It’s been a couple years now since the Boyfriend and I went to Greece, Italy and Croatia after we took the bar exam, but I can still taste the charred octopus we had on a rooftop on our first night in Athens.
We spent most of our time in Greece on the island of Santorini, which was magnificent. Sun, beaches with all of the sands (black sand, red sand, white sand, anyone?), vineyards, seafood fresh out of the water, sunsets, yogurt, honey, frappes … We were supposed to go to another island, but we just weren’t ready to leave. So we cancelled our ferry, booked a last-minute flight and re-upped our ATV for an extra couple of days, then headed back to the beach for that fantastically fresh seafood we had fallen in love with.
A Note On Frappes: On the ferry from Athens to Santorini I heard an old man order a frappe. I was annoyed because ugh, Americans and their damn Starbucks givin’ us all a bad rap. I didn’t think to try one for a few days. Omgoodness, hugest mistake ever. Frappes are the Greek version of a cold, blended coffee drink made from instant espresso. I never thought I would feel this way about instant coffee. Basically every coffee shop and small restaurant will have their own version of a frappe, and I can’t recommend it more!
A Note On Greek Yogurt: What we call “greek yogurt” here in the ol’ U.S. of A. is just yogurt with the whey strained out. This style of strained yogurt is popular in a lot of countries other than Greece. In fact, the founder of Chobani is Turkish, not Greek. Anyway, the yogurt in Greece is different than what we call Greek yogurt at home, but it’s still a thick, strained yogurt. If you get the good stuff, it’s made with local Greek milk. And the honey is amazing.
A Note On The Scene: Santorini is a very touristy place. So you’ll run into all of the typical touristy problems — the restaurants with the good views probably have high prices and mediocre food. But there are gems! You just have to know where to find them. These are the gems we found, in no particular order:
The Boyfriend and I were already full when we sat down to dinner at Nikolas. I got a marinated and charred octopus — the dish I fell in love with on our first night in Athens — and the Boyfriend got the fresh-grilled fish on their specials menu and declared it the best meal he had ever had.
Dmitri’s Taverna (Ammoudi)
We hiked down to Ammoudi Bay on our first morning in Santorini and swam out to a little island just a few yards away from the shore for a little cliff jumping. After a fun and exhausting morning (and the death of my iPhone when our waterproof case was less than waterproof), we had a fantastic lunch at Dmitri’s. We got everything grilled — fresh fish, halloumi cheese (OMG), and (you guessed it) octopus. The restaurant sits right on the water and we watched boats come and go and breathed that good mediterranean air, right off the water. It was one of the best lunches of my life.
Ta Dixtia (Perissa)
Perissa is this amazing black sand beach — the whole beach is lined with umbrellas and chairs. We rented chairs and worked up an appetite layin’ in the sunshine, and then rode down the beach to Ta Dixtia for fresh seafood. We were leery at first. The beach is lined with restaurants and they all sort of look the same — cheesy checkered tablecloths, seafood, cold beer, etc. We didn’t want to end up at a cheesy, touristy lunch. But Ta Dixtia blew us away! We got tzatziki, a fresh cucumber yogurt dip, fresh anchovies and some kind of Greek seafood gumbo. All totally fresh, all totally dalish.
This was the only restaurant that we had to reserve before we left. Oia is the city on the western-most tip of Santorini, and Kastro is perched on an outcrop of the west-facing cliffs, with a completely unobstructed view of the sunset. The food wasn’t spectacular (I got a great roasted eggplant dish, see below, and the Boyfriend got some kind of lamb stew that was only meh) but the views really couldn’t be beat. We arrived early enough to sit in the sunshine and have a little local white wine as the sun began to dip.
Sigalas Winery (Oia)
We really loved tasting wines at the Sigalas Winery. Well, at least, we loved drinking wines at the Sigalas Winery. The views were beautiful, and after we plowed through about 10 tastes each and a plate of grape leaves stuffed with rice, we treated ourselves to a walk through the vineyard. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, even if we didn’t exactly get it.