Eating in Greece is so much bigger than just for the sake of sustenance and Lemnos is no exception. It is more about the bonds that are cultivated during the procedure of cooking and eating. On the one hand, you have a tradition of interesting local recipes that have come about from local resources; on the other, you have the love of providing which is inherent among the Greek mentality in general, and naturally linked to the famous Greek hospitality. Cooking, but more so, eating together strengthens the connection of people, and it is almost a ritual especially in small communities. Therefore, becoming part of the local gastronomic experience is much more rewarding than just savouring the delicious food.
When in Lemnos there are a few local dishes that can be found nowhere else in Greece. A must try are various topping combinations of the local pasta called ‘flomaria’; usually served with meat in a tomato sauce and a bit of red wine, the pasta is fluffy and airy, making a wonderful contrast to the richness of flavour in the topping sauce. ‘Katimeria’ are savoury pancakes with cheese eaten as a scrumptious snack, ‘bochtsadelia’ are stuffed pouches with a vegetarian filling while you can also try the local, pickled olives and a special courgette omelette that is packed with flavour.
Some truly exquisite cheeses can be found on Lemnos island. The most renowned is the trademark kalathaki cheese, a white, medium hard cheese that is set in small baskets, which is what its name means in Greek. It mostly resembles a more delicate version of feta, while Lemnos of course has its own version of feta, typically harder and saltier than most. Melichloro or melipasto are two names for the same kind of cheese; it is a table cheese that is quite dry, perfect for being fried like ‘saganaki’ and also used as toppings and fillings as well as for snacking or pairing with wine. Kaskavali is the last Lemnian cheese you should be sure to try, especially since it has been produced since the middle ages. It is an aromatic cheese with a buttery consistency that is used in a variety of ways.
Olive oil is the liquid gold of Greece, the quality of which is known far and wide. It is quite frequent that each region produces its own since the olive tree has been the most prolific tree throughout the entire history of the country. If you interested in sampling the finest olive oil in Lemnos, you can either take an olive oil tasting session with a knowledgeable local, or visit a local farm estate in Lemnos that has its own groves, olive press and packaging unit.
Lemnos produces about a dozen or so lovely wines. The Limnio red grape which still grows on the island has been referenced in antiquity for its exquisite wine varieties. Apart from this indigenous grape variety, Lemnos is also known for its muscat and the white wine appellations. Limnia Ghi is a local favourite too, balanced and fragrant, as is Rodon a very special kind of rose wine.
When it comes to wine tasting, it is best to leave the selection to local experts who will not only select the very finest wines for you to try, but also give you an introduction into the history behind and the unique characteristics of each bottle as well as pair it in a way that its flavour is fully exemplified. You could try a Lemnos cheese and wine tasting experience, since the local cheeses are also something to discover through taste as well, plus the simple fact that wine goes so well with cheese.
For going to the source of Lemnian wines, you can choose between two large wineries that will take you to their vineyards, the distillery, inform you of the different varieties, and sample you some of their finest labels. It is a wonderful experience to really delve into the details of how these fine wines are produced, and the journey from vine to glass.
In addition to the exceptional wines, Lemnos also produces its local tsipouro drink, which is consumed in a similar way to ouzo all over Greece. If you find yourselves in the village of Kontopouli, consider a stop at a renovated, traditional tsipouro distillery, which will reveal a new approach to fermenting grapes resulting in a high potency alcoholic beverage that is often used as an aperitif in Lemnos and in Greece in general. The meze culture of Greece is strongly linked to consumption of such alcoholic spirits, therefore spending a few moments discovering the intricacies of a local habit such as this will further immerse you into the local way of life, with the added advantage of making you merry along the way.