Underneath a clear blue sky in Alimos Marina, two travellers Michael Tucker of Italy Magazine and his wonderful partner Amy Lubell emerged from slumber to a platter of seasonal fruits adorned with pistachios and hazelnuts. A bowl of muesli was prepared to accompany the platter and encouraged was a drizzle of honey with a large dollop of Greek yogurt as to salute the rich culture we were about to immerse.
The Sailing Collective flag was hoisted high for the first time that day and we headed Southwest of the marina to the island of Aegina, better known as Pistachio Island. Anchoring just outside Aegina town, guests were delivered to shore for solo exploration whilst the crew sunk into the market life of a mostly sleeping town. With direction from Captain Dayyan, we walked along ancient corridors and polished pathways where children played in the streets followed by the nonchalant eyes of their grandparents. We discovered multiple boutiques wedged side by side full of fishing paraphernalia, toy deadstock and a variety of souvenirs. Stumbling upon a grand display of treats wrapped in cellophane, a bright green and burgundy doorway ushered us inside. MOYPTZHE is a family sweets shop filled with fascinating Pistachio desserts, savoury snacks, Greek coffee, Grecian spices and delectable candied fruit. With the same excitement of kids in a candy shop, we greedily took samples of each for decision-making was simply impossible. Fumbling with jars, packages and boxes when we left the shop, our eyes shot across the way to a mini fish market. The market wasn’t full but it had the best of the sea that day and I was thrilled. There were never a fish I’d seen so proud to have been caught. Slippery, taught and frozen only in a state of rigor mortis, the fish lay on crushed ice and never more than 5 of each kind. I was delighted to find such superior produce as the Saronic Gulf, endless in its turquoise water, is home to some of the Mediterranean’s most tasty, oily and supple fish. Fishing here is a pastime but also a source of living and it was clear to see the kind of history dense in practice displayed in this seafood. I grabbed 2 handfuls of prawns, 2kg of mussels and 3 very smart looking Tsipouras (gilt-head Sea Bream) for the feast to come.
At sun down, we ate below deck and shared a family style meal of baked Tsipoura dressed with lemon olive oil, toasted hazelnuts, charred spring onion root and a pot of mussels steamed in white wine and roasted tomatoes. A parcel of feta baked in dill and oregano filled the salon with scents of the Saronic and by dinners end, our lips were oiled with proud fish, our teeth had crunched on crispy tails and our tongues slurped flavours of the sea. Day one epiphany: We are in Greece.