Mr Manning isn’t one to sit still – not even on holiday. So after a few days of sunning ourselves he’s usually started the search for places to go and things to do. Lucky for me, this includes eateries! Even more lucky for me, he hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve already written about one of his finds in Corfu, Boukari Beach restaurant, and a few days later he led me, little sis’ Claire and her partner Dave to another fabulous find. We were staying in a resort in the south of Corfu called Agios Georgios, or Saint George (South – there’s a north too), which sits between the sea and a huge lake, Lake Korission. We knew the lake was there, hidden behind the sand dunes, and Claire and Dave had even explored it on their previous visits to St George. But what we didn’t know was at the other end of the huge expanse of water lies a unique place.
Bioporos is a seven-acre farm that sits on a hill overlooking the lake and the sea beyond. As you arrive, you feel like you’ve just stumbled into someone’s private home but it’s actually a burgeoning business, marketed as ‘rural tourism’. Owners Kostas and Agathi and their children grow olives and vegetables, as well as keeping horses, sheep, chickens, and bees, and in a kind of ‘Good Life’ existence, make olive oil, wine, and honey – all organic. Agathi cooks all their produce up into amazingly traditional Greek food, and if you really want to embrace this magical place, you can even stay in one of two two-storey villas, enjoying an escape from everything and immersing yourself in this traditional life.
We didn’t actually know half of this as we arrived. We just knew that there was a little restaurant overlooking the lake that had had some pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor. We trundled down what seemed like miles and miles of bumpy track on our trusty quad bike and scooter until we came to a bit of a ramshackle gate leading into a yard packed with historic tools and equipment. Only small ‘Bioporos’ and ‘open’ signs gave any hint that we were in the right place. And then we met Agathi. From the minute we met her, we were welcomed onto an impressive terrace overlooking the expansive farm, the lake beyond, and even the sea. It felt more like a safari lodge than a Greek farm, and proved as fascinating for the next few hours.
This, my friends, was a food bloggers dream. When we asked about getting some lunch, no menu was produced. Instead Agathi ushered us into her kitchen, her ‘kingdom’ as she called it. Here she showed us what she’d cooked that day. And an impressive array it was. Organic beef with beans; traditional Greek cheese pie; a huge tray of roasted vegetables; stuffed mackerel fillets; something called Kolokithopita, a sort of pie made of pumpkin, courgette and filo pastry; and aubergine cooked with tomato, onions and potatoes. That’s before you get to the homemade organic bread.
There’s times writing this blog that I wish I was better with words (should be kind of a percursor to having a blog shouldn’t it?) because I can’t quite explain what an amazing experience it is to choose your food this way. No waiters, no swanky menus, no anglicised versions of anything. Just a Greek mum showing us what she cooked, in her words: “the kind of food we eat at home, not the food you get in restaurants”.
The only downside to this marvellous experience is when you’re four people who were looking for just a ‘light lunch’, it’s pretty hard to say no to such an array of great food. We managed to exercise a tiny bit of control, though only just with Agathi eagerly pointing out which dishes we might like (yep, all of them. It’s like she knew us already!). So as we sat on the terrace looking out over olive groves and the nature reserve that wraps around the lake, we tucked into a meal unlike anything else we had in Corfu, and in fact unlike anything I’ve ever had in Greece.
The bread, which came with Bioporos’ own olive oil, was unleavened so slightly tougher than I’d become used to but was tasty all the same. Tzatziki was creamy and sweet and fresh tasting. I loved the roasted vegetables with all their mediterranean sweetness released by the cooking. The pies were something I hadn’t tried. The cheese pie was rich and salty, and the Kolokithopita was squishy and moist, packed with vegetables and cheese.
But amid all this weird and wonderful food, it was the Greek salad that stole the show. It contained some of the tastiest cucumber and tomato I’ve had, coated in an array of homegrown herbs including oregano and spearmint. The feta on it was certainly a bit special and apparently made up of 70% sheep’s milk and 30% goat’s milk – and produced entirely organically, not by the Bioporos guys, but a friend of theirs. It was smooth, creamy, and nearly caused a fight as we dug through the salad for it. The whole meal was washed down with homemade lemonade, with or without sugar according to your own taste.
After lunch, Agathi eagerly told us about everything they do at Bioporos. Her husband Kostas’ kingdom is the olives, there are vegetable patches down by the shore of the lake, where they grow loads of vegetables, and the bees are her son’s domain. She showed us her herbs growing in pots on the terrace, the resident cats and their kittens, and then encouraged us to wander through the olive groves down to the lake.
Thus ensued a bit of a Famous Five (we took the Bioporos dog with us) adventure through the grounds, meeting their animals, discovering slightly scary bugs, and generally behaving like kids. I’ve no doubt in England there would have been a thousand health and safety concerns about letting random tourists traipse through your farmland, but not here. We were left to fend for ourselves as we rediscovered our childhood petting kitchens, dodging spiders as they spun their webs across the path, and catching grasshoppers. Not very often you get to do that as a 30-something year old!
We arrived back at the restaurant to be ushered back to our table by Agathi for what she said was a traditional Greek sweet – candied orange and lemon peel in their own organic honey. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I’ve got a pretty sweet tooth and enjoyed it.
After that, we were taken on a quick whistle-stop tour of the two villas you can stay in (and very nice they are too) and bought ourselves some jars of their fabulous honey, before reluctantly saying our goodbyes to go back to St George. As you know, we ate out at plenty of great restaurants in Corfu, and tried plenty of Greek food, but this was far more than a restaurant. This is a whole experience unlike anything else you’re likely to experience.
Bioporos is a little gem, doing something that I haven’t seen many places do during our little jaunts to Greece, but I can see why people had raved about it on Trip Advisor. I admit, it might not be for everyone – swanky it is not – but if you’re looking for a taste of tradition, and the warmth of a family-run business, you can’t go wrong here. It’s definitely worth a visit, if only to rediscover your sense of exploration and eat some dishes you might not find anywhere else.
We paid for everything at Bioporos and they didn’t know I was a blogger. As usual, these are my honest thoughts and opinions.