This autumn I spend some time in the region Halkidiki in Greece. Halkidiki is mostly known for its three peninsulas and therefore incredibly long coastline but there are also many food and drink products made there. On this page I’m telling you all about the regional food products of Halkidiki.
A great town to visit when you’re interested in regional food products of Halkidiki is Arnaia (or Arnea). This historical town is wonderful for a stroll, but it’s also a great hub for local Greek products. Some of the regional products you can taste and buy in the town itself, and some can be found in the area around Arnaia.
Halkidiki is very well known in Greece for its honey. The produce 40% of the total honey production in Greece. In Arnaia you can visit the shop of Georgakas. He sells Greek honey in his shop on the main square of Arnaia. It’s a family owned business started by Argyris Georgakas in 1948. They produce all kinds of honey. The honey with chestnuts and the pine honey were my favorites. I first thought they would add flavoring to the ‘regular’ honey to get flavored honey. But the proces is much more natural. They set the beehives near certain flowers or trees to get the specific flavors. This also means that some flavors are only made in certain seasons.
All you need is some Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of honey from Georgaka and you’ll have a delicious snack or desert.
Speaking of yogurt. Close to Arnaia in the region Halkidiki traditional Greek yogurt is produced in a very small factory. If you can even call it a factory as pretty much everything in the proces is done by hand. Karagianni produces yogurt from their own sheep. They milk the sheep, clean the milk by pouring it through a clean cloth and then stir it. They put the milk in cups and add the good bacteria that you need for yogurt. They even make their own bacteria! They put it in a warm room (45 degrees Celsius) for 3 hours and then leave it in the fridge for one more day. They sell the Karagianni yogurt themselves at local markets in the area.
Besides sheep yogurt, they also make yogurt from cow’s milk.
If you’re visiting a market in Halkidiki, try to look out for the Karagianni yogurt.
There are four vineyards in Halkidiki that are open to the public (and two more on Mount Athos, but only man can visit those). I visited the vineyard of Livadiota. They’ve got 12 hectares of vineyards and only produce wines from their own grapes. So they don’t buy their grapes from other vineyards and you’ll have a very local wine. They produce several wines. Their Malagouzi is a Greek dry white wine that has been awarded with a golden medal for the best Malagouzia in Greece.
The Livadioti family started in 1978 as the first in the region at that time, but there are notes that there were already vineyards in this region in ancient times. Since 2008 they went more professional and opened up a winery that you can visit for wine tastings.
They still produce in relatively small batches with a maximum of 100.000 bottles a year. So make sure to buy a bottle or two (or three or four) after your visit to the Livadiota vineyard.
Olive trees are indigenous in Halkidiki and they are cultivated there without any chemical interventions. They produce green and black olives in Halkidiki and they also make olive oils from the olives.
If you got hungry from all the walking around in Arnaia you can sit down at Aristotelous Cafe. The owner and his wife are incredibly nice. You can enjoy a glass of wine on their terrace or sit inside when it’s raining. They serve all kinds of nibbles with your drink. We were spoiled with many dishes. Amongst others we had delicious stuffed courgette flowers, sandwiches with feta and tomatoes and a delicious chocolate cake for dessert.
Like Greek yogurt?
Click here for my recipe for aubergines with Greek yogurt.