A Taste of Naxos


The island of Naxos, in the Cyclades, is famous for a few things, like its long history, the “Portaria” ancient ruins of the unfinished Apollo temple, its many beautiful beaches and its picturesque town, but everybody in Greece know Naxos for something a bit different: Its delicious food!

The biggest of the Cycladic islands, Naxos, has always benefitted from its extensive produce. Since ancient times, the island was considered self-sufficient. It’s excellent olives and oil were renown all over Greece, while it’s wine was associated with Ancient Gods’ Nectar. Its fertile land continues even today to provide great ingredients for a huge variety of Greek dishes.

Nowadays Naxos is closely associated with a variety of great and award winning cheeses, the most notorious one being Gruyère. It’s a hard cheese, with with a pleasantly mild and sweet, yet spicy taste. Another traditional cheese is “Arseniko” (translates to “masculine”), it has a salty and piquant taste and is full of aroma. It’s partner cheese, “Thylikotyri” (roughly translates to “female” cheese) is a white, low-fat cheese with a velvety texture, buttery flavor and mild salty taste.

Another famous product of Naxos is its potatoes. Their cultivation began, under the governmental founding of the Seed Potato Center, in 1953, making the valley of Livadi the officially designated area for seed production of Greece. After years of specialisation, Naxian potatoes are considered the best in Greece and thus exported all over the country.

Zamponi is similar to Italian prosciutto, and it’s also made from cured pork leg but has a spicier and saltier taste. It is offered as an appetizer or “meze”. Local tradition has it that the best Zamponi is made when north winds blow at the day the pig is slaughter-probably a folk indication of when to do it -wintertime.

Finally, Naxos is renowned for its Honey, its sweets and preserves and “Citron” Liqueur an aperitif made out of local citron leaves dipped in alcohol and let in a traditional pot for the essential oils to dissolve into, producing three types of spirits, of different color and degree.