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A Walk Through the Tasty Part of Athens

Tasty Part of AthensThe special tastes of charcuterie, chocolate treats, Greek herbs, spices, fine spirits and nuts emerged a few days ago in the center of Athens, Greece.
Many corner stores, bakeries, restaurants and other shops of central Athens, from Syntagma to Omonia, opened their doors to welcome hundreds of participants in the “Open Walk Athens- Flavors of the center,” organized by the group “Atenistas.” In this thematic walk, the Athenians had the opportunity to stroll through the tasty part of Athens, where they found an abundance of chocolate, freshly brewed coffee that flooded the atmosphere with its aroma, shelves full of unique liqueur, tasty cheese and charcuterie products from all over Greece.
The starting point was Voulis street. There, the volunteers of “Atenistas” handed out a map of the 21 proposed stores that had opened their doors to participate in the walk. Pastry shops in Syntagma, spice and herb shops in Euripides street, corner stores in Sofokleous , taverns in Theatre Square, greeted the wanderers, offered them tastings and introduce them to their work. These shops with dozens of years of history, stand tall against the economic crisis and the decline of the city center, while keeping the secrets behind the making of their products well hidden.
Here we present some of the stops in this gastronomical walk through the city center.
85-year-old chocolate
Maria Callas used to buy chocolate peanut clusters, Jackie Kennedy had a preference for Turkish delights with rose or vanilla fragrance and Grace Kelly had a weakness for caramel peanuts.
In its 85 years of history the Aristokratikon pastry shop has provided customers from around the world with chocolates, Turkish delights, nuts and other handmade delicacies.
The pastry shop opened in 1928, when Panagiotis Karras came from the village Vassiliko of Epirus in Athens to invest in his dream. It was first located on 2, Voukourestiou street. However today it is found on 7, Voulis street (as well as Argyropoulou street in Kifissia).
All products are handmade in the bakery’s laboratory. “We do not even think about reducing the quality of our products. It’s like feeding our children and grandchildren” says the owner of the bakery, George Bitsopoulos.
The traditional production methods and the fresh ingredients give the bakery’s products a special flavor. The fourth generation of owners has added new, contemporary flavors. Thomas Bitsopoulos is experimenting with flavors based on mastic from Chios and other Greek raw materials such as fruits and nuts.
Among their most popular products are those with characteristic shapes. Tools, cars, motorcycles, handbags, shoes, ties, hearts, and paintings of chocolate can be ordered as a unique gift. The online store that opened four years ago, distributes the shop’s chocolate delicacies worldwide.
Ariana’s olive
In the 92-year-old shop, Ariana, the last of its kind in the center of Athens, one can find twenty different kinds of olives. Located on 3, Theatrou street, the store has a variety of olives, savory, stuffed with almond or chili peppers and others without core, all rich in phenols and vitamins, available in wholesale and retail.
Thanasis Veggos used to buy his olives from Ariana, which was one of his favorite shops.
The store was founded in 1921 by Andreas Kalothanasis, who recounts the course of the store in correlation to modern Greek history. Today the tradition is continued by his son, Nicholas Kalothanasis and his children, the third generation of owners.
The first Greek coffee
The story of Greek coffee began from the coffee shop Mokka on 44, Athenas street. There, Chris Samourkas opened the first family owned coffee shop in 1922, where the coffee provided to customers was always freshly ground. In the postwar period, around 1950 Dimitris Apostolidis and Theodoros Samourkas continued the tradition by opening a chain of coffee shops and renaming the brand Bravo. They also gave “Greek coffee” its name by renaming the till then known as “Turkish coffee.” They used the new name in their publicity campaign in the ‘60s.
Today, the first coffee shop continues under the direction of Dimitris Apostolidis and his grandson, Nicholas Psomas , who seek and offer the best varieties from Brazil and Ethiopia, always freshly roasted.
Excellent butter milk
The Zafolia butter milk that had for many years been packed in elaborate aluminum packaging and was famous throughout the city for its freshness and quality. Its point of sale was one of the most historic downtown shops, the Zafolia on 17, Sophokleous Street has been open since 1916.
Founder of the company was Apost0los Zafolias. For many years, butter and other dairy products were produced in his factories in Krania in Pindos and Megara. Today, only the shop remains, run by the son of the founder, Dimitris Zafolias, offering its customers exquisite butter, feta from Peloponnesus and Sparta, a traditional cheese from Mytilene, hard cheese from Amfilochia , gruyere cheese from Crete, Naxos and Metsovo, and handmade pasta from all over Greece .

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