In the old city of Rethimnon on the island of Crete in Greece, in one of the narrow alleys there is in an inconspicuous entrance in a house. And this is a bakery. A bakery that still produces its own filo dough by hand. It is run by an old couple who seems to be doing this business for ages. It is impressive to see them still working at this age with such great care. When I think of filo, I am rather guessing that these days it is produced in a more industrial way similar to puff pastry.
When we went into their bakery, we stepped into a room without windows. The daylight came in through the open door. The couple was just in the process of uncovering the individual filo layers on a very large table, spreading some flour on top of each layer, then stapling it and cutting it into smaller sizes of approximately 50cm and putting it into cardboard boxes. The filo is then used for Baklava style sweets, which can be bought directly in the bakery.
The old couple (George and Kathryn Hadziparshos) has been featured in several papers, magazines and blogs, which are displayed in a folder to be explored by visitors. Still, it is not a tourist show when you watch them working. And they had been very gentle to us.
Again a craft which looks so marvelous and will probably bee hard to find at all in the future.
Update October 2017:
The old couple is still pursuing their craft. That is really amazing. Now they are also supported full time by their son and his children help as well from time to time. And the whole workshop has been renovated. All good news to keep me optimistic for their future.
When we were there on a rainy October day, they were not producing filo dough as the high humidity would have not allowed it to become dry. So they were focusing on working on the threads for the Kataifi pastry. They claim to be the last ones in Greece to produce the threads in a non automated way. After a long pleasant chat we bought some Kataifi and Baklava and it was definitely worth it, it tasted so much better than the other ones we have tried over time.
Go visit them, buy some pastry and your kids will still be able to see such a fine craft being preserved.
Their address: M. Vernadou 30 in Rethymno – some times is written “Manouil Bernardou 30” – type what ever your GPS prefers.
A little link list: