Greece’s culinary awards

Magazine Gastronomos rewards excellence. And our one-day-food tour of Athens...

16-08-2016
Cheese producer Nikos Gasparakis, from the village

Cheese producer Nikos Gasparakis, from the village of Koummoi, not far from Rethymno, in Crete, is one of the winners of the Quality Awards 2016, a sort of Greek “Academy Award of good food” organised by magazine Gastronomos, the monthly insert included in Kathimerini, one of the country’s main newspapers. We present each one of the winners and their excellent products in the photo gallery. We took the opportunity to have a new food tour of Athens

Photogallery

The best olives? Damaskinoelies by Michalis Ainatzoglou. They are as large as plums and come from an ancient variety cultivated in the region of Argo, in the Peloponnesus. Ainatzoglou owns secular olive trees in Kiveri. He leaves the gigantic olives to ripen in salt, following a traditional method; he then rinses them and pasteurises them. Thanks to this process they’re preserved without chemicals. Tel: +30.6977.500810
The Best Olive Oil Award went to Governor, produced in Corfu. The olive groves on the island are renown for their beauty, yet the oil made from them was not good enough and was sold unbottled to overseas buyers. Two young men,Spiros and George Dafnis, have managed to produce an absolutely excellent oil. Tel: +30.266.1075701

In a recent article we told you about the delicious side of Athens in 32 pictures, that is to say as many stops in our food tour through the streets of the Greek capital. We recently went back and discovered some more interesting places – you can find the story below, told as if it were a one-day tour – and participated – the only Italians together with Spyros Theodoridis, the unforgotten Italian-Greek winner of the first edition of our Masterchef – in the award ceremony at the Quality Awards 2016, a sort of Greek “Academy Awards of good food”. It was organised by prominent magazine Gastronomos, the monthly insert of Kathimerini, a newspaper from Athens and one of the most important in the country (there’s an English version too, sold separately in the US as a supplement to the International Herald Tribune). We described these Greek Awards in our photo-gallery.

10.45 a.m. – In Athens, they are not such morning people. Yet of course you must start with a good coffee. The right place is Taf Coffee, with numerous branches in town. We chose the one at 7, Emmanuel Benaki Street, Tel: +30.210.3800014.Taf imports from small sustainable farms. The coffee has many different versions. It’s “gourmet”, but now a classic in town.

A stop at galaktopoleio I Stani

A stop at galaktopoleio I Stani

11.45 a.m. – Second stop dedicated to cakes at galaktopoleio I Stani (10, Marika Kotopouli Street, Tel: +30.210.5233637). Since 1931 it’s the temple of milk based desserts. Try tasting the yogurt with honey and almonds, the delicious rice pudding (risogalo: creamy, soft, velvety), anthogalo (a specialty from Crete: a cream made with the part of milk that rises when you boil it) and most of all the fantastic galaktoboureko, from the Greek galak (milk) and the Turkish bourek (cake), a dessert made with custard and semolina closed in crispy phyllo pastry and soaked in syrup.

12.45 p.m. – We continue with the sweet side of cooking: the loukoumades at Th. Ktistaki (9, Sokratous Street, Tel: +30.210.5240891) are irresistible. This place is a guarantee of success since 1912, when the grandparents of the current owner arrived in town from the beautiful Chania, in Crete. Loukoumades are sweet pancakes of Arab-Turkish origin. The batter is made with flour, yeast, cooking salt, milk, water. Cooked in syrup, they are then wrapped in sesame seeds and cinnamon.

Loukoumades at Th. Ktistaki

Loukoumades at Th. Ktistaki

1.35 p.m. – A stop at Pantopoleion is also a must. It’s a sort of small version of Eataly with the best products from all around Greece, carefully selected and sourced mostly from small producers, including many PDO products. They have dozens of varieties of cheese and cold cuts, hundreds of types of oil and then broad beans and tomato paste from Santorini, tuna from Alonissos… It deserves a visit and a tasting! (1, Sofokleous Street, Tel: +30.210.3234612).

1.50 p.m. – Since you’re there, why not stop at the Varvakeios Central Market? There’s as much fresh meat and fish as you wish.

2.05 p.m. – It’s getting late. Time for a new snack. The right place is Karamanlidika (1, Sokratous & Evripidou Street, Tel: +30.210.3254184). They’ll serve trays full of the best products that a delicatessen can offer. They have a particularly good selection of products from Cappadocia: mature cheese, all sorts of cold cuts, sausages, pastrami…

Cheese tasting at Karamanlidika

Cheese tasting at Karamanlidika

3.15 p.m. – Since you’re in Evripidou Street, after the tasting, have a walk and discover the many small shops selling spices on this street.

3.40 p.m. – It would be a pity not to taste some of the most typical Greek dishes… So here’s O Kostas (5, Pentelis & Mitropoleos Street, Tel: +30.210.3228502): the family came from Northern Greece in 1950 and brought to the capital what is now considered perhaps the best souvlaki in town. Really juicy, an unforgettable street food.

4.45 p.m. – If you want to indulge in a cake at teatime too, here’s a tip that escapes tradition yet focuses on quality. As of a few weeks ago, restaurant Tudor Hall (3, Vasileos Georgiou Street, Tel: +30.210.3330265), on the seventh floor of hotel King George, right beside the famous Grande Bretagne (they’re both part of the Starwood group and members of the Luxury Collection Hotel), can count on the collaboration of French pastry chef Arnaud Larher. On top of French pâtisserie classics he’s having fun presenting new recipes, which include Greek ingredients, such as olive oil or mastika.

9.30 p.m. – After a necessary break, you can dine at the Piraeus, at Lefteris Lazarou’s Varoulko. Or stay in town and go to Hytra, run by chef Anastasios Mantis (who’s also in our Identità Golose guide, read here). We’ve spoken about both in this article.


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Photogallery

The best olives? Damaskinoelies by Michalis Ainatzoglou. They are as large as plums and come from an ancient variety cultivated in the region of Argo, in the Peloponnesus. Ainatzoglou owns secular olive trees in Kiveri. He leaves the gigantic olives to ripen in salt, following a traditional method; he then rinses them and pasteurises them. Thanks to this process they’re preserved without chemicals. Tel: +30.6977.500810
The Best Olive Oil Award went to Governor, produced in Corfu. The olive groves on the island are renown for their beauty, yet the oil made from them was not good enough and was sold unbottled to overseas buyers. Two young men,Spiros and George Dafnis, have managed to produce an absolutely excellent oil. Tel: +30.266.1075701
The award for the best shop selling delicious food went to Agora, mezedopantopoleio in Thessaloniki, one thousand square metres of lovely food. As they say in the motivation "it really has nothing to envy to the famous Eataly in Milan".Agora was created by Thomas and Giorgos Douzis. It’s in 42 Pavlou Mela St., Thessaloniki. Tel: +30.23.10288008
The Best Greek Honey in 2016 is Amorgiano, a sweet delicacy from the Cyclades. Panagiotis Maroulis – a tv director who changed life – produces it on the island of Amorgos. He has beehives in four places on the island: Lagada, where sage and flowers dominate; Halara, a cliff home to a local bee, with a different genetic profile, making honey with scents of salt and thyme; the islet of Nikouria, again with aroma of thyme; and, a little further, the small island of Donousa, where there’s heather. Tel: +30.228.5073048
The Best Farm Award goes to Agios Loukas, an agricultural cooperative from Raki, thanks to its high quality cherry production on Mount Olympus. 90% of the production is exported. Tel: +30.235.1098711
The best meat in Greece is Aroma by Koutsioftis Farms, owned by brothers Stergios and Dimitris Koutsioftis. Third generation of breeders, they made the first 100% Greek calves, fed with special patented forage (mostly Greek aromatic herbs: mint, basil, oregano, coriander and some other herbs which are kept secret, hence the name "Aroma" for the meat). The meat is rich in omega-3, as the calves eat linseeds too. Tel: +30.233.1071803