Eating and Drinking in Lake Karla

You'd be surprised at what you find in Greece's rural regions, beyond the touristic hotspots of the country. This is where unique local recipes dominate, and the region around Lake Karla and on different sides of the Thessaly Plain is no exception. Seafood, hearty mountain cuisine and even desserts conspire to tease your palate with authentic flavors.

Fish and seafood pies
Lake Karla locals share an old-time love for fish and seafood, so it’s not surprising they have come up with some deliciously creative recipes based around these fresh and variable ingredients. One of the most well-known dishes representative of the area is the traditional fish pie, made with mixed vegetables, chili and olive oil. Fish stew is another longtime favorite in the area, with several renditions, but most commonly made with fish, baby onions, garlic, tomato, red peppers and other vegetables.

Legend has it that fishermen staying and working in lakeside fishing huts daily followed an eating regime that included a hearty portion of breakfast wine soup (basically warmed red wine in which they would dunk or float chunks of bread), a midday snack of the previous day’s leftovers, and a lunch and dinner of fish soup, fried or baked fish, or waterfowl.

On the seafood front, locals also developed a love of limpets (Patella vulgata), the tiny brown conical shells that can be found adhering to rocks in shallow water along the beach. Limpets are relished around the country for their subtle yet unmistakable sea flavor and various health properties (many also consider them an aphrodisiac). They are gathered by swiping a knife underneath them with a quick sweep, before they can cling tighter to the rock, and the people of Lake Karla have also created a limpet pie, made with flour, onions, olive oil and seasonings.

Handmade pasta, Manestra
The region is also known for its handmade pasta, such as trachana, hilopites and kritharaki, or orzo. The latter is the main ingredient in a pasta dish called Manestra, delicately cooked with tomato sauce, olive oil and garlic into a thick soup-like consistency. The trick with this dish is to cook it very gently and add enough olive oil, otherwise it sticks to the pot and burns.

Plasto pie
A healthy and flavorsome vegetarian favorite among locals, Plasto is a kind of pie made with any choice of wild and domesticated local greens like nettles, like nettles, spinach, Swiss chard, amaranth greens (Vlita) and a crumbly dough of cornmeal.

The Tsipouro & Meze Tradition
Tsipouro, a pure, clear spirit distilled from grape marc, is enjoyed nationwide by Greek bon vivants. In Nea Anchialos, as in other parts of the country, the strong drink is (very wisely) often accompanied by meze dishes. In the region, it is thought that Greeks coming from Asia Minor began the tradition of serving tsipouro in a 25ml bottle. According to the tradition, each person orders one bottle (and goes on to order as many as he or she could handle) and accompanies it with one meze dish (in order to stay upright longer). Local favorites enjoyed alongside the 25ml tsipouro bottle include saganaki prawns (cooked in melted cheese), steamed mussels, vinegar-cured octopus, fresh salads, roast potatoes and stuffed calamari.

Wine in Nea Anchialos
Nea Anchialos is also known for its top quality wine. The region’s vineyards are predominantly in the lowlands and at sea level, so the sea air and its humidity is said to offer the wine a special quality.  Wine tours and tastings at local wineries can be arranged by appointment.

Pelion Cuisine

The more mountainous cuisine in the villages of Portaria and Makrinitsa, Pelion, is also worthy of attention, with special stews and dishes that will leave you begging for more. Learn about Pelion cuisine and the best of Magnesia's flavors


Grape must, the juice of grapes after they have been pressed and before fermentation, is a star ingredient in the regional mustalevria dessert, and is also used for making bread, or as a sweetener for other dishes. Mustalevria is made using the grape must and boiling it up with flour, sugar, almonds, sesame seeds and cinnamon. The result is a gelatinous dessert that is both healthy and traditional.

Courtesy of: Kritsa Hotel

Farsala halva
This specialty from the other side of the Thessalian plain is worth a mention. A mixture of corn starch or corn flour, vegetable oil, water and sugar is boiled, sometimes with the addition of almonds and a caramel topping, to create the nationally famous halva of Farsala. The dessert is served throughout the year but is also considered a prime choice of sweet to be served at the culmination of local festivals.

Courtesy of: Kritsa Hotel

Fruit preserves (Spoon sweets)
The apricots, sour cherries and other fresh fruit that grow abundantly in the area are boiled with sugar and made into jams and fruit preserves known as spoon sweets, often by the women’s cooperatives, to be enjoyed with yogurt, ice cream and other desserts or even on their own.

Courtesy of: Kritsa Hotel

Other Activities for Lake Karla & Mavrovouni

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