While I was at Costa Navarino I went along to a traditional Messinian cooking class in a local village house. A group of us learnt how to make various Greek dishes, and then had lunch together at a long wooden table which was weighed down with homemade bread, dishes of olives, Greek salad and other yummy things. The smiling Greek women who taught us seemed wise and lovely, and showed us very clearly what needed doing, although we had no common language.
Costa Navarino is a luxury resort in the southwest Peloponnese on the Greek mainland (you can read my full review of my stay here: The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino review). Guests at the resort are encouraged to discover local history, culture and customs through the various authentic experiences which make up the Messinian Authenticity program. Besides the cooking class, some of the other activities which guests can sign up for are olive harvesting, astronomy nights and shadow theatre shows, where traditional Messinian tales are told through shadow puppets. I took part in a Philosophy walk through olive groves while I was there – led by a philosophy professor, the aim of these walks is to talk and think about current issues, drawing on the wisdom of ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle (who apparently liked to walk as he taught and discussed things with his students).
The cooking class is led by women from the local community and takes place in a pretty stone house overlooking the bay of Navarino. I’m vegetarian, and my favourite thing that we made at the cooking class is tzatziki. It was so very easy to make and so very delicious to eat that I doubt that I will ever be able to buy it again. It was served in bowls for us to help ourselves from for lunch, and I found that it went very well with Greek salad, with roasted vegetables and with fish (I’ve been told that it goes well with meat dishes too). If you’d like to try it for yourself, here’s the recipe from the class.
- 250g Greek yoghurt
- 1 cucumber
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 – 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Grate a cucumber on the coarse side of a box grater, drain really well and squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible.
- Transfer the grated cucumber to a mixing bowl and mix it with the yoghurt, garlic, vinegar, salt and olive oil.
- Eat straight away, or refrigerate for later.
I enjoyed the cooking class and the philosophy walk, and I really like the fact that Costa Navarino has this program of cultural experiences. The tzatzaki was delicious – do let me know if you try the recipe!