The taverna of Klouvatos
Before entering into any details, one thing is important to know and that is that the road to Kinidaros village in Naxos was paved with asphalt only in 1993! Yes indeed, you “heard” that right, that late! The home to most musicians per capita, homeland of the famous Greek family of folk musicians, the Konitopouloi, remained isolated and poor for that long! Facing economic hardship on his island, Vasilis Klouvatos, originated from Kinidaros village, old enough by now, decided to take the long journey to America at the beginning of the 20th century and seek a better future there. Unfortunately, his plans did not work out the way he wanted. The 1929 crisis stood in his way and made Vasilis return back home to Kinidaros. In 1931 Vasilis opened a small coffee shack which also housed a butcher shop. As years went by, the son of Vasilis, Giorgos, people call him “Vasilarakios” (the word Vasilarakios means the son of Vasilis and follows the Naxiot pronunciation), separated the butcher shop from the small kafeneio, which little by little, became a taverna, the Taverna “Stou Vasilarakiou”.
As years went by, the asphalt road and the quarries producing the famous Naxiot white marble brought visitors and life back to the village. The taverna “Stou Vasilarakiou” underwent a small makeover without however losing anything from its old character or its true essence. There are two ways to enter the taverna either through its pergola entrance or through the butcher shop after following a long narrow corridor. This is the entrance that I used when I visited this place for the first time back in 2010 when I ate like a king for 15 euros only and tasted the savoury sweet tomatoes. I will never forget the most amazing coincidence that happened there when I returned back on a summer day two years later. People at the coffee house were watching a rerun of “Menoume Ellada” (Menoume Ellada, which means Living in Greece, is a daily television production, whose presenters visit different regions and villages of Greece in order to promote local culture). Out of pure chance, in this episode I was saying that it is in the villages’ coffee shack or taverna that you can taste delicious local cuisine. I named the taverna of Klouvatos as a vibrant example. You can’t image all the commotion that was caused when people realized that the person who was talking about the sweet tomatoes of Kinidaros was sitting right next to them and had just ordered the very same salad!
At the taverna “Stou Vasilarakiou” you will feast on the best meat of Naxos. There is plenty to enjoy, such as grilled -so hard to resist- lamb chops, sausages, salads with buttery xynomyzithra, sweet-tomatoes, a special type of tomato growing in the village, and certainty, gardoumia (the Naxian version of gardoumbakia) of such an unparallel taste, lamb liver, lamb kokoretsi (a traditional dish normally eaten on Easter Sunday; this offal dish is made with lamp offal, heart, liver, kidney, spleen, it’s a kind of large sausage usually roasted on a spit but sometimes oven-roasted). Kyra Maria (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), the wife of Giorgos, and Vasilis, their son, a generous young guy, make sure that you will get no less than savoury incredible dishes and good times in this beautiful joint found in the uplands of Naxos.