Before heading over, I wondered whether I’d tire of the traditional lunch and dinner: a series of meze, almost invariably including tzatziki and Greek salad, followed by more substantial dishes, in particular grilled meat and fish. Yet on returning, I craved nothing but Greek. The reasons are two: the astounding quality of the raw ingredients and the regional variations. Tzatziki may be ubiquitous but the local differences in yogurt and preparation made each incarnation a new experience. In the north, where the Slavic influence is felt, one of the main dishes was a kid goulash in everything but name. Meals on the shores of the Aegean featured seafood of a freshness Montrealers can only dream about, while dinner in the Arcadia highlands centred around local vegetables, some of them foraged, and a rustic take on porchetta.
However delicious the food was on its own, it seemed completed by a glass or three of wine. And however enlightening it was to sample the wines at formal tastings, they made the most sense in the context of a meal. The way it all came together night after balmy night – on a terrace by the sea, on a vertiginous mountainside, in the middle of a quaint village or sometimes, like on Santorini, a combination of all three – was one of the revelations of the trip.