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The Saronic Gulf is home to a handful of islands, each distinct in character. Aegina, the closest to Athens, charms visitors with its pistachio groves and neoclassical capital; Agistri, the smallest, lures with its crystal-clear waters and untouched serenity; Hydra captivates with its unique no-cars policy and stately mansions; Spetses beckons with its maritime history and elegant atmosphere; while Poros, the greenest, offers a haven of pine forests and quaint villages. When deciding which islands to visit, consider the pace of your trip, your interests, and the ease of travel between them.

For an optimal experience, crafting a well-thought-out island-hopping itinerary is crucial. A suggested route could encompass Aegina for history, Agistri for relaxation, Hydra for picturesque beauty, Spetses for adventure, and Poros for a tranquil farewell. The duration of your stay on each island should be balanced, allowing enough time to explore but also remain flexible for spontaneous discoveries.

These are so accessible to Athens, it's worth considering them. You can visit them as day trips or you can spend the trip island hopping, staying a night or two in each place.

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This is one of my favorite places to visit. It's a physically beautiful island and has a lovely scene with tavernas all up the coast as you arrive by ferry. It's also filled with little churches and other religious sites. My favorite was visiting the relics of Saint Nektarios.

Cooking Greek Style Octopus

One of the things I like about Greek cuisine is the octopus! It's so tender and flavorful. I get it a lot when I am in Greece and only a few times in the United States. I want to learn how to do that. In particular I want to know:
  • Choosing the Right Octopus: What should I look for when buying octopus? Are there any specific types or sizes that work best?
  • Tenderizing Process: I’ve heard that tenderizing the octopus is crucial. What methods do you recommend? I’ve heard of everything from beating it to simmering it in a pot. What works best?
  • Cooking Techniques: Should I grill it, bake it, or cook it in a stew? I'm aiming for something that's traditionally Greek.
  • Marination and Seasonings: What are the best herbs, spices, or marination techniques to use? I know olive oil and lemon are staples, but are there any other must-have seasonings?
Any advice you can give is welcome!

Traditions associated with Greek coffee?

When I visit people in Greece, it usually involves Greek coffee, a cold glass of water, and whatever sweets there are around - like Loukoumi, spoon sweets, fruit.. it seems like it's all about hospitality and spending time together, while sharing the bounty of what you have.

One time, a yiayia actually did a "reading" using coffee grounds. I didn't understand all the Greek, but the reading was fun and lighthearted and I wondered how she decided what to say.

Do you guys have similar experiences? The social aspect has been a big part of it for me.

Learning about Greek wines

Greek wines offer a window into the country's rich traditions. I have been taking the time to learn more about it lately!

Greek wine history dates back over 4,000 years, intertwined with myths and traditions where wine was celebrated as a gift from the gods. Today, Greece's unique climate, diverse soils, and indigenous grape varieties contribute to the production of wines with distinct character and quality.

Indigenous Varieties to Know:
  1. Assyrtiko: Originally from Santorini, this white grape is all about minerality, crisp acidity, and lemony flavors, making it a perfect companion for seafood.
  2. Agiorgitiko: One of the most important red varieties, primarily grown in the Peloponnese. It produces wines ranging from soft and fruity to full-bodied and age-worthy.
  3. Xinomavro: Often referred to as the "Barolo of Greece," this red grape from Northern Greece offers complex aromas and a strong tannic presence, ideal for aging.
  4. Moschofilero: A highly aromatic white variety, yielding wines that are fresh and floral with lively acidity, hailing from the cool-climate region of Mantinia.
  5. Retsina: While not a grape variety, no discussion on Greek wine can be complete without mentioning Retsina, a traditional white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin. A contemporary approach to Retsina has given it a much-needed makeover, making it an intriguing option worth revisiting.

Did I miss any wines? I am guessing I did...


Using Greek Yogurt in Cooking

I love eating Greek yogurt with a little honey and sometimes walnuts in the morning for breakfast. You an cook with it, too! I thought I'd make a list of some of my favorite ways to use it to share with you all. How do you like to cook with Greek yogurt?
  1. Marinades: Yogurt is a fantastic meat tenderizer. Mixing it with herbs and spices for a marinade not only imparts flavors but also ensures meats like lamb and chicken come out tender and juicy.
  2. Tzatziki: This classic Greek dip combines yogurt with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and sometimes lemon vinegar or dill, creating a perfectly cool and refreshing side that pairs wonderfully with grilled meats.
  3. Baking: Yogurt can be added to cakes or pastries, providing moisture and a slight tanginess that complements the sweetness of the desserts.
  4. Soups: It’s also a thickening agent for traditional soups, adding a hint of tanginess and creaminess without overpowering the main ingredients.
  5. Sauces: Beyond tzatziki, yogurt serves as a base for various sauces, enhancing the flavors of vegetables and meats.

Does this look like a good koliva recipe?

I am planning a memorial service coming up in about two weeks. The person who makes the koliva for everyone in the church is going to be out of town, and I can't find another person to do it. So I thought I'd make it.

I found this recipe - does it look like it would work?


  • 2 cups whole wheat berries
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup black raisins
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
  • Garnish: pomegranate seeds, whole almonds, and powdered sugar


  1. Preparing the Wheat:
  • Rinse the wheat berries thoroughly in a strainer under cold running water.
  • Place the wheat in a large pot and add water until it's about 2 inches above the wheat level.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, or until they are tender but not mushy, adding more water as necessary.
  • Drain the wheat and spread it out on a towel or a large baking tray to dry out completely, preferably overnight.
  1. Toasting Ingredients:
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Spread the sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5-8 minutes, till golden; be vigilant as they can burn quickly.
  • Repeat this process with the almonds and the walnuts, ensuring each is nicely toasted but not burnt.
  1. Mixing the Koliva:
  • Once the wheat is dry, combine it in a large bowl with powdered sugar, toasted walnuts, toasted sesame seeds, toasted almonds, golden and black raisins, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Stir the mixture gently to combine.
  1. Assembling the Dish:
  • Mound the mixture onto a large serving platter, shaping it into a dome with your hands or a spoon.
  • Decorate the top with whole almonds and pomegranate seeds creating a cross or other religious symbols as is traditional.
  • Just before serving, sift powdered sugar over the top to cover.
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