It’s hard to know where to start in describing the experience we had with Maria. To put it simply, we had
an incredible, activity packed, 17 day honeymoon in the Greek Islands and my husband and I unanimously agreed that our dinner with Maria and her husband, Nikos was the highlight of our entire trip. If you are the type of traveler who likes to learn something about the people, the history, and the culture of the place where you re vacationing, and someone who loves food, I cannot recommend this experience more. It was my birthday and my husband wanted to set up something special as a surprise. I was dressed and ready for dinner at a restaurant when Maria pulled up in her car to pick us up. I had no idea where we were going or what to expect. She drove us to her house, chatting along the way about who we were, what brought us to Syros, etc. Their house is adorable and the table was set up outside on their terrace, which was lovely and quaint with views of the water (a very romantic setting). What really struck me immediately about Maria was her passion for food and not just for the act of cooking, but the ingredients, the history and culture, the medicinal properties of certain herbs she incorporated, etc. This woman knows food and the way she explained everything to us in detail made the food (which was mind blowingly delicious) that much more special. With each course, Maria explained where the ingredients came from (almost everything was native to Syros), why she made it the way that she did, and often what the history behind the dish was and why it was important to Greek culture. We learned so much! Between courses, Maria and her husband disappeared into their kitchen as they prepared the next round of food, which made for this really nice balance between a romantic and intimate experience for my husband and I and an informative, intellectually stimulating food class.
The main course was a veal dish that we learned was an ancient recipe that had originally been found on the wall of a cave dwelling and yet was still prepared by Greeks today–it was delectable. The evening ended with a chocolate souffle cake complete with candles that Maria made to celebrate my birthday. As if that wasn’t enough, she also presented me with a gift–a special facial oil to use at night that repairs and rejuvenates the skin (it’s amazing..I’ ve been using it ever since!). The cherry on top of the perfect dinner was that Maria and Nikos sat with us at the end and we had an amazing conversation about life, current events, cultural differences between the US and Greece, travel, etc etc. We so enjoyed getting to know them and felt like we were friends who had been invited over for dinner. The feeling we had when Maria dropped us off that evening was something like that feeling you get when you’ve just discovered this amazing secret that you know most others will never know about or have the opportunity to experience and you’re just so thankful that you were lucky enough to somehow be let in on the secret. I’m writing this review so that YOU can be let in on the secret. If you re in Syros, please do yourself a favor and go spend some time with Maria and Nikos. You will learn so much and you will leave feeling more knowledgeable about the amazing island of Syros, the people who call it home, and the food grown/raised there. We can only hope we will someday be lucky enough to find ourselves back in the company of Maria and Nikos, enjoying another incredible meal. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.Hillary Freya
We had a fantastic day cooking with Maria Krina on Syros. She picked up my wife, myself, our daughter and her husband at our hotel and we drove to gardens near her home to “forage” and collect tomatoes, peppers, fennel, rosemary and other vegetables and herbs. Everything was organic and grown by Maria and friends of hers. Then at her lovely home on a beautiful beach we chopped, talked, cooked, talked some more, and ate a bountiful meal. Even more, Maria shared her vast knowledge of not only local Greek cooking, but also the medicinal importance of the herbs we had picked and were cooking with. It was a marvelous day for our family.Rbsunny Umpa
FOCUSING ON THE FOOD AND NOT ON THE EGO OF THE CHEF
Because we are entering the new culinary season and our eyes will see many new things and many our palate will taste, I am sitting and “koutalometro”(counting using a tea spoon) as my grandmother would say the emerging summer memories. The sweetest and strongest was that of the cook at the restaurant MAZI in Syros. I’ve been noticing her for two full days, I felt her temperate walking as she was carrying alone the shopping for the everyday cooking. After I tasted her food, meaningful, substantive, soaked with scents of the Cyclades. Many dishes acrobat on a dangerous balance in putting together strange materials, but while swallowing the last bite you know that the finale is magically completely successful. Note her name, she is called MARIA KRINA and whatever she touches reflects the enthralling scintillating energy of the person who feeds people with the distinctive passion for food and not with one’s ego. I am writing this as we enter into the new culinary season and there is great risk to savor again food focusing on the ego of the chef! And that in other times might have been exciting but now it is not the “substance” of the times we live in …Mirsini LambrakiA critic from Mirsini Lambraki, chef and author of cullinary books
We spent an incredible day with Maria – she has a wealth of knowledge to share about Greek cooking and traditions, how to forage for and use herbs and spices in cooking as well as for health and well-being, and for being so generous and kind in all she does. The experience that Maria offers is truly one of a kind, leaving you with a greater knowledge, passion and respect for food and cooking, and that simple, quality ingredients cooked with love and care are the most nourishing for body, mind and soul. It was a highlight of our trip to the Greek Islands. We cannot thank Maria and her wonderful helper Eleni enough for such an amazing dayMorgan & Leona
Abbiamo trascorso una giornata bellissima in compagnia di Maria, che con disponibilità , passione, semplicità , competenza e simpatia, ha condiviso con noi le sue grandi conoscenze della natura circostante e ci ha guidati nella preparazione di un pranzo eccellente e genuino. E’ stata molto di più di una " lezione " di cucina … E’ stata una “lezione ” di vita … una esperienza che consigliamo a tutti di donarsi ! Per noi sarà fra i ricordi più belli e preziosi di questo nostro soggiorno a Syros! Grazie ancora a Maria per aver reso possibile tutto questo.Giuseppe G
Simply-put, this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. First of all, the setting is gorgeous, tucked away in nature with beautiful views and beautiful art. Instant peace. Maria has so much culinary knowledge, experience, and a deep appreciation and respect for all kinds of Greek ingredients, so it was a fascinating opportunity to try local, organic ingredients (which include but extend way beyond the staples) and learn about their healing properties. This was more than a cooking class, but the cooking portion was unique and so much fun, and savoring each component was an eye-opening experience. Enjoying dinner with Maria and Niko was wonderful – they’re kind, fascinating, inspiring people. I was traveling solo, but they made me feel like I was spending an afternoon with family. This was the highlight of my time in Greece, and I look forward to seeing them again in the future.Desiree B
Spent a wonderful late morning and afternoon preparing and eating brunch with Maria in mid-August 2019. She picked us up at our cruise ship (4 adults). We foraged through a field next to her home. Since it was late summer our foraging was limited to sage, lentil, several seed spices and some leafy greens in a neighbor’s watered garden. She supplemented with local produce. Our aproned group of 4 diced, sliced and chopped various ingredients, except for smashing the Greek potatoes. After an hour or so, we sat down at the table in her home and had an enjoyable meal. Maria was previously a chef for 20 years and has taught Greek cooking.Ralph A
Meeting Maria was one of the best experiences of my trip. I am a chef in Australia and teach cooking classes myself, but spending time with Maria really opened my eyes to a lot of new ideas about food I’d never thought about before. She has great knowledge about edible weeds in Syros and their uses, the class and meal was so interesting it flew by. I would strongly recommend going to see Maria if you have time, I went to Syros exclusively to take a class by her and I’m so happy I did.Ella M
“Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!” [a quote from a British poet….]
Below is a little review of our day with you in case this – or any part of it – should be useful in any way:
Gathering wild plants and learning to cook with them in Maria’s island kitchen was a magical and unforgettable experience. There is something satisfying and wholesome about this approach to the land and to cooking. It nourishes the soul as well as the body, and teaches respect for the land.
Maria is a knowledgeable and delightful guide who has a relaxed and easy approach. We scrambled over rocks to the sound of the sea in the tiny cove near her home, gathering sea fennel, and foraged on the hillside for wild carrot, thyme, capers, and many more herbs and seeds. We then returned to her kitchen, where we drank an infusion of wild herbs to refresh us, before we began chopping and preparing our lunch, using the wild food we had gathered together with other ingredients. I was particularly taken with Maria’s use of infusions to cook grains.
The food was utterly delicious. Maria is, I think, rather special….
Thank you and hope to spend another wonderful day in the future on the hill and in the kitchen with you!Rupert and Laura
The four of us thoroughly enjoyed our day with Maria who is knowledgeable, an experienced cook, a great teacher and a fascinating person. We foraged and cooked and ate and talked and learnt and discussed and laughed and shared. This is a delightful experience on so many levels. If you’re considering booking this experience, consider no longer, just do it. There are not enough words to describe this extraordinary woman and her wonderfully wholistic approach to life. Enjoy!OhiwaJo
My first experience of Maria’s seminars was when I attended a hands-on workshop on making salads using local wild greens, plants, herbs and edible flowers. Even if I consider myself an experienced cook always researching on anything food-related, I was surprised about the new things I learned and unexpected ways to use already known ingredients. Since then I attended several other workshops and seminars, focused on the use of herbs and spices, cereals, food combinations and local cuisine.
My knowledge has significantly expanded and deepened, and my perspective has changed, and for that I will always be grateful. Maria’s vast knowledge of herbs and their qualities, along with her big experience as a chef specializing on the regional cuisine of the Cyclades, make her seminars unique for health-conscious foodies who wish to get an insight on the Cycladic culinary tradition. What’s more, her personality, gift for teaching, love for what she does and desire to share it with others, make her classes a pure delight. Highly recommended!Elisa
My husband and I had a wonderful time foraging and cooking with Maria—it was one of the best experiences we had in Syros. We enjoyed learning about the local ingredients around her home, and even more when we turned them into creative dishes. I’m a vegetarian and everything we made was perfect for me and absolutely delicious. The highlight was eating the meal together and talking about Syros and Maria’s life and experiences. If you're looking for a cooking class on Syros, definitely recommend!Adrian Granzella
Maria is both an excellent cook, having had her own restaurant for many years, and an experienced nutritionist. She is also extremely knowledgeable about wild greens, flowers and herbs and their uses in cooking and natural medicine. This makes for an experience which is both gastronomically and intellectually stimulating. On top of this Maria is a very warm, gentle but enthusiastic person to be with. She is also highly professional and committed. Her home, which she shares with her lovely partner Nikos, who is a painter and teacher, is the ground floor of a two-storey house. It is situated in an olive grove and looks south over the sea to the other Cycladic islands. It is a modest, functional home with nothing fancy about its interior decoration. As for the food, the tastes are fresh, varied and often unexpected. It is outside the mainstream of Greek food. There is something inspiring and exhilarating about the simplicity and easy availability (all gathered within 200 yards of the house) of the ingredients and the complexity of the palate. It also looks beautiful on the plate. But probably the best thing of all was Maria sharing her historical and scientific knowledge about the plants we were gathering and eating, which often went beyond the actual food we were preparing. This added an extra layer of pleasure to the experience.Rupert, Traveling Spoon Ambassador
My girlfriend and I had a great day with Maria. She gave us her knowledge of the kitchen in a detailed and yet simple manner. It wasn't just about the technical aspects of cooking, but also about the love and devotion to fresh products. Cooking is an emotional matter and Maria conveyed that very nicely. I think it's important that we know what we eat and how we eat. If you take your time, eating can contribute a lot to our wellbeing. I thought that were the most important lessons Maria could give us (and delicious recipes, of course). Also that we pay more attention to what grows in our garden and what you can do with the different plants (apart from eating). After we had prepared the food there was a cozy get-together with a beautiful view on your terrace. Maria and her husband were great to talk to and not only share wisdom about food. It was a successful day like with friends. We would like to thank both of them for this. I hope to meet again. (translated by Google)82ruig
It was a wonderful culinary experience with Maria. Above and beyond attending a “cooking class”. Maria was knowledgable about the food and the nutritional value of it. Created a new perspective for cooking for me.Sundy G