The wealth of Greek cuisine is inexhaustible. In every corner, in every village, in every city, you will discover a taste, a recipe that you did not know, and you will be pleasantly surprised upon discovering it. In this article, we have collected 6 unique tastes that we discovered during our travels in Greece. These are 6 taste experiences that most of you did not know about. Savoury or sweet, there are 6 distinct Greek flavours you must try.
Leriki cheese pie (Λέρικη Τυρόπιτα) – Leros (Λέρος): If you ever find yourself on the beautiful island of Leros in the Dodecanese (Δωδεκάνησα), you must definitely try the Leriki cheese pie. It is a local variation of the pie they make in the Dodecanese at Easter. It is a “nest” of dough which is filled with a fluffy mixture of Leros’ cheese and mizithra, egg, pepper, sesame, and oil. What gives the cheese pie its exceptional taste is the local goat cheese mizithra, which is prepared with the addition of seawater. Until a few years ago, Leriki cheese pie was only made in homes, and it was extremely rare to find a place to buy it. This changed dramatically with the opening of Paradosiako (Παραδοσιακό), a traditional pastry shop in Agia Marina’s port. This shop made and offered local cheese pies for the first time to the visitors as well as the inhabitants of the island. Today, the cheese pie has become the island’s local hit and it’s easy to find it everywhere, as now the bakeries and patisseries compete for who is making the best (although in our opinion, the one from Paradosiako remains the tastiest).
Travihti (Τραβηχτή) – Githio (Γύθειο): Travihti is a traditional dish of the region of Mani (Μάνη) in the Peloponnese. It is a fried pie that is made simply with flour, yeast, salt, and olive oil, but it does not absorb much oil when fried. It is a recipe intertwined with the traditions and culture of the region. In the poor houses of the villages in the barren and rough land of Mani, travichti was a solution to easily satisfy the family. In Mani, it is eaten as breakfast with honey or as a meal with meat and cheese. In the centre of Githio, at Travichti (Τραβηχτή) tavern (Vassileos Georgiou & Orestou), you can try the best travichti in Mani. You can combine your pita with the cheese and the meat of your choice, but the most classic combination is travichti with gruyere cheese (graviera) and a pork skewer (souvlaki) or sygklino (the delicious salted pork of Mani). All are served on parchment paper with French fries (only if you order them).
Gogges (Γκόγκες) – Kiveri (Κιβέρι): Gogges (or goggizes) are traditional Argolida (Αργολίδα) and Laconia (Λακωνία) pasta that was made during the Greek Carnival season. They are made from flour, water, and salt, and are cylindrical in shape. This shape results from the creation of cylindrical parts during their production. These parts are subsequently chopped into pieces that are 3–4 centimetres long and pushed with the finger on one side. They are poured with hot oil (or butter) and grated mizithra after boiling and draining. Although you can find gogges in various taverns in both areas, the best gogges, properly boiled and soft enough, we tried at the Pournari (Πουρνάρι) tavern in Kiveri of Argolida near Nafplion (Ναύπλιο), along with grilled chicken with lemon sauce, another excellent local recipe.
Bougatsa with bagel/koulouri (Μπουγάτσα με κουλούρι) – Ioannina (Ιωάννινα): Bougatsa is something you can find everywhere in Greece, and everyone has their own preference as to which is the best. However, in the centre of Ioannina in Epirus, there is a shop that serves bougatsa in a unique way. This is Select (Averof 2), which makes one of the best bougatsa in Greece with cream or cheese and serves it together with a sweet and salty round bagel/koulouri. The phyllo is crispy and a little oily, while the sweet or savoury cream is thick and delicious. The bagel as a side dish comes to balance the strong flavours and the oiliness of the bougatsa and creates a unique taste combination (don’t eat the bagel alone because its taste will alienate you). Unfortunately, the elderly cook and owner of Select is the last custodian of a delicious tradition that will probably be lost in the future.
Samousades (Σαμουσάδες) – Neapoli (Νεάπολη): Samousades are a traditional sweet originating from the Peloponnese, mainly from the Laconia region. Samousades, which probably owe their name to sesame, are the evolution of the ancient “kopti”, a dessert with dried fruits and honey, which was bequeathed to the Byzantines and then to the regions of Greece with a strong Byzantine tradition. What makes samousades stand out is the thin, almost airy phyllo filled with almond, walnut, and toasted sesame and flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and mastic. It is then wrapped tightly around a rod and made into long sticks. In other regions, they cut the sticks into pieces and fry them, while in others they bake them in the oven to keep the phyllo crispy. After baking, the pieces are poured with cold syrup flavoured with flower water. In Neapoli, the beautiful nautical city of Laconia, and specifically at the confectionery workshop Vasiliοs Arifis (Βασίλειος Αρίφης) (60 Spartis Avenue), we tried the best samousades, with perfectly baked phyllo and balanced taste.
Güzel (Γκουζέλ) – Κερατέα (Keratea): Güzel (which means beautiful in Turkish) is a sweet that immediately makes you think of the typical flavours of the East, although it is actually an imaginative creation of the confectioner Themistocles Zaimidis (Θεμιστοκλής Ζαϊμίδης). The experienced confectioner created a version of the traditional ekmek (εκμέκ) as it is made in Greece, but without nuts, with cream, mastic, kadaifi, and lots of syrup. At the same time, the white cream that accompanies it is more refined and light, reminiscent of sweets with western influences. When he presented güzel in 2011 in his pastry shop under the name TH.E.K.A. (Θ.Ε.Κ.Α.), in Keratea in Eastern Attica (Grigoriou E ́ 12A), the success was immediate. Now people from all over Attica come here to try this excellent sweet. Later, a variant appeared, the choc güzel, based on a lightly syruped tsoureki, while both sweets are also available as ice cream. The success of the sweet is such that some now consider it a classic, and various recipes circulate on the internet. But if you want to try the authentic güzel, a trip to Keratea is a obligatory.
A trip, in order to be complete, must be combined with the flavours and aromas of the place you visit. So the next time you visit these 6 destinations, we recommend looking for and trying these unique tastes.