The first thing that sprung to mind when I decided to go to Greece was: “YES! Greek food!” I’ve always been a fan of the Greek cuisine. Feta is one of my ‘go-to’ cheeses and moussaka happens to be my signature dish. When my friends and I are at an impasse on what or where to eat, a Greek restaurant always seem to be the choice that has everyone’s agreeing happily.
When I travel to a new country I try to learn to cook a couple of dishes or at least the basic principles of the local cuisine. I slip backstage of a small restaurant or hang out in the kitchen while a family mom is cooking, but I had never taken a real class before. So I was psyched to join the cooking lesson organised by Athens Walking tours with a group of travel bloggers attending the TBEX conference.
The “Greek Sunday dinner course took place in a quaint tavern called Klimataria, where they’ve been serving traditional homemade meals since 1927. What an honnour to learn some new cooking skills in one of the oldest taverns in central Athens!
The host and cook of the evening, the lovely Maria Sotou, greeted my classmates and I with a warm smile and a shot of raki. That’s when you know you’re welcome!
We threw on our aprons and gathered around a table filled with fresh, colourful ingredients. This was going to be a good experience, I could smell it. After washing our hands -of course- it was time to get them dirty again. We had a loaded agenda; we were going to make 6 starters and one main course in just a few hours. And upon completion, we would taste our creations.
Maria showed us the tricks of the game by explaining everything we needed to know about fresh produce, Greek culinary traditions, herbs and spices… She even let us in on some of her kitchen secrets. Part of the learning process was tasting some of the regional specialities. We sampled several types of cheeses, nibbled on savoury pastries and were introduced to some herbs I had never even heard of.
After a seemingly short amount of time, we had whipped up mini eggplant pies, learned how to make some fabulous dips and prepared dolmadakia from scratch. The entire class was so excited and eager to learn we got sidetracked by our questions, jokes and -what else could you expect from a bunch of bloggers- extensive photographing. Therefore, we ran out of time to make all the dishes we had planned to prepare. Luckily for us, Maria had all the dishes prepared by her staff while we were learning so we still got the chance to savour them and took the recipes home.
As our stomachs started to growl we were invited to settle down at a large dinner table, our hard work (and mostly the work of the kitchen staff) was about to be payed off. We started with some homemade wine and then the food started coming in. Dish after dish, “ooh’s” and “aah’s” followed. There was so much food! Apparently it’s the Greek thing to do: spending a very long time at the dinner table, talking, drinking and enjoying copious amounts of deliciousness. As I mentioned earlier, I thought I knew Greek food, but this… This was something else. What I had eaten before almost seemed like garbage compared to what was lying on this table. This meal was undoubtedly one of the best I’ve ever had. Just the way I like it; simple comfort food with fine and pure flavours. As Maria thought us: “The main ingredient for cooking is love”.
I can only recommend this cooking class if you’re ever in Athens wanting to dig a little deeper in local traditions. The class doesn’t come cheap at €68 per head, but it does come with wine and a meal you will not soon forget.
Should you be on a tighter budget or have too little time to take the lesson, do consider dining in the Klimataria tavern. A meal for two including salad, appetizers, two main courses and wine will set you back about €25-30, a good deal I recon. They also host live music a few times a week, check out their website to find out more.
Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad? Which cuisine(s) did you learn?
The post “A Greek Sunday Dinner: Cooking Lessons in Athens” first appeared on Travel Cake.
The dishes look delicious! I am a big fan of Greek food, I’ve had some great meals in Crete. And I have a Greek uncle who is cooking the best Musaka 🙂
Yes, I heard Crete has got some incredible cuisine as well! Moussaka is better when someone makes it for you, I think! You’re lucky to have your uncle to prepare it for you! 🙂
which class did you take? I was looking for the information maybe i missed it.
It was the cooking class organised my “Athens Walking Tours”. You can also book direct through the tavern: Klimataria. Their link is in the bottom of the article.
I took a Greek cooking class in Thessaloniki and it was so good. I just love Greek food and all it has to offer.
I’m glad to hear you also had a great Greek food experience! That means it wasn’t just this one good restaurant, we might now just say that the Greek cuisine is incredible! 😀
Oh my! Looks sumptuous..unfortunately didn’t join any of the pre or post-trip events, was time-barred, hope to catch them on time for the next tbex or so! Or probably will look around to see if any countries I will be visiting will have these lessons…awesome way to learn more about te culture..
Yes, I feel the same. Even if it’s not an official lesson, but you just find a local willing to teach you, it can enrich you cultural experience so much.
Wow, looks great! I am a big fan of cooking lessons when traveling, culinary traditions can tell you so much about a country and it’s past.
That’s so true! I never realised how much history can go into dishes and cooking traditions!
I took a cooking class in Crete. Must say cooking still isn’t my thing. Eating Greek food though? Yes please!:)
Lucky there are so many fab restaurants then! 😀
[…] Via: Travel Cake […]
Wow! What fun and how tasty! We are headed to Greece this year and look forward to some wonderful food! Once in Italy we stayed at a hotel that had a cooking school attached and dinner, which was included in the hotel fee, was whatever the students had created that day in class. Holy cow was good food!!
I’ve never take a cooking class while on a vacation but might need to change that with a class in Greece. We love Greek food and it is so healthy…I’d love to start making more Greek food at home and where better to learn a few things??