(We were given this complimentary cooking class from Visit Meteora and the Elias Garden Restaurant to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed as always are entirely my own. You can read my full disclosure here.)
Have you ever tried traditional Greek Cuisine?
While visiting Kalabaka, Greece to see the Meteora Monasteries, we asked Visit Meteora if they could arrange a family cooking class during our visit. They way, we would get to really experience some authentic Greek food, but I would learn how to make it for when we went back home. Not only did they do so, it was an amazing experience!
Our Family Cooking Class took place at The Elias Garden Restaurant. A traditional Greek Restaurant in Kalabaka. When we arrived we saw they had a table set out in the dining area filled with all the ingredients we would be cooking with, as well as a long table filled with cooking stations.
While waiting for the other people who would be participating in that evening’s cooking class to arrive, we were given a tour of the restaurant. I loved the homey atmosphere of the dining areas. at the back of the dining area, they had a wall filled with pictures of famous people who had eaten there. Included in the mix was royalty, famous athletes (football or soccer players if you are American) and even some politicians including a past Greek Prime Minister.
After getting all of us outfitted with aprons (which required a lot of folding to make them fit our little kids) we were brought out a fun local drink. It was a carbonated drink made from sour cherries. I have to say it was quite delicious and we all LOVED it!
When it came down to cooking the food the restaurant had multiple employees ready to help us each step of the way. My daughter adored her helper, Monica. They became fast friends and at the end just had to have a picture taken together to remember.
What did we make? Well, first we made Batzina Pie. It’s a traditional Greek Pie made with eggs, flour, cheese, zucchini, and oil. I have to say that this dish turned out to be a favorite with my kids. Even my 2 year old LOVED it.
Next, we made our main dish for the night: Mousaka! It’s sort of like a layered casserole dish made with potatoes, eggplant, minced meat, breadcrumbs, and bechamel sauce. While making this dish I was a little iffy on how good it would be. I have never eaten eggplant before. Once again after that first test bite, we all agreed it tasted amazing!
For dessert, we learned how to make BAKLAVA!! I was extra excited to see this dish on the cooking menu. After all, I have always wanted to try this iconic dish and now I would know how to make it! This dessert dish is made with desert phyllo dough, melted butter, walnuts, cloves, cinnamon, sugar and topped with a syrup after its cooked. This is such a fun dish to make and it totally lived up to its reputation for its deliciousness.
Lastly, we made a popular Greek spread (that they put on everything. like fried, sandwiches, chips, bread etc.) It’s called Tzatziki spread. This dish is made with Yoghurt, cucumber, garlic cloves, oil, and vinegar. My kids weren’t as fond of this dish but Rory and I enjoyed dipping our fresh bread in it while waiting for our dinner to finish cooking.
Here is where I have, to be honest, that though I was excited about this cooking class I was a little worried. Why? My kids are young (2,4 &6) and they are picky eaters. I was sure they would be good with following directions to make the food but was worried one would blurt our something like “Eww I won’t eat that” or “This looks disgusting”. After all, they say that to me at home way too often even though I am a great cook. Thankfully my children were on their best behavior and were having so much fun they willingly agreed to at least try each dish once they were cooked. Everyone, breathed a happy sigh when my children smilingly exclaimed after that first bite of each dish that they loved it and began to eat in earnest. The best part of the evening was when they handed me the recipes for each dish we made so I could make them again for my family. Whoot Whoot!
This cooking class turned out to be a highlight of our Greek experience. I am glad Visit Meteora was able to arrange it. My hats off to The Elias Garden Restaurant and staff for hosting it. The atmosphere is so inviting, the staff friendly and very competent and their food is absolutely amazing. I highly recommend eating there on your next visit to Kalabaka (whether or not you have time for a cooking class).
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