The island, birthplace of Nicholas Tselementes and a number of other master chefs, has a rich variety of gastronomic traditions.
At Christmas the delicious smells of baking drift from the houses. The most popular in Sifnos at this time of year are ‘foinikia’ (elsewhere in Greece known as ‘melomakarona’ – honey syrup cookies) and ‘avgokalamara’ (elsewhere known as ‘diples’ – deep fried strips of dough rolled and dipped in honey syrup). During winter traditional ‘siglino’ (cured smoked pork), ‘pykti’ (pork jelly) is still prepared today.
A little later in the year, for Carnival, next in line are dairy desserts, rice pudding, cream desserts, goat and sheep’s milk yoghurt, which is fresh produced in large quantities at this time.
And it wouldn’t be Easter in Sifnos without the smell of roasting ‘mastelo’ (lamb or lamb cooked in a clay pot, also called a ‘matselo’, with red wine and dill baked in a wood-burning oven), without the ‘poulia tis Lambris’ (the ‘birds of Easter’, a kind of brioche), honey pies, a sweet prepared with Sifnian boiled ‘athotyros’ (fresh soft white cheese) and local thyme honey.
The joys of marriage ceremonies are celebrated by preparation of Sifnian diamond-shaped ‘pasteli’ (honey and sesame toffees) and pan or oven-cooked marzipan (with or without sugar).
The traditional festivals of the island are accompanied by communal meals at long tables, reminiscent of meals in ancient times or early Christian ‘Agape’ or Love feasts. They involve the serving of traditional ‘revithada’ (chickpea soup) and braised lamb or goat ‘kokkinisto’ cooked in ‘red’ tomato sauce in special large metal pots or cauldrons and served with pasta, or during Lent, fried cod with garlic sauce and salad.
On Sundays, the main dish is the chickpea soup, baked in clay pots (‘skepastaria’) for several hours overnight, in wood-burning ovens fed with vine twigs.
Other dishes never absent from the Sifnos meal are chickpea patties, caper salad (stewed dry caper), kalasouna (pies filled with wild greens and rice), ‘manoura’ (yellow hard spicy cheese matured in ‘gyli’ (red wine dregs)), and, depending on the season, ‘chyrovoskoi’ (wild greens), ‘myzithra’ cheese (fresh goat cheese with a slightly sour taste, ideal as an addition to Greek (‘village’) salad), or string beans with garlic puree. Also popular are dried figs, ‘loli’ (a sweet dessert made with red pumpkin), syrupy ‘spoon’ sweets and liqueurs made with fruit that grow abundantly in Sifnos, and infusions made from the rich variety of plants and herbs growing wild on the island, including sage and chamomile.
Local Sifnos sweet treats can be found in the traditional bakeries and patisseries, in the form of aniseed biscuits, butter biscuits, boiled and baked almond marzipan, honey and sesame ‘pasteli’ bars, Greek ‘loukoumia’ (‘Turkish delight’), ‘bourekakia’ (honey nut phyllo pastry rolls), and syrup ‘spoon’ sweets.
Cooking lessons in Sifnos
Private traditional cooking lessons on a sunny day in a beautiful farm in Sifnos! One of the most interesting and fascinating experiences in Sifnos island is to participate in a traditional cooking class. Sifnos cuisine is based on vegetables and locally grown herbs, through simple and savory recipes from the past, we have revived them with the exclusive use of locally grown products, from biological organic seeds and the fruits of trees that lasted through the ages, like apricot and pear trees (vasilika variety), which quite possibly do not exist anywhere else in the world anymore!
In the farm, you will have the chance to discover the secrets of Sifnos’ traditional diet by cooking together, over friendly conversations while enjoying the hospitable environment. The Farmland is located in the center of Sifnos Island, between Apollonia and Kato Petali regions.
We will be expecting you to arrive at 9:00 am and together we will prepare and enjoy our breakfast. A genuine Sifnos breakfast is made up of Sifnos Honey, homemade marmalade jam, homemade cheese and eggs from free range chickens. A truly rich and special meal!
We will discuss on our day’s menu and prepare ourselves for the daily activities…
At 10:00 we will walk through the farmstead, where we will enjoy the garden and gather any necessary ingredients for the meal of the day.
With freshly products picked by you, we will create healthy dishes that taste fantastic!
Upon returning to the farmhouse we will start preparing lunch or dinner: two salad dishes, two appetizers and two main courses.
A choice of local dry white or sweet sun-dried red wine will accompany your meal.
For dessert we have a selection of fruits, depending on the season, such as watermelon, melon, pear, apricots and damsons, all of them unique as they are grown from our own organic seeds.
The duration of the cooking lessons, including the time of your meal, is between 2 – 5 hours. Lessons can be arranged for either lunch or dinner. At the end of the lesson we sit around the farmhouse kitchen table to enjoy all the delicacies that we have prepared together.
During your entire visit, a friendly and accommodating English speaking assistant (for French or Russian speaking assistants, arrangements can be made upon request) will be eager to answer any questions you may have.
Please keep in mind that you may combine traditional cooking lessons with other activities in our farm such as gardening activities in the farmstead or pottery in the workshop that operates within the farm’s premises.
When leaving our farmstead, apart from the beautiful moments we shared together, you will also take with you a “little-something” from the farm.
Minimum participation is 12 persons. Minimum participation age 10 years old.
There are 2 classes that you can attend:
- Morning cooking class, which includes all above, the lesson is between 09.00 – 14.00
- Afternoon cooking class, which includes all above except the breakfast section, the lesson is between 17.00 – 21.00