Culinary Secrets to a Longer Life with Diane Kochilas Greek Cooking Vacation
The leading provider of cooking vacations since 1994

Culinary Secrets to a Longer Life with Diane Kochilas
Armenistis, Ikaria

Next > < Previous

About the location: the island of Ikaria is one of the world's famed "Blue Zones," a small handful of locations around the world where scientists have discovered the inhabitants live measurably longer lives. The secret to the longevity of the inhabitants is usually attributed to, quite frankly, what we would call "the good life": fresh, seasonal food, moderate exercise, and strong family living. Ikaria is a place of relaxation and stress-free living, where the therapeutic thermal baths, the miles of beaches, the fresh air and sunshine, all combine to create a paradise on earth sure to leave you happy and invigorated (although we can't promise your trip will actually make you live longer!).

About the accommodations: Your stay in Ikaria will be at the Erofyli Beach Hotel in Armenistis, just a few minutes from your hosts' home. Armenistis is an enchanting fishermen's village boasting two of the loveliest beaches of the Aegean Sea, as well as shops, cafes, and taverns. The hotel aims for a Greek aesthetic and sustainable construction featuring Ikarian stone and wood. The rooms feature traditional island furniture, air conditioning, and breathtaking sea views.

Chef Diane Kochilas About the cooking courses: For a handful of weeks each year, Diane Kochilas, award-winning chef, cookbook author, and TV personality, and her husband and partner Vassilis Stenos open their country home on the island of Ikaria in the ancient village of Aghios Dimitris to those wanting to learn the secrets of "Blue Zone" living and the mysteries of Greek cuisine. Greek by heritage, New Yorker by birth, Diane is one of the foremost authorities on Greek cuisine, is host of the Greek TV show "What's Cooking Today, Mom?," and has appeared as a guest on numerous TV news and cooking shows. She and Vassilis will impart the magic of Ikaria—its food, life, and longevity—as you explore  the amazingly fresh, seasonal ingredients of this beautiful Greek island. From the herbs and wild plants, which you will learn about and gather with a knowledgeable guide, to the wine, which Odysseus himself is said to have drunk, it will be one delectable meal after another. Your daily hands-on cooking courses will cover a variety of dishes, from appetizers (including homemade phyllo) to main courses (much of it focusing on fresh seafood and fish) to dessert. The classes will be bolstered by amazing food artisan visits focusing on the local cheese, honey, and wine. All in all, it will be a week of unforgettable memories in one of the most stress-free and picturesque places in Europe.

Culinary Secrets to a Longer Life with Diane Kochilas Itinerary

Day 1

Please note that this is a sample itinerary, subject to change based on season. Please keep in mind also that particularly in the off season Ikaria is not accessible by daily flights or ferries. We recommend you plan to arrive a day or two early and leave a day on the departure to make any connection in Athens.

  • Arrival and settle in to your room.
  • Time to explore this amazing island on your own, or to relax on the beach.
  • Welcome dinner with your hosts, Diane and Vasilis.
  • Transfer back to your hotel and overnight.

Day 2

  • Breakfast, and transfer at 8:30 am for your first cooking class. A sample menu might include:
    • Tender lettuce salad with herbs and green almonds
    • Dolmadas
    • Giant beans with herbs and honey
    • Stuffed eggplant
  • Lunch to follow, and return to your hotel around 1:30 pm.
  • Free time this afternoon .
  • “Olive oil for dessert” demonstration, followed by dinner out at a local Taverna.
  • Transfer back to your hotel and overnight.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • Next, a cheese experience, from milking goat to making the cheese.
  • Enjoy a nature walk learning about and foraging for wild herbs and other ingredients, including a lesson on folk pharmacopoeia.
  • Next, time to cook together, focussing on “Land, Sea, and the Seasons.”
  • Lunch to follow.
  • Rest of day on your own. (There is also an optional sunset Yoga class.)
  • Overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast and either a free day or choose one of the optional excursion:
    • A day at the hot springs
    • Hiking the mountain trains
  • Around 6:30, head back to the kitchen to prepare your dinner with Diane. The class will feature herbs for a fast and healthy meal.
  • Overnight.

Day 5

  • Breakfast and your next cooking class featuring “fearless phyllo” and traditional grains.
  • Lunch to follow.
  • Free time this afternoon.
  • Around 7:15 pm off to visit a local monastery, followed by a lovely farmhouse dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 6

  • Breakfast and pickup at 8:30 am for a visit with a local beekeeper. Travel to the forested interior of Ikaria to see one of the island’s most accomplished bee keepers in action, and taste some of the wonderful honey.
  • Transfer back to the hotel with the rest of the afternoon free for exploring or relaxing. You might have a snack for lunch while you’re out, or lunch on your own during your free time.
  • Pickup at 6:00 pm and transfer to your hosts’ home for your farewell dinner. The menu might include:
    • Ikarian fish soup with trahana
    • Grilled octopus
    • Katsikaki riganato
    • Your hostess’s special roasted potatoes
    • Garden salad
    • Galaktoboureko
  • Transfer back to the hotel and overnight.

Day 7

  • Breakfast and departure.