Where to Eat in the Rustic Heart of Thessaly

5 months ago 53

By Nena Dimitriou, Vivi Konstantinidou, Nikoleta Makryonitou | February 25th, 2022

After a walk in the cold and snow around Lake Plastira, you’ll definitely want something warm and delicious to eat. Head up to Karitsa, at an elevation of 1180m, for the taverna Dolopes (Tel. (+30) 24410.949.93) and their delicious homemade trachana, locally made sausages (the only ones in all Agrafa that are made with onions), cooked greens, wild boar stewed in a clay pot with local sour plums, and various homemade savory pies.

Descending to Neochori, stop for coffee, brandy and a chat with owner Georgios Karantonis at Artemis Café (Tel. (+30) 24410.934.44). Ask for the preserves made from wild mushrooms – Karantonis is an experienced mushroom picker from Agrafa, and his mother makes preserves and other delicacies with them.

Right next door, in the small grocery store Idymeles (Tel. (+30) 24410.933.20), you’ll find cultivated organic mountain tea and other herbs from a local producer, as well as trachana and nice forest honey from Agrafiotika.

Food at Fagotopi: the must-haves from this year's menu are the zigzag pasta, the mutton meatballs in the oven with yogurt sauce, and the wild boar with plums and apricots.

© Nikos Kokkas

Food at Fagotopi: the must-haves from this year's menu are the zigzag pasta, the mutton meatballs in the oven with yogurt sauce, and the wild boar with plums and apricots.

© Nikos Kokkas

At the Karamanoli Mountaineering Shelter (Karamanoli Plateau, Tel. (+30) 698.858.6292), at an elevation of 1536m and a distance of 6km from the village of Neraida, you can take in views of the Plateau of Niala and the surrounding peaks of Agrafa and enjoy the wonderful small dishes prepared by young Vlassis Papathomas, served in the cozy, well-decorated hall with the giant fireplace. You can spend the night there (bunk beds and blankets are provided and the rooms have heating and WCs), but be sure to call and book first.

For very nice sausages with leeks, make a stop at the butcher-restaurant Zarnavalos (Tel. (+30) 24410.920.08) in Pezoula. A little further down the road, Fagotopi (Tel. (+30) 24410.929.98) serves wonderful dishes such as zygouromakaronada (hoggett with homemade pasta) and mutton meatballs in the oven with yogurt sauce, as well as wild boar with plums and apricots. Local wines on the list here include a Mesenikola PDO from the winery Karamitros.

On the opposite shore of the lake, in the village of Moschato, Tsardaki ( Tel. (+30) 24410.200.24) is the place for cold cuts, local beans baked in the wood oven, divinely grilled chops, hot soups and definitely the freshest and most colorful salad you’ve ever had. And of course, their handmade savory pies, including a no-fyllo spinach pie

A delicious fried dish straight from the kitchen at the taverna Dolopes.

© Nikos Kokkas

A delicious fried dish straight from the kitchen at the taverna Dolopes.

© Nikos Kokkas

Puro, an aged tsipouro.

© Christina Georgiadou

Puro, an aged tsipouro.

© Christina Georgiadou

About 40km from Karditsa and 30km from Trikala is the small settlement of Keramario, in the village of Drakotrypa in Agrafa. The taverna Keramario (Tel. (+30) 24450.614.70, 697.475.8259) is there, too, and it’s where you should try the flat pie made with corn flour, feta and greens; the leek sausage from Mouzaki; the fried noodles with kefalotyri and local butter, or any of the other rustic dishes made with local ingredients and local meat. 

Thanos Karathanos procures grapes from the foothills of Agrafa and from the vineyards of the plains of Karditsa, Dafnospilia and Paliouri in order to make his extremely rare aged tsipouro. Puro (Karathanos Distillery, Paliouri, Karditsa, Tel. (+30) 24410.695.59) is a distillate with aromas of vanilla and dried apricots, bergamot, tobacco and mocha, round and creamy. If you haven’t tasted it before, make sure to seek it out on your trip to its native land.

Around 18km from the distillery, you’ll come across Tsianava (13th-km Karditsa-Athens, Sofades, Karditsa, Tel. (+30) 24430.224.60), a meat production facility which makes foodstuffs such as soutzouki, kavourma, and smoked brisket, all using local meat. 

If Hansel and Gretel were lost in a Greek forest, it would probably be somewhere in Agrafa. The accommodation complex Montanema Handmade Village (Anthochori, Mouzaki, Tel. (+30) 24450.452.20) has been built on densely treed slopes that resemble a black-green carpet stretching over thousands of square meters. The attractive 33 apartments and suites, all built of stone, provide great comfort and everything else one needs in order to revive body and soul. After lingering at the Aquanema spa and enjoying the wonderful marble hamam there, head upstairs for a meal at the traditional taverna which awaits you with local delicacies cooked in a wood oven or on a spit. You’ll find fine meat dishes and wild mountain mushrooms on the winter menu. 

An extended version of this article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.

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