Learning to cook in Santorini

Trip Start Jun 21, 2010
Trip End Jul 01, 2011

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Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Friday, September 10, 2010

It was time again for a break from the boat so we left the boat (and Captain Spiros) in Ios and took the ferry to Santorini.  We took the ferry because parking the boat in Santorini can be impossible and it was only 35 minutes by ferry.

We stayed at the Majestic Hotel and Spa after I negotiated a great rate for a triple room at just 220E per night (less than half of the best internet price).  The view from the room was amazing, looking over the Caldera into the crater of the volcano that forms the island of Thera.  Thera is one of the many names for Santorini.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that everything in Greece has at least three names, often many more.

Santorini, like everyplace else we've been since September 1st was pretty laid back.  No problems getting into restaurants, hotels, or museums and NO CROWDS!!  The lack of crowds and the perfect weather combine to make September the best travel month of the year in Greece, glad we're here!

Santorini is really a stunning example of Greek islands of the Cyclades.  When on the island of Thera, you are actually on the rim of a very large volcano that wiped out a few cities and thousands of people a few thousand years ago.  Cute, winding streets with lots of boutiques, shops, and restaurants make it a beautiful vacation spot and it's easy to see why some consider it the prettiest city in the world.

But you can read about Santorini anywhere.  I want to tell you the HIGHLIGHT!

Cooking Class
We met some people when we were in Mykonos that mentioned a cooking class in Santorini  and of course Chari really wanted to check it out.  I Googled it and came up with a cooking class on Thursdays in a restaurant called "Selene".  Problem was, we were only going to be there Monday through Thursday morning.  Turns out they will do a private class for 3 students or more, so I signed up all three of us.

We took a taxi to the restaurant not really knowing what to expect.  I guess we knew we'd get to do some cooking, see a kitchen and get to eat at some point, but that was about it.  I warned Chari not to expect what she would expect in the States, "remember, this is Greece, they may not have the standards we have" etc etc.  I guess I didn't really expect they would.   Well what can I say.  It did meet ours or anyone's standards, and in fact our day at Selene turned out to be one of the major highlights of our trip!!  It was so much fun for all of us!!!

I turns out that Selene is a very famous restaurant in Greece and George, the restaurants owner is considered THE pioneer of modern Greek cuisine. 

Georgina the manager of Selene gave us the class which started over espressos on the beautiful patio overlooking the mountains and vineyards of Santorini.  She explained to us the volcanic soil and the lack of water and how that serves to produce the famous indigenous Santorini tomatoes, cucumbers, white eggplant, capers, fava beans and of course the grapes/wine.  We learned the history of Santorini and how the productions, imports, and exports affected the cuisine throughout history due to wars, volcanoes, earthquakes and the economy.

She then walked us through a private tour of the museum downstairs which included actual old farmhouses, citizen houses and wineries.  She showed us how wine was made (by stamping on the grapes of  course), how the farmers would remove the beans from the plants, and how the farmers wives would remove the fava beans from the shells.  Georgina is a fantastic teacher.  She clearly LOVES teaching and she really makes it fun and interesting.

After the museum, we all went down to the tasting room where we tasted cheeses from the different islands while Georgina explained why the cheeses were different based on the vegetation available on the different islands and why the dry islands had goat cheese and the islands with water had cheese made from cows and sheep's milk.  She thought us how the cheese was made and how meats were cured.  All the while, tasting and enjoying all the wonderful flavors and textures.  I was one of the best culinary experiences of my life.  I LOVE cheese and I was in my glory!!

After the tastings, we went outside and took a break in the shade overlooking the wineries with George, the owner, and a few of his guests.   One of George's guests was the famous Greek Cuisine writer and teacher,  Aglaia Kremezi (http://www.aglaiakremezi.com/), who comes to Napa Valley culinary school to teach Mediterranean cuisine each year.  She also has a cooking school on the island of KEA and has written several books about Mediterranean cooking.  Agalia is how we found out how important the Selene restaurant and the owner were to Greek cuisine.

After the break we were off to the kitchen to meet the chef and the head cook who would teach us how to make several specialty Greek dishes.  The kitchen was clean enough to impress Chari (spotless) and the Chef is considered one of the best in the world for Greek cuisine.  We spent about an hour seeing how everything was prepared and we even got to help a little.

Then Georgina sat us at our table overlooking Greek paradise and poured us some of the very best Santorini white wine.  To David's delight, she also poured him a small glass as well and it was really special as we sipped this delicious nectar of the Greek gods along with some of the most delectable food we've ever tasted.  David enjoyed his first glass of wine even more when I showed him how to play tones by running his finger along the rim.  Georgina joined us for lunch as well and we sat, ate, and drank wine for the next hour and a half while talking about food, cuisine, and traveling.  It was delightful.

Keep in mind, David and I now know more about food in Santorini than any other food on the planet so if you have questions, you know where to turn.

I can't recommend the cooking class at Selene strongly enough.  I won't talk about Santorini without talking about Selene.  We were going to go back for dinner but were still stuffed after our naps.  Next time for sure!!!

Ok, I have one more thing to say;



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chrisheimlich on

Sounds like fun Brian! You know I would have liked to have joined you. So, what did you guys make? It must not have been a Greek Salad! :)

Mom on

OMG......What a fantastic experience....the food, the wine, the ambiance, the views!. You guys will be hosting great Greek parties when you get home to Santa Barbara . I hope I'm invited. Love you all and see you soon.

Jim Scheib on

Great stories, Brian! It's so much fun to watch the Coryat Odyssey as you all enjoy your way across the Mediterranean! Next I hope to hear from the Rip-Barnetti's, who must be there by now--I saw them leave last Wednesday! All the best to all of you from us! Jim, C, R and M

Margo & Harvey on

Hi Guys,
Absolutely love your travel blog!!! Brian, we had no idea that you are such an incredible writer. I for see another career in writing for you. Our mouths are watering reading and looking at your engaging photos. We are heading to Europe next week, but won't be able to rondezvous with you all. Perhaps we can plan to meet up somewhere in a couple of months. Miss you guys, xo

Phil Henius on

I right there with you on the cheese! Sounds wonderful.........

Kristin Cotte on

Sounds amazing! You all are having quite the adventure. I love reading about it, brings back great memories of our cruising days. Enjoy and say hi to David... he should write a post :)

Stacy on

Is David taller than you yet Chari? :)

Stacy on

Dang I wish I was YOU! All is well here in LA. Luc starts driving lessons tomorrow then he can be our chauffer. Love N Kisses, Stacy

Peggy and Dick Berk on

Hi guys, Sounds like so much fun and excitement and education,
Don't know what time or day it is there but we want to wish you a
very happy and fun birthday. Follow the Greek tradition and party hearty.
Love to Chatti, David Jr and Sr. Have fun with your Mom in Oct.
Love, Peggy and Dick

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