The Dodecanese Islands are renowned for their abundance of local products such as wine, honey, meat and cheese which have established a vibrant economy on the islands. Apart from its gastronomic aspects, the scenic Dodecanese region is famous for its folk traditions which are evident in every island and traditional village you visit. Part of the cultural heritage is the huge array of works created by local artisans who produce embroidery and ceramic items used as souvenirs.
On the island of Rhodes, where the soil is fertile and the sunlight abundant, winemaking is the ultimate tradition. With wineries circling every part of the island producing fine wine labels such as Ilios, Grand Maître and the Chevalier de Rhodes dry red wine, there are other small wineries around the island, particularly in Attaviros and to Prophet Elias.
Other products that define Rhodes include olive oil, vegetables (tomato), fruits (watermelon, melon) and dairy products.
Another high-quality product from the island is honey, the star of a Rhodian dessert called melekouni. This treat consists of sesame seeds and aromatic thyme honey, along with additional ingredients such as almonds, orange and lemon zest, and spices. Considered one of the healthiest and tastiest Greek snacks, melekouni is often found at weddings and baptisms.
The island of sponge divers, Kalymnos, offers a wide selection of products, including fish, grapes, honey, fruit and meat. The locals have combined the dominant culture of Kalymnos with traditional products, and this is evident once you wander through the quaint alleyways finding local shops specializing in the manufacture of sponges. Local honey can also be found in local stores and bakeries.
On the lush hills of Symi, wild local herbs and spices such as sage, thyme and oregano spread their extraordinary fragrance throughout the region. Similar to Rhodes, Symi produces thyme honey with an abundance of herbal flavors. Since the island’s herbs are so popular, other products like soaps and olive oil are also scented, creating a distinct essence.
The island of Kos specializes in fine china, ceramics, jewelry and weaving. More specifically, the villages of Antimahia and Asfendiou focus on artisanal weaving. Some of the local savory dishes are pork cooked with cracked wheat, krasotiri (cheese cooked with wine), xinomizithra (original local cheese), zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and stuffed vegetables. For wine lovers, the best to try in Kos is the resinous, white or sweet red.
The one and only pougia, traditional sweets, is found in Patmos. Made with dough, almonds and nuts, topped with sugar and syrup, the pougia is a classic choice not to be missed at multiple patisseries and bakeries across the island. Patmos is also known for its high quality cheese products. The cheese pie made with a combination of local cheeses will give you a taste of the paradise of Patmos.
The fishermen’s island, Leros, offers large quantities of fresh fish to its inhabitants. At the time, due to the high volumes of fish on the island, the locals were unable to sell them, so they instead salted and dried the fish. Since then, fish kipper is well combined with ouzo specialties in local taverns.
The main local product of Nisyros is soumada, a non-alcoholic, syrupy drink made from almonds. It is made from a mixture of fresh locally grown almonds, sugar and water, which is simmered in sugar. Other Nisyros gems include young tomatoes and caper leaves, two very popular choices that accompany traditional Greek dinners. Krasotyri cheese, which means wine cheese, is a sun-dried cheese that sits in a brine of boiled vinegar and salt until ready.