The city’s ice cream parlors are selling creams and sorbets, emblematic flavors of the Greek summer.
Django: Peaches “Washed in the Sea”
In the pedestrian streets below the Acropolis, people and kosmakis are taking walks and all I can think is why in forty degrees I found myself walking around here. The air conditioner at home, the frozen watermelon in the fridge, the island in two weeks. Complacency until I turn the corner to the nearest solution. Together with four or five other heatstrokers, we wait outside Django. The ice cream of the Syrian Constantinos Karakatsanis, fresh and completely natural, without preservatives, powders and flavor enhancers, with raw materials from small producers, is an oasis in Koukaki. Fruit sorbets are his forte. Fragrant melon (goes perfectly with sour yogurt ice cream), fig (in season), apricot. Nothing to do with the run-of-the-mill sorbets, these here are full of flavor and a reason to snub the chocolate. The flavors he will bring out each day depend on what the selected cooperating producers brought him the day before. Today he has a peach. He makes it with only four ingredients: the fruit with its peel, sugar, lemon juice and salt. “My favorite is the white flesh, which is also the most aromatic. The sorbet comes out pink, as the flesh near the core is red. I also add a little salt, to remind us of the peaches we eat and that we used to eat at the beach and wash them in the sea”, he says and suggests a combination with a scoop of smoked hazelnut. “The earthiness of the plain of Thessaly with the coolness and saltiness of the sea. I really like contrasts when they match in taste.”
Veikou 15, Koukaki, T/211-422.20.29
Thyrakeion: Prickly Pear or Arboriod?
The Mykoniati brothers were thinking about other summers in Gia when they prepared the prickly pear ice cream. In their shop, a small ice cream shop-cheese shop, you can find the products they make themselves with milk from their own animals that their parents take care of back on the island. They divide the quantity between them – one makes cheese with half, and the other makes ice creams inspired by childhood memories: rice pudding with mom’s recipe, petit beer, yoghurt with thyme honey, rosehip or even prickly pear. “The family business Anthea’s in Kea has organic prickly pears and they came up with the idea. Everything becomes ice cream if you try and that’s how this sweet-tough summer sorbet came out,” says Yiannis Mykoniatis about the unusual taste. “We started the experiments and the first time I tried it, I remembered my grandfather cleaning the difficult thorns for us to eat the ripe fruit.”
71 Eratosthenous, Agios Dimitrios, T/210-97.64.516
The watermelon of Marabou
In Pagrati, the afternoon still holds the heat. However, on the corner of Marabou, Vicky Peristanoglou and Igor Tsomletsoglou are undeterred, they pick up fresh fruit, herbs, nuts and nut butters, test recipes and any that qualify are written on the flavor of the day chalkboard. There are very few constants, such as the elegant anthogala. From there, surprises are the norm for their small-batch ice creams. On one occasion, the pair of gelaterias can cool you down with a velvety avocado chocolate sorbet, so you can indulge as much as you need, on the other with a rare cherry or bitter almond flavored sorbet. Or with tahini and honey creams, with mastic cream, with dark beer ice cream… And on a hot summer day, like today, with spoonfuls of refreshing watermelon sorbet. Along with some mint, for extra freshness.
Archelaou 17, Pagrati, T/210-72.47.037
Bon Bon Fait Maison: Fig leaves turned into cream
One summer when he was walking in the alleys of Kythira next to the fig trees, Kriton Poulis took a deep breath and filled his head with this delicate, divine smell of the trees. And since he already had a career as the first-line confectioner-right hand of the famous Pierre Hermé, his next thought was to make fig ice cream. Not the royal fruit, but the fleeting innocence that musks the plant’s leaves. The “fig leaf”, the flavor that became his trademark, now comes every summer in the confectioner’s stores in Athens (the Bon Bon Fait Maison of Piraeus and Syntagma) and lasts for a while, just like the season. To create this off-white, fine cream, fig leaves are picked before the tree is ripe, when they are still fresh and have all their aromas. They are then extracted into milk along with small doses of cinnamon, cloves, orange peel and grapefruit. The result is almost touching.
30 Petraki Street, Athens, T/210-3318703 & 39 Polydevkous Street, Piraeus
Epik: Almond milk, sycalaki or Chios mastic with sweet sour cherry?
The flavors of Epik are reminiscent of holidays in Ikaria, Syros, Hydra or the coolness of Pelion. From the gelateria in Mavili square you will be transported to islands and other holiday destinations, eating ice cream with Domokos catiki and pieces of sweet sykalaki from the Tesco family in Ikaria, another with rose and Turkish delight, yogurt ice cream with honeycomb and honey, almond flavored with caramelized Thessalian almonds and rose water or their own version in the cream: Chios mastic ice cream with syrup and pieces of sweet cherry.
Doryleou 2, Mavili square, T/210-64.64.105
Varsos: For tastes of childhood summers
Of course, if none of this works to cool down the temperature, there’s always the garden of Varsos in Kifissia. As delicious as pure, old-fashioned – in the best possible sense of the term – ice cream is, seeing it served in the metal container with the patisserie’s logo engraved on the handle is another thing. Its cream is deliciously milky, the chocolate tastes like three-month-olds’ chess and toys, and the strawberry is a rosy break between the two. And just like that a little breeze blew in the plane trees.
Kassaveti 5, Kifissia, T/210-80.12.472
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