That somewhat fractured geography—Greece comprises two peninsulas surrounded by far-flung islands—has given rise to a fascinating quilt of regional cuisines that are nowhere near as well known around the world as those of, say, Italy or France. From rugged Epirus, in the western mainland, come hearty pies and stews made from the lamb and river eel that thrive there. Macedonia still produces the great wines that Alexander tippled; its capital, Thessaloniki, once held one of the world's largest Jewish populations, and dishes there reflect Sephardic and even earlier Jewish influences. Cool Thrace, in the northeast near Turkey, with the ancient Roman highway running through it, offers barley pilafs and sour-milk noodles, foods introduced by the early Greeks. The vast peninsula known as the Peloponnese—where the Mycenaean civilization, enshrined in Homer's epics, flourished—is famous for roasted goat, rustic breads, and honey. Crete, the island that was the epicenter of Minoan culture, is known for ancient foods like trahana, tiny kernels of air-dried yogurt and grain that plump up like couscous when boiled. There are the Ionian islands, where specialties like_ karithopita_, a walnut cake flavored with cinnamon, attest to years of Venetian rule, and in Athens, that fabled and vibrant metropolis, one can sample the creations of acclaimed contemporary chefs who unite multiple streams of their country's cuisine in inventive ways.