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Friday, August 13, 2010

Octopus Salad

serves 4

  • 1 small octopus (about ½ kilo)
  • ½ glass Vinsanto wine
  • 4 white eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh onion
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar (good quality)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, fresh pepper
  • a little olive oil

Place the octopus with the bay leaf into the saucepan and simmer on very weak fire until it gets really soft (no water – no salt). When ready, add Vinsanto wine, turn up the heat and cook until it glosses (about 4-5 minutes). Roast the eggplants on open flame or in the oven. Peel carefully and place them into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and the fine chopped octopus. Mix with a spoon, try and serve!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Following the road towards Perivolos and Perissa beaches you will find Emporio, the largest village of Santorini with approximately 3.000 permanent residents. It is only 12km away from Fira and for many years it was the trade center of the island; to that probably owes its today’s name (emporio is the greek word for trade). According to another assertion, Emporio took its name from the german word Neubürg, which means new tower and it refers to the Goulas castle.
Emporio is a traditional village with distinctive folk architecture. Goulas and Kasteli still bring in memory the Venetian rule age. Goulas is the square medieval castle in the village entrance and it was Patmos monastery glebe. In its entrance you will see the typical construction with the pots which were filled with hot oil and were spilt over to the enemies. On the top of the castle is Agios Polikarpos. Kasteli is one of the five typical fortress settlements of the after Byzantine period of the island. Its walls are the external walls of the houses. All buildings communicate from their roofs and Palaia Panagia or Panagia Mesani stands in the center of the fortress. The church is dated to the 16th century with a unique architecture bell tower and with priceless wooden icon screen (1883) presenting scenes from the Old and the New Testament. In a few meters you will find the church of Metamorphosis of Sotiros (Christ) dated to the early 19th century; a great festival takes place on August 6th. What is more, the icon of Agios Averkios (protector of canavas) is hosted there and therefore another festival takes place on October 22nd. In the yard of the church there is a typical pebble precinct. It is worth visiting Agios Spiridonas with its beautiful blue dome. Just before entering the village there is a small church of Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis built upon an ancient sacred of the 3rd century B.C., an offering to the goddess Vasileia. During the Christian times the sacred became the small church of Agios Nikolaos. It was named after the grey axed marbles of its exterior walls and also from the Saint’s marble icon. Go up to the hill of Gavrilos, which is considered archaeological zone, due to the Byzantine period ruins, and admire the eight windmills and the view of the rest of the island. The windmills are historical listed monuments from the early 19th century and they testify the traditional occupation of that time. Furthermore, carved tombs of the Hellenistic period were found in the limestone rock in the area of Vlyhada. One of them is known by the name Ehentra which means viper, due to the carved shape of a snake found on the rock. In Emporio you will find many shops for tourists, ATMs, supermarkets, a post office, cafés, taverns, a pharmacy and a peripheral health centre.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Exo Gonia – Mesa Gonia

Exo Gonia is a small, peaceful and traditional village lacking tourist infrastructure, built at the rear of Pyrgos. It is located 12km away from Fira. You should visit it and walk through its cobbled streets. Admire the neoclassic mansions and more than ten ruined wineries that were full of life before the earthquake of 1956. Don’t forget to visit “Art Space”, the Antonis Argyros visual art center, which since 1830 was operating as a winery and a distiller of raki, and had the first facilities for tomato processing. At the restored rooms of the museum you will find exceptional works of art.
Go to Mesa Gonia (7.5km away from Fira) once a great center of wine production. Follow the signs from the main road towards Kamari and then turn right. Your first stop is one of the oldest wineries of the island, Yiannis Roussos winery which operates since 1836. Taste famous local labels in the winery’s beautiful traditional yard under the shade of the trees. Not far from Roussos winery, you will find an older winery (since 1903) that belongs to Yiannis Argyros. Tour the canavas, seize the opportunity and discuss with the wine producer, and don’t forget to taste the famous Vinsanto he produces. Leave your car for a while and walk through the traditional settlement of Mesa Gonia. The deeper you go into the village, the more controversial the landscape becomes, combing images of dereliction and civilization. Beautiful picturesque churches and few traditional houses are among the ruins that the earthquake left behind. The cobbled streets are full of flowers with heady fragrances that give life to the ghosts of the past. Let the landscape travel you in times where the island was untouchable from the tourist intervention. As you go further up, the view of the village, of Mesa Vouno and the coast line becomes more beautiful, especially at nightfall. Go back to your car and follow the road towards the church of Episcopi of Gonia, which is quite close to the village. The church was built in the late 11th century by Emperor Alexios A’ Komninos and is an important Byzantine monument. Episcopi is one of the few churches with tiles and it offers a magnificent view of the eastern side of the island. The combination of the landscape, the tranquility and the scattered smell of basil in the entire place will definitely bring you peace of mind. If you ever are on the island on August 15th make sure to visit the festival that takes place there.