Local delicacies you need to take back home.
Visit Lefkada’s wineries for an immersion in local viniculture and you’re sure to fall in love with two native “stars” – the subtly fragrant, sprightly white Vardea, and the velvety red Vertzami, with its juicy tannins and intense acidity. If you prefer one-stop shopping, De Blanck Greek Wines in Nydri offers an ever-growing catalog of regional wines and spirits, plus select international labels.
HONEY FROM ATHANI
Most of Lefkada’s honey is produced in the villages Dragano and Athani, in the island’s southwest region. You’ll find phenomenal, directly-sourced beehive products in several kiosks along the road to Porto Katsiki, like amber-colored thyme honey, aromatic pine honey, golden wildflower honey, propolis and royal jelly. Local honey is also available in most of Lefkada’s grocery stores.
OLIVE OIL AND OLIVE OIL COOKIES
Olive groves have always been a mainstay of Lefkada’s agricultural landscape, but olive oil production really boomed during Venetian Rule, fortifying the island’s economy. Asprolia, a PGI certified olive that produces excellent oil, is the dominant variety grown today. Most traditional food shops, and even super-markets, stock locally made extra-virgin olive oil. It’s also the main ingredient of two scrumptious Lefkada delicacies, ladokouloura aka olive oil cookies and ladopita, a type of halva. Crispy, fragrant ladokouloura with Greek coffee is a habit that’s hard to break, so be sure to stock up for your return home. Once Upon A Pie and Stavraka Sweets are your guaranteed go-to shops.
OLIVE OIL PIE
Olive oil pie or hoosmeri is a traditional sweet originally from Lefkada’s alpine villages. It’s prepared for festive occasions and as a vasilopita for New Year’s Eve. This delicious, non-dairy, halva style pie is made with extra virgin olive oil and sweetened with honey, sugar or petimezi, a grape molasses. You’ll find it in most bakeries and confectionaries - our top choice is the heavenly hoosmeri of Once Upon a Pie.
Cultivated for centuries on the Agios Donatos plateau, Eglouvi lentils are likely Lefkada’s most distinguished agricultural product, with their unbelievable flavor, creaminess and short cooking time. They are listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage catalog while both the United Nations and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas hold specimens of the PGI certified legume. Due to the region’s microclimate, soil quality, organic farming and traditional hand-harvesting, these petit, tender and multi-colored lentils are often snapped up before they go to market. Each year, on August 6 th, Eglouvi hosts the Lentil Festival where local farmers cook huge cauldrons of lentils for guests to enjoy, paired with salt-cured sardines, olives and plentiful wine. You can purchase Eglouvi Lentils at the traditional grocery store “Giannis Kapsokostas”.
Sfina is a hard and sharp white-brined cheese made from sheep milk. Akin to feta cheese, it’s named for the wedge shape formed by cheesecloths during the straining process. You’ll find excellent sfina, as well as other select Greek cheeses and local products, at the traditional grocery store “Giannis Kapsokostas”.
The globally unique “Karsaniki Stitch” was first introduced by Karya native Maria Stavraka in the early 20 th century. Despite crippling childhood injuries, her trademark embroidery technique was destined to leave a mark on generations of young apprentices. Today, Lekfada’s visitors can find wonderful handiwork, including jewelry and design objects that feature Karsaniki embroidery, for sale in the shops of Karya. Select pieces are also stocked by EAP - Aravani Chara in Lefkada town.
LEFKADA PASTELI AND MANTOLATO
Montolato and Pasteli, signature Heptanese sweets, hark back to the age of Venetian rule. Mantolato, a flavorful, fluffy nougat, prepared with beaten egg whites, honey, sugar and crunchy whole roasted almonds, carries this history in its name, as mandorla is Italian for almond. Nouveau Mantolato variations include recipes with mixed nuts, raisins, even chocolate. Lefkada pasteli, a super crunchy brittle made with whole almonds, is yet another exception to the standard sesame seed bar pastelis found on other Greek islands. One more interesting piece of pasteli and mantolato history: decades ago, these sweets were made not by bakers or confectioners, but by barbers! Today you’ll find them in shops dedicated to Lefkada’s gastronomical traditions, like local connoisseur Patisserie Tratamento.
LEFKADA AIR-DRIED SALAMI
Salami Lefkadas, with its light garlicky notes, whole peppercorns and delicate, supple texture is an Italian style cold-cut sieved through the island’s unique gastronomical history. One of the first branded local foods available throughout Greece, it remains a delicacy for generations of food-lovers. Enjoy it sliced to your desired thickness with a glass of wine and sharp cheeses, in sandwiches or even cooked in sauces. Another appetizing treat to sample is Lefkada sausage.
Soumada, or somada, as it’s pronounced in Lefkada, used to be served on joyous occasions, like wedding engagements and weddings, as its color was considered a good omen. In fact, it was so closely linked to weddings that people would toast “to your soumada” if you were unwed. This sweet and refreshing beverage is found throughout Greece. In Lefkada, it’s made with bitter almond and served with a glass of cold water and two semi-sweet coriander biscuits for dipping. You can buy bottled soumada to take back home at Patisserie Tratamento.
Rozoli is a traditional local liqueur made with orange, citron and cinnamon. Full of aroma and flavor, it’s perfect as a digestif or as a fragrant addition to cakes and cookies. You’ll find traditional Lefkada Rozoli at Patisserie Tratamento.
Text: Effie Barla