Full transparency: I’m not a foodie. I’m an adventure traveler. So when our JayWay tour guide said we were going to take a cooking class while traversing Macedonia, I was not thrilled. I anticipated boredom. I was wrong, very wrong.
We started out from our hotel on glorious Lake Ohrid where we’d spent the last couple of days. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is Macedonia’s foremost tourist attraction, and for good reason. Nestled into a wide crevice between the mountains of Albania and Macedonia, the sparkling green and blue lake is one of Europe’s oldest. The lake is encircled by a vibrant cobblestone downtown filled with shops, cafes, bars, and live music in the square.
The walls of the historic Samuel’s Fortress stand sentry and the stunning Church of St. John at Kaneo just a short walk away. While this Balkan lake is popular for weekends with Macedonians and other Europeans, it remains virtually undiscovered by Americans. It was hands-down my favorite spot in Macedonia and worthy of consideration alongside Macedonia’s other highlights.
Risto’s Guest House
A short drive through the mountainous countryside culminated at Risto’s Guest House where we were greeted by the formidable Anita. Although the establishment is named after her polite, soft-spoken husband, it was immediately clear that the barely five-foot female dynamo was in charge.
“I should change the name to Anita’s guest house!” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “I do all the work, he gets all the glory!”
Risto and Anita could not have chosen a more perfect spot for their homey restaurant and hands-on classes. The open-air terrace was filled with colorful plaid covered tables overlooking a breath-taking vista of the valley and lake below this little village.
“In the autumn we collect our grapes in the village with donkeys and make a long donkey train,” Anita told us, clearly proud of the small village with a large personality.
Read the rest of Cooking Authentic Macedonian Food at Lake Ohrid in Epicure and Culture magazine.