Have you ever experienced a food tour in Athens? One Saturday noon members of Travel Bloggers Greece were extended an invitation to join George, founder of Eating Athens to discover the spirit of Greek taste. We all met at the Monastiraki Square a famous flea market neighbourhood in the old town of Athens and then made our way through the narrow streets towards Psiri which is famous for its vibrant nightlife as it is filled with cafes, bars and tavernas that play live music.
We first passed a famous Greek sweet shop, the most famous one in the area called Nancy’s Sweet Home which serves a great selection of freshly made desserts. We all looked at the inviting dessert display and then followed George to where he was taking us next.
Who will agree that food tastes better with a touch of spice? And this is where we went to visit the oldest spice shops in Athens. A colourful combination of different spices and herbs was available on display, and just to think that each spice serves a specific purpose makes it’s story even more intriguing.
As we stopped and photographed each corner and shop, heading down the Evripidou street our next discovery was Miran, an oldest store in the area which has been here since 1922. Looking up you find yourself surrounded by hanging pastourma and various types of sausages, something like a tree with ornaments only that the decorations are traditional cold cuts.
It was Saturday and the place was very busy as locals have come to do their weekend shopping. George showed us videos on how the pastourma is prepared. Pastourma is a highly seasoned, air-dried cured meat. It is prepared by salting the meat, then washing it with water and let to dry for about 10-15 days after which the meat is covered with a cumin paste prepared from cumin, fenugreek, garlic and hot paprika.
There are different types of pastourma approximately 10 different kinds which are prepared using special techniques, the Camel meat pastourma which is very rare to find in Greece, then there is the light pastourma beef which is free from the scent, as well as other types. Another famous meat that we got to try is called pastrami, which is usually made of beef and sometimes from pork. It is coated with a mix of spices such as garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, allspice and mustard seed and finally it is smoked.
A food tour can not be complete without the Greek olives, thus after having learned all about the history of pastourma we got to taste the different types of olives which are harvested in various regions of Greece at the Ariana olive shop.
After the olives came the Oikonomidi wine which is located right next to the olives shop. We tried organic white wine, red and fresh grape juice.
Up next we followed George to the Athens central market, Varvakios Agora which is a great place to buy fruits, vegetables, nuts, fresh meat and fish. It is a very vibrant and busy place.
We got to see how beef carpaccio is prepared at the Aggelis Butcher store and I got to take some back home with me, and it was delicious indeed, that’s of course if you like raw meat.
Our last stop was where we started of, Nancy’s Sweet Home where we sat down to enjoy mouthwatering chocolate dessert and hot rakomelo, which is a Greek drink prepared from raki and honey. It was a perfect end to our day.
If you are looking to discover the history of Greek food, then join George on an Eating Athens tour! He is passionate about connecting authentic, quality Greek products with culture and history. Is there a better way to learn than through the stomach?