I’ve come to realize that, over the years, if I really love a place, then I’ll leave a bag of clothes there. Such is the case with the Cycladic island of Paros. A Paros native, and dear friend, Argiro Barbarigou, Greece’s top celebrity chef and restaurateur, had been encouraging me to visit her “paradise” as she referred to it as for many years. Her mother still lived on the island as did her sister, and they ran a small hotel with Argiro’s niece. Her sister’s husband has an organic farm and, “My mother will cook for you,” was all she had to say. I was ready. Bag packed. Argiro’s first Papadakis restaurant was on Paros in the charming town of Naousa, before she moved it to Athens in the mid two-thousands. What was meant to be two days turned into two weeks and I returned to Athens bag-less, clothes left behind for my next visit.
STAY: Hotel Papadakis. Make sure to get up before 10:30 so you can enjoy breakfast prepared by Argiro’s mother. I love her scrambled eggs and fresh, organic tomato from the family farm, and while I’m not a big dairy fan, ask for the cheese that Costas makes, Argiro’s brother-in-law. Her mother will not let you leave without having at least one slice of cake or a pile of cookies. Be prepared. hotel-papadakis.gr
EAT: Mediterraneo, Paros, Naousa. Ask for Petros, the owner, and get my standing order, house wine, plus whatever fish was caught that day. I also love Mario’s, which is Argiro’s former Papadakis space. Ask for Mario and order the prawn appetizer and the grilled vegetables. Other fave restos are SiParos on the road to Santa Maria, To Sixty a fab little taverna just across the road from Santa Maria (don’t miss the oven baked aubergine), Semeli in Naousa for dinner and Little Green Rocket in Paroikia (for the latter, call the guys ahead and ensure they have the noodles.