Sunshine, sea, souvlaki … wine, wedding and white bits (turning tanned) … lemons, love and laughter … the perfect ingredients for a much-needed Greek holiday!
Way back in September last year, as the build up to a crazy-busy Christmas was the closest challenge on the horizon, the promise of a Greek island holiday seemed a long way off! And yet, 8 months later, Mr and Mrs Deli were shopping for shorts and bikinis and preparing to head to Hydra to join friends for their wedding celebrations!
Hydra is a quiet, unspoilt Greek island, an hour and a half from the Athens port of Piraeus. Surrounded by azure blue seas, this tiny hideaway provided a haven of calm for our first holiday together since we threw open the doors to The High Street Delicatessen over 20 months ago.
And as anyone who has followed our adventures over that time will be well aware, food was inevitably at the heart of our down time. The Greek diet draws its influences from its own traditions and those of the Levant and the Near East. Leisurely lunches are best enjoyed with a graze through the menu; ‘little plates’ provided familiar old friends – tzatziki, hummus, Greek salad … and new, surprising finds too – melitzanosalata, a sumptuous smoked aubergine dip. Pork souvlaki is simplicity itself.
The tiny harbour provides a stopping off point for yachts in the know and so the local restaurants provide a perfect blend of slightly upmarket, contemporary watering holes and traditional tavernas, where the meze allows a hungry visitor to taste their way through the menu.
We found favourites at both ends of the spectrum … for traditional fayre, Douskos Taverna is probably still making the meals they were when Leonard Cohen found inspiration in Hydra Town; the Bridges Taverna is small, family-run … we sat a few yards from a table full of local men taking a beer break from their pony and donkey trains, which convey everything from water to tourists’ suitcases from the harbour walls to the houses clinging to the hills surrounding it. The Greek chatter feels immersive, and for a moment or two, as you do on most holidays, you toy with the notion that you are living here, that you are ‘local’. The food is simple, Greek beer chilled and crisp.
The Wedding Breakfast took place at Omilos, which definitely counts as contemporary and up-market. The atmosphere was relaxing, service impeccable and the selection of tastes out of the top drawer. Medium rare beef dishes competed with gloriously simple offerings of grouper and octopus. The waterside location only added to the special feel. We loved it so much we returned to celebrate Mr Deli’s birthday.
We loved everything about this beautiful island; the food, the peacefulness, the warmth of the sun and the friendliness of visitors and residents alike. Who knows, maybe in a post-Deli life we will just return to Hydra and become ‘local’!