The story is well-known among locals and seems appealing to visitors: a successful businesswoman, with a long career in the media world, leaves the capital to return to her home island and revive her grandfather’s traditional coffee house. Honouring the grandfather’s name, the old “kafeneio” is now a simple but not unsophisticated tavern, true to local recipes and devoted to seasonal products of Andros.
Before going, two things must be done: first, make a reservation if it’s summer season, second, think out of the box when it comes to the menu. That’s because there’s no written menu, the owner lovely Mrs. Katerina with the iconic cook’s appearance in full uniform, will have cooked for the day certain dishes – these and only these will be available, so you have to trust her. And before ordering, another two things must be done: first, forget the diet (at least for one evening), second, enjoy the moment and the feast without regret.
Starting with a plethoric salad of mixed vegetables, local cheese and samphire and a platter of amazing cheeses of selective Andros’ cheese mongers that will arrive at each table prior to ordering, is what it takes to understand that Mrs. Katerina is not messing around, she takes authenticity and excellence of fresh ingredients very seriously. These two delicacies alone, combined with the fantastic homemade bread, are enough for a purely indulgent meal and would be all you’d need if it weren’t for the rest of the culinary miracles that come out of the kitchen. Spinach pie with crunchy filo pastry, black eyed beans with cumin salad, mellowed out stew vegetables, juicy chicken wrapped and cooked in a package of vine leaves, tender slow cooked pork, split peas with octopus are some of the dishes that often come out of the kitchen to delight customers.
And when it comes to local dishes like “Froutalia”, the Andros’ version of an omelette with local sausage, potatoes, local cured meat and lard, Mrs. Katerina will serve you the authentic, slowly cooked version, bringing out all the flavours and aromas of this special delicacy. Just make sure you call and ask for it in advance, as it takes a lot of time to be cooked and otherwise you won’t find it among the daily dishes.
Such a delicious meal, original and homemade down to every detail, in a simple garden’s setting with mismatched chairs and floral tablecloths, will make you feel like you’re dining at your mom’s or aunt’s house. And it only justifies Mrs. Katerina’s decision to return to her routes.
Zozef’s: Pitrofos, Andros