Staying or living on a Greek island means al fresco dining, any time of day, in all seasons except when it’s really wintry. Here’s my Syros scrambled eggs and salad recipes made simply using fresh, local ingredients and whatever we could find in the fridge for brunch. We did pop out to get fresh bread from the local bakery. In Greece, this is a must! It all tasted seriously good, sitting outdoors in the sun. Even if you’re staying in the most basic of amenities on the Aegean island, all you need is a frypan then a nice place to sit.
My friend Janet has a lovely traditional home overlooking the sea on Syros, which is a magnet for company and good times. The island is about four hours by ferry from Piraeus, or 74 nautical miles southeast of Athens. It has a sizeable expat population but isn’t known for mass tourism. Syros is mountainous and windswept. The colour of dust dominates in summer, punctuated by white houses cascading down the hillsides. It has many small sheltered bays on the south side, azure water sparkling. Perfect for swimming.
Syros scrambled eggs and salad recipes
6 free range eggs
2 tblsp Greek olive oil
1/2 tsp ground rock salt
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh Mediterranean parsley
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh dill
twist of back pepper
1 tblsp fresh cream
2 tblsp cold water
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add cream, water, seasoning and fresh herbs. Heat a heavy-bottomed frypan, add the oil and when it’s almost smoking hot, pour in the eggs and immediately reduce the heat. Cook slowly and only stir the eggs occasionally and carefully with a wooden spoon. None of this vigorous stir-the-crap out of them or you’ll end up with shoe leather. Cook until the eggs are your preferred level of done-ness. I prefer them moist. Flavours are better and the texture delicately soft rather than spongy.
4 perfectly ripe summer tomatoes cut into chunks
2 small cucumbers, partially peeled and sliced
1 small red onion sliced into rings and then halved
1 banana sweet chilli pepper sliced
1/2 green capsicum thinly sliced and cut into pieces
1 tsp dried oregano
8 Kalamata olives
A few capers (optional)
Salt to taste
Small dash of red wine vinegar
Generous glug of Greek virgin olive oil
Combine all the vegetables in a salad bowl, season, then add the vinegar and oil. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top and lastly add the olives and capers if you wish. Mix – but don’t over mix or you’ll mush the tomatoes. And here’s a tip: Don’t store ripe tomatoes in the fridge. It kills their gorgeous flavour.
Serve the Syros scrambled eggs and salad with generous amounts of crusty, freshly baked Greek bread, a twist of black pepper, a bottle of firewater tsipouro and chilled water. Other ingredients you need: Sunshine with salty sea air, good company and time to relax on the beach afterwards. Kali orexi!
Checklist for Syros:
- Local cuisine varies from traditional ubiquitous Greek to influences from the south and east including Turkey. Syros island food specialties include parsley salad, caper salad, beef and zucchini omelette, semolina pie combining olive oil, water, sugar, sesame, cinnamon, almonds, flour, semolina
- Syros is 83.6 sq km
- Full time inhabitants number 21,500
- About four hours by ferry from Piraeus, and it’s a stop on the route to and from Santorini and Mykonos
- Ermoupoli (top picture) is the capital of the island and of the Cyclades. Known for imposing neo-classical and Venetian-influenced architecture, it is a lively place for eating and drinking
- Buses (very cheap!) and taxis are available, also cars and bikes for hire
- History of settlement on Syros goes back at least 5,000 years
- The main port used to be the crossroad between Europe and the east, with a large amount of commercial shipping traffic
- Some of the Venetian villas have been converted into boutique hotels
- Small hotels, beachside apartments and rooms to rent are common forms of accommodation
- Beaches are best on the sheltered southern side
- Please feed the stray animals. They need all the compassion you can spare.