Celebrating Greek Orthodox Easter
Following on from my last post “Postcards from the Butterfly Island of Astypalea”, today’s article is all about Fabulous Greek Food on the Island of Astypalea and Celebrating Greek Orthodox Easter; to be invited to an idyllic Greek Island at any time of year is very special, but it’s all the more special when you are invited to visit during Greek Easter, and especially when you have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful local cuisine and partake in the Easter celebrations.
Astypalea is a hidden gem, a small island in the Aegean sea that stole my heart…..it’s not easy to get to by ferry, well it’s not so much difficult as very long, although you can fly from Athens to Rhodes and take a much shorter ferry trip to the island, or fly direct, but seats are very limited, but whatever the length of the journey, once you arrive on this sparkling little island, all is forgotten as you gaze at its’ natural beauty, and marvel at the azure blue seas.
You may be forgiven into thinking that such as small island would not be able to offer visitors an interesting variety of restaurants, cafes, taverns, bars and even night clubs, but you’d be very wrong, as this small butterfly island offers a wonderful range of different types of food and entertainment, including a fascinating trek where you go foraging for herbs and wild plants in the mountains above Chora, the main town on the island. Today’s post is a round-up of where to eat and drink and what to do on the island, in a culinary travel sense.
Where to Eat in Astypalea:
This beach-side restaurant in the little village of Livadi is a must visit place to eat; Maria is a charming hostess and her husband is a wizard on the BBQ and grill! The day we went, they were ably assisted by Bettina, who had just taken us out onto the mountains for a trekking foraging trip, and the menu that day featured lots of the preserves that she and a group of ladies make on the island. (Rodia 12 is a co-operative venture that preserves all the fruit and vegetables that grow in the island) This fabulous cafe, restaurant and bar offers the most amazing selection of imaginative dips, salads and fish dishes, Greek but with a modern twist, and we enjoyed assorted dips, fresh salads with pickled greens, freshly made bread, a carpaccio of fresh fish with herbs, baby squid with preserved lemons, fried baby calamari, herb crusted fresh cheese, stuffed calamari with tomatoes, mint and fresh cheese, grilled sword fish in a mustard sauce, whole grilled sea bream and a delightful fresh lemon cheesecake for dessert. The meal was served at just the right speed, so each course was enjoyed at leisure, and there were plentiful carafes of rose and white wine to accompany the meal, as well as bottled water. Prices range between €10 and €35 and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fish and seafood is a speciality here, but look out for seasonal daily specials such as moussaka, lamb, rabbit and tarts and quiches. Highly recommended for innovative and creative modern Greek cuisine, with the emphasis on seasonality and locally sourced produce, great atmosphere and friendly staff. (English is spoken)
Address: Livadia, Astypalaia | Dodecanese, 85900, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2243 061473
This lovely restaurant in the heart of the old town of Chora is friendly and has fabulous Greek food; you will be talked through each course by the owner/chef Maroula, who is attentive and clearly passionate about the food she cooks and serves. Each meal is preceded by freshly made seeded bread with dips, and their home-made grappa style ouzo is delectable, if a little heady for midday! The day we went we were all treated to a delicious Greek salad with pickled mountain greens (that Maroula’s father had foraged), assorted dips, a fresh prawn and seafood spaghetti dish that was made with a fresh tomato and saffron sauce, and to end with, we had buffalo curd with gently poached cinnamon and honey apples, that was amazing. Fresh locally caught fish and seafood ranks highly on the menu, along with pasta, lamb and goat, and the restaurant offers excellent value for money, with most meals coming in at under €10 a head excluding wine but including bread, dips, salad and dessert. The location right opposite the windmills also makes it a lovely place to sit outside and dine, although there is cosy seating inside. Highly recommended for great value for money, hearty food, warm atmosphere and friendly staff. (English is spoken)
Address: Astipalaia Square, Astypalaia | Dodecanese, 85900, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2243 062102
This charming restaurant is half way up the hill on the way to the castle, near the Mayor’s Office, it has lovely sea views and a pretty little courtyard where you can sit outside. It specialises in Greek cuisine, and seems to be very good at serving vegan and vegetarian food, as we discovered when we all enjoyed a meal there on Good Friday over Greek Easter, which is designated a “Green Day” with no meat, fish, eggs or dairy allowed. We were served a large selection of dips, salads and grilled vegetables, but the highlight of the meal, was the vegetarian “Octopus”, which was made out of aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes and was a real showstopper! On non-vegan feast days, the restaurant specialises in House Moussaka, Lamb and Pasta, and their choice of meze dips were the best I’d enjoyed on the island. The Prices are mid-range at about €12 to €18 a head, and there is a good choice of beers and wines on offer. Recommended as a quiet “out-of-the-way place” to eat in a relaxed atmosphere, with excellent vegan and vegetarian food on offer, as well as all of the usual Greek specials.
Address: Chora, Greece
Phone Number: + 30 2243 061577
This taverna style restaurant is in the centre of Chora, opposite the windmills, and is a very popular place with visitors and locals alike, which is always a good sign. We dined there several times, at night mainly, and also had our Easter Sunday feast there…..the staff are friendly and the menu is varied, with the emphasis on locally grown produce and seasonal fresh fish and seafood. The atmosphere was lively with people sitting inside and outside all evening. We ate there several times, but stand out meals cooked by Anna were the fresh lobster spaghetti, country sausage and chips, the beetroot dip, the hummus and an amazing moussaka too. The grilled fresh fish was also amazing and apparently they also specialise in goat cooked over a wood fire. Highly recommended for a lively atmosphere, excellent all round Greek and Mediterranean food, the LOBSTER spaghetti is a MUST HAVE and it’s where you will see most of the locals eating too. NB: Apparently, George Cluny has eaten here too!
Address: Chora | Central Square, 85900, Greece
Phone Number: +30.22430.62072
This amazing little cafe, cake and sweet shop, is situated just behind the windmills with views of the sea and harbour, it’s where we went for breakfast every day, and the lady who runs it and bakes all the incredible treats on offer, is the lovely Dionysia, who made breakfasts so enjoyable for the five days I was on the island. At Patisserie “Zafora” you will find a wide selection of fresh pastries as eklerakia, kokakia, soudakia, delicious cakes and pastries on offer. You will also find traditional xerotigana Astypalaias – rose and sesame bars for your wedding, as well as christening shaped candies, and all made with traditional honey from Astypalea. Every day Dionysia offered us a selection of freshly baked breakfast pasties and cakes with ham, cheese, salad, bread, honey, fresh fruit, rice pudding made with Greek yoghurt, yoghurt, tea, coffee and fruit juices. Everything is served with a warm smile and with passion for someone who clearly loves her craft, which is evident in the taste of all of her cakes and bakes. HIGHLY recommended for breakfast, as well as for home-made cakes, pastries, sweets, biscuits and even doughnuts!
Phone : (+30) 22430-61422
Excellent Pizza with a Sea View! When you tire of the excellent Geek food on the island and fancy a change of pace, this is the place to go to for pizza. Freshly cooked pizzas come out with the most amazing salads and delicious chips…..it’s a fabulous place for a casual meal and the views of the harbour are beautiful.
Address: Pera Gialos | Astypalaia, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2243 061359
Where to Drink:
As well as all of the above restaurants, that have bars, I LOVE the old and very historic Mouggou Cafe in the heart of the old town of Chora; it’s here that I sipped an ice-cold beer on my first day on the island, as well as enjoy a Homey Raki one evening in the bar! During the day, you can sit outside or in the terrace bar with stunning views of the sea and harbour.
Where to Dance:
Yes, even an island as small as Astypalea has somewhere to dance the night away, and on Easter Saturday, after we had all eaten a gargantuan meal and has been to see the Greek Easter service at the hilltop church, we were invited to the Kouros Bar and Club in Chora. A huge amount of fun was had, and it’s a nice place to go if you fancy dancing off your Big Fat Greek Dinner!
For more information about what to do and where to stay, the do pop back for my last post in a week or so! Karen
Disclaimer: I was the guest of the municipality of Astypalea; all flights, transfers, accommodation, food, drink and excursions were included in the media trip I attended. All views and opinions remain my own and I was not paid to publish this article, although I retain the right to publish similar material on a commissioned basis with other print and on-line publications.
Full credit will be given in future posts for all the places I visited, but for now I would like to thank:
With thanks to ALL the lovely people I met in Astypalea too!
To find out arrival and departure from Piraeus to Astypalea and back or any other destination please use the following link:
Information on Astypalaia:
+30 22430 61224 (Blue Star Ferries)
+30 22430 61571
Astypalaia (JTY) – Athens (ATH)
Rhodes – Kos – Leros – Astypalaia (JTY)
Astypalaia (JTY) – Leros – Kos – Rhodes
Tel:. +30 22430 61571-61572
Fax: +30 22430 61328