As you wander through Chora in the morning, you'll surely notice a traditional stone house located on one of the narrow streets near the fortress. A large open window framed by a tree and colorful flower pots also serves as a counter. Bread, pretzels and other delicious pastries are carefuly placed in baskets, on white lace edged towels. The Greek inscription above the entrance reads "Traditional bakery of the Antoniou family".
The history of the bakery
The bakery's history goes back to the year 1853, when Ecaterini, the great-grandmother of Eleni and Giannis owned an oven here where the inhabitants of Chora used to cook their bread.
In 1922 refugees from Asia Minor moved to the island and brought an increased demand for bread, thus the oven became a bakery. The same year Ecaterini's son, Antonis, took over the family business.
In 1955 it was the turn of his son, Giorgios, to inherit the bakery. He died in 1998 and his children, Eleni and Giannis became the owners of the place and decided to keep it traditional.
As of 1998 the house that serves both as home and bakery has the status of protected historical monument.
The description from the listing of the Ministry of Culture says: "We classify as a historical monument that requires special protection from the state the building (house and bakery) owned by Ioannis Antoniou from Chora Samothraki, as it is a typical exemple of local folk architecture, which still retains its original function (traditional bakery) and is inextricably linked to the memory of the island's inhabitants."
Bread and other pastries
The bread is still made in the same way as in the days of old and the work starts early in the morning, before dawn.
The dough is prepared from local flour (called "adesa") and sourdough starter and is kneaded by hand, in a big wooden trough. The rounded breads are placed in the large 3 meter wide stone oven, where the fire is usually made with olive wood.
Obviously, they can't make too many breads, so if you don't stop by the bakery in the morning, you may return empty-handed.
Usually Giannis makes the bread and his sister Eleni bakes the other pastries: sesame pretzels, cheese buns (tiropsoma), olive buns (eliopsoma), raisin buns (stafidopsoma), cheese or trahanas (a small pasta made from wheat flour kneaded with milk or yogurt) pies and peinirli (small boat shaped bread filled with yellow cheese and olives - the smaller version of the Turkish pide).
In Greek rusks are called paximadi. There is also a special recipe, eptazimo, which comes from Asia Minor and in Samothrace is named gourgi. These are rusks made with a chickpea starter yeast. It takes a lot of time to prepare them, up to 33 hours, thus in the past they were eaten on holidays or they were offered as gifts for engagements or births.
As these rusks can be stored even for a year, I bought several bags for home. Rania from To Gid' taught me how to prepare them. You must first deep them a little in water to moisten and then drizzle them with olive oil. Top them off with diced tomato and oregano (Samothrace's oregano is renowed for its superior quality) and add some crumbled cheese. And there you have it - some of the most iconic flavors of Greece in a quick and easy dish, a reminder for the senses while you are away.
Where to find the traditional bakery
The Antoniou bakery is located near the citadel, on the narrow street that takes you to the town center (at the first crossroad keep walking on the street going down), before the To Gid' shop.
Usually the bakery is only open in July and August, until 1 o'clock in the afternoon.
My advice: visit in the morning if you want to find more pastries.
Phone: +30 255 104 1433