There are some flavors that trigger memories as they melt in your mouth. Freshly-baked bread drenched in olive oil and with a sprinkling of sugar, a heaping spoonful of traditional Greek vanilla preserves dipped in a tall glass of ice-cold water, raw cake batter before it’s poured into the pan. However, flavors are not universal. Every nation has its own unique cuisine that has been molded and shaped over time by the environment and traditions of its people.
Greece is renowned for its cuisine the world over. Gastronomy and hospitality have melded together to create an unparalleled sense of warmth for every guest visiting this corner of the globe from antiquity to today. The refined sophistication of Mediterranean flavors paired with the culinary experiences of the Near East merged to give birth to Greek cuisine.
On the islands of the Aegean Sea, the local cuisine is infused with pure, wholesome olive oil, rare herbs and aromatic plants, a marriage of the ubiquitous sea salt and craggy rocks; white cheeses and crusty rusks come in every shape and size, while the sweets, sparse in ingredients yet rich in taste, are a metaphorical reflection of the island way of life. Among those delectable treats the islands are famed for are the dense sesame-seed based halvahs, tiny sweet biscuits and the mouth-watering almond pastries called “amygdalota”.
Myrsini Lambraki, a journalist/food writer who has travelled extensively and documented the cuisine of the various regions of Greece, writes, “For those initiated in the deep waters of fine food tasting, amygdalota…. be they from the islands of Syros, Andros, Tinos or Hydra, are all the same. Yet here, on Mykonos, there is something that makes them different”. Ilias Tsikrikis, executive chef at the Mykonos Grand, a Mykonos Luxury hotel, fully agrees. He describes Mykonian amygdalota as soft and moist on the inside yet slightly crunchy on the outside, while their fragrant aroma of bitter almond recalls homecomings, matchmakings, feasts and vacation ends, when a box of these sweet-smelling almond cookies brought home is a delicious reminder of carefree holidays gone by.
When you’re on the island of Mykonos, remember to taste its celebrated amygdalota. The island’s legendary luxury is multifarious and can be found at every turn: in the air and the sea, the arid sun-drenched land, and in its aromas and flavors.
Upon request, Georgia, a Mykonos Grand Guest Experience member can purchase traditional Mykonian amygdalota for you at the island’s famed Scaropoulos Pastry Shop. Owners Nikos and Francesca Kouka continue the tradition of their grandfather, who started making confections here in 1921, winning prizes and earning a personal commendation from Winston Churchill!