For the past few years, there has been a movement in Greece to showcase authentic Greek breakfast items. Emphasis has been given to hotels, inns and restaurants that are frequented by tourists.
This is being done because if you’ve visited Greece (and the rest of Europe), you may have had one of those “continental breakfasts”…you know with an array of cold cuts, breads, cheese slices, cakes, cereal and the usual juice and coffee. Some places offer a quality breakfast and others just go through the motions. Neither are a reflection of what Greeks eat for breakfast.
A Greek breakfast may involve eggs, some pork product, quality bread from a bakery, an array of jams, honey, Greek cheeses, olives, phyllo pies (both savory and sweet), fruits, yogurt, fresh squeezed juices and coffee or tea. This is a general offering but when you factor in regional dishes, the options break open.
Over 300 establishments in Greece are now serving a Greek breakfast and the numbers are increasing each year. Greeks are very hospitable and sometimes to a detriment – many think the foreign tourist wants to eat their own food on vacation. It’s my opinion that one of the reasons people travel to Greece is for the food and Greece has an edge/advantage were serving high quality Greek cuisine throughout the country. Yes, there are touristy eateries (everywhere) but things are changing for the better!
Tourists don’t want to eat a cold-cut combo and I don’t think Greek tourists want to either so, why the resistance to switch to a Greek breakfast program? It’s mostly money as it’s harder/more involved to prepare an authentic brekkie.
Last summer I had the pleasure of having a Greek breakfast at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. On my first visit to the Museum, I had the pleasure of eating lunch at the restaurant and again, they proudly served a menu made of all-Greek ingredients. The breakfast menu was the same: sheep’s milk yogurt with a generous topping of honey, an array of fresh bread, various egg dishes, housemade phyllo pies, sandwiches with Greek charcuterie and Greek pasties, jams and cookies for the sweet tooth.
I was delighted when I was served a Greek breakfast at the family-owned/operated La Citta dei Niciliani in Mani. I was given a kind of Greek breakfast bento box with an omelet, lallagia (fried dough bread), cheese, honey, and housemade Siglino (local cured and smoked pork).
Further travels took me to Messinia, where we stayed at the Estia Hotel in Finikounda. Owners Stephanie and Glenn proudly serve Greek ham and eggs using local cured pork, Tsoureki French Toast (inspired by my version) and some of the best bread I’ve had ever!
Later I headed back up to more familiar territory – foodcentric Thessaloniki and enjoyed a full breakfast at the Bristol Hotel in the Ladadika district – complete with Bougatsa with crema.
I love Greek food and many of you have seen me express this passion in the dishes I share with you. When you travel to Greece, go to the restaurants that serve Greek cuisine, skip the pizza or burger joint and eat Greek. When you head out for breakfast, look for a place that serves up a Greek breakfast - it’s one of Greek cuisine’s strongest facets.
My cookbook, Everything Mediterranean has a whole chapter dedicated to breakfast items.
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