Lemnos has once again been written about in the media, and this time the attention is on its food scene.
Popular travel guide, Lonely Planet just this week dubbed the Greek island as a “Greek foodie paradise”, where visitors are able to “sample some of Greece’s finest produce, minus the crowds”. Sounds appealing! Of course this is well-known amongst those who hail from the island.
Among the restaurants visited by writer Grace Faulkner is O Platanos. There they enjoy a scrumptious meal of baked yemista (stuffed tomatoes and capsicum), chargrilled octopus and peasant salad topped with feta and oregano, tzatziki and fresh bread. But the highlight of the meal is the flomaria pasta, a local speciality with tomato sauce and slow-roasted beef.
The island-grown olives are described as “rich and salty” and the tomatoes “so sweet you could eat them like apples”.
“Lemnos’ diverse terrain and mineral-rich soil provide ideal conditions for crops like wheat, but in recent years the island has become known for its cheese, olives and spirits – the Greek holy trinity,” Lonely Planet reports.
As well as feta, the writer draws attention to some of the island’s unique cheeses such as melichloro made with goat and sheep milk, and kalathaki, a white brine cheese.
While Lemnos, like all the Greek islands, is of course the place to go for seafood, the writer also draws attention to regional favourites, such as rabbit stifado from Mantella Taverna.
Honey is also a must-try, with different flavours on offer, including the thyme infused variety, noting the award-winning Honey Hasapis in Moudros.
While many of the dishes mentioned can be found on menus across Greece, the writer highlights the ideal growing conditions mean the produce takes flavour to the next level.
When it comes to dessert, Lemnian favourites halva and samsades, made with layers of phyllo and nuts dipped in syrup, honey or petimezi, are listed as a must from Axni & Kanella in central Myrina.
Of course no meal is complete without a drop of wine, and given Lemnos’ long history – Lonely Planet notes that Lemnian wine is praised in Homer’s Iliad – oinophiles are in the right place in large-part due to its geography.
“Wind caused by the island’s low-lying land is thought to counteract the intensity of the Greek sun, prolonging the growing period and allowing grapes to develop deeper flavours.”
Beyond wine, Lemnos is also known for its ouzo. But tourists are advised to drink with caution, with the alcohol content usually being upwards of 40 per cent.
The food and drink, along with the island’s natural beauty and history bring the writer to a conclusion that Lemnos “may be Greece’s best-kept secret”.
Likely not for very long.