This time last year I was in Santorini. Arriving there I felt like I’d been wearing sunglasses for the rest of my life. The sky and sea in Santorini are deeper blues than you thought possible while each house and building positively beams with whitewash. The place oozes with romance and you feel almost left out if you are not snuggling up to someone to watch the sunset. In the past year alone I have had one friend get engaged on the island and another married. Typically, rather than a romantic holiday I first visited Santorini ten years ago as a smelly backpacker with a big group of friends and my most recent visit was for a family holiday and birthday.
|View over Oia on Santorini|
During my time on the island I discovered delights such as the local white aubergines, the super fresh seafood and Santorini’s cherry tomatoes, incredibly sweet from the harsh sun and dark volcanic soil. Greek wine is something top international restaurants have already cottoned onto but I was pleased to discover some excellent local wines from Santorini itself.
Here are my tips following a blissful week on Santorini. I wish I was back there now….
|Classic Greek salad at Anogi tavern|
This simple village taverna managed to serve up the best fried calamari and Greek salad I had during my stay in Santorini. Unlike most restaurants on the island there is no stunning view from the restaurant which is tucked away in Imerovigli. The calamari batter was light and not greasy while the Greek salad featured rich, creamy fetta and was dressed with lashings of olive oil and dried herbs. It was so good that we went back three times during our stay.
|Calamari at Anogi Tavern|
Details: Imerovigli, Greece (Ph +30 22860 21285)
“Metaxi Mas is where all the locals eat” said our hotel owner Vas. So we hopped in a cab and headed to the tavern right in the centre of the island with commanding views over the sea. This was a restaurant marinated in Greek pride with shots of retsina to begin the meal and all the classic taverna dishes on the menu alongside some more unusual offerings like stewed dandelions (sadly not in season on our visit). Of the starters we tried the white aubergine, slow roasted and topped with crumbled fetta, was the highlight, while the whole baked fish was simple but wonderfully fresh.
|Whole baked fish|
Details: Metaxi Mas, Exo Gonia, Santorini, Greece (Ph +22860 31323)
The holy grail in the town of Oia is a terrace with sunset views. Ambrosia ticks that box and more serving up some of the best food in town. The setting is so romantic it makes you go a little weak at the knees with linen clad tables on the terrace, long stemmed red roses on the tables and a view over Oia’s whitewashed houses.
|Donkeys on route in Oia|
The food actually lives up to the magnificent views with the menu offering a Greek take on international cuisine. A starter of rich and creamy lobster veloute featured chunks of local lobster from the nearby island of Ios while the Ambrosia tart of puff pastry, tomato and fetta hit all known human pleasure receptors with its perfect mix of sweetness and salt.
|Bread and dips to start at Ambrosia in Santorini|
Also impressive was the tender pink pork fillet served with creamy Dauphonaise potatoes. A perfectly cooked fillet of beef (€30) was teamed with grapes slow roasted to a point of stickiness and topped with shavings of fresh truffle. It didn’t fall down at desserts either with a stonking rendition of baklava replete with flaky, crisp pastry and sweetened nuts. Service was charming, easy, efficient and knowledgeable.
Details: Ambrosia, Oia, Santorini 84702, Greece (Ph +30 22860 7413)
|Looking out over Oia on Santorini|
Right on the Black Beach, Yazz bar has a menu of cheap Greek food which was recommended to us. The spinach and fetta pie (€5) was a generous size and featured crisp, flaky pastry but the fried calamari (€9) was a stingy portion size and service was downright rude.
Details: Yazz Bar, Black Beach, Santorini, Greece.
|Spinach and fetta pie at Yazz Bar|
Our last meal on the island was at La Maison which juts out over the cliff in Imerovigli. The food is modern Greek with classic starters like aubergine salad served up with a twist in the form of a stack of slow roasted aubergine, tomato and cheese. There was nothing particularly modern about my whole baked sea bream (€22) but it was local fish, fresh and perfectly cooked. Chocolate fondant was gooey and rich.
Details: La Maison, Imerovigli, Greece.
|The view from the breakfast table at Remezzo Villas|
Gourmet Travel Tips
We stayed at Remezzo Villas, an idyllic spot which clings to the edge of the cliff in Imerovigli, just out of the crowds of Fira. The villas are in the traditional style with whitewash and blue painted trim but the swimming pool, outdoor beds and wifi is all very modern. Time here moves slowly, mainly spent staring slack jawed at the dazzling view of the ocean, caldera and the town of Oia in the distance. Breakfast is a multi course affair which changes each day but featured delights such as a toasted pear and bacon sandwich, savoury crepes and home made cakes. All of this is surpassed by the owner Vas who is the best hotel manager I have ever come across. He was hospitality personified and could not do enough for us. His tips for restaurants and activities were all spot on and many are reflected in this post.
|Life was pretty perfect at Remezzo Villas on Santorini|
Details: Remezzo Villas, Imerovigli Santorini, 84700, Greece (Ph +30 210 9560862)
Damage: Budget Breaking. Rooms are €150 a night in high season.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- We hired scooters for €18 a day to explore the island including the lighthouse, black beach and red beach (yes the sand really is black at one and red at the other).
- A trip to Oia to watch the sun set is practically a mandatory activity on Santorini but to be honest the sun set was just as spectacular and a lot more peaceful from the comfort of Remezzo Villas.
- On my last visit to Santorini I also did a boat cruise for a day to visit the still active volcano which is another option if you ever get sick of lazing by the pool eating and drinking (not a problem for me on my most recent visit).