The high quality products of Epirus make the region a great destination for gastronomic tourism. When visiting Epirus, make sure to stop by the small traditional eatery called a ‘koutouki’ to enjoy tasty appetizers, great wine, and a sociable atmosphere. ‘Tsipouradika’ are tavernas that serve the local tsipouro, a strong distilled spirit containing 40–45% alcohol by volume, along with a variety of flavorful appetizers.
Foodies will enjoy the wide variety of delicious cheeses of Epirus, including the famous local feta, the smoked metsovone, the mild anthotyros, and the spicier vasilotyri. Galotyri is an incredibly creamy, strong-tasting cheese of Epirus. The hard and spicy kefalotyri is made from sheep and goat milk, and is usually grated on foods such as pasta. Manouri, another creamy cheese, is made from sheep milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk.
Pies, sweet and savory, with or without phyllo, are also a staple of the cuisine of Epirus. The wonderful products of the region – meat, fish, macaroni, greens, vegetables – make great fillings for these regional favorites.
The sweets of Epirus include saragli, walnut cake, almond cake, flute shaped sweets from Metsovo, klostati (local baklava with walnut filling), and the well-known kantaifi from Ioannina.
Wine enthusiasts will enjoy Zitsa white wines while fans of red wines will find robust options produced in mountainous Metsovo that feature a strong personality that improves with age. Aged tsipouro and local cranberry and blackberry liqueurs are also popular potent potables to sample while visiting the picturesque region of Epirus.
Try the following recipes for a taste of the region as you plan your visit.
Makaronopita – Macaroni Pie
1 package macaroni, any shape desired
2 cups crumbled feta, Dodonis, (or mix with other grated cheeses)
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
8 sheets phyllo
1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil and melted butter, mixed
1/2 cup milk
Boil the macaroni according to the package directions until just tender, drain, and set aside to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons of butter, the 4 beaten eggs, and the cheese. Set aside. Line a greased baking pan with 3 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with some of the butter-oil mixture. Combine the macaroni and the cheese mixture and transfer half into the phyllo-lined baking pan. Use a spatula to even out the filling. Top with 2 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with the butter-oil mixture. Spread the remaining macaroni mixture on this layer and top with the remaining 3 sheets of phyllo. Score the top layers of the phyllo to delineate the serving pieces. For the topping, beat the 2 eggs and the milk together and pour over the pita. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Chicken Pilaf from Epirus – Kota Pilafi Atzem
4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, bone-in
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, sear the chicken pieces in a single layer for about five minutes, turning the pieces over to brown on all sides. Add the onion and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, the tomato sauce, water, and rice. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and then simmer for about 30 minutes until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed. Top with the fresh parsley and serve immediately.
He's in Austin, Texas for now but Nick Nanakos thinks his ZIKI – short for tzatziki – concept for restaurants could become a template for the world in the industry and he even got investors from Tesla owner Elon Musk's backers.
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