Ask any Greek what comes to mind when they think of Thessaloniki and I’m pretty sure the answer is eating.
Located in Central Macedonia, Northern Greece, Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece, renown for its culture, history and, most of all, gastronomy.
In the Greek food capital of Thessaloniki there are a number of local dishes you must try and my 3 absolute favourites of these all happen to be pastries.
So, for any fellow sweet tooths out there, here are 3 must-eat pastries in Thessaloniki and the best bakeries in which you can find them.
Bougatsa at Bougatsa Bantis
While in Thessaloniki you must start the day with bougatsa from local institution Bougatsa Bantis.
Bougatsa is a phyllo pastry made of flour, softened butter and oil, which is stuffed with a sweet or savoury filling. (Typically either cheese for a savoury option or with semolina custard for a sweet.) The sweet version, generously sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, is definitely my favourite. You can see it being served here.
Bougatsa is thought to date all the way back to the Byzantine era when pies and pastries were hugely popular. Today you can find it all over Greece, but the bougatsa of Northern Greece is particularly popular, especially those in Thessaloniki.
It actually requires a great deal of skill to prepare and while at Bougatsa Bantis I was able to try my hand at it. I was terrible! (Never was a natural in the kitchen) But it was really interesting to see the hard work and technique that goes into making bougatsa.
Make sure you try one on your next trip to Greece.
Bougatsa Bantis, Panagias Faneromenis 33, Thessaloniki 546 32
Trigona Panoramatos at Konstandinidis
Not only did I fall in love with the way they eat breakfast in Thessaloniki but I discovered my favourite Greek dessert too.
Trigona Panoramatos is a phyllo triangle soaked in syrup and filled with creamy custard. It originates from the Panorama area of Thessaloniki (hence the name) and today you can find many delicious versions all over the city.
The Trigona Panoramatos at Elenidis is widely considered the best in Thessaloniki and you can find them at 3 locations across the city.
On our trip we tucked into Trigona Panoramatos at 100-year-old bakery Konstandinidis and it was love at first bite for me. This elegant city centre bakery has every kind of sweet treat from the surrounding region and beyond to Asia Minor where the owners originate.
Everything is prepared fresh on site and as part of the kitchen is open you can see exactly how the pastries are finished. I loved watching as the ladies prepared the most generous slice of Millefeuille I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was the most delicious I’ve ever had too. So actually that’s 2 desserts you have to try here – come with an empty belly!
Cretan Sweet Cheese Pastries at Blé Taste Gallery
You’d be hard-pressed to order something wrong at Blé Taste Gallery, which prides itself on using local organic ingredients including milk and eggs exclusively from the Agricultural School of Thessaloniki.
This elegant bakery/restaurant is open around the clock on pedestrianised Agia Sophia, and while they are renown for their bread, baked in a HUGE onside oven, when we came by at 9pm one evening it was the desserts and pastries everyone was savouring.
Something I enjoyed tasting was their Kalitsounia, a sweet cheese pastry that originates from Crete. These puffy little sweet treats are a Cretan holiday tradition but I liked that Blé had given them their own twist with chocolate and fruit varieties. They tasted like little bites of cheesecake but not as sweet – in other words totally addictive.
Blé Taste Gallery, 9 Agia Sofias, 54623 Thessaloniki
And something you must drink in Thessaloniki.. Frappe!
I couldn’t write this article and not mention Greek frappes, which I recently learned originate from Thessaloniki.
A Greek frappe is simply instant coffee shaken with sugar, ice cubes, and cold water. (You can also have it served with milk like I do.) It’s been a Greek holiday tradition of mine for years but I never knew the story of how it came about until I travelled to Thessaloniki.
The frappe, so the story goes, was invented by accident in 1957 by an employee of Nescafe who didn’t have access to hot water while working at Thessaloniki International Fair.
During a break, Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of the Nestlé company, wanted to have his regular Nescafé Classic but he could not find any hot water, so he mixed the coffee with cold water in a shaker, and the Frappe was born.
The word frappe originates from the French word meaning “shaken” or “stirred” but it’s very much a Greek classic. After its commercial launch in 1979, Frappe became the nation’s favourite way to enjoy coffee.
You can read the full history here.
If you’re yet to try a Frappe you must order one on your next Greek holiday, especially if you go to Thessaloniki.
My trip to Thessaloniki was sponsored by Visit Greece as part of a Traverse Events Conference. All opinions are my own.
Find out more about things to do in Thessaloniki by visiting www.thessaloniki.travel
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