With a region as large and varied as Western Greece, there is literally something for everyone to enjoy in terms of food and wine. The following is just a glimpse into the tastes of the region which can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Achaia is well-known for culinary skill with the famed local produce adding distinctive flavor to the delightful cuisine of the area. Visitors can enjoy select vintages and ‘wine routes’ as they journey into the viticulture of the region. Of course, wining and dining anywhere in Western Greece comes with a special helping of warmth and hospitality at every meal.
The high quality local produce and the staple of the Greek diet, olive oil, are the key ingredients in the region which is also famous for its variety of dairy products, with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Feta of Kalavryta as a point of pride in Achaia. In the mountainous areas of Kalavryta, visitors will also find the purest local meat, without additives or taste enhancers of any kind. Traditional trahana and hilopites, rooster spaghetti, kid stew, and beans from Helmos in the mountainous area of Akrata are just some of the must-try foods along with the exquisite fried trout of Planitero and the anchovies marinated in olive oil served in the traditional fishing village of Alykes. For a touch of sweetness even in savory dishes, the PDO Vostizza black Corinthian raisin is an exclusive product from Aigialeia. Several classic recipes include these particular raisins, such as stuffed tomatoes and peppers or cod.
Many high quality wines, recognized as Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are produced on the lush slopes of Aigialeia, the ‘Tuscany of Greece’ as it is affectionately known.
Among the wines of Achaia, the renowned white wine Roditis is recognized as a PDO of Patras. The sweet tasting Mavrodaphne Patron has been classed as a Controlled Designation of Origin (AOC), as has the popular white Moscato.
Wine enthusiasts can visit some of the top wineries in the area, including Achaia Clauss, which produces a top quality Mavrodaphne among its wines. Visitors can taste the organic wines at Sant’or Wines. In addition, Roditis, Malagouzia, Black Kalavrytino, and Agiorgitiko are on the lavish wine menu at Tetramythos.
Achaia is also home to events organized by local enthusiasts and specially dedicated to the area’s vintages with the ‘Oinoxenia’ held every August, and the wine tasting festival ‘Kername Ellada’ coming up this year May 26-28.
The land of Olympia is famous for its products which are in great demand throughout Greece and indeed around the world.
Enjoy the taste of summer in a juicy slice of watermelon from Gastouni, or the traditional pasta products trahana and hilopites made with pure ingredients. Fragrant herbs such as oregano, mint, and sage grow plentifully across the hillsides of the region while the delicious local honey is well-known for its quality.
Fish are also in abundance, including bass, bream, mullet, and eels. Visitors can try catching them on their own in the lagoon of Kotyhi or simply stop by a local taverna and order the freshest fish dishes. Trout from the artificial lake of the Pinios are especially recommended.
Gastronomy is inextricably linked with the customs and the way of life in the area where visitors can taste tradition in the local dishes, such as hondromenoudelo (a type of pasta), tabakali (a dish made with beans), kagiana with tsigaridia (salt pork with eggs and tomatoes), savory pumpkin pies, and, for dessert, stroto, a local version of baklava from Lampia.
Special wine experiences are available at the wineries that are open to visitors with PGI wines to taste such as Ilia, Letrini, and Pisatis.
For a special experience, visitors can roll up their sleeves and join in the harvest and become immersed in the daily life of the Greek countryside. Whether it’s gathering olives for the oil presses in Ilia or grapes to produce wine at a local vineyard, making hilopites, or salting olives or pork, these activities will make memories that last a lifetime.
Local wineries also open their doors for special events. Among the events to enjoy is the Gastronomy Festival of Pyrgos.
The excellent quality PDO olive oil of Ancient Olympia, famous for its taste, comes from the local variety of olives, called nemoutiana.
Strawberries from Amaliada or Manolada are famous for their sweetness while delicious fruit preserves are also a traditional favorite in the region.
In Aitoloakarnania, Avgotaracho (Greek caviar – fish roe) from Messolonghi is a delicacy. Also among the top quality seafood of the region are the gabares prawns from the Amvrakikos Gulf and the fried smelt of Trichonida. The classic Greek salad is topped with olives of the Kalamon variety and drizzled with the exquisite local olive oil.
The nutrient-rich Avgotaracho Messolongiou is made from whole roe of the gray mullet. The fish are caught in the shallow waters of the lagoons of Messolongi-Etolikos, Kleisova, and Bouka between the estuaries of the Aheloos and Evinos rivers in western Greece. Packed with amino acids, omega-3s, and vitamins, Avgotaracho Messolongiou is best when simply drizzled with lemon and extra virgin olive oil, though it can also be served with bread or pasta and as an accompaniment to ouzo and tsipouro.
The area is also famous for delicious cheeses such as Gruyere and Feta Amphilochias, fragrant oregano, and choice meats, especially lamb and kid.
The wine routes that cross the area lead to Malagouzia, whose local variety of white grape, according to many wine connoisseurs, sparked the latest Greek wine renaissance. Wine enthusiasts can also taste a multitude of other local vintages such as Assyrtiko and Mavrodaphne as well as international types including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah.
Festivals in the area offer visitors great opportunities to explore traditional tastes. The Exhibition of Local Products is held every August in Messolonghi. For seafood fans, the Fish Festival in Aitoliko is also held in August. In October, the Chestnut and Tsipouro Festival in Ano Hora is not to be missed. The annual Sand Smelt Festival in Kainourgio celebrates the fish that swam from the sea to the fresh waters of Trichonida and became a favorite fried dish throughout the region.
ATHENS - With flights already filling and tour packages brimming over, Greece is readying for a banner year with reports that besides the big markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy that Austrians are lining up to come.
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