Achilleas and Avra are inviting us into their home in Agia, Larisa
Avra is a restless cook and creator of the yiam (www.yiam.gr) products and Achilleas continues his family’s tradition working with stone and creating mosaics.
They live in a beautiful home made of stone that Achilleas restored from what used to be an old silkworm breeding warehouse.
Avra is the creator of the yiam products, a series of traditional delicatessen products known for their exceptional quality. Yiam are handmade products with no added preservatives, in many different flavors of fruits and vegetables. Avra’s lab is a small industrial building built right in the middle of Agia, surrounded by apple and cherry trees, with large windows overlooking the beautiful nature and letting the sun flood the rooms.
A cooking seminar in Avra’s lab
We were invited to spend a day with Avra and participate in her cooking lab.
After the necessary introductions we got ready for cooking. Avra is one of those people that make you feel like you have known each other for years.
Avra brought us fruits and vegetables available this season, we put on our cooking uniforms and started cooking together one of her favourite sweets with the best seasonal ingredients.
We started by discussing safety and hygiene in the kitchen in a mini seminar, and then moved on with collecting the ingredients, following the recipe, creating the flavor, and putting our delicious creations into jars.
And before we left we took home a jar of what we created.
If a visitor has more time, the introduction and mini seminar can take place during a walk in the mountain, and later gather vegetables and fruits during the walk before the cooking.
In August we can find figs, berries or cherries, in September quinces and walnuts, in May cherries, in October apples, chestnuts.
Avra asked the children to draw a label for our jars and our jars suddenly had become a complete product and a delicious reminder from Agia.
The program for the single-day seminar without a walk in the mountain or the two-day walk and ingredient-collecting on the first day and cooking lab on the second, will begin at 9.00-10.00 in the morning and end at 13.00-14.00 in the evening or begin at 16.30 and end at 20.30.
A mosaic seminar with Achilleas
Achilleas Archontis showed us his lab in Agia, Larisa. He creates mosaics, preserves art pieces and continues his family’s tradition of working with stone. His lab is in a traditional stone house he restored himself.
His mosaics are different from classic mosaics because they consist of natural stones in large coloured shapes that can be carved, and small pieces that complete the art piece.
Each participant in his seminar had the opportunity to create a different composition on wood under the guidance of Achilleas, following an easy technique so each piece could be taken home.
Achilleas took as for a walk in the mountain to find our own stones in many shapes and colours and with them we created our own mosaics later in the lab.
We felt like children working with him. Our imagination was set free, we designed and played with the coloured stones creating our pieces that would later become our reminders from our atmospheric journey to the mountain of Lapiths.
The mosaic programme begins in the morning with coffee and getting to know each other as a welcoming.
If a visitor has more time there is also the two day seminar that includes collection of the stones from the mountain of Kissavos.
The second day is dedicated to art composition.
In the photo we can see a lesson of classic mosaics.
The programme will begin at 9.00-10.00 in the morning and end at 13.00-14.00 in the evening.
Eat with locals
The tsipouro served is distilled from grapes and made in Agia.
The mezedes that go with it are usually olives, eggplant toursi, marinated anchovies, dolmadakia, yiam herring salad, batzos grilled cheese, keftedes, sausage, bougiourdi, tomato, cucumber, cheese pie, tzatziki, homemade bread. These dishes are of course different depending on the season and what Avra will find in the local market or her garden or even on the mountain like wild asparagus, greens or herbs from the shores of Rakopotamos river.
Fresh and warm dishes are prepared and served non-stop for everyone to taste. This is a table for those who wish to get to know the local tastes and try as many as possible.
#3 The third menu is a vegetarian menu that changes with the seasons. This menu includes many traditional greek dishes based on seasonal vegetables and olive oil.
In the summer Avra bakes gemista (stuffed tomatoes), briam (a selection of vegetables cooked in the oven), green beans, vegetarian moussaka, imam baildi (with aubergines as its main ingredient), a homemade cheese or pumpkin pie, greek salad with real feta cheese.
All the menus include tsipouro or white and red wine bottled by local producers or beer and real home baked bread.
Everyone is welcome during their holidays to live this experience, cook greek recipes under the guidance of Avra and set the table with her.
Avra also organizes large ‘Eat with locals’ events in her dining room.
Her love for cooking and producing exceptional products for the last 16 years fills the table with carefully picked and cooked goods to taste.
Everyone feels like family…that’s what usually happens around a table. There is plenty of time to get to know each other better, enjoy the local wines or the traditional tsipouro and experience with all our senses the dishes that Avra makes. It’s a beautiful journey in taste, history, Kissavos and many more destinations.
Avra has created three menus to choose from for every season of the year.
# 1 A table of mezedes for tsipouro. The main product is the tsipouro which is accompanied by mezedes, small dishes of local delicacies. This custom can only be found in Greece. People do not sit too close to the table because this is not a regular meal, it is slower and more relaxed. In this table communication is more encouraged, eating with small breaks, slowly drinking and talking.
#2 The second menu starts with an iced tsipouro and two or three mezedes for appetizers.
The main course is a meat recipe like grilled lamb with potatoes or moussaka or beef with tomato juice and homemade potato puree or cock with fried potatoes in olive oil or rabbit stifado or lamb fricassee. The salad is usually a traditional greek salad in the summer or a green salad with all the vegetables of the season in the winter and one of Avra’s yiam salads.
The meal always ends with a greek coffee or a homemade apple pie or walnut pie or cherry pie made of ingredients from the garden.