury side.
2. Armenian, yard-long or – according to the Cape Sounio farmers – ‘crispy’ cucumbers are light and fruity plants which make for the perfect traditional tzatziki dip.
3. Olives are so central to the Greek diet that the ancient philosopher Sophocles called the olive tree “the tree that feeds the children”. We all know what they are and what they look like, but did you know it’s the larger ones that are eaten and the smaller ones that are grown to make oil?
4. It’s a great ingredient for your skin, hair, and some brands of toilet paper, but aloe vera is commonly used for cooking as well. Not surprising, as the raw liquid inside the leaves smells a bit like pasta sauce.
5. Thought you knew everything there was to know about aubergines? The Greeks grow many more varieties than the large, dark purple kind you can buy at the supermarket. These little lilac-coloured ones are grown in Cape Sounio, but you can also find them in pale whitish-green colours in a range of shapes.
6. Cactus figs, or ‘Indian’ figs, can be grown in a number of hot countries and they love them in Greece. The name is a little deceptive as the fruits are not figs at all. But they are delicious, even if you have to wear gloves to pick them from between the prickles and eat them.
7. Sweets of the spoon is one of the most treasured traditions of the Greek kitchen, and we promise it’s nicer than it sounds. Unique to every family that makes it, the essential recipe is local fruits, vegetables and nuts boiled with honey, molasses or sugar to make a “think jam-like” jelly. It’s a key symbol of hospitality to offer the bowl or jar to guests, who will take a spoonful. You probably wouldn’t want much more in one sitting.
8. You’ve eaten honey on toast, used thyme in a stew or casserole, but mixing the two together? Herb-infused honey is a popular topping for fresh yoghurt in Greece… but some varieties work better than others.
9. Care for a tsikoudia to round it all off? Or a splash of raki? Mastika? Any idea what we’re talking about? These fiery traditional spirits made from herbs and leftover mulch from wine-making prove there is more to the Greek top shelf than the famous ouzo.
Nearly all of these products are produced or made by Agreco Farm in Crete, which was founded 10 years ago by Grecotel owner Nikos Daskalantonakis and is open for visitors to get involved in sheep-shearing, grape-stomping and olive-crushing themselves. The farm supplies its traditional food produce and own range of cosmetic products to Grecotels.
Guests at Grecotel Attica in Cape Sounio are also treated to produce grown on-site in Cape Sounio’s Organic Garden, where the cheery farmers work hard to produce a variety of herbs, vegetables, aloe vera, olive trees and a whole range of plants that we couldn’t pronounce the name of. Some of it is used by resident chef Sakis Tzannetos to produce his sensual Aphrodisiac Menu, inspired by the ancient tales of the Greek gods and myths surrounding the nearby Temple of Poseidon. Saucy…
All produce supplied or grown by Grecotel, Attica. Find further information here.