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Modern-day Cuisine of Aegina

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The old saying goes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Nowadays, we also add "to a woman's heart". To all of our hearts, actually - young and old alike. The taste of something delicious can do wonders for your outlook on life. That's exactly what Aegina does for its visitors.

In town, you can find just about anything your heart desires: from an ouzo to whet the appetite, served with grilled or vinegar octopus, shrimp or sardines, accompanied by salads from local gardens; fresh fish from the fish market; casserole dishes or made to order foods, crepes, waffles, ice cream and desserts and all kinds of coffee.

Leaving town headed southeast, the waterfront drive takes you past some idyllic spots. You pass the small harbour of Faros, the area of Vrochia and Marathonas with its vegetable gardens, then Aeginitissa, finally arriving in Perdika, the island's charmingly traditional fishing village. Perkida has a number of widely known restaurants with fresh fish and seafood, ouzeries, coffee shops and music spots. But en route, you come upon sandy beaches and seaside tavernas and restaurants serving a variety of foods: wild greens, zucchini and peasant salad with ripe tomatoes, capers, local olives and carosello (fuzzy) cucumber. Try roasted aubergines with garlic and parsley in summer, and in winter, cabbage, broccoli and fresh chicory, straight from the garden to the table, to accompany fish and grilled meats that will make your mouth water.

Travelling north along the coast will show you a completely different side of the island. There are sheltered coves for a swim, with nearby family restaurants serving everything from appetiser varieties to complete, home-cooked meals. Setting out from Avra beach, the road goes past Plakakia and then on to Agioi Anargyroi, where the road to the right leads to the village of Kypseli. Here, the central square is home to the main church of Evangelistria. The restaurant located on the square offers a variety of traditional classic flavours, along with more cosmopolitan inventions brimming with Aegina spirit. Proceeding along the coast, you come upon the seaside restaurant of Kavouropetra, next to the boatyards and the forest of boat masts. Souvala is next, where the second-in-size harbour on the island is lined with tavernas and coffee shops offering a waterfront view of the fishing boats that bring in their catch early in the morning. Agioi are also home to a number of seaside tavernas set in thickets of trees where you will find a large variety of dishes using local products. Onward to Vagia, with pine trees on one side and the sandy beach on the other, perfect for relaxing with an ouzo, appetisers and fresh fish.

The interior of the island has its own distinct flavour. Heading northeast from town, you drive through Agioi Asomatoi, Agios Nektarios and Mesagros. The restaurants along here serve excellent rabbit stew, cockerel in wine sauce, pies with wild greens and delicious appetisers. The road continues to Agia Marina, a lush-green area of pines featuring the longest beach on the island and a row of tavernas and ouzeries next to the water.

But this is by no means the end of the road. The road continues past Agia Marina to Alones, an area of traditional restaurants and delicious local recipes served under shady mulberry trees. The road along the water on this side of the island ends at Portes, a lovely, tiny village where you can enjoy some fresh fish in a peaceful setting away from the crowds and with a view of the open sea. Just before Portes, the road begins to climb up the mountain where you come to the village of Anitseo, at the foot of the highest peak on the island - the Hellanion Oros. Anitseo is not without its own variety of gastronomic delights, serving lamb chops, lamb pot roast, goat stew and other specialities you will find hard to resist.

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