For me, a visit to Greece in inextricably linked to eating lots of delicious and healthy food – including a slight obsession with Greek salad! The unique volcanic soil of Santorini yields some absolutely fantastic produce and at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, only the very best is used.
My trip to Santorini was organised by luxury tour operator Classic Collection Holidays – knowing that I was a foodie, the hotel was the perfect choice (read my hotel review here) from their hand-picked selection of four and five star hotels on the island! Now remember I told you about the amazing sunset on our first night in the hotel? Well after having some wine and chocolate covered strawberries in the room, we headed to the hotel’s Pool Bar for the perfect sunset vantage point.
At the Pool Bar you can grab the best seat in the house right at the edge of the Infinity Pool and watch as the water cascades off the edge appearing to fall into the sky…
The Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa is perched on the clifftop and looks directly out to the Aegean Sea…
So you can watch as the golden glow of the sun shifts from yellow to orange….
Fading into pink, then purple…
And finally blue.
I stuck to my personal white and / or blue dress code but you can feel free to come casual or perhaps that beautiful silk kaftan that you picked up in Oia?
After our drinks we headed to the hotel’s Alios Ilios restaurant – the name meaning ‘the sun which rises and sets in the sea’ – there’s inside space at the restaurant but you really want to be sat on the terrace.
Enjoying the view…
A bottle of local Greek wine from the sensational list available at Alios Ilios.
And the experience of being in one of the most romantic places on earth!
There’s a few options for dinner here and you can enjoy the à la carte menu, a Cretan Menu or a seafood degustation menu, all of which showcase local flavours and dishes. I’m alway nervous of the sheer quantity of food in a tasting menu but after reassurance that it was perfect portioned we opted for the seafood. The philosophy of the Cretan diet is based on ‘well-being’ and known to be one of the most nutritionally sound diets that there is – partly because of the foundation of olive oil.
Chef Manolis Mattheakis himself hails from Crete and he believes the best kind of meal focus on these simple but delicious flavours and products sourced in Santorini, the Cyclades islands and Crete. He also recommends pairing each dish with a great wine – and as we were to find out on this trip, we were big fans of Greek wine. Our meal started with fresh ground tomato on a barley rusk – Santorini is actually known for it’s one of a kind cherry tomato and who would ever think that a tiny tomato could hold so much flavour. Combined with slightly sour xigalo cheese and of course olive oil, it was quite a taste sensation. The pickled sea fennel added the required bitterness to fully balance the dish out.
Fava beans are another signature product of the island and this particular variety only grow in Santorini and have PDO status (Protected Designation of Origin). They have a sweet, rich flavour achieved from growth on the island’s volcanic soil and the yellow pea are cooked and made into a delicious dip. Here at Alios Ilios, as is tradition it is served with fried capers and askordoulakous (Cretan wild bulb) on top. Perfect comfort food for heaping on to delicious fresh bread.
Local octopus is beautifully sundried and cooked on the grill with a delicious char and served with warm lentil salad and fresh herbs.
Next a delicious palate cleansing salad with spinach and arugula sweetened with roasted beetroots, orange fillets, pomegranate seeds, sundried figs, crunchy sesame bar and citrus vinaigrette. Many of the herbs and salads are sourced straight from the hotel’s garden and couldn’t be more fresh!
Grilled shrimp is scented with tsikoudia (otherwise known Cretan raki) and it’s truly a delicious morsel. As I mentioned, everything was small and well portioned so there was no danger of leaving the table feeling overly full. Another lovely touch was the sprig of lavender served on the dishes – grown around the hotel it’s away of giving the dishes a sense of place.
The great thing about being on an island is all that incredible locally sourced fish. Sea bass is always a favourite of mine and it was skilfully sautéed and served with freshly picked greens, lemon sauce and saffron aroma from Anafi island.
Our delicious meal ended on a light note with a beautifully presented yoghurt mousse with caramelized quince and Santorinian pistachios crumble as well as fresh fruit platter and sorbet. A seriously faultless meal with exquisite ingredients.
Anyone else obsessed with hotel breakfasts? Well Santo Maris Oia delivers a fully-certified Greek breakfast.
First of all can we talk about those breakfast views? I mean did you ever see such brilliant blues?
You can just take a seat by the pool and dive into a buffet of the sweetest and freshest fruit, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, cold cuts, pastries and cereals.
There’s a help yourself bottle of bubbly too!
There’s an à la carte menu and you can order simple favourites such as eggs Benedict and pancakes topped with banana. Or there’s the option of Cretan pancakes and honey or Greek-style pie.
Either way you’ll definitely be starting the day with a smile.
Lunch at Santa Maris Oia comes in the form of a pool side snack menu and I would have like to see a little more variety and local options included on the menu of sandwiches, pizza and pasta.
However, it was the best Greek salad I tried (and I had one for every lunch!) which we shared with a board of local meats and bread sticks. I tried to order the cheese platter but I was deftly held back by Mr S.
A big platter of herbie fries accompanied our main courses of perfectly cooked salmon for me and hearty pork cutlets and sweet potato mash for Mr S.
Homemade desserts and ice creams are prepared freshly every day and our lovely and attentive waitress suggested this Greek version of Eton Mess. Meringue, fresh cream and compote combined into a stunning creation and made the perfect pairing with our strawberry, vanilla and chocolate coupe.
I was very impressed with the food at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, and if you’re a fellow lover of Greek food this could be the hotel for you!
Have you been to Santorini? What’s your favourite Greek dish?
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Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa
+30 2286 600630
This post is sponsored by Classic Collection Holidays but thoughts, opinions, photos and new-found love of Santorini is my own.