Besides vathres, waterfalls, mountain and beaches, food is one of the things for which you'll always remember Samthrace. With very few exceptions, there are no fancy restaurants on the island, but mostly family tavernas and coffee shops, where the owner is also manager, cook and waiter. Very often there is no menu, but you will be offered the fresh meal of the day.
Samothrace is very much appreciated for the simply tasty food, made of local ingredients. It makes you feel like this was the way the Greek grandmas used to cook.
When you take a seat at a taverna the white paper cover with the map of the island on will be laid on the table. Water will be brought, usually in the carafe, on the house. Don't be afraid to drink it, as the water of Samothrace is one of the cleanest in Greece. Sometimes they bring a 1,5 liter water bottle which is to be paid at the end of the meal (usually it costs 1.5 Euro).
The appetizers are the ones you usually find everywhere in Greece and they are very tasty. If you are a cheese lover then try the "tyrosalata" (cheese salad) or "tyrokafteri" (spicy cheese). It is a more or less spicy cheese cream, blended with fat yogurt, finely chopped peppers, olive oil and spices. It costs 2.5-3 Euro and goes wonderfully well with fresh bread. Other traditional cheese dishes are "feta saganaki" or "bougiourdi" (cheese with tomatoes and other vegetables baked in the oven).
Try also the row fish salad, the eggplant salad or the fried zucchini.
The most common salad is the Greek one. You'll find it in the menus as "horiatiki", which means "peasant", at the price of 5-6 Euro. It has tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion and one or more large feta slice on top, together with olive oil and some oregano.
Of coarse, don't ever forget to try tzatziki (yogurt with chopped cucumbers and garlic)!
"Katsikaki", the trademark of Samothrace
As someone would expect, on an island where the goat number is about 30 times bigger than the human population, the signature dish will be goat or kid meat ("katsikaki"). It is cooked in numerous ways – on a spit, in a pan, in parchment, stuffed with rice, entrails and spices ("gemisto"), with wine, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini or even with honey, quinces or plumes.
A special dish made of goat entrails is called "kokoretsi". As most of the goats live freely on the island, the meat seams to taste differently. A dish costs about 8-9 Euro and the spit or stuffed goat is 25-28 Euro per kilo.
The most famous village for "katsikaki" on the spit is Profitis Ilias (with its popular O Vracos taverna), situated on a hill slope, 13 kilometers away from Kamariotissa. Also famous for its culinary tradition and the goat based dishes is Karydies Taverna in Ano Meria, 20 km away from Kamariotissa.
Fish and seafood
"Katsikaki" is good, but don't forget that you're on an island after all, so the seaside tavernas offer fresh fish ("psari") and seafood. Most often, the owner will invite you inside to show you the offer of the day. Try the different kinds of fish, grilled or fried, with lemon and olive oil sauce, squids or octopus ("htapodi"), grilled or cooked in vinegar, as an appetizer.
The price is between 25 and 50 Euro per kilo, depending on the fish, and the most famous seafood taverna is Akrogiali in Lakkoma.
Feta stuffed squids
Other main dishes
Goat based dishes are a lot, but there are also other choices. The menu of the tavernas includes chicken, lamb or pork meat, grilled or cooked in the oven, meatballs, sausages, musaka, "pastitsio" (a pasta dish), stuffed zucchini or eggplants, "manti" (homemade pasta filled with minced meat and onion).
Oven cooked eggplants or other vegetables and the traditional "fasolada tsigaristi" (pan cooked beans) are among the vegetarian options.
Chicken with roasted potatoes
Choose "maruli" (green salad) with olive oil or lemon or tomato, cucumber, roast pepper or ruccola salad, at a 3-5 Euro price. Many tavernas have "horta", which means sauteed green beets.
The local island fruit is called "praousti". It's a prune type and the scientific name of the tree is "prunus domestic syriaca", also known as mirabelle prune. The fruits are round shaped, of yellow-orange color and sweet when they are ripe. As they usually ripe in August, the Greeks called them "praousti" (from "pro augustu"). A marmalade or the traditional spoon sweet ("praousti koutaliou") are made of them.
The spoon sweets are different kind of fruit, first boiled and then preserved in sugar or honey syrup, which usually it is eaten with the spoon or the teaspoon (hence the name), from small glass bows, near a Greek coffee and a glass of water.
Another dessert characteristic for Northern Greece and especially for Samothrace island is called "haslama" and it is a syrup cane whose main ingredients are wheat flour and semolina.
There are also all kind of crepes (To Stenaki in Chora is highly recommended), baklava, kataifi, "galaktobureko" (a milk and semolina syrup pie), chocolate cakes (try the "pissa ke poupoula", which means "tar and feather" at Lefkos Pirgos in Chora), fresh fruit, ice cream (try the goat milk ice cream at the Trapeza coffee shop in Chora) and the delicious Greek yogurt with marmalade.
Very often the dessert is offered on the house, at the end of your meal.
Goat milk icecream
Pair your meals with local drinks – ouzo or tsipouro (an about 40 degrees alcohol spirit, with or without anice), preferably homemade, the Fonias Pale Ale craft beer produced in Kamariotissa or the wines at the Melmar Winery (if you like the red wines I recommend you the Mistiko Monopati Syrah).
As for refreshments, you should know that the lemonade usually is not homemade, but a bottled soda drink. Also, vissinada is a sour cherry syrup, not an alcoholic beverage.
Probably the most popular drink on the island (and in whole Greece) is the frappe (in its original version – with instant coffee, sugar, milk, water and ice – no whipped cream, no chocolate syrup!). The price is between 1.5 and 3 Euro. Very often you can see the locals meeting at a coffee shop for a talk with a frappe in front of them. If you want your frappe medium sweet (which many times could mean quite sweet) ask for "metrio". If you don't want sugar at all, ask for "sketo" (which means "pure"). You can use the same expressions when asking for a Greek coffee (which costs 1-2 Euro). The local coffee variety is darker ("skouros") and usually stronger that the one from other parts of Greece.
Kalì òrexi! = Enjoy your meal!
Yia mas! = Cheers!
A wine carafe