Koronos, located at just 30km away from Chora, is one of the most beautiful villages of Naxos. Built at 500 to 600m above sea level, nested inside a gorge with springs flowing throughout the year and a riotous vegetation of fruit, oil, walnut and plane trees, Koronos was home to more than 2,000 people at the beginning of the 20th century, days long gone by now. Koronos was one of the most important villages of Naxos due to its emery mines. At that time, emery was in great demand worldwide and its difficult extraction ensured a more than satisfactory income for mine workers.
Nowadays, the village is almost deserted with only a few residents left, emery is no longer in demand and most of the houses are securely locked in winter time. Hidden in the very heart of the village, next to the stone water fountain, the beautiful taverna of Matina and Stavros, housed in a fairy-tale scenery full of flowered plants, is a true oasis of life during both winter and summer.
Kyr Stavros (kyr, added before the name of an old men, is a way to salute or address him in a respectful way, informal word) grows his own vegetables, keeps his own farm and, it goes without saying that he also produces his own dairy products, such as xynotyro, arseniko, anthotyro cheeses, and his own wine from potamissi and rozaki local varieties.
Matina cooks many tempting and savoury dishes from one-pot dishes (braised pork with lemon juice, goat stew with tomato sauce, mousaka, vegetables’ stew, stuffed zucchini, etc.) to grilled delicacies on the charcoal lit in the evening. She is famous for her fried potatoes and the lamb stew with lemon sauce and dill. Her pies are also delicious; the local sweet chard pie called sefoukloti with white chard and fennel (sefoukloti is a transliteration of the world that Naxiots use for “seskoula”, Greek for chard), the zucchini pie with zucchini, spring onion and fennel (important note: fennel grows throughout the year in the little vegetable garden of kyr Stavros).
Wait! The best is yet to come! Her desert, the mille feuille a la Matina, is to die for.
Kyra Matina (kyra, added always before the name of an old married woman, is a way to address or salute her and translates to great respect before her, an informal word) has been married to kyr Stavros for thirty five years; they have three children together and two grandchildren. She is the soul of the taverna. She is always on the move making her presence felt in the entire taverna while she treats all her guests with a warm smile. I asked her how come she never gets tired and got an unexpected answer:
“Tired? From what? For 10 months we have no one to say hello to. We can’t wait for people to arrive here in the summer, give them our full attention and see them go happy and full”.