You’re sitting on a balcony; a warm breeze brushes your hair out of your eyes as heat from the afternoon sun blooms through you. You settle more deeply down, legs stretching in the sunshine. The sounds of gentle laughter and chatter reaches you; glasses softly clink and corks pop. You sigh as your shoulders begin to drop, the smell of summer flowers in the air. You take another sip of your gin and tonic, the ice clinking against the glass, cool in your hand. You consider rising, perhaps to move into the hot tub, but why would you? Everything you need is here. You’re warm, you’re full, you’re comfortable and nobody needs you to be doing anything. Your time is your own. You sigh and take another sip, closing your eyes and letting the minutes flutter past like butterflies…
Well that was my week, how are you all doing? After a manic few weeks Team TGE packed up and sodded everything off for a week in Santorini, the stunning Greek Island famous for its caldera view. What is a caldera, I hear none of you ask? A caldera is a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of a volcano into itself, making it a large, special form of volcanic crater (thanks Wikipedia) and is substantially prettier than that description makes it sound.
We stayed in Oia which is (I think) the prettiest part of Santorini with the picture postcard views of tumbling white buildings and wonderful sunset views. You also can’t move for outstanding restaurants, in 6 days we only managed a fraction of what the town had to offer and that’s just in Oia! So, in Part 1 of the Greek Adventure, here’s a whistle stop tour of delicious Greek things we ate…
Fresh squid stuffed with manouri cheese and tomato. Beautifully tasty and tentacles the right amount of crispy. Oh stop it, you eat calamari don’t you? Mr TGE bravely tried a tentacle and declared it ‘nice’ before sticking very solidly to his Greek salad. Wimp. Served at Skala in Oia. Incidentally this is perfectly placed for people watching while still getting a sea view.
Original Soutzoukakia served with yellow rice cooked in onion broth, delicious little kebabs of ground meat which are lightly fried then bathed in red wine with herbs and tomato sauce, done in the style of the Greeks from Smyrni. Soutzoukakia was considered an aphrodisiac food usually cooked as a special treat for the groom on weddings and engagements (description supplied by Karma) Served at Karma in Oia.
Saganaki with Kefalotyri cheese. This is a traditional Greek dish and although simple BLEW.MY.MIND. It’s essentially pan fried cheese, this was Kefalotyri cheese which tastes a bit like halloumi. It’s deliciously salty and, as it has a high melting point, was crisp on the outside and outrageously gooey in the centre. We were recommended to cut it into smaller chunks and squeeze lemon all over of it, which we dutifully did. They weren’t wrong. I could eat this by the trayful and it was perfectly complimented by the hearty chicken salad and pitta bread loaded with pesto and fresh tomato. It’s the lunch of dreams and served at Pergola in Perissa which is on the opposite side of the island.
One of our favourite places which had no view to speak of but incredible food and service was Melitini, set a street or so back from the main walking strip that runs through Oia. Because it’s not directly on the caldera and lacks a sea view the prices are incredibly reasonable. I totally forgot to take any actual photos of the lovely mezze that we enjoyed as I was on holiday mode and just ate it, so use your imagination. The star dish was the deceptively simple sounding fried potatoes; first boiled whole, then cubed, rubbed in paprika, oregano and garlic, before being deep fried to a perfect crisp. We demolished them. There are rich, hearty lamb meatballs served with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a Greek Salad of feta, fat ripe tomatoes and local olives, warm pitta served with a pile of fresh creamy tzatziki… it’s Greek food at its best with typical warm Greek service to match.
One night, to truly enjoy the sunset we head to Ammoudi Bay at the far tip of Oia. It’s a little fishing port built into the bottom of the caldera and features 4 fish taverns. We opt for the ‘Sunset Tavern’ (well, why not?) and after ordering a litre (I love a place that serves wine by the litre) of the excellent house white wine, we are ushered to the fish counter to choose from the catches of the day. Our eye is drawn to a rather large red snapper and we settle back to our water front seats to watch the sun begin to set. It is a spectacularly beautiful place (though obviously, you pay for the privilege, it’s one of the less budget friendly options) and a wonderfully peaceful place as well. The fish arrived expertly filleted with a range of vegetables on a huge silver platter. Delicately flavoured and incredibly fresh it was gorgeous. We just about have enough room for a slab of baklava for pudding which was the perfect end to a perfect meal. To get back up to Oia you can either take a taxi, a donkey taxi(!) or you can climb the 250 stairs back up the cliff yourself. After big promises of a taxi guess who ended up clambering up those steps, sweating and muttering dark thoughts as Mr TGE sprang up like a little mountain goat miles ahead? Yeah. This Girl.
I can’t end this blog though without mentioning our incredible hotel – The Alta Mare by Andronis. Perfectly situated in the centre of Oia’s walking street it has 10 rooms – each with a hot tub on the balcony and stunning caldera views. Between the fruit platters, glasses of fizz, bottles of wine, cocktails and chocolates we feel pretty thoroughly welcomed. Breakfast is served on our balcony each morning and then we choose between lazing by the infinity pool or asking the reception staff to arrange something lovely like a luxury yacht trip for us. It’s absolutely heavenly and I can’t recommend it highly enough, thank you to the team that looked after us so well.
Part 2 coming soon…