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While you are here on holiday in Zante make sure you try a few of the locally grown products from the island of Zakynthos
Sold in resort stores and road side stalls in the northern part of the island, you will get a real taste for the island with these delicious products. Zakynthos is a very fertile island and subsequently has a lot to offer in terms of food, drinks, treats and sweets!
As your drive around the island of Zante, particularly in the east of the island, you will see plenty of grape vines sprawling through the countryside.
The grapes are used primarily for the production of local wine. There are a number of wineries here, such as Solomos Wines, who produce beautiful bottles of refined Greek wine. Alternatively, you can find some more basic products simply sold in old water bottles!
Zakynthian grapes are also frequently turned into raisins. During the late summer and autumn months you will often see the grapes laid out to dry in the sun in the middle of the fields. The raisins here are always delicious and bursting with flavour!
Much of the island of Zakynthos is filled with olive groves. In the
south western region of Porto Koukla the groves are really beautiful –
with huge, majestic old trees. It is a pleasure to walk around these
Some of the olives are kept aside for eating – they are generally soaked in salted water and preserved for consumption over the following year.
Most of the yearly olive crop is used for the production of olive oil. Zante is one of the largest producers of olive oil in Greece. This is the basis of most Greek dishes and you can really taste the difference from supermarket oil in the U.K. We often drive up to the western village of Louha and buy our olive oil from the local village coffee shop and store. The oil here is family made and absolutely delicious!
Yoghurt and honey is one of the most popular lunchtime snacks in the Greek Island and is synonymous for many with a holiday in Greece. Zakynthos produces a large supply of honey every year – with bee hives dotted around the island in the more isolated areas.
With lots of herbs and flowers growing on the hills and mountains of Zante, the bees here produce beautiful honey. We always buy our honey from the ‘Honey Lady’ in the north of the island. She is a real hidden treasure, making nearly all of her own products. Her honey is for us the best on the island.
You can find her by driving north on the coastal road towards Askos Stone Park. Just before the entrance to the park, on the other side of the road, you will see a small hand-written sign saying Honey Sold Here. This is her home, rather than a commercial shop, and you will be welcomed in to see the production of the honey and maybe even taste a bit of the tasty honeycomb.
If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the locally produced Zante sweets while you are visiting the island. Zakynthos makes its own Nougat and Pastelli, a mixture of nuts set in honey!
You will see the sweets sold in tourist shops all around the island and many people choose these sweets to take home as gifts for friends and family.
For a really fresh and authentic taste, head down to Zante Town. Opposite Saint Dennis Church on the harbour road there are a number of stalls on the road that sell the freshest nougat and pastelli. They cater to the Greeks mainly – always a good sign!
Herbs are everywhere in Zante – as soon as you step out of the airport you are welcomed by the vibrant smell of fragrant wild oregano, thyme and lemon balm, that grow in abundance in the fields that surround Zakynthos airport.
Many Greek herbs become a daily part of your stay on the island as even the simplest Greek dishes include a generous handful of Mediterranean greenery!
Herbs are an integral part of Greek life, both chronicled in mythology and catalogued in the libraries of ancient Greek medicine. Our favourite Herbs to be found in Zakynthos are:
• Thyme: a ‘low-growing’ woody shrub with small dark green leaves. In
Zakynthos the flavour of thyme is tasted in Zakynthian thyme honey and
many traditional meals.
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