The Cycladic Greek Island of Tinos has a rich and varied culinary heritage, with a new energy and life from passion of the islanders and the work of Tinos Food Paths
Like many islanders the people of Tinos are fiercely proud of their island and culinary culture. They have come together to form Tinos Food Paths, an annual gastronomic festival that celebrates the food of this Cycladic Island.
In 2018 the festival was dedicated to the iconic island dovecotes and the pigeons who live in them and the dish of pitsouni or pigeon.
Everywhere we went we were welcomed with tables groaning under the weight of the local specialty dishes and produce.
What is remarkable about Tinos Food paths is the entire movement is voluntary, with people giving of their time, expertise, food, skills and equipment, because they love their island, its food and culture. It is a movement that I’d love to see spread across the sea from Tinos to other communities.
Central to the week’s festival is the food theatre in Tinos town, in the old fish market where some of the most well known names in the Greek food world had travelled over the sea to cook and tell their food stories.
Other guests included Stelios Parliaros who demonstrated a locally inspired cheesecake topped with thick syrupy mix of figs, honey and walnuts.
Aside from the cooking demonstrations the festival included dinners cooked in a makeshift outdoor kitchen and served on long tables on the beach, and an immersive visit to the dovecotes of Tarambados.
Charcuterie From Tinos
Charcuterie is the mainstay of the table, and we were served plate after plate of delicious meats.
We visited local producer Ioannis Kritikos in Hora, or Tinos town where he makes both Iouza and sausage in his production unit situated at the eastern end of the promenade.
To make the louza fillets of pork are marinaded in wine and herbs, then wrapped in a pig intestine and hung up to air dry and cure. The louza is served sliced into wafer thin slices.
The local sausage is known as salsitsi and is spicy and packed with garlic.
Cheese From Tinos
Kariki cheese – is a local island specialty made by Angela Rouggeri, whose dairy is on the Eastern slopes of the island’s highest mountain, Tskinia. The Kariki is matured in a hollowed out, then sealed gourd for 120 days. When mature the cheese would have shrunk away from the side of the gourd. It is intense, fully flavoured and pungent. Dry and crumbly on the outside and softer inside.
Angela also makes the milder malathouni, a pear shaped simpler rennet based cheese. It is shaped in woven wicker baskets before being hung up in cheese cloths to dry and mature.
Sweets and cakes from Tinos
Pastel – Greek sesame seed and honey, often made with the local thyme flower honey, snacks that are served on lemon leaves.
Tsimbita – these bite sized pastries are filled with the local unsalted petroma cheese and flavoured with mastic, cinnamon and orange, what looks like a delicate paper case is actually a layer of filo pastry, painstakingly pleated using a cocktail stick. Traditionally the tsimbita must have at least 25 pleats round the outside, but its possible for a skilled baker to make up to 33.
Raki, Beer and Wine From Tinos
The sandy soils protected the vines of Tinos from phylloxera, having been abandoned for many years wine making is having a resurgence with wine makers coming to the island to tend the ungrafted vines.
Mastic is a popular flavour seen in this mastic spirit and delicately flavoured mastic water.
The local firewater, or aqua vitae is known as raki, barely a meal goes by without the bottle being produced and tiny thimble sized glasses of the clear liquor being offered round. A good raki is smooth, and strong, but should be pure enough not to give you a hangover!
Other Dishes From Tinos
The Greek Salad of the Cycladian islands is served on a bed of dried dark bread which soak up all the tomato juices and olive oil, served sprinkled with a local cheese. the local beer is Nisos, made in a micobrewery.
We were served a delicious salad with beets and yogurt which I’ve recreated.
The local tortilla or omelette is called the fourtalia, made with potatoes fried in olive oil and pork fat with sausages and eggs, served all over the island with a myriad of variations.
Come back later this week for a more general, non food focused post about Tinos, and details of how to get there etc.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of Discover Greece. All opinions our own.