Why is there so much fuss for the products of the Santorinian earth? Why is it that fava is about to enter the Stock Exchange, as well as the Santorinian small tomato? Why are there conferences being organised so frequently dealing with her greatly prized products? Probably because Santorini has something unique: her particular ecosystem, which was created from volcanic explosions...
The volcanic ash, which has made the soil porous, in combination with the drought, soil humidity and morning sea breeze, give unique flavor to the products of this soil.
|Being the most famous and popular product of Santorini, cherry tomatoes with the slightly hardest skin and rich juicy body, can be savoured fresh, sun-dried, in the form of paste or even as spoon-sweet. Cherry tomatoes used to be systematically cultivated before the earthquake, but today they are exclusively grown by the Association Cooperative of Theraic Products.|
|Essential for accompanying salads and fava, caper is always present in every real Santorinian dish. It is a wild bush thriving in rocky areas; that is why it is said that “caper is planted by ants”. It is collected at the end of spring and throughout summer. From the bush are taken the ‘kaparokoumba’ (caper buds) and ‘kaparofilla’ (caper leaves). Once they soak in water for at least one week, with the water being regularly renewed in order to take the bitterness out, they turn into pickles by adding vinegar and salt. Caper buds are also dried out in order to be used in various dishes. Caper packed in glass jars can be bought at the Association Cooperative of Theraic Products, while caper spoon-sweets and other rare caper products are sold exclusively at Carlos store in Akrotiri.|
|Had you ever thought that a fava could differ from another one? Indeed, should you place the Santorinian fava next to another one, the difference in taste is obvious! The first one has a much more full taste. The reason for this is not only the soil. The Santorinian fava is unique because it comes from a different variety of fava bean, Lathyrus Clymenum, which according to excavations in Akrotiri has existed on the island since 3.500 years ago. One of the first factories producing fava is that of Spyros Nomikos in Vothonas. You will try it with onion, octopus, caramelized onions, pieces of pork meat, even with cuttlefish.|
|Its production is very small, so the likelihood to find it on the island is really low. It is a fresh caprine (goat) cheese with creamy texture, made by the locals usually for domestic use. You can occasionally find it at the Selene restaurant.|
|Kardamides are exquisite green herbs that make miracles in fighting cholesterine. They are collected at the end of spring in fields and vineyards all over Santorini. During that period, they can also be found at the Central Community Market of Fira. They are boiled, in the same way as other green herbs, and are delicious at the side of small and big fish.|
|Although peanut trees in Santorini seemed to have declined paying the price for touristic development, Yannis Nomikos and his model craft enterprise Agroktima, located in Vothonas, brought Santorinian peanuts back again to the island products’ list in 2006. Parched and very mature in taste, they are sun-dried twice –once before and once after being salted– and are sold in packages at the island’s supermarkets.|
|Another rare product of the Santorini soil with many comparative advantages. It has very few seeds, does not absorb much oil when fried and has a particularly sweet taste. So sweet that there is no need to de-bitter it at all. You will find white eggplant dishes at various restaurants on the island. It is really worth trying ‘melitzanosalata’ (white eggplant paste)!|
If you do not walk through a vineyard –one of the best in Greece– and taste the unique local wines, it will be as if you have missed the true flavor of the island.
The assyrtiko grape is a variety with character. You either adore it or hate it. In the Santorini microclimate, it gives a wine with metallic elements, high acidity and explosive body, matching the volcanic character of the island. Other main varieties are athyri, aidani (white), mantilaria and mavrotragano (red). At the same time, the island has several rare local varieties, the so-called “xenoloes”, such as voudomato, katsano, gaidouria, flaskia, potamisi, mavrathyro, aitonyhi etc. Some wine producers have recently started vinification of such varieties.
Today Santorini constitutes the best organised wine-tourist destination with visitable wineries, excellent restaurants and wine tasting.