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Discover the Greek cuisine on this Greek island holiday. This holiday will give you the chance to get acquainted with various aspects of the Greek cuisine on Syros, one of the most beautiful Greek islands. Four different cooking classes will teach you secrets and techniques of traditional recipes using organic, local and seasonal products. Learn how to forage wild herbs and new ways to use them, sample rare wines and cheeses, visit the local market and taste exquisite local specialties, enjoy a beach picnic and swim in pristine beaches, explore fishing villages, traditional settlements and local tavernas. Live for a week in Ermoupolis, a magnificent town with rich history and culture and fascinating culinary tradition and savor the old world charm of a 19th-century mansion!
Villa Maria is a listed 19th-century neo-classical mansion. Built by a local factory owner in 1873 at the height of Ermoupolis’ prosperity, it is a fine example of the architecture of the period. In restoring it, all the original features such as wooden floors and ceilings, marble bathrooms, decorative moldings as well as used antique furniture have been preserved to give it a comfortable but authentic feel.
The villa has two apartments and four studios that can be rented separately or in any combination. The second-floor balconies and the roof terrace have panoramic views over the town, the port and across to the neighboring islands. Behind the villa is a courtyard with plants, built-in seating and a shaded dining area.
The villa is on a pedestrian street right in the middle of town, yet a haven of peace and quiet. It is two minutes walk from the main square and market, and five minutes walk from the Vaporia. This is the town’s ‘Little Venice’, a lido with cafes and crystal-clear water for swimming.
Organic and homemade! With freshly baked wholemeal bread, cakes such as carob, cinnamon and orange, nuts and raisins, jams made with fruit from the garden (fig with rose geranium, lemon/lavender, Seville orange marmalade), thyme honey, butter and yoghurt from the local dairy farm, our homemade seed, fig and nut granola, and fresh fruit.
Learn the basics about Greek cuisine. Why it is one of the more balanced and healthiest in the world. Secrets and techniques. A hands-on three-hour class during which you will prepare a Greek feast of several dishes that you will then enjoy in the shaded courtyard.
There are two options for this class:
Some of the dishes you may prepare are traditional olive bread, parsley/garlic dip, beetroot/walnut and yogurt salad, split peas purée with caramelized onions, capers and sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas with rosemary, stuffed peppers and tomatoes with herbs, bulgur, pine nuts and black currants, sweet milk pie, and many more!
You will prepare fish and seafood traditional recipes such as fish roe dip, steamed skate with lemon/ mustard sauce, octopus salad with potatoes, capers and rock samphire, anchovies grilled in vine leaves with fennel/lemon sauce or sardines stuffed with herbs, fried cod with caper aioli and beetroots, and for dessert a traditional semolina halwa or a lemon verbena and lavender sorbet.
You will visit the fruit and fish market, a shop selling loukoumia (a kind of mastic or rose flavored Turkish delight) and halvadopites (a kind of nougats), the traditional sweets Syros is famous for, as well as shops where you can find all the local products from the Cyclades and sample some of them(louza, the local cured ham, many different kinds of cheese, the award-winning thyme honey, capers, rock samphire, olives and olive oil, olive oil soaps, pickled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, pasta, liqueurs etc.)
If you wish, you can join Elisa in the kitchen to prepare some of the dishes for the next day’s picnic. The class will be focused on traditional pies. Some of the dishes you may prepare are onion pie from Mykonos, courgette pie with goat cheese and mint, “ladenia”, an island type of pizza with tomatoes, olives and onions.
You will visit one of the pristine northern beaches, accessible only by boat or foot. You can opt for a short drive and a boat trip (if the weather permits) or a short drive and a 45-minute walk in spectacular scenery. You will spend the day at the beach and have either a picnic with things we have prepared or a BBQ.
Optional: If you wish, on your way back, you can enjoy a sunset dinner. If you return by boat, in a taverna on the waterfront of Kini village, and if you hike, in a taverna perched on top of the hill in Apano Mera, the northern part of the island, with spectacular sea views.The location of the picnic may change depending on weather and time of the year.
You will drive to Megas Yalos where you will meet Maria, a herb specialist and chef who will take you to a nature walk for foraging. You will learn to identify various wild herbs and other plants as well as their culinary uses and healing properties. You will then return to her house where we will have a cooking class and lunch.
The class is focused on the regional cuisine of the Cyclades where the keyword is simplicity. You will prepare a few dishes using the plants you have gathered and learn new ways to use herbs, infusions and spices, and then have lunch.
On this last evening, you will prepare a feast with more than 10 different mezzedes, small dishes that will accompany our wine tasting. You will try white, rose and red wines from small producers of several Greek regions. You will also have a cheese tasting where you will taste sheep, goat and cow cheeses and you will use cheese in some of your recipes.
Some of the dishes you may prepare are flour pie with feta cheese and eggs, aubergine rolls with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce, figs stuffed with goat cheese and mint, smoked aubergine dip, raw zucchini salad with lemon and herbs, black lentil and barley salad with red peppers and walnuts, vine leaves with rice, herbs and a tahini sauce, almond figs poached in sweet wine with yogurt.
You will enjoy the feast you have prepared listening to live music played by some excellent local musicians. Syros has a rich tradition and is famous for “rebetiko” music.
A passionate cook and food lover, Elisa has been researching Greek cuisine for more than 20 years, continuously discovering new things. She has worked as a language teacher and translator. She is a keen traveler, who loves to meet people and share with them her passion and knowledge about food. She speaks Greek, English, French and Spanish.
Maria has worked as chef, restaurant owner, and consultant and kitchen manager for many years and acquired a deep knowledge of the Greek cuisine, its philosophy, techniques and history. A specialist in herbs and wild plants, both for their culinary and medicinal uses, she organizes seminars where she rediscovers old forgotten recipes and adapts them in modern demands for wellbeing. One of her main concerns is contributing to changing people’s attitude regarding food.
Syros is a 3.5-hour ferry ride or a half hour plane ride from Athens. It is the capital of the Cyclades and is well-connected to the other islands in the archipelago. It is a small island which falls into three distinct parts: the main town of Ermoupolis, one of the most beautiful in Greece, the wild north of the island, a paradise for walkers, and the more domesticated south with its villages, tavernas, and beaches.
Historically, it has never had to court tourism, unlike its better-known neighbors, as its particular history meant that its wealth was derived from trade and shipping. The result is a beautiful, friendly, unspoiled island with fantastic beaches, excellent walking and fascinating history, which tourism has yet to discover.
The capital is undoubtedly one of the island’s main attractions. It was built in the 19th century by the merchants who settled here and got rich in Syros’ heyday as Greece’s biggest port. At its center is the magnificent Plateia Miaoulis, which sets the tone for the city as a whole. From there, streets of neo-classical houses spread along the waterfront and up the stepped streets behind.
The town boasts three large churches, one of which has an icon painted by the young El Greco. Other places of interest are the Archaeological Museum, the Industrial Museum, the Apollo Theatre, and the old shipyards.
In the summer the town has something of a cosmopolitan feel as it hosts several festivals: the Syros International Film Festival (SIFF), the Akropoditi DanceFest, the Hermoupolis Guitar Festival and the Syros Accordion Festival in July, the International Festival of the Aegean (Opera) and the International Classical Music Festival of Cyclades in August, Animasyros – International Animation Festival in September and Syros Jazz Festival in October as well as numerous concerts and art exhibitions.
A single road leads to the north of the island, known as Ano Meria, or the ‘Upper Part’. It first passes Ano Syros, the original capital of the island, a traditional white-washed Cycladic settlement perched on a hill just above Ermoupolis. Beyond this is wild country - just steep, terraced hillsides, rocky paths, and deserted beaches. And incredible views across to the neighboring islands. It’s a walker’s paradise in spring and autumn; and in the summer its pristine beaches, only accessible by boat or by foot, are blissfully quiet.
There are two sites of historical interest in Ano Meria: the prehistoric citadel of Kastri, impressively situated on a rocky outcrop in the north-east of the island, and in the extreme north-west is Grammata, where you can see sailors’ inscriptions from as early as the 2nd century BC. Both of these make good destinations for walks.
The south is where most of the island’s villages are, as well as its most accessible beaches, which are all within 30 minutes of Ermoupolis. The villages of Kini, Galissas and Finikas all have well-protected beaches and a choice of tavernas, while Poseidonia, Chroussa, Parakopi and Piskopio boast several magnificent mansions, built in the 19th century as summer retreats by wealthy Ermoupolis families.
For all the food you prepare, organic, local, seasonal products will be used. You will prepare traditional regional recipes and local specialties. The breakfasts consist of homemade bread, cakes, jams, free range eggs and dairy products from a local dairy farm. Fruit and vegetables come from local organic farms and wine from small producers from various regions of Greece.
Athens International Airport
Transfer not provided
Syros Island National Airport
From Athens airport, there is a daily flight to Syros Island National Airport (JSY). From this airport, a transfer is included in the price. Villa Maria team will pick you up at the airport.
From Piraeus, the main port of Athens, there are two ferries a day-one in the morning, one in the evening all year round, and more ferries, regular and fast ones during the summer months.
Syros is an hour by ferry from Mykonos, which is well served by international flights.
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