An expanse of blue, flecked with white as far as the eye can see; sails full of wind, picking up speed. The skipper is smiling and the crew, sun kissed and windblown, are basking in the joy of the moment……. Now - what’s for lunch?
Being inspired by the culture of the place that you are sailing, plus all the fresh and seasonal produce available and a few tips is all you need to make the most of a sailing holiday in Greece.
Without a doubt, two of the top reasons to visit Greece are sublime sailing opportunities and the appetizing cuisine. So, why not combine the two? If the thought of turning out tasty Mediterranean meals from a minute kitchen (or galley), while cooking at an angle of 25 degrees seems daunting, there are a few things you can do to be prepared before you go. Most charter boats have great, ergonomic kitchens - albeit on a much smaller scale than at home. Cooking on a boat, though a little different, can be fun and successful.
Provisions are the most important as the next supply stop may be days away. The first thing to consider is having a well-stocked boat. Dry goods should be bulk bought at the biggest port where there will be plenty of choice. Plenty of Olive oil, oregano, olives, Greek wine and tsipouro, honey, feta cheese and ‘paximadia’ (dry barley rusks) are the essentials that will give a distinctive Greek flavour to your cooking. Fresh goods can be bought on the way in smaller lots, as refrigeration and storage is limited. Seasonal vegetables are available at most ports, at the local Laiki (farmers market pronounced LAY-EE-KEE ) and, often, off the back of trucks that pass through the villages and ports.
Tools of the Trade
It’s a good idea to bring along favourite utensils as charter boats usually provide just the basics. Good substitutes for electrical appliances are sharp knives, a good mixing spoon, an old fashioned egg beater and a potato masher. Don’t forget the garlic crusher! A pressure cooker will save time and fuel.
Special dried spices or any special dietary supplements are also useful to bring with you. Despite the limited storage space on the boat, there is a surprising amount of space to be found to store food items. Equipment is generally smaller, including the oven the fridge and allowances need to be made for this. Make sure any meat cuts or poultry can actually fit in the oven! Check your charter boat for these specifications before you leave.
Cooking on a boat demands that you be innovative, creative and flexible since there is no store to pop into. Also, organization is critical; as Grandma used to say ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’
Everything is affected by the motion of the boat, especially if cooking underway. Standing can be a challenge at times and things slide around a lot more. Always think about the fact that the boat will move and consider the consequences of anything you do. Do use gimbals and pot restraints and never put anything down where it is not restrained.
One pot meals are ideally suited for sailing trips, but cooking in the summer can make things uncomfortably hot and is best limited during the day. Greek salads and snacks during the day are quick, easy and delicious! The numerous dips in the Greek kitchen such as Tzatziki, Eggplant dip, spicy feta cheese dip and more, with some freshly baked bread and a salad make an excellent meal. Of course, if there are any fishermen on your boat, then there is nothing better than the catch of the day – grilled, fried or baked!
Greek cookery books are available in the tourist areas, or a quick look on the internet can get you inspired. Here are two favourite meals that are easy to prepare and just what’s called for after a hard day of sailing.
Cretan Dakos for 4
4 large Cretan barley rusks (paximadia)
4 large, ripe tomatoes (mashed or grated)
8 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive oil
200g feta cheese
10 black olives
2 tbsp capers
Oregano and salt and pepper
- Moisten the rusks with a little water and drizzle with some of the olive oil
- Spread the grated tomato on the rusks and top with crumbled feta cheese
- Add the olives, capers , oregano and salt and pepper to taste
- Drizzle with the remaining olive oil
Greek Lamb Meatballs served with Tzatziki
This well-known Greek appetizer can be served as part of a meze platter or as a main meal with rice and Greek salad. Leftovers can be turned into yet another meal by adding a basic tomato and onion sauce over pasta. Can be baked or deep fried.
1kg Lamb mince
1 red onion, grated
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp fresh mint (send someone ashore to grab a handful from a nearby pot plant) or dried
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Flour for dredging
Oil for frying
- Combine all the ingredient in a large bowl and knead with your hands to release the flavours
- Cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes
- Roll the mixture between your hands about the size of walnuts and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess.
- The traditional way is to fry them in plenty of oil about 1.5 cm for about 7mins in batches; they can also be baked/grilled at 200 C for about 20 minutes, turning midway
- Serve with other meze, or tzatziki and pita bread
Probably one of the most famous and healthiest Greek dips; easy to make too.
500 g Strained Greek yogurt (must be strained otherwise the tzatziki will be watery)
1 Grated cucumber
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic
Salt to taste
- Salt the grated cucumber and leave aside in a sieve for 10 minutes to drain the excess liquid
- Combine the oil and garlic
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly
- Refrigerate and always serve cold
By Merryn Wainwright