Shopping at Lesvos

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Shopping at Lesvos

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It is hard to imagine Lesvos without its olive oil trees that spread a silver radiance under an abundant sunlight. Apart from the sea, no other good of nature has ever been as tightly associated with the Greek region, as the olive and its oil that has nurtured so many a civilizations since ancient times. Today on Lesvos there are more than (11,000,000) eleven million olive trees in an area of 46,500 hectares with a production of 100,000 tons of fruit or 20,000 tons of olive oil. Unparalleled in flavor and aroma and with the best nutritional qualities, the olive oil of Mytilene is a true gift of the Lesvian nature. This world-famous olive oil is a source of health and a fundamental ingredient of modern consumer’s nutrition.

Cheese of Lesvos
Even Homer in Ulysses quotes a very vivid description of cheese production from sheep and goat milk. The result of age-long experience in combination with the ground and climatological conditions, cheese products of Lesvos and Lemnos have a special merit around the globe. Traditional cheese products (with a designation of origin) are Ladotyri of Mytilene, Feta, Kasseri and Kalathaki of Lemnos, unique in flavor and aroma.

Traditional plants of cheese production guarantee its individual organoleptic qualities on the basis of the fact that they process the local sheep and goat milk of superior quality and composition that could also, under certain circumstances, be designated as ecological. Natural flora and local species of sheep and goats accordingly constitute the fundamental reason for the superior quality composition of milk. An additional, yet determining factor, is man-producer who has preserved the traditional way of cheese making, thus offering new generations the traditional and unique cheese (Feta, Ladotyri, Graviera, Kefalotyri, Kasseri, Kalathaki etc ) of the island.

Ladotyri is traditionally produced on Lesvos from sheep milk and owes its designation to its conservation in olive oil of superior quality. It ages for at least three months in underground special aging rooms or cool chambers and has a spicy flavor. Last but not least, Kalathaki of Lemnos is traditionally produced exclusively in Lemnos from sheep and goat milk. It owes its name to the way of its production since, as soon as the cheese is produced, it is placed in small baskets. Their stripes are obvious on its “body” and it generally goes through various stages of aging.

Salted preserves of Lesvos
One of the typical products of the Northern Aegean and specifically of the Prefecture of Lesvos, is salted preserves. The anchovy of Kalloni is world known. And on both islands of the Prefecture (Lesvos and Lemnos) industries for the processing and preparation of fish have operated for quite a number of years. Raw material (fish) is daily fished from fishing boats and purse seine of the Prefecture, while preparation is conducted in a purely empirical manner that is taught and passed from generation to generation and at the same time it improves with the use of modern equipment and certainly with experience. The kinds of fish that are processed and prepared are sardines, mackerel, anchovies and striped tuna. Their process is conducted in an exclusively pure and traditional way only with the use of salt. The aspect, however, that makes salted preserves of the Prefecture distinguishable is the quality of local fish, which is probably due to the climatological conditions and plankton in this region, primarily in the two bays of Lesvos (Geras and Kalloni).

Ouzo of Lesvos
The history of this drink is our own history and a major achievement of the local traditional art of winery. It is a kind of liquor characterized by a pleasant aggressiveness that balances the pungent plethora of aromas, it is revolutionary to the senses and offers a sweet memory and the pleasure of each special moment of life. The perfect and balanced ouzo has a 46% of alcohol so that it can travel throughout the entire world unaffected by weather conditions and stand the test of time preserving its aroma and flavor. The production of this exclusively Aegean drink that reflects perfectly the Aegean psyche, hospitality, the sea and the blue skies, is an art, laborious yet challenging. You can drink it straight or with ice, but when you add water in it you can see it turns into a rich milky kind of drink, which is an indication of its superior quality.

Appetizers (mainly seafood) are virtually a necessary companion to ouzo
Lesvos is essentially identified with this drink, which many a liquor shops demonstrate. This is the case because a special kind of aniseed, the primary aroma-maker, is found only here.

The wine of Lemnos
In ancient times the wine of Methymna was considered the nectar of the Olympian gods. Once there used to be vast vineyards, but today only few of them are left and they are small ones, more like a home-based industry, which produce limited yet high-quality wine. Nonetheless, Lemnos remains a primarily wine-producing island and the fame of its wine quality has reached the globe. The original taste of tradition and serene vacations on the island of Dionysus are coupled to the magnificent view of the beautiful port in Myrina of Lemnos. The uniqueness of Alexandrian Muscat (Moschato Alexandrias), which remains the golden fruit of hundreds of vine farmers on the island, continues the age-long tradition of mythology in the production of the renowned wine of Lemnian land. Linear and well taken-care-of vineyards according to European standards cover an area of 650 hectares on the island, while the small yield of 700 kilos per 10,000 sq.m. (since no fertilizers or production boosters are used) ensures top quality of raw material and certainly of the wine.

Honey of Lesvos
Scattered all around the prefecture are some white or blue small containers, beehives, patiently waiting for the working bees to fill them with the extraordinary Lesvian honey. Thyme honey of Lesvos and Lemnos, known for its rich flavor and aroma is found in all places of the Prefecture, while its processing is conducted in a traditional way excluding any sort of additives, thus preserving for years its quality and reinforcing its reputation. In some locations (pine forest in Kalloni etc) you can also taste other flavors, such as pine honey or flower honey.

Ceramics of Lesvos
Lesvos was and still is one of the best-known centers of traditional pottery. Perhaps due to the composition of the soil (argyle soil and red soil), Lesvos is virtually full of pottery workshops or “tsoukaladika” as known in local dialect. The largest and most well known ones are located in Mantamados, Agiassos and Mytilene, where the art of pottery is passed on from generation to generation unchanged.

Woodcarving of Lesvos
Another traditional popular form of art on Lesvos is woodcarving which involves experienced craftsmen carving the wood of olive, chestnut and cherry trees, attributing to them a shape persisting unaltered and lasting through time, either because they wish to honor their saints in temples and monasteries, or adorn houses with the famous Lesvian wooden objects found in all three continents. Agiassos, Asomatos and Mytilene are the primary locations where one can find such craftsmen with passionate love and taste for the art they were taught by their ancestors.

Textiles of Lesvos
And there are of course also the textiles woven by housewives who would make their trousseau so elaborately. It is a great thing that the art of making such textiles has survived and stood the test of time.
Fortunately, some of our forefathers saw that they be preserved and that the art of textile weaving be taught to coming generations so that they will continue with the same fervent love and enthusiasm, the same craftsmanship and means to virtually reproduce this form of art, the origins of which are rooted in the deepest core of our folklore.

*Thanks to lesvos-chamber of commerce for info