Culinary Journey to Syros, Greece
Located in the heart of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea and under four hours by ferry, this beautiful island is truly unique. Its rich history, azure water, gorgeous beaches, delicious food, and amazing architecture are just the beginning of this incredible adventure!
The island of Syros has a tremendously rich history dating back thousands of years before Christ and was once considered one of the most important ports in the Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, it became such a major trading center that the island’s capitol, Hermoupolis was named after Hermes, the God of Trade. This rich past is evidenced by the luxurious mansions, neoclassical buildings, museums, marble paved streets and beautiful tree-lined squares. Hermoupolis is also known as the “Queen of the Cyclades Islands” and you will see why. Complete with neoclassical architecture, fantastic tavernas, meandering alleys covered with bougainvillea, fun shopping, cafés, blue-domed churches and a dramatic coastline, this place is quintessentially a Greek dream come true.
Influences from around the Mediterranean have also enhanced Syros’ cuisine. With spicy flavors from across the sea, velvety notes from the Venetians and traditional dishes from mainland Greece, Syros has created its own unique cuisine. We’ll cook and taste our way across the island using it’s fabulous vegetables, fragrant herbs, bountiful seafood, honey, renowned cheeses and expertly-crafted sausages. We’ll visit local markets, eat at tavernas and enjoy some of the best Greek wines!
And the best part? Syros is still a well-kept secret and never seems to get as crowded as its neighboring islands, yet it still buzzes with life year-round and showcases the best of everyday Greek life. This is going to be an unbelievable trip and I can't wait to take you there!
** Price based on double occupancy, single supplement applies for solo travelers. Airfare not included. Deposit of $2,000.00 per person required to secure a spot.
Together with my friend Elias, who was born on the island, we’ll venture just up the road from Klini Beach to his family’s private villa, where a well-equipped and spacious kitchen provides the setting for our hands-on cooking classes. Wait until you see the views from the balcony there! Whether we’re making classic dishes like moussaka, pastitso, skordalia and spanakopita or interesting local specialties like grilled cuttlefish and pasta with local sausages, we’ll enjoy the results dining together with delicious Greek wines.
We'll grill outside on our kitchen's outdoor patio and then learn how to make traditional moussaka and pastitsa from a master!
Oh, and in addition to cooking together, we’ll be sure to visit local tavernas to enjoy juicy souvlaki and the best mezé appetizers such as louza, the cured pork tenderloin that's marinated in red wine together with allspice, cinnamon, peppercorns, and cloves before air-dried to perfection.
We'll be sure to visit the local food markets in Hermoupolis, where we’ll sample loukoumi sweets and other island delicacies like the aromatic sausages spiked with fennel called "marathies". We'll stroll through town, enjoying gorgeous neoclassical architecture, the market streets and 12th century Anos Syros, the medieval settlement with its meandering streets, countless steps, arches and all-white houses. Then, we might just need to visit a chic beach club for the afternoon!
For cheese, we’ll go beyond feta, venturing out to find the Cyclades famous spicy, soft cheese called kopanisti, as well as Saint Michali, an aged cheese that's produced exclusively in the island of Syros. Made from locally raised cow’s milk collected on the island, San Michali has a rich flavor of hazelnuts and crumbles like parmesan. It's heavenly!
These cheeses work so well with ouzo, or tsipouro, so of course we have to see how it’s made here on the island. Similar to the Italian grappa, tsipouro is made every autumn following the grape harvest. After the grapes are pressed to produce wine, there are “leftovers” in the wine press. The crushed grape skins, seeds, pulp and stems are then distilled to produce a strong spirit that will warm your heart.
The island is well known for its sweets such as halvadopita, a lovely nougat with almonds sandwiched inside heavenly melt-in-your-mouth wafers, and loukoumia, a jellied sweet flavored with pistachio and rosewater, so we'll have to see how they're made!
Since there are over 600 acres of olive trees growing on this small island, we may visit an olive mill for an olive oil tasting. And just when we think we can’t fit in one more bite, maybe we’ll take a hike to find capers and learn the art of preserving them from the locals!
Our home for this journey is in the lovely, elegant city of Hermoupolis, the famous port of Syros, at the well-appointed and perfectly situated Hermes Hotel. The largest hotel in Ermoupolis, it occupies one of the most historic neoclassical buildings of Syros island. The hotel is located in a privileged location on a narrow strip of land at the right edge of Syros port with historic city center at the background.
Just five minutes from the Aegean Sea and in the middle of all the action, here we'll have easy access to everything we need.
The well-appointed rooms, complete with hairdryers, mini-bars and rainfall showers will provide us with a tranquil place to relax and rest up for all of our activities!
We recommend flying into Athens* and arriving to Greece at least one day in advance of this tour. Not only does this give you some time to adjust to the time difference, it provides you with more time to explore. To get to Syros, you can take a short flight or the ferry from the port in Piraeus. To take the ferry, head to the port in Piraeus (about a 20 minute taxi ride outside of Athens) and catch the early morning ferry to the island of Syros. On the final day of your tour, plan on taking the ferry back to Piraeus in the afternoon.
A non-refundable deposit of $2,000.00 US per person is required to register for this journey. See the Terms and Conditions link above for details. We highly recommend purchasing trip insurance. Single supplement charge applies for solo travelers. Accommodations, cooking classes, excursions and day trips, wine and tastings and meals (with the exclusion of one) are included. Airfare is not included in the package price. Final payments are made by personal check or money order only.
* There are plenty of hotel option in Athens and I love the very well-priced Herodion. Have a drink or dinner on the roof looking out at the Acropolis. If you want an extravagant splurge, try the Grand Bretagne Hotel. If you just want a view of the Acropolis from the roof with a lovely cocktail, make sure you go to their bar. And don’t forget the best gyro in town at The Greco’s Project!