Eating my way through Thessaloniki

by Sarah on February 16, 2011

thessaloniki greece outdoor market

Kapani Market, Thessaloniki, Greece

Greece was not part of the plan. I wanted to stay where it was cool in the mountains of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but after being served kebab for the umpteenth time, I turned to my husband and we knew exactly what we had to do. That is how we found ourselves rumbling along into Greek’s northern border, without map or plan, being lured solely by the promise of wonderful Greek food.

thessaloniki outdoor market

Kapani Market

In our air-conditioned jeep, we were oblivious to the temperatures creeping up outside and by the time we reached Thessaloniki it was a balmy 40°C in the shade. Our hotel room wasn’t very much better. Apparently the management failed to mention the little problem of the cooling system, figuring we would stay after lugging up all our bags. What did seem to work all too well was the curious gadget in the lobby bathrooms whose purpose was to save energy but in reality left patrons in the pitch darkness at the most inconvenient time.  The only way to get the lights back on was to wave our hands around disco-tech style making every visit there an event to remember.

thessaloniki herb lady greece

Summer herbs, including purslane, Northern Greece is known for its herb and cheese pies

In any case, the heat left me catatonic, like a lump of clay but less active. I was unable to be enthusiastic about anything except watermelon chocolate chip ice cream that melted so fast it practically vaporized.  Even the motorcycle cops wore their helmets around their wrists as they zipped along nonchalantly instead of risk steaming their heads off. Despite the heat, the Greeks don’t complain but instead drink bucket loads of ice cold frappes and get on with their lives. So after our bodies became acclimatized to the new weather, we were ready to explore the city.

Thessaloniki bagel man

Corner road in Thessaloniki

According to Peter Minaki, who writes the famous Greek food blog, Kalofagas, Thessaloniki has a more diverse culinary scene than other parts of Greece. I would have loved to have met him but unfortunately (for me) he was enjoying himself in Halkidiki when I decided to pop in for a visit. He did give me a few helpful suggestions “You should visit the market and the White Tower”.  And that’s exactly what I did, stopping at ice cream shops, cafés, bakeries, restaurants and bagel stands along the way. Greek food is definitely worth the extra 20 degree load if not more.

ice cream and pastry shop in thessaloniki

Ice cream, jam and pastry shop in thessaloniki, and watermelon ice cream!

thessaloniki

Kapani Market in summer

thessaloniki restaurant

Restaurant near the White tower serving Greek salad, Souvlaki and Manti

ancient roman recipe

Roman Recipe from the Thessaloniki Archeology Museum

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

OysterCulture February 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

What a fantastic trip. The pictures are so full of color and sunshine. Just the perfect remedy for this cold rainy day. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face and a rumble to my belly – that food looks amazing.

I also love the ancient recipe for fish sauce.

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Sarah February 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Thank you,
It took me awhile to post about Thessaloniki. While planning my trip for next year I realized I never finished posting about last summer’s trip!

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Yael February 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Gorgeous pictures (as usual), Most wonderful post.
Night!

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lisaiscooking February 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I can imagine the heat and how refreshing the ice cream must have been. Great looking food in the photos too!

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turkey's for life February 17, 2011 at 12:27 am

We really want to go to Thessaloniki – we can go straight through from Istanbul by train. Hopefully, we’ll get there sometime soon as we also read Kalofagas and are just dying to do what you did and eat our way through the city.

Great pics again!

Julia

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Sarah February 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm

It’s so close for you, it would be a great trip in the spring when all the greens come out

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Peter February 17, 2011 at 5:25 am

Sarah, so happy that you enjoyed your stay in Thessaloniki and did you know, the New York Times has listed it in the Top 40 Places to Visit in 2011?

The market scenes you’ve shared are from the Kapani market. The Modiano is located below Kapani, on the other side of Ermou Street. I do hope you went there as well!

I hope our paths cross again soon and I will surely rearrange my schedule to meet uo.

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 5:57 am

Thanks for the correction, I am not surprised it made it to the top places to visit in 2011, its a fun and vibrant city with a fascinating history. Would love to travel there again soon.

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Amanda March 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Oh my gosh – thank you so much for this post that was a complete pick me up from a looong work day! Beautiful! I so want a big bite of those figs!

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Sarah March 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thanks Marocmama for stopping by and your kind comment

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asxdcfvg July 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm

One of my favourite cities in the world, I feel very lucky to live there. What it lacks in spectacular monuments (like Athens has) it more than makes up for in charm. Next time you must have bougatsa for breakfast, that makes every vsit to Thessaloniki complete.

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