But what a Greek destination would be without its gastronomy?
From the earth and the sea comes a bounty of wonderful ingredients that have shaped the region's culinary traditions of Mediterranean cuisine.
Whether is a cozy tavern or a gourmet restaurant, don't miss the opportunity to taste the fresh fish daily delivered from the local fisherman to your table, locally produced meat, fruits and vegetables that are cultivated in a natural way and of course, dishes flavored by herbs gathered from the surrounding hills.
Halkidiki is famous for its olives, the high-quality olive oil, its fine breads and cheeses, as well as for its traditional sweets and pastries made with delicious local fruit of local production. The region is also well known for producing honey of the highest quality, while also being a location worth visiting due to its wine routes. This is the ideal place to enjoy the healthy recipes of the Mediterranean diet and savour dishes made from the purest natural ingredients.
- Wine & wineries
- Agricultural products
- Associations & Cluster
- Food in Festivals & Feasts
- Street Markets
(!) Special info:
The Guinness Book of World Records featured the tirokomio (cheese making factory) of Ierissos of Halkidiki, Greece where they made the largest caprine cheese (goat cheese) in the world. The representative of the Guinness World Records, Jack Brockbank gave the certificate to the owner Ioannis Stathoris during the 21st International Exhibition of Food and Drinks Detrop. The cheese under the name “carprine rock” weighed 939 Kilograms!!
Wine & wineries
Halkidiki’s wines: Renowned wines used to be produced in Ancient Halkidiki. Writings from the 5th century BC mention the white “afstiro” (dry) and the “malthako” (semi-sweet) wine of Mendi (a town southwest of Kassandra). Akanthos (today’s Ierissos) and Afitis (today’s Athytos) were also well-known wine-producing regions, while the first model vineyard at Stagira was planted by its most famous son, Aristotle himself. Today there are vineyards in central and mountainous Halkidiki, at Sithonia and Mount Athos.
On the sun-drenched slopes of Mt Meliton, the warm dry climate and the humidity from the Aegean Sea create a beneficial environment for wine-making. The red wine is made from Limnio, an old Greek variety, along with the French varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A white wine comes from the white grape varieties of Assyrtiko, Roditis and Athiri.
Almost all Monasteries in Mount Athos have a longstanding tradition in wine-making. Quite a few of them, host a revival of this tradition. This blessed stretch of land with its mild climate, the more than adequate sun light, the mountain coolness and the sea breeze produces the Regional Wines of Mount Athos.
The vineyards of central Halkidiki stretch from the low hills near the sea, with the sea climate soothing the land during the summer, to the mountainous regions of the area. The grape varieties are cultivated to produce the white Regional Wines of Halkidiki are Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc. The red Regional Wine of Halkidiki is produced from the Xinomavro, Grenache Rouge and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties.
More information: Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard, www.wineroads.gr
Tsantali Agios Pavlos Winery
In the winery of this well-established Macedonian company you will get a full tour of the production facilities, the aging cellars and the distillation units, before ending up in a specially designed room for a delicious tasting of wines, tsipouro and grape distillates. - Agios Pavlos (West coast), www.tsantali.gr
Domaine Porto Carras
The tour begins with a walk through the winery and the cellar where the wines mature in oak barrels. You are finally headed to the “Melissanthi” tasting room for wine tasting while watching an informative video about the winery’s activities. Neos Marmaras (Sithonia), www.portocarras.com
Tsantali Metohi Chromitsa Winery
Only men can visit the vineyard of Metohi at Chromitsa, at the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, after contacting the Tsantali winery and the Holy Caretaker of Mount Athos. The revival of the vineyard began in 1973 by Evangelos Tsantalis. The fruits of his labour were only recognised in 1981 with the establishment of the brand “Regional Wines of Mt Athos”. Agios Pavlos (West coast), www.tsantali.gr
Milopotamos, Mt Athos
Holy Cell of Saint Efstathios. Men can navigate in the vineyards, and look around the traditionally built yet modern winery and distillery. Mt Athos, www.mywines.gr
Claudia Papayianni Estate
At the outskirts of Arnea, in mountainous Halkidiki, you will be offered a tour to the vineyards and the estate’s new winery. The tour concludes with a video presentation and wine tasting. - Central Halkidiki -Arnea, www.cp-domaine.gr
Olive oil & Olives: The olive tree is indigenous. It has always been contributing to the local economy. In ancient times, the oil had many uses, from lighting to lubrication. Thanks to its mild climate and morphology, Halkidiki produces oil and olives that stand out for their special taste and quality. The olive trees of Halkidiki are cultivated without chemical interventions. The olives are rich in organic characteristics (substances which are necessary for the operation of the human body) and they are processed according to one major principle: the satisfaction of consumers. These products of high nutritional value and unique taste form an integral part of Mediterranean nutrition.
Production areas: Mount Meliton, Pallini Peninsula, Holomontas Iporia, Polygyros, Ormylia, Olynhtos and Moudania.
Ouzo & Tsipouro: Ouzo is made in a traditional way that you can only encounter in Greece; it belongs to the general category of spirits with a scent of anisos (anitholi). It is a product of marc distillation and other saccharoid raw materials, which have been scented with seeds of anisos and maybe fennel, mastic of Hios, and other aromatic seeds, plants or fruits. Ouzo, for the distillation of which a special distillation machine (amvikas) is used, cannot be submitted to an aging process.
Tsipouro on the other hand, is the clear product of the marc distillation, which means that it is not submitted to any scenting process. The variety and the grape fermentation procedures, the distillation method, and the analogy of ingredients are the only determinative factors during the production procedure. Tsipouro is a strong transparent spirit containing a very high degree of alcohol, that is why often water is added and is always accompanied by some snacks, including light salads, sour (pickles), various dry-salted (sea rover, anchovies, etc.) fish, crawfishes, shrimps, rarebit, etc. Many residents of Halkidiki produce their own tsipouro for either sale or domestic use.
Honey: Halkidiki is the motherland of beekeeping. With over 6,500 beekeepers (32% of the country’s total production) and 1,910 tons of production of high quality honey, annually, Halkidiki may be called the centre of beekeeping in Greece. 2,300 years ago, Aristotle, praised the honey and its benefits to man supporting that it prolongs life. Today the area’s beekeepers respect the tradition and exploit the rich fauna of Kassandra, Sithonia and North Halkidiki, in the most pure way by producing great quantities of quality honey of a high nutritional value.
Production areas: Nikiti, Kassandra and Arnea.
Cheese products: Thanks to the climate and soil conditions, the region's flora and the powerful tradition in cattle breeding, Halkidiki produces high quality products. The traditional cheese of Halkidiki is produced from pure goat milk and has an increased content of protein. Most of the cattle-breeding units are located in Holomontas Mountain due to the special elements in its climate and ground that contribute to the favourable synthesis of the goat milk to the cheese production. With respect to tradition, the cattle breeders of Halkidiki produce significant quantities of goat cheese.
Production areas: Central and South Halkidiki.
Marmalades, Sweets: A great variety of fruits of excellent quality is cultivated all around Halkidiki, with no use of fertilizers. These tasteful fruits are the raw material for producing our well-known marmalades and of the special deserts the exceptionally skilled women of Halkidiki make. High quality, special taste and respect to tradition have established these products in both the Greek and foreign markets. The traditional marmalades and the deserts of Halkidiki, transform the simple breakfast into a unique and tasteful experience!
Pastries: Both the traditional and modern bakeries of Halkidiki create unique bread products and pastries. The hard wheat, which is cultivated in great areas in Halkidiki and is rich in proteins, amino acids, vitamins and rich acids, is used as the raw material. The traditional recipes pass from one generation to the next, giving delicious pastries. The high nutritional value of the raw materials and the respect to tradition make the local pastries popular to all visitors.
All over the region one can see the traditional windmills, which were developed for milling grain for food production. There are remains of windmills and watermills in: Kassandria, Ormylia, Sykia (since 1840), Metaghitsi, Galatista.
Associations & Cluster
These have been founded in several villages of Halkidiki, especially the mountainous ones. The women of the villages became organised to promote their handmade products, preserving their tradition and transmitting their culture. When visiting such an association, the visitors have the chance to taste homemade pasta and pastries, marmalades and liqueurs made from local fruits. There are Associations in: “Dryades”, Varvara village “Ef Gevesthe”, Taxiarchis village “Theofylaktos Klironomia”, Paleochori village “Ta Gennimata”, Vrastama village.
Cluster of Halkidiki
This was founded to connect Halkidiki’s companies and promote them. The Cluster of Halkidiki introduced its members to the “Local Quality Mark” in order to ensure specifications of high quality and balance value for money. The project is still new, but businessmen on the lookout for high standard and new business ventures will be interested. You can find more information about products and Associations in Halkidiki: Halkidiki Chamber, www.epichal.gr
Food in Festivals & Feasts
Sani Gourmet Festival
Sani Gourmet is an annual gastronomic celebration that brings together some of the finest chefs from all around Greece and the world, along with some of the rising stars already starting to make a name in their field. Every year, Michelin-starred chefs join the prestigious line-up set at Sani’s top restaurants to create contemporary dishes that astonish and delight the visitors. Over these ten days, guests have the chance to participate in a number of workshops, presentations and wine tastings. Sani Gourmet is on its way to becoming a world-renowned culinary festival. Find more on Sani Gourmet at www.sanigourmet.gr
Every religious celebration or cultural feast in Halkidiki would be incomplete without the special tastes 'imposed' by tradition. These meals are cooked by the people of the celebrating village and are freely given as a treat to guests.
✓ can’t miss this!
Sausages and wine in Polygyros (Carnival, February)
Painted eggs, pies, buns and wine in Arnea (Easter day)
Sardines in Nea Moudania (mid. July) & Nea Roda
Olives in Olynthos (July – last 3 days)
Mussels in Olympiada (6-7 July)
Raki (tsipouro) in Vrastama (14-15 August)
Mushrooms in Taxiarchis (mid. September)
During the religious feasts, the locals treat the guests with bean soup, grilled meat (souvlaki, sausages) and -of course- wine.
Monday: Ormylia, Nea Triglia
Tuesday: Kassandria, Nea Kallikratia, Ierissos
Wednesday: Nea Moudania, Arnea, Megali Panagia, Galatista
Thursday: Neos Marmaras, Agios Nikolaos, Lakkoma
Friday: Nikiti, Simantra
Saturday: Paleochora, Polygyros, Sykia, Riza-Paleochora