Ikaria is the ultimate gastronomic touristic destination! Here you will find recipes and dishes dating back centuries! Discover what the locals eat and live long, are very healthy and always fun to feast! The gastronomy of the island, is a key element of the particular culture and interwoven with the history of the place and the characteristics of the society. It is the communication of the Ikarians with the world, through a unique journey of flavors!
The food tradition in Ikaria, combines the delicious result with high nutritional value, that gives pleasure, health and longevity.
Secrets of the Ikarian cuisine
- the unique quality of the Ikarian land with dominant herbs, olive oil, cheese and goat
- the famous strong red wine
- family and friends gathered around the table and share a meal
Discover one by one, all the secrets of the ikarian cuisine and include them into your daily diet. All Nikaria on your plate!
The Pramneios Wine! The wine of god Dionysus! Each visitor to the island should try the Ikarian wine. Definitely, he will be enchanted and would not want to leave the island.
Ikaria is famous for its strong red wine, with its beneficial properties, known from mythology. Thus, the name, 'Pramneios wine' is connected with the worship of the god Dionysus. Moreover, according to mythology, Dionysus was born in Ikaria and specifically in a cave near Drakano. In antiquity, the name 'Pramneios' comes from the words " πραΰνει το μένος= soothe the fury ", while according to another version, there was a mountain in Ikaria, Pramne, where people cultivated vines (" Pramne Vine"), from which came the pramneios wine. According to subsequent surveys, the name comes from Pramnos, the mountain now called Atheras. Known from Homer, Kykeon, was a special magic cocktail, made of pramneios wine, local cheese and flour. This cocktail had the ability to heal and give strength to warriors. From the ancient and later historical times, the growing zone of the island, was located near the town Oinoe and in the mountains of the island, the area of Koskina and elsewhere, such in Magganitis, Koumaro, Kamba, Laggada etc.
The Pramneios wine is red – black wine, dry and naturally reaches very high ABV over 16, which makes it very strong. There are very few places around the world, where this happens. Today, vineyards are found mainly in the areas Evdilos, Raches and Proespera. You can taste all the varieties of ikarian wine and learn the secrets of its production, organized in four wineries on the island.
The first official record for the specificity of the Ikarian vine was on 02/03/1970, by decision of the Ministry of Agriculture, which allowed the cultivation of the variety ' Fokiano' in Ikaria. In June 2006, it was officially recognized as "local wine ", ie an indication of geographical origin. There are produced totally 12 local wines on Ikaria, with the following varieties: fokiano , begleri, athiri, assyrtiko, vaftra and mandilaria. The types produced are: white, red – dry, rosé, semi-dry and semi-sweet. On the island, it is also produced organic wine.
Specifically, the variety Fokiano appears already from the 15th AD century and has connected his name with the famous Pramneio Wine The grapes have a thick texture, big, red, of conical shape, while the berries are of medium size and the produced wine has a great flavor. It is grown in cup shaped terraces on the island, limestone and shale soils. It is drought tolerant and blooms from May to September.
Kathoura or Kathouritsa (small kathoura) is the most popular cheese in the island. It is white, goat cheese, known since the 17th century. It is made by goat milk, from local goats. It is usually unsalted, however, there are more varieties of sweet and spicy kathoura.
The sweet potato of Ikaria! The taro (‘kolokasi’) or otherwise the Jerusalem’s artichoke, is a rare plant, in Greece, found only in Ikaria and is also widespread in Cyprus. The Jerusalem’s artichoke has various names: sunroot or sunchoke or earth apple or topinambur or taro. It is in fact a bulb, like celeriac with coarse brown or purple skin, in a conical shape. On the inside, it is white and quite hard, which softens when cooked and has a sweet taste. The leaves are also eaten, when cooked. The plant belongs to the family Asteraceae and the genus of sunflower. It has large green leaves which often reach 1-2 meters in length. It turns yellow flowers with a diameter of 5-10 cm, while funds have length 7,5 to 10 cm and a thickness of 3 to 5 cm. The taro thrives in humid and warm climates and is cultivated for about 14 months inside the soil. It is available from October to March. In Ikaria, it grows near streams and is most prevalent in Raches, Magganitis and Vrakades. Historically, it is considered, that the taro helped the survival of the locals from hunger, during the Second World War.
In any case, it should not be consumed raw, because they contain toxic substances, which are destroyed only during cooking. It has high nutritional value and is rich in vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and is a good source of iron and protein. It contains prebiotic fibers and are very rich in insulin. It has high levels of fructose, which make it an attractive alternative to sucrose for diabetics. So, it is very beneficial for health and well digestible.
In Germany, a large proportion of this plant is used for producing beverage called «Topinambur» or «Rössler», while in Greece is contained only in enriched juices.
The taro wants special handling in cleaning and cutting. Do not wash the outside, only well cleaned and then removed the peel and cut inside.
In Ikarian cuisine , the locals serve it mainly as salad, accompanied by garlic sauce and natural Ikarian wine. It is also made and cooked with beans or as a soup, but even roast or boiled meat, such as potatoes .
The fruits have a special place in the Mediterranean diet and Ikarian cuisine, such as the kaisia (cesium). It is a type of apricot, from which we can eat the kernel, which has known anticancer properties. It grows usually in spring or early summer and reaches a maximum height of 3 meters. Until the Second World War, Ikaria had a great production and exported kaΐsia . Today, however, the production is small and usually consumed as a sweet. Today, cesium grows in South Ikaria, from Xylosyrtis to Magganitis.
The traditional Ikarian honey, known locally as 'anama', is among the best in quality in Greece. Produced by a bush named reiki (‘heather’) and has a thick texture, as opposed to all other honeys. There are several producers around the island and a Beekeepers’ Association, founded in 1988 by the beekeepers of Raches. This honey has become famous internationally for its beneficial properties, that give longevity. There are also other varieties produced on the island, from pine, thyme, smyris and various wildflowers. The honey produced is consumed as a cooking product, pastry, but also used as a beauty product.
The Ikarian land has a variety of herbs, known for their heady fragrance and taste. Over the mountains and in the gardens, it can be found abundantly: oregano, thyme, sage, chamomile, pennyroyal, heather, rosemary, mint, fennel, mint, St. John's Wort. These various herbs are used for cooking and for medical purposes and give a long and good life in Ikaria.
The wild goats of the island, or else Rasko, are white or black kids free-range, medium height. The meat is considered delicious , with a little fat. Raska are found mainly in the mountainous areas of the island. It is the most popular food for the fairs and it is eaten boiled or roasted. It was a significant survival food of the inhabitants, the harsh centuries of piracy. In the past, residents made also pastrami, a type of corned goat meat, which they hung in the air in August for maintenance.
The Ikarian olive oil is a unique product for the island and its people. It accompanies almost all dishes of the local cuisine, it has an excellent quality and it is very beneficial for health. The quantity produced is sufficient to meet the demand of the whole island.
The seafood and fishes of Ikaria are really something else! The sea around the island is crystal clear and rich in all sorts of seafood. Everyday, fishing boats come off to Fournoi and Samos, from all corners of the island, to supply households and taverns with fresh fish and seafood , such as sea breams, scorpion fish, bream, making, octopus and squid. You can enjoy grilled seafood, along with local tsipouro or ouzo, next to the waterfront.
The sweets have a special place in the diet of Ikarias. Every household makes his own jams from local fruits, such kaΐsia, oranges, cherries, bergamot and rose. Today, there are local producers and women's associations, selling commercial quantities of such packaged products.
Ikaria produces its own refreshments! It is not well known, but there is a small industrial unit that produces soft drinks with oranges and lemons and covers a large part of the island's needs.
In Ikarian gastronomy, there are a variety of recipes, a visitor can enjoy in the island, such as the ‘soufiko’ ( a mixture of various vegetables ), the zucchini balls , the tomato balls, chickpea balls, pies with kathoura, pumpkin pie and vegetable pie. Another traditional dish is gamopilafo (traditional food of marriages) and of course local goat dishes, like stuffed goat with rice and various herbs. You can taste all the traditional delicacies in the taverns and restaurants of the island. Bon appetit !
Recipe for Soufiko
Soufiko is an authentic summer Ikarian dish. It is greasy and suitable for vegetarians. The recipe has a tradition of years, it is quite simple and very tasty!
• 3 medium tomatoes
• 4-5 onions
• 3 eggplants
• 5 medium zucchini
• 2 carrots
• 2 potatoes
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 cup olive oil
• tomato puree
• optional: small hot pepper
The quantities of materials are indicative and may vary depending on the portions.
Cut all vegetables into large chunks. Place them all in a large, deep skillet. Leave them to cook until wilted and drink their fluids. Then, pour the oil and some water so as not to dry. Add salt, pepper and tomato paste, for more color and flavor. Optionally, put a small hot pepper, if you like it spicier.
Serve it with cheese kathoura or little extra freshly ground pepper.