For several weeks each year, my husband and I open our country home, kitchen and garden in the ancient village of Aghios Dimitris to a limited number of guests for a very personalized experience cooking and learning about life and longevity on Ikaria, the Blue Zone Greek island where “people forget to die.”
Our goal is to teach much more than mere recipes and cooking tips. It is to share the magic of Ikaria with others, to teach about food, life and longevity in a way that is both practical and intuitive. Interacting with local villagers, cooking with and tasting amazingly fresh, seasonal ingredients, drinking the wine that Odysseus is said to have drunk, learning about the culinary and medicinal value of herbs and other wild plants, making cheese with fresh milk from our neighbor’s goats, dipping in the therapeutic hot springs that the father of medicine, Hippocrates himself, recommended, visiting traditional beekeepers and tasting local wild honey, and dancing to the riffs of Ikarian violins are all part of our week together. We aim to share with our guests the secrets of these islanders’ legendary longevity and to give our guests unforgettable memories in one of the most untrammeled, stress-free, beautiful places in Greece.
Classes are hands-on and each session is organized around a full meal and menu, accompanied by Greek wines and spirits. Every meal is chock full of delicious and healthy Ikarian and Greek recipes, selected both because they are delicious, healthy, authentic but also because they are all dishes you can replicate back home in your own kitchen.
We dine outside in our garden, under a trellis where 150-year-old wild vines provide shade, overlooking a rugged, lush valley and the northern coast of Ikaria. We cook five hands-on classes together during the week, during which we go through the techniques of Ikaria’s longevity cuisine, learning about the rich and varied use of vegetables, greens, and other plant-based foods, making phyllo pastry for savory wild greens pies, mastering avgolemono (egg-lemon liaison), working with Greek yogurt and much more.