My pasta-crazy nine-year-old, Ripley, is chuffed his favourite food isn’t just found in Italy. Pasta in Greece, we discover, known as zymarika, takes many different forms, from small shapes in soup to fat tubes.
In the homely kitchen of a stone house overlooking Navarino Bay, Ripley teases the pasta he’s just made into a pizza-like sheet that he lays out flat in one of the bedrooms. When it’s ‘had a rest’, he and I tear it into strips. The end result, sprinkled with grated local cheese and cinnamon, is shared with the local women who’ve taught us to cook this and other dishes: fritters, kayanas (dried pork with eggs and tomatoes), pickled aubergines, and a dessert of baked milk.
The cookery lesson is the highlight of our stay at The Westin Resort Costa Navarino. There’s an incredible range of facilities, with kids’ clubs (four months to 12 years old) offering activities such as pottery lessons and olive-wreath making. After a bike ride through the surrounding villages and a hike to the sand dunes of Voidokilia Beach, Ripley’s sore limbs are thankful for one of the resort spa’s thoughtful selection of junior massage treatments.sou
Then it’s off to the on-site Natura Hall, with its interactive gizmos, to learn about local wildlife. Aside from an excursion to nearby Pylos and some splash time in the resort’s water park, we spend most of our time eating — Costa Navarino has a huge choice of restaurants, including an outdoor souvlakerie, serving heavenly grilled meats. Our favourite is the Barbouni beach bar, overlooking the resort’s golden sands, where we feast on fresh seafood. Enjoying our last lunch here before heading home, we watch the waves pounding the shore of our new-found little piece of paradise.
Best for: Ages 6-12.
Highs: “The best bit was rolling out the pasta with Mum.” Ripley, nine.
How to do it: A family suite for two adults and three children at The Westin Resort Costa Navarino starts at €290 (£240 per night), with two children under-12 staying for free. Cookery lessons are from €55 (£45) per person. westincostanavarino.com
If you liked this… try these
Crete: At the Grecoland Club in the Creta Palace hotel, kids can learn to cook, as well as turn ‘farmer for a day’ at a local organic farm, picking vegetables, making dough and baking. Family Bungalow from £2,467 for seven nights. grecotel.com
Sicily: Stay at the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort and you can have private lessons in pasta-making. Rooms from £253 per night. roccofortehotels.com
Published in the Summer 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller Family (UK)