A little bit of Paris: chocolateries in Athens January 17 2016
Though the likes of Paris and Brussels may be the first places that spring to mind at the mention of chocolate, Athens certainly has its share of chocolateries. These are some of our favorites…
In 1841, next to his printing shop in Aiolou Street, Spyro Pavlidis opened a small confectionery shop, soon to become famous and a meeting place in Athens. In 1861, Pavlidis introduced the first chocolate bar in Greece, named Hygeia’s Bitter the product proved to be a great success. The recipe and packaging design of this iconic chocolate remained unchanged from the day of its launch until 2010 when the new convenient re-sealable pack was introduced. In the 1870’s, Pavlidis opened the doors of the first chocolate factory in Greece, and one of the first in Europe, transforming his small family business into a large-scale manufacturer. The factory is still standing on Piraeus Streets in Athens just a kilometer away from the Acropolis. By the time the company was acquired by Kraft Foods in 1988 it was, alongside Ion, the largest commercial producers of chocolate in Greece. The old confectionery shop on Aiolou Street was shut down, but just across the street stands the Church of Chrysospiliotisa (Our Lady of the Golden Cavern); Spyro Pavlidis was one of the major donors for the construction of this parish church, which makes it the church that chocolate built.
The Aristokratikon chocolate tradition began 88 years ago when Panayiotis Karras, moved to Athens from Epirus in northern Greece to invest his enterprising genius in his chocolate dream. Karras scoured the country to find the finest marzipan, fruits, nuts, and other ingredients with which to make his confectionery. After years of experimenting, he skillfully blended these ingredients into his now famous recipes. Today the Aristokratikon workshops in Athens, at the foot of Lycabettus hill, make confectionary products using these original recipes, which have been handed down from father to son. This is where Maria Callas used to buy pistachio clusters, while Jackie Kennedy-Onassis had a weakness for rose scented Turkish delights, and Grace Kelly had a preference for caramel coated peanuts. Queen Sofia of Spain always pays a visit to Aristokratikon when in town to get her favorite dark chocolate mint thins.
The Dark Side of Chocolate
Meanwhile, The Dark Side of Chocolate (Perhaps the smallest café – chocolaterie in Athens) has been a fabulous new addition to our city’s exploding coffee/chocolate scene. Using bold flavors (lime, rosemary, basil, allspice, cardamom) and diverse textures for his chocolates, chocolatier Aristotle Panagiotaros is equally known for his wicked hot chocolate. Beware: The chocolate aroma when you enter the store might knock you over!
7, Voulis Street; 00302103234373; http://www.aristokratikon.com
The dark side of chocolate
49, Solonos Street, 00302103392348
Written by: Nicolas Nicolaides
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