In a world filled with processed foods and saturated with artificial flavors, when it comes to holidays, I start missing the simple and tasty dishes that my grandmother used to cook. It is not just about the hotel, the location or leisure activities. When leaving home, I want to feed myself healthy, eat well, especially if children are coming along. That brings me to Aegina, an island reach in olive oil, fresh seafood and baked rabbit to delight the warm summer days.
Oh, the taste of freshly cold pressed olive oil
It is always good when you get inside tips from someone who actually lives in the area that will serve as your holiday retreat. In my case, I chatted with Sorin Andreiana, a Romanian journalist, established in Aegina, the manager of Sissy hotel. He is more than willing to advise me on the taverns where Greek flavors and dishes are irresistible. He is also the one to ask when it comes to the famous olive oil. Last year Sorin discovered on the island an old lady that is producing fresh cold pressed oil upon request. Especially helpful if you want to bring home some of this magic liquid.
“Maria is an old lady which makes custom olive oil. When we have visitors interested in buying oil, I give her a call and she puts the olives into the press. For amounts greater than 15 liters, it takes about a day for the oil to be ready, but we guarantee it is fresh. ”
Island specialties? Try marinated octopus, roasted rabbit in the oven and grilled lamb
In Aegina, away from the urban bustle and the big supermarkets, the family run taverns have views that leave you gazing amazed at the blue sea. Their simple décor has nothing to do with the sophisticated modern restaurants. Here the landscape, the sea and the sky submerge you in hypnotic shades of blue.
Over time, Sorin became a big fan of the traditional taverns, especially those located on the beaches. “Unquestionably food here is very, very good! Aegina is a holiday retreat for the Athenians and they know the taste of authentic Greek food, just as we, in Romania, know whether the soups are better in a certain place. As a result, the taverns and the chefs are very careful with what they cook. In Aegina, you have the guarantee that food is always fresh and tasty. I usually stop first in a tavern and then go to the hotel ” says Sorin laughing.
The hotel he manages is located near “Christian’s Tavern”, which belongs to a French guy, who, just like Sorin, fell in love with the island and decided to open a business here together with his wife. The tavern menu always contains 4-5 different dishes prepared freshly every day of the week. And oh, yes – here you can enjoy the best octopus in marinara sauce on the island 🙂 .
“Each pub has its specific dish. At Sissy hotel, we tell our clients what is special about the menu in every nearby tavern. There are places where you find fresh fish and seafood that taste heavenly and some taverns where the steaks are unbelievable. The island also offers a large range of vegetables and herbs for vegetarians, cooked very well. I try to explain the people about each place so they can be informed when making a choice. ”
Traveling the island you will also here Greeks say that in Aegina you find the best pistachios in the world. Which is why, in mid-September, they hold the Festival of pistachios, right when harvesting season is on.
So, let me recap. Freshly cooked food from locally grown ingredients, fish and seafood just fished from the sea, olive oil made on the spot and delicious pistachios to take home. Well, not bad for a holiday destination.
Getting to Aegina
Best way: fly to Athens. From the airport, there is an express bus line that will get you to Piraeus. The ticket will cost about 5 euros. Just go off at the end of the line, it is right next to the gate from where you will take the ferry to Aegina.
This post is also available in: Romanian