If you are in Athens and looking to eat authentic and traditional Greek dishes, which taste like Yiayia’s food, Palia Fava is the place to go! Owner and self-taught chef Dina Harisi has become very well known and much loved by locals and tourists who visit her popular Athenian tavern to try the fresh and flavoursome food, made from Dina herself with love!
“I started cooking as an inner need to express through my recipes all my thoughts and feelings,” says Dina, who has become famous across Greece for her traditional recipes.
I chatted with Dina for a while on the phone and she sounded exactly as I imagined her to be- like my Greek mum or yiayia. She loves food, cooking and above all she wants to keep her customers happy; which is evident when you see the portions served at Palia Fava.
“I guess this is why people keep coming back time and time again. Besides the friendly atmosphere of my tavern, dishes are served generously; portions are big and they are very good value. We understand how financially difficult things are at the moment and we want to please our customers.”
Kyria Dina is originally from Poros, the beautiful little island of the Argosaronikos complex and she moved to Athens in 2005. She is self-taught and according to Dina, “I also learned a lot from an old Constantinople chef. So, if I have to describe my cooking style, I would say that I cook Greek with Constantinople touches.”
Her dishes are so well received because prepares them with love. “What we feel is what shows in the end product, isn’t that right?”
The most popular dish is Dina’s ‘dolmades’, vine leaf parcels stuffed with minced meat and rice or rice and various herbs and of course, the ‘arnaki’, the local lamb.
“You know, koritsi mou (Greek for ‘my girl’; a cute way of showing warmth), you don’t need to be a master when your ingredients are good. Quality is the most important thing. If your ingredients are of high quality, then success follows.”
Kyria Dina tells me that she is in charge of all the cooking in the tavern and like most Greek mums and grandmothers, they don’t want anyone one around them in their kitchen when they cook. “I only have a girl to help me a bit with carrying the heavy casseroles, I am getting old, so I also try to explain to her a few things, to learn. What will happen if I am not around anymore? Someone needs to continue the tradition.”
It’s worth mentioning that after each meal and depending on the season, Kyria Dina always treats customers with light and homemade (of course) desserts including ice-cream, yogurt with spoon sweets and pannacotta.
When I told Kyria Dina that this article will be published in Greek City Times, an international news and lifestyle site, besides feeling happy that she will ‘travel’ all the way across the world, she also said “you know, when foreign travelers come to Greece, we need to treat them with Greek food. That’s what they want to taste, right? They don’t want to eat what they can eat every day back home. Good local food is part of the hospitality. And Greek ingredients are truly the best.”
“Thank you, Koritsi mou, and when you come back to Athens, come and visit me,” concluded Kyria Dina.
Of course, I will! How could I not? One of the challenges of expat life is missing homemade Greek traditional food. So, that’s a promise!
A: Achaion 38, Palaión Fáliron, Attiki