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In the section, the island's recognized local products are recommended to you one after the other. Find the ones you should definitely try and seek them on the shelves and benches of local stores. Take home the aromas and flavors of Limnos.

 

Limnos kalathaki

This small white brine cheese is one of the most prominent samples of the island’s gastronomy. A single bite will travel your mind to the green meadows of Limnos with their aromatic wild greens, their taste flavored with natural saltiness. Sheep and goat graze freely and give their scented milk, a vital element for the manufacture of one of Greece's finest cheeses.

Classified as a D.O.P (Designation of Origin Product) Limnos kalathaki is produced today in the traditional manner, with sheep's milk for the best quality of cheese, but also includes a mixture of goat's with sheep's milk, in a proportion not exceeding 30%.

The origin of the name kalathaki (which stands for "little basket" in Greek) comes from 'tervolias', which are the basket-like molds made of plaited green rushes or osier wood in older times, and for hygiene purposes are now made of plastic. These molds, used for draining the curd, leave their distinct mark unto the surface of the cheese, and give the characteristic anaglyph shape with stripes.

After being removed from the mold, the cheese is salted and put in containers of brine for it to mature. The manufacturing process usually starts around the end of February, using the tastier spring milk. Manufacturing units on the island, both large and small, faithfully follow the traditional techniques, aided by the most contemporary methods for production and quality control.

As a result, Limnos kalathaki remains as fragrant and delicious as the one that the monks in the monastery dependencies of Mt Athos used to curdle.

Rich and mature, it brings to mind the zest of feta cheese but spicier and tastier.

Taste the fragrant kalathaki with lemnian barley rusks and tomato, an elegant snack that can be eaten any time during the day. You can also try it as an ingredient in pies, such as pumpkin pie, simple cheese pie, and cheese bites.

An excellent appetizer for the local raki along with garlic and green beans, accompanying traditional dishes of kaspakino lamb. Ideally, you will accompany these tastes with some local dry white wine.


 

Melichloro or Melipasto cheese

A cheese that sums up the summer in Limnos in its taste, Melipasto is traditionally made during the summer period. The Aegean Sea stigmatizes its taste, as the cheese is washed in the sea as a part of its manufacturing process!

Manufacturers choose to produce Melichloro in late spring, from May onwards, since the sheep’s milk is richer and the weather is drier, with low humidity levels. These are the ideal conditions to drain the cheese in a shaded, well-ventilated area. At first, the cheese acquires a texture between fresh and dry (“melichloro” in Greek, hence the name). At that point, it is washed in the sea and left to dry in a clean area.

When the dehydration is completed, the cheese becomes hard and is then ideal for grating on Lemnian homemade pasta, such as flomaria and balanes. Taste melichloro also in sachanaki, or with Lemnian thyme honey and sesame seeds.


 

Mavragani Bread

 After tasting this Lemnian bread with its unique taste and high nutritional value, it will certainly be difficult to return to the loaves of bread you have been used to!

Being a famous granary since antiquity, Limnos has succeeded in growing a unique variety of wheat and producing a special type of grain.

Mavragani is an old local variety of wheat, the cultivation of which has successfully been reestablished in recent years.

It all started in the 30’s , when Italian archaeologists that were excavating in the areas of Hephaestia and Poliochni , brought with them on the island a seed of wheat from Sicily , which in turn had also been imported to the Italian island from Africa in the early 20th century.

This African/Sicilian variety would subsequently grow with ease in the fertile land of Limnos but in a unique way: The soil of this Aegean Sea Island paints the wheat spikelets black, hence the name mavragani, which means “black mustache”.

This old variety of seed cultivated on the island before the war, was recently accidentally rediscovered inside an old jar at the Karakalou Monastery of Mt Athos, where it was supplied and stored until the 70’s from its dependencies in Limnos.

The strain was return to the island and the cultivation of mavragani gradually started again. It’s hard type wheat that produces yellow flour suitable for semolina, and extremely tasty bread, pies and pasta. You will find bread from mavragani in all local bakeries. Definitely worth seeking out!


 

Rusks

Lemnian rusks from flour, wheat, barley, whole-grain and “eptazyma” (sevenfold kneaded), come from selected wheat and barleys grown in the fertile plains of Limnos. You can find them in bakeries or packaged in stores, in a large variety of sizes and flavors, from large traditional large barley rusks to crunchy bites.

Back in the day, the kneading of the rusks was on the weekly schedule of Lemnian housewives, along with making the family’s bread. The preparation of “eptazyma” especially, was a daily routine for women during the summer because the heat helped the dough distend faster.

Fluffy and tasty, these big rusks are still made on the island with the traditional style, flavored by the chickpea water that is used for kneading the flour, blended with cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and anise.


 

Flomaria

These traditional pasta of Limnos have rightfully earned a place in the “pantheon” of pasta, competing on equal terms with the tagliatelle and linguine of Italian expertise. Excellent gourmet pasta for your table, rooted deeply in the gastronomical nature of Lemnians. A dish of flomaria with melichloro grated cheese on top has always been a quick and affordable option for a fulfilling meal, as well as a side dish for meat, rooster, Sunday’s hunting and festive family meals.

Quick to cook but demanding in their preparation , these pasta posed a challenge to the housewife that had to cut skillfully the sheet in pieces the size of half a pin , using a sharp knife , at a time where there were no machines for cutting pasta.

The women traditionally gathered in each other’s home usually during summer, after the milling of the wheat, in order to dry up the dough sheets in the heat, and knead the local hard flour with sheep’s milk and eggs.

They rolled out the layers on the wooden “sofras”, and whilst chatting about their stories, began the cutting of each layer into very thin strips with a knife. The most skillfully cut ones, called “flomaria of the spindle”, where the ones to show the grace of the Lemnian housewife and illustrate her dexterity.

Nowadays they are created using the same local natural ingredients and are packed in three types: fine, medium and thick, and are available in various flavors, such as tomato, spinach, or whole grain. They can accompany meat or eaten plain with grated melichloro cheese. You will meet them in many of the traditional recipes of the island, such as flomaria with braised rooster in tomato sauce, but also with oil, fresh tomatoes and eggplants, flomaria with braised partridge, wild rabbit or with snails.


 

Honey

Since ancient times, bee workers harvest from the blossoms on the slopes of the island and give the famous honey of Limnos. Pry open a jar and admire the amber color, the thick and unctuous texture, and above all, the excellent flavor and aromas the honey inherits from the extensive thyme landscapes.

The signature of Limnos landscapes are the traditional beehives called “varadia”, dyed purple from the thyme flowers.

Honey is supplied to the local stores by the many beekeepers of Limnos who keep alive the long tradition of its production.

One of the main products of Lemnian soil, along with wheat and wine, honey crops were a luxury for wealthy families of Limnos. In his description, the 16th century French traveler Pierre Belon describes the meal provided in his honor by the Ottoman Deputy Governor consisting of a thrifty but highly nutritional soup with boiled wheat, honey and bread.

Lemnian honey offers its sweetness and aroma in many traditional desserts of the island, and embellishes the diples, lalagites, fetoudia and traditional donuts, finikia, samsades and honey pie. It also blends marvelously to the local sheep’s yogurt and can be added instead of sugar in the herbal beverages of Limnos.


 

Sweet preserves

“Could I offer you some sour cherry, bitter orange, fig, plum, pumpkin or maybe a teaspoon of ornos?” was the typical question of a Lemnian housewife to her guests. She would always have about half a dozen of those, of different flavours, homemade by herself to ensure no guest felt unattended.

Fig, eggplant, zucchini, grape, sour cheery, and quince; the variety of sweet preserves that you will find in the local market today is vast and of excellent quality. With respect to tradition, the producers follow the seasoning of each fruit and use household recipes without additives or preservatives.

Depending on the season you visit Limnos, pick up and have a taste of some of the sweet preserves: pear, watermelon, quince with white whole almonds, sour cherry, apricot, tomato, eggplant, bitter orange, plum with syrup, wild fig, pumpkin, zucchini boiled in grape molasses with cinnamon clove or even rose, made from pink rose petals.


 

Venizelika

Small chocolate bites named from history. In 1912 ,when Eleftherios Venizelos made an official visit to Limnos after the island’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire , the locals offered him these sweet small bonbons that so thrilled the former Greek Prime Minister that they were given his name, hence “Venizelika”.

Have a taste and you will know why: A small bite made of almonds, cocoa, grated chocolate, walnuts and powdered sugar kneaded with brandy and cherry liquor glistened with white vanilla glaze.

Today Venizelika are sold in shops and traditional stores of the island, for you to take some home and maybe treat your guests with luscious and authentic Lemnian dessert.


 

Tsipouro ouzo

“Does meze make the raki, or does raki make the meze?” is a question that comes to mind since the two drinks, tsipouro and ouzo, are an integral part in the culinary tradition of the island. A bottle of ouzo is always an excuse to chat with friends, relax and have a bite, or even a full blown fest around a “lakario”.

Nothing goes to waste in Limnos after the grapes are pressed and the must is produced. On the contrary, an age old tradition begins that when it's complete, it provides the fragrant and protected by geographical indication ouzo Limnos.

Around the end of October and during November, the distinct fragrance of anise flows in the air of the island’s villages and leads you one to the traditional distillation cauldrons of tsipouro and ouzo, a Dionysian – style ritual, unaltered throughout the centuries.

Mashed grapes are taken out of the jars and pitches on which they were left to rest ,covered with dry seaweed after vintage season, and proceed to the “lakario” or “rakario” where the still completes for the distillation process.

Well-kept secret ... The cocktail of herbs added to the cauldron gives the distillate the aroma and the milky color obtained after mixing it with water is the most closely guarded secret of each producer. Nutmeg, raisins, mastic quinces, arbutus berries, plums and the premium anise of Kaminia -famous for its fragrance- are just some of the ingredients added to the mix.

The start of the boiling in the cauldron and as the alcohol passes as vapor through the pot, signifies the start of the fest among the relatives and friends of the producer, which are gathered for the process. Snacks are offered plentifully and the whole company starts singing and dancing the traditional “kechagiaditiko”. Apart from the household production you may find bottled lemnian ouzo and raki in the market.

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