Santorini has many things going for it. 

But until we went to Katina, I wouldn’t have counted the food as one of them.


There was plenty of sturdy bread and thick yogurt. There were slices of tomatoes – some of which were properly ripe. 

There were puddles of blitzed eggplant and scads of fava- a thick and cold slurry of yellow split peas. 


But I couldn’t place my hands om the spanking fresh fish, grilled octopus and calimari I’d been dreaming of since I booked the flights.


That was until we went to Ammoudi. 



Ammoudi is the fishing village that sits 214 steps below the town of Oia. 
 
You can get down to Ammoudi by stairs, on the back of a donkey, or by driving down the steep road that curls around the side. 

It’s really just a smattering of tavernas nudging up to boats bobbing in water so clear you’d swear it was glass.


Katina’s was where we were told to go. It was sound advice.

It’s is a 60 year old, family owned restaurant. It’s a simple space smack up against the clear water (no children’s rails over here). There are bright orange wooden chairs and square white tables covered in flimsy paper maps of the islands. I’d worried about going in the heat of the day, but it was perfect. There’s respite from the summer sun beneath a flat wooden roof and a light breeze whispers in from across the water.

The English of the staff is charming and fluent. The menus are laminated with translations from Greek. And the prices for the day are marked in pencil.

For us, to start there are hefty splats of a coarse fava and a tzatziki that brays with garlic and shredded cucumber.  Thick slices of soft white bread are one option to collect the dips.  You need to chase them around the plate and make ratio judgments carefully. Too little and it’s just a doughy mouthful of carbs. Too much and the bread will collapse under the heft, and you’re left looking down at a soggy muddle.

What you don’t want to miss are the tomato keftedes (listed on the English menu as fried melted tomatoes).

They’re made from Santorini cherry tomatoes. These little ones grow sweet under the intense sun on the black volcanic soil of the island. The outside  of these fritters are as crisp as a hash brown, with the batter going slightly brittle in some knobbly corners. The inside is gooey and pliant, a hot  tangle of smushed tomato and green herbs.

They’re the perfect foil for the tzatziki. Like hot days and cold swims, it’s everything you need from a Greek holiday.

Then it’s onto the fish. At Ammoudi it comes straight off the boats every morning. It’s priced by the kilo. If you go inside to the ‘office’ you can choose today’s catch, straight out off a bed off ice. 

The fish is weighed in front of you and the cost scribbled on a piece of paper. Asking to see it is not a bad move, as it can add up quickly- particularly if you plumped for one of the lobsters (80 euro a kilo).

For us, it’s an economical mass of charred calimari, curled like a tightened fist. From the few minutes it spent on the charcoal grill it’s inherited just the right balance of chew and pull.

It was so good that we go back for seconds. This time we pick a shiny 400 gram dorado that was brought in that morning. It was grilled simply with olive oil and salt. With it there’s a pitcher of dressing, made from olive oil and lemon juice.  The fish is ours to fillet and pick from the bones.

We make short work of all of it, including the sweetest bits in the cheeks. There’s some mild surprise from our waiter. “Wow. You really ate all of it”. Yes, yes we did.

Then it’s a Greek coffee and a wander around the rocks.  One of the other best things about Ammoudi is that if you follow the rock wall, after a 300 metre stroll and slight scramble over stones you’ll find one of the best swimming spots in Santorini.

The water is achingly clear. There are tiny silver fish darting about. You can swim out to the small island that you can see nestled under the sunset. There are dark rocks to lie on and steps thoughtfully carved so you can make your way in and out of the water safely.

And the only beings who will see you and your post lunch belly floating about in the water are in the exact same boat. Or  a donkey, who’s waiting to carry you back to the top of the hill.

This was the Greece I’d been dreaming of. I only wish we’d found it earlier.

Katina
Ammoudi Port,  
Oia 84702, Greece
tel: 22860-71280