Once you savor the refined gastronomy of Halkidiki, it is imprinted in your memory forever; the scents, the flavors, the textures, bringing back childhood memories that you have long forgotten.
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In a land where cultivation of crops, olive groves, vineyards and livestock production are essential to the economy, the locally produced goods are the main ingredients of every recipe. The fresh, aromatic herbs, vegetables and fruit of this blessed land bring an extra flavor to every dish while the secrets of Asia Minor, the Anatolians and the monastic cuisine lend their heritage to any local recipe.
The Halkidiki region is home to some of the most important base products for every recipe. Hondroelia olives as well as black, green, sliced or wrinkled olives are found in abundance. Honey is used mostly for the production of sweet treats such as loukoumades-dough fritters drizzled with honey.
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The dairy products including, feta, myzithra, organic goat cheese, graviera and butter certainly bring out the flavor in every recipe. An amazing assortment of pork, goat, beef and lamb dishes as well as pork sausages also play a leading role in Halkidiki’s gastronomy.
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So are the shellfish and fish such as the Olympiada mussels, the salted bonito, the octopus, the tuna, the anchovies and mackerel as well as the Caesar’s mushrooms, the wild truffles, the wild herbs and fruit, especially quince.
The truffles growing on Mount Holomontas, the snails, the wild greens, the chicory and crates of mackerel, bonito, sea urchins and sardine paint a vivid picture of Halkidiki’s gastronomic scene.
Some of the region’s most common dishes are the lamb with wild greens, the pork stew with quince and plums as well as the billy goat with eggplant. Specialties vary by region, with the exceptional dolmades made with sultana grapevine leaves at Nea Gonia, the syrto pasta in Nea Fokea, the fish mint cakes, the stuffed mackerel with herbs and almond biscuits in Ammouliani, the “naked” pies and the simple yet exceptional dishes of Mt. Athos.
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The Monasterial cuisine is characterized by simplicity and heritage as all dishes are prepared with locally produced goods and recipes brought from all corners of the world by the monks. That’s what makes it unique, that and the ceremonial way of cooking.
Herbs and spices such as red pepper and cumin are used almost in all monasterial recipes. So are the wild mushrooms and vegetables that grow around the gardens such as green peppers, eggplants and tomatoes.
Monks like to pickle and can many of their vegetables so as to use again in recipes when they are out of season.
Meat is not something they value in the monasteries but fish on the other hand is the treat they reserve for special occasions and feasts such as Easter.