Kritsa Gastronomy Hotel
The gateway to Pelion is the stone-built village of Portaria, and one of the best ways to discover its riches and culinary delights is through the charming Kritsa hotel and its popular traditional restaurant.
Right in the heart of Portaria's picturesque main square, in a gorgeous neoclassical building that's almost 100 years old, this little mountain retreat is actually only 20 minutes from the quaint seaside town of Volos. Classical wooden furniture, pastel walls and cozy rooms embellished with handmade artwork fit perfectly with the environment and the mood. You'll also love the bright and spacious modern bathrooms and facilities such as satellite TV and airconditioning.
Great gastronomy and beautiful breakfasts
The hotel is known for its quality cuisine and has even won awards for its dishes, presenting the best of regional gastronomy and local flavors to visitors. It is also a member of the official 'Greek Breakfast' initiative, meaning that you're going to have a fantastic breakfast every morning!
Some of the goodies on the breakfast table – which varies every morning – include homemade biscuits, olive bread, sweet bread (tsoureki), fresh fruit, pine honey, local cheeses such as feta and kaseri, Pelion olives, Greek yogurt, country sausages, hearty omelets, preserved fruit ('spoon sweets') and of course freshly squeezed orange juice.
There are also a number of delicious savory pies that are part of the Greek mountain tradition, including zucchini-cheese pie, red pepper pie, leek and meat pie, spiral cheese pie and onion bread. In colder months sip some mountain tea made with aromatic local herbs or try the 'trahana' soup made with sheep's milk. This is one gastronomic trip you won't forget!
High-end gastronomy on the menu…
Good Greek cuisine is generally divided into two categories: home-style cooked food and grilled meats prepared à la minute. Luckily, the Kritsa restaurant offers the best of both, as well as soups, Greek pasta, and famous savory pies with handmade phyllo pastry.
House specialties proudly include many of Pelion's regional traditional recipes, including Spetsofai (country sausage with tomato and peppers), herb eggs, Galotiri cheese, Tsitsiravla (pickled herbs), Trahana soup with cheese or sausage, Boumbari (veal and tripe sausage) with oven potatoes and much more.
Wash it all down with some of Greece's best wines from the wine menu, including a very good local house wine. You must try the local tsipouro liqueur as well that helps digest all the good food. Lastly, the regional desserts will not disappoint, especially the traditional Greek pan sweets such as baklava which the inhabitants of Pelion prepare very well!
Activities… from cooking to hiking
Take a bit of Pelion home with you by learning how to cook regional cuisine. The Kritsa hotel and restaurant organizes Greek cooking classes in small groups. It uses recipes from 'the blessed land of Pelion' as the locals like to call it. Local herbs, vegetables and meats are used to create mouthwatering dishes.
And after all the eating and cooking, Pelion is one of the best places in Greece to hike in. Not far from the hotel there between the villages of Portaria and Pelion there is a lovely hiking path and a stream that you can explore almost all year round. Fall and spring are amazing times to visit Pelion, so is winter as the village is close to the ski resort of Hania. In good weather you can hike to Hania, as well as to another area called Stagiates. Ask your hospitable hosts for more info and they will be very happy to help.