City walks: Gastronomy and wines
Thessaloniki has a great culinary tradition which has become an intrinsic part of the character and mentality of the locals. The city’s multicultural character across the ages has added an indelible stamp on its traditional cuisine which includes Byzantine, Christian, Ottoman influences and elements contributed by the large numbers of Minor Asia refugees who flowed in the town during the 1920s, and also Jewish and western European influences, thus creating unique culinary combinations.
Downtown, in Ano Poli and in the seaside suburbs and city outskirts, the traditional tavernas, ouzo restaurants and luxury restaurants highlight the local traditional gastronomy often creatively mixing it with gourmet tastes. Thessaloniki’s gastronomy can boast some pretty impressive delicacies [mezedes] such as gyro [slices of meat roasted on a spit] and souvlaki, patsa, a variety of soup, pies, Anatolian dishes (tzigerosarmades, giaprakia, gardoumpes, kebab etc), lake and sea fish, seafood delicacies (mussel pilaf, saganaki with shrimps, stuffed calamari etc).
Confectionery is also an important part of local gastronomy and it features the renowned syrupy cakes and pastry originating from Istanbul (ekmek kadayifi, kazandibi, tulumba etc) the well-known bougatsa [filled either with cheese or with cream], galaktompoureko [a type of pastry filled with custard], and last but not least trigona Panoramatos [a coneshaped syrupy cream-filled puff pastry] (see p. 65). Koulouri Thessalonikis is also worthy of mention. It is a sesamecovered piece of bread and an everyday snack for locals, which you can find in the morning hours sold by street vendors or at the bakers.
During the winter months, you can try salep, an interesting hot beverage.
If you are a wine lover, Thessaloniki will definitely spoil you. There are three wineries open to the public, offering awarded wines at significant international contests, a Wine Museum exhibiting one of the largest corkscrew collections worldwide, an important annual wine-testing festival, an international Wine and Spirits Competition, wine bars, wine-tasting shows, as well as an urban vineyard in the center of the city! Furthermore, departing from Thessaloniki, you can enjoy your tour at the exceptional Wine Roads throughout Northern Greece, in an absolutely gorgeous landscape, among the areas’ rich cultural treasures.
Kindly remember that since ancient times, vineyards and wine were considered as divine gifts of the Greek land, closely connected to the Greek history, art and tradition.
Your wine trip in Thessaloniki has just begun!
Macedonia has a long tradition on wine-making, as the district can boast some of the most renowned Greek vineyards. In the area surrounding the town, a wide range of varieties are grown such as Roditis, Asyrtiko, Malagouzia, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Voignier, Syrah, Merlot, Grenache Rouge, Limnio, Mavroudi, Mavrotragano, Xinomavro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Athiri and Malvasia.
The Wine Producers Association of Northern Greece Vineyards, under the trade name Wines of Northern Greece, realises a programme titled “Wine Roads of North Greece” (www.wineroads.gr). It is about an excursion taken to the most interesting parts of the viticultural zone; this is combined with a visit to the archaeological and historical assets of those areas, with countryside activities, as well as a visit to wineries and degustation.
Make sure you visit the impressive Gerovassiliou Wine Museum in Epanomi. The Museum is located within the winery’s premises. It is a visitors’ friendly museum with stories narrated unfold through the two main collections: the corkscrew collection (one of the largest worldwide with 2,600 bottle openers), bottles, vessels and symposium drinking cups, as well as the wine-growing tools collection, viticulture, vinification, cooperage and bottling tools. The Museum’s proximity to the vineyards, the winery and the wine-tasting rooms, as well as the view of alternating seasons, intensify the visitors’ experience. The museum offers easy access to people with disabilities.
For more information, contact the Wine Roads of North Greece: www.winesofnorthgreece.gr