Traveling in Western Macedonia

 Top restaurants, unique wineries, lakes, ski resorts, gourmet high quality products: and yet we talk about western Macedonia. At the first opportunity, meet!


When it came to the notice of the Olympia Pantelidou for the event “Wine, Gastronomy, Tradition” Ptolemais found the initiative-least-laudable, but I admit that the main reason I accepted the proposal was that I finally had an opportunity and a reason to visit again an area where five years ago, I experienced the greatest gastronomic my surprise when I visited for the first time in restaurants Kontossoros and Thomas (and GASTRODROMIO on the way there). Of course, the truth is that as we were talking on the phone and I realized the passion with which, Olympia, “dived” into the deep waters of food and wine tourism in Greece so grew my interest in the event (and the trip) was preparing. And rightly proved that a few days later!

The scenario of a visit planned to go to Ptolemais where filoxenoumastan their family hotel Pantelides . A surprisingly good hotel, just outside the city in an estate of 45 acres, with comfortable rooms, luxurious public areas, a lovely garden and every comfort you would expect from a four star hotel in the area. On Friday afternoon and evening will go to the exhibition will be organized with local producers of wines and gourmet products and cultural associations to cook local specialties, while Saturday will visit some wineries. At this point I remind you that close there is the zone of Amindeo but that across western Macedonia produced very interesting wines.

Last obstacle to the trip was that my car urgently needed a solid crew and could not travel with it. The problem was overcome thanks to BMW Hellas I spent amazing X3 xDrive 28 I (would see it in different images, here we are at the Nymphaeum however, the lovely guesthouse La Moara) for a few days. Here open the first of many I’m afraid parentheses in this article. Look, I’m not a journalist car, but I must say that driving this SUV is a true delight. It is a car that combines the ability to move seamlessly into the mountains, the motorway and the city. It is enough to very economical for its class and grace-and-turbo engine has something incredible acceleration! I just hope now that I got do not start arriving calls for speeding from different parts of the National!

With the car problem solved, our journey began loosely morning Thursday, September 12. We go to the Athens-Thessaloniki national and despite repeated tolls (mercy anymore!) Three hours later we arrived at our stopover inLitochoron (said …. I was running in the street). The detour to visit the Litochoron is just five kilometers from the national and frankly it seems to me inconceivable that one climbs upwards and not planned a stop here. Not only because the village is beautiful and the air of Olympus exhilarated, but because they have one of the top restaurants in the mainland, the GASTRODROMIO Olympus (read the review of it here ). Two hours later, with a blissful smile on the lips, we’re back on track. The Ptolemais from here is only 1.5 hour to Egnatia has made ​​these trips incomparably easier and faster. The city is nice, but the main qualification for such a trip (apart from the really good hotel) is that it is literally in the middle of Western Macedonia and offered as a base for excursions and Florina, Nimfeo Amynataio, Kastoria, Kozani are practically in a radius of 30 to 45 ‘.

It is now late afternoon and hanging out at the hotel, opportunity to meet and live with Olympia and the big brother, Jacob, who is the director of the company. With respect to the whole event, however, the Olympia was the inspiration and driving force and James Pantelides were implementing! In the evening we eat at the hotel restaurant, famous-rightly-to pizza in the oven.

The next day we leave for Nymphaeum in forty minutes we are in one of the most picturesque and best preserved villages of Greece. A walk takes us to the lovely guesthouse La Moara coffee. The garden is beautiful, landscaped, air cool (and counting) and the elderly couple next picks that hour blackberries … or on purpose to say that line to contribute to the whole fairytale picture!

Next stop is the Sour Water , a village in the middle of nowhere if there was homonymous water will not know anyone.Again though, it should know why here is Kontossoros , one of the top restaurants in northern Greece or rather across mainland Greece! Welcomes us himself Kontossoros Nick, a man with a passion and knowledge for wine, local gastronomy cooks here a kitchen with a clear local color, technical precision and rich flavor. Try to imagine a restaurant in a village in Florina, serving cuisine really high level, has a cellar with hundreds of bottles and serving wine in glasses Riedel! Try to imagine how much love and dedication should have this man who created all this in a village, a tourist area at all in a country like ours! In the review in a few days, you will read more about food and amazing wine cellar, but note that apart from the restaurant, Kontossoros has some very tidy rooms .

The exhibition Wine, Gastronomy, Tradition

Back to Ptolemais. The afternoon is the event-report. I have been to many reports and I have to say that the setup of this-though was for the first time-was exemplary! In a green property were set around spacious tents-stands, leaving in the middle of a large area with scattered round tables, chairs and a tent where several speeches were made. The report involved many wine from Amyndeo, Kastoria, Kozani and between them and all the big names in the region: Alpha Estate, Kir-Yianni Cooperative Amindeo, Karanika Estate, Estate Voyatzi etc. It was not the only ones, many local products was also there.

Impressed by various improbable concoctions with red peppers Naoumidi of, the amazing Aeromanouro of cheese sheepfold by the wonderful eel and mackerel PITENI, but the pastries Chanoglou (what a concept with Turkish delight between cookies!). Meanwhile, the Pontian Ardassa the Thracian Hearth Eordaia and the Association Mikrasiaton Ptolemais had set up kiosks where preparing local and traditional dishes completing the feel of a real celebration of local gastronomy! During the report and heard some interesting talks (it was there all local actors and institutions), while I was impressed that the Secretary of Tourism, Anastasios Liaskos said little and really to the point things about food and wine tourism, the need extending the season of Greek tourism etc. A speech that showed that the state may even have begun to suspect what must be done to start things moving in the right direction.


Oinogastronomiki ride in Amyndeo

On Saturday morning, we begin the most organized piece of visits and this ride just recommend you do too if you are around … or better when you are! Amynteo go and start with the jewel of the region, Alpha Estate these days and awarded by the magazine Wines & Spirits as one of the top 100 wineries in the world! 780 acres with perhaps the most impressive and manicured vineyards across the country (at least this magnitude), next to Lake Petron, a winery exemplary stunning with an incredible aging cellar that extends even further this time and a collection of really wonderful wines make Alpha Estate winery a really top! GUIDED premises, vines, reveal the “secrets” of its wines and finally try to 14 labels produces the estate: a truly excellent range of wines, each showing the exuberant and technically Wine making style Angelos Iatridi but the character of each variety from the iconic Xinomavro and difficult but graceful Pinot Noir by exuberant Tannat and impressive Montepulciano, the fragrant and delicate Malgouzia as crisp and expressive Sauvignon Blanc!

We leave Alpha Estate with the best impressions and a little while later we reach the rising star of the region: the Laurence Hartman and Estate Karanika ! Yes, Laurentis is Ollandoellinas, a former reporter and editor at Amsterdam a nice breakfast got-colleague-wife, left everything and settled in the middle of nowhere, in the zone of Amindeo. The Laurence course always had sucker of wine, did the passage of the famous Davis, California, and worked in a good, small producer of champagne and set out to impress us all with his sparkling wines in Amyndeo! An avid environmentalist and supporter of biodynamic farming, has set up a vineyard here like dreams, the work with passion, enthusiasm and knowledge to transmit and makes, among others, a sparkling wine with a champagne method (secondary fermentation in the bottle) is really super! The Domaine Karanikas Brut Cuvee Special is a super-chic wine with rich flavor and full complexity of aromas of baked bread and dried fruit gives the wine secondary fermentation in the bottle.

The tour of the wineries is over, the series have the famous peppers. A few kilometers down the road, near Vegoritida reach the Naoumidi . A small factory that produces superior products with peppers. Peter Naoumidis guides us knowledge and passion to the secrets of pepper and guides us through their facilities where freshly roasted peppers grilled and peeled one by one by hand (!) Before being used to prepare a wide range of spreads and products one is more aromatic and tasty than the other. Then our family goes to the restaurant on the lakeside dining. The place is magical, especially the exterior, the kitchen is exuberant and while it has many local products and fish the lake (tried carp, juicy trout etc) abuse of cream and a little old-fashioned cooking logic block to approach the level of other two top restaurants in the area, this does not mean it’s not worth your visit if you’re nearby.

Back, rest in the hotel and in the evening program has Sklithro Florina and Thomas . On my last trip to the region, Thomas was the first big surprise! And this time, the surprise was Evie. Inside the evening drive on the road Florina-Kastoria, we pass the intersection Nimfeo continue in darkness. Left and right of the road, the signs warn of bears and wolves. Evi ticked tense signal on her cell phone (and if we stay here? Into the desert of God, what do 😉 and wondering where we’re going! A few miles farther, darkness stopped and lit intersection to enter the alder, glimpsing Thomas.guesthouse on one side of the road, the “tavern” on the other. Actually the word tavern is funny to him. Try to think that suddenly, literally in the middle of nowhere, at the borders of Greece, discover a rustic restaurant upholstered, armchairs, old sideboards, gramophones, piano and round tables dressed with long tablecloths and crystal glasses! A restaurant striking wine list is last in a special application for ipad located on the tables and the kitchen has so much delicacy and precision that would have envied 99% of Athenian restaurants. All in Sklithro! What else to say? Most will read the review in a few days.

I, once again, bows to the sucker and the taste of Nick paspala (and his son Thomas) for “Thomas”, Nikos Kontossoros for ‘Kontossoros “and Andreas Gavris for” Gastrodomio. ” And before I close this piece to tell you that the site has many interesting even from Kastoria charming with wonderful lake until Caimactsalan the Arcturus at Nymphaeum and the famous saffron to wine Velvendos. But are not all in one trip three days and I hope that I can put you in tripaki to do this trip. Not only will you have a great time, but there are many people who deserve our support and admiration!