a traveller’s plate: Mykonos

Sparkling blue seas. Burnished sunsets. Cubist white houses. The images of Mykonos and its neighboring Cycladic islands are familiar to many and I have been lucky enough to throw myself into Mykonos’ delights for a summer sojourn. I could wax lyrically about the island’s many charms (and I would heartily recommend a trip to anyone), but my real interest always lies in the food. So what can be found on the best Mykonian plates?

The typical menu will almost certainly feature feta (a traditional goats or sheep milk cheese), a fresh slab proudly sat atop a salad or encrusted in sesame seeds and fried or baked in the oven with the next classic star of the Mykonian menu. Tomatoespeppers and oregano; this almost holy triumvirate bursts forth not just in the famous Greek salad but accompanies many of fresh meat and fish main courses or is stuffed with meat or cheeses to make delicious small plates. The tomatoes are much less watery than the varieties commonly sold in the UK and provided a much more vegetal flavour which we greatly enjoyed. Aubergines in all their soft and smoky forms are a stalwart of the table, as well as the ever present and ever delicious olives. The Greek olive oil was very enjoyable with green, peppery notes.

Dill features heavily in dishes, most famously in tzatziki (yoghurt mixed with cucumber, herbs and seasoning and enjoyed with a liberal pile of pita bread). 

Pastry features strongly at all meals of day and the Mr’s breakfast plate was often piled high with crispy slices of spinach and feta pie. As for meats, the most outstanding dishes featured beautiful, melt in the mouth, and truly monstrous pork chops, but chicken and lamb were rarely far away featuring in the ubiquitous souvlaki (kebabs).

Gyros (a pita bread stuffed with shredded or sliced meat of your choice, lettuce, tomato, tzatziki and, commonly, chips) can be found on many a restaurant menu, almost irrespective of price point. A friendly gyros hole in the wall is a perfect quick lunch or late night pick me up and a quick, cheap and cheerful meal option. The gyros’ friend, pita bread, was a popular accompaniment to many starters and dips and was unwaveringly delicious.

Other popular dishes that featured across the island included hummus (often spiced with cumin), falafel (fried chickpea balls), fried or grilled octopus and prawns served simply with salad and fresh lemon, moussaka (a layered dish of aubergines, minced lamb and bechamel sauce), kopanisti (a traditional Greek cheese, often spicy) and louza (a tasty ham locally cured with herbs). Great quality pizza and pasta were also widely available.

Desserts tended to be on the chocolatey side and I was surprised to see the traditional sweet and nutty baklava (a layered filo sweet filled with nuts and awash with sticky sweet syrup) on only a limited number of menus. Good quality gelato is also widely available.

The local vino was unwaveringly reliable and a carafe was the perfect pocket friendly choice . A demi liter rarely costing more than 8-9 Euro.

But whose plates are worth traveling for? Read my next blog post to explore the best places to eat in Mykonos….

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