Delicious food and wine from Epirus

Epirus quality products make the region a great destination for gastronomic tourism. When visiting Epirus, be sure to stop by the small traditional restaurant called “koutouki” to enjoy delicious tapas, great wine, and a social atmosphere. “Tsiporadika” are bars serving local Tsipuro, a strong distilled spirit containing 40-45% alcohol by volume, along with a variety of delicious appetizers.

Foodies will enjoy a wide selection of delicious Epirus cheeses, including the famous local feta cheese, smoked mitzofon, light anthoteros, and spiced fasiloteri. Galotyri is an incredibly creamy, strong-tasting Epirus cheese. Hard and spicy kevaloteri is made from sheep and goat milk, and is usually grated over foods like pasta. Mnouri, another cream cheese, is made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk.

Pancakes, sweet and savory, with or without a vegetable crust, are also a staple in Epirus cuisine. The region’s great produce—meat, fish, pasta, vegetables, and vegetables—make great fillings for this regional favorite.

Desserts include Epirus sragli, walnut cake, almond cake, flute-shaped sweets from Metsovo, Klostati (local baklava with walnut filling) and the famous Kantivi from Ioannina.

Wine lovers will enjoy Zetsa white wines while lovers of red wines will find strong options produced in Mount Metsovo that have a strong character that improves with age. Aged tsipouro, local cranberry and blackberry liquor are also popular strong drinks to sample while visiting the picturesque region of Epirus.

Try the following recipes for a taste of the region as you plan your visit.

Macaronopita – Pasta Pie

Vita. Photo by Lena Kudryavtseva via Unsplash

1 package of macaroni, any shape you like

2 cups crumbled feta or dudoni cheese (or mixed with other types of shredded cheese)

4 scrambled eggs

3 tablespoons butter

8 phyllo sheets

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil with melted butter

To topping:

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package until done, drain and set aside to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons butter, 4 beaten eggs, and cheese. Sit aside. Place 3 sheets of phyllo foil on a greased baking tray, brushing each with some of the oil and butter mixture. Combine pasta with cheese mixture and transfer half to a foil-lined baking sheet. Use the spoon to flatten the filling. Lay two more sheets of phyllo paper on top of each sheet with the butter and oil mixture. Spread the rest of the pasta mixture on this layer and place 3 layers of phyllo sheets on top. Slice the top layers of the foil to determine the serving pieces. To decorate, whisk together two eggs and milk and pour over the pita bread. Bake in a 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Epirus Chicken Pilaf – Cotta Pilavi Atzim

Spanakopita.  (Photo by Thanassis Kalliaras / Eurokinesi)
Pancakes are a staple of the regional cuisine of Epirus, including spanakopita, shown here. (Photo by Thanassis Kalliaras / Eurokinesi)

4 tablespoons extra virgin greek olive oil

1 large onion chopped

2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, boneless

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, grill the chicken pieces in a single layer for about five minutes, turning the pieces to brown on all sides. Add onions and cook for 5-10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, tomato sauce, water and rice. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Top with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

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