Mount Athos Cuisine

The last few years, the culinary scene of  Thessaloniki and general in Greece has changed a lot. After the massive imports of flavours and the new cuisines that the previous decades brought to us, we looked at each other while eating and said..."What about the real flavours of Greece, how WE can introduce new flavours from our own country to the international and domestic visitors?". So little by little we researched our history and our culture and we realised that our cuisine is quite connected with our religion. So old and traditional flavours resurfaces to our plates and to our tables. 

And this is the story of how the Mount Athos flavours came to us. 

Insightful entrepreneurs seen  the opportunity and answered to this new crave of Athonian Products. Today we had the honour to be guests of such an innovative entrepreneur and it is my honour to introduce this new "idea" to you.  Following the Athonian Tradition, Mr. Stavros Ntinelis creates in the center of the city a house full of flavours and products from Mount Athos. For those who don't know our history can learn more about Mount Athos here. As an  Autonomous Monastic State, Mounnt Athos or as we call Agio Oros (holly mountain) is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world. It is not accessible by women and only men are aloud to travel and discover it's secret. So by this new. So as Guests of the "Ahtonian Tradition" is the closest experience that we can have to Mount Athos.

In this beautifull Neoclassical building in the centre of Thessaloniki, we were introduced to the biological products of Mount Athos. We saw a variety of traditional products like honey,olive oil and vinegars, traditional soaps, shampoos and even  beauty products. All natural and all made by monks of Mount Athos.

On a separate room we were introduced to the notorious wines of Mount Athos. The best vineyards are located in this mountainous area of Athos, the untouched by the pollution land, the tall mountains and the breeze of the sea gives a rich and deep flavour to the Grapes. We had the opportunity to taste the red dried wine of Merlot Cabernet - Sauvignon of Vatopedi Monastery. I am honestly no wine critic but you could tell the difference in this wine. Stronger aftertaste, complete flavour and no effect to those who have a sensitive stomach. 

On the same floor you can find memorabilia, small icons and  gifts for your friend back home but the true Athonian experience is on the second floor. The second floor starts with a modest exhibition of handmade Icons. Icons hand made by monks of Mount Athos, or from monasteries who are affiliated or belong to monasteries of Athos. A hand made icon needs from two to seven years to be completed. The most modest are painted in wood with great attention to the detail the more luxurious have real gold finishing and they are decorated by hand craved gold frames. The cost of those Icons vary from few Euros to few thousands of Euros. 

Following the Mount Athos Experience in the same floor dinner for private groups is served. Do not expect lavish plates and hand made china,  following the tradition of the Monasteries of Athos the

dinner is served in long tables and modest cutlery, just like the ones used by the monks. With recipes coming from the long culinary traditions only found in the Monasteries of Athos. As it was Friday a day of fasting we were served spaghetti with prawns and Gilt-head bream. Simple tastes but yet so different. Olive oil and vinegar from Mount Athos. By the end of the meal following the tradition of Athos we were served Koliva. Koliva is actually boiled wheat served with dried fruits, sugar and nuts. We serve Koliva during commemoration services, but for the Monks of Mount Athos every day is a commemoration day. 

There in "Agioritiki Paradosi" house we were warmly welcomed and we had the chance to have a small look to the life and tastes of Mount Athos. We were happy to be informed that the house can provide Guided Tours in English and Russian and they can arrange a dinner for our guests. Upon agreement we can have a more genuine experience with the presence of a Priest who can enlighten us more about the flavours and the creations of the Monks and even have a small ceremony for our guests.

The house of Agioritiki Paradosi is open to all, upon request it can be booked for Very special occasions and for guests who are in need of maximum security and private tours. 

A small glimpse in the monastic life of Mount Athos.