It’s no secret that Greece is a paradise for foodies. In terms of gastronomy, the country is second to none. It might not be as a famous as Italy, France or other culinary heavens… but that is not a question of taste, it’s a marketing issue that needs to be solved. It’s pretty clear, though, that many visitors choose Greek destinations for an authentic food experience. Naxos is the perfect example.
Naxos remains among the top favorite islands for a holiday destination. Chosen by millions every season for its impressive, pristine beaches, mountain little towns and green landscapes. However, Naxos also offers an outstanding range of traditional dishes, all of them include healthy amounts of fresh local produce.
According to Greek mythology, God Apollo left the island of Naxos to his son who was a skilled cheese maker. He would be in charge of teaching the locals the art of producing cheese. This might be only part of a myth, however it remains at the core of an island that produces 1.500 annual tons of some of the best cheeses in Greece.
Graviera Naxou (with a Protected Designation of Origin, or PDO) is the best-known cheese of the island. It is made combining cow’s milk together with goat’s and sheep’s milk in a proportion of 80 to 20 and aging for at least three months. Another important cheese produced in the region is Xynomyzithra (or sour myzithra), which is a fresh, creamy cheese made from goat’s milk with a delicate aftertaste that reminds of yogurt.
Xynotyro (or sour cheese) is no other thing than xynomyzithra cheese left to dry for weeks until it’s hard enough to be grated or used as a table cheese. Arseniko has a strong flavor combined with a rough texture. It’s made out of sheep’s and goat’s milk, and it is left to age, at least, for three months.
Lefko tyri is a cheese similar to feta, which also combines sheep’s and goat’s milk. Finally, another favorite is Ladotyri, wonderful and pungent, preserved under olive oil.
The production of Naxian potatoes reaches an impressive 8.000 tonnes of potatoes per year
Naxos is also a proud producer of potatoes, a cultivation that expanded at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the lowlands of the island, especially in the valley of Livadi.
Popular throughout Greece for its taste and cooking properties, the production of Naxian potatoes reaches an impressive 8.000 tonnes of potatoes per year, a quantity that allows to export the product to the rest of the country, bringing a regular income to the local population.
Due to its rather extended territory, the local cuisine presents itself according to the territory. Seaside dishes see fish and seafood with a leading role
Olive and citrus groves, a fertile nature, and a widespread farming culture give an endless range of products used by housewives as well as chefs and cooks to experiment and explore new flavors and combinations.
Due to its rather extended territory, the local cuisine presents itself according to it. In seaside areas fish and seafood have the leading role; dishes include salachtouri (ray salad with lemon sauce), grilled octopus or marinated anchovies. The plains have a gastronomy characterized by the abundant use of vegetables and cattle, such as the veal stew with eggplant and cheese, or pork with provatsa (the leafy portion of the sea lavender). Finally, the cuisine of the mountains, abundant in olive oil, goat, and sheep, presents dishes such as goat with potatoes or pasta, or braised goat.
There are also excellent sweets to try in Naxos. Halki, the famous mountain village is not only famous for its kitron, a liqueur made from the distillation of the leaves of citron. They also say that it’s precisely in this little town where you will find some of the best galaktoboureko, baklava, and melachrino of the island. Melachrino is a delicious type of cake, made with citron liqueur and usually served with a special kind of ice cream containing mastic.
Finally, it’s also in Halki where it is possible to visit Era, the local Jam Workshop, a small shop on the main road of Halki, with state of the art jam making facilities. Era produces completely natural jams and sweet spoons from local fruit, without the use of any additive, preservative or artificial color. Their products are perfect for breakfast, to top up your favorite Greek yogurt every morning.