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Culture Trip explores why Tinos is becoming the ultimate Greek island for adventurous food lovers.
Unlike its party loving sister island Mykonos, Tinos has a reputation for being sleepy and unexplored. Aside from the annual pilgrimage to Tinos on August 15 every year, the island remains off the grid. The combination of splendid, unpolluted waters, bright sunshine and the luscious natural landscape has made Tinos an ideal destination for foodie lovers.
On arrival, the port does a great disservice to what the island offers. If you’re visiting for the first time, don’t be put off. While the furnishings around the harbour are sparse and unimpressive, you only need to travel a little deeper inland and you’ll discover why this is such a dream place for a food-filled holiday.
Tinos is populated with small, hillside villages where fresh ingredients ensure that Greek dishes and island staples are perfectly created. There’s nothing fussy about the food on Tinos yet it still manages to impress. Wherever you go, Tinian delicacies such as agkinaroryzo (a must-try dish of artichokes on rice), wholesome rabbit stew or succulent sun dried tomatoes will never disappoint.
Alongside these excellent local restaurants are Tinian creatives embracing sustainable food production. One such enterprising duo are the pair behind Hypercomf, a dynamic and playful Greek collective that create fashion and modern art. Ioannis Koliopoulos and Paola Palavidi are based predominantly on Tinos and run a local honey business, Tinos Honey, as well as working on their creative projects. The pair cite the dry and windy climate of Tinos as perfect honey making conditions and embrace a beehive-to-table mentality. Production without the frills. Unsurprisingly, it tastes delicious.
Meanwhile the San Lorenzo dairy also harnesses the optimal conditions to produce a variety of rich and fresh local cheeses such as Castellano (mastic cheese) and traditional Tinos “Kopanisti” cheese. These are available in the main town and stores across the island.
It’s in Tinos’ markets that food lovers can really feast on the best of the island produce. Located between the new and old harbours of the island, the farmers’ market at Pallada bustles with delicacies, fresh fruit and vegetables. Food is seasonal, so depending on when you visit you can find anything from wild mushrooms to creamy artichokes, capers, Tinos’ famous chickpeas and salsitsi – a distinctive kind of salami found especially on the island. Shops such as Aegean Natural Foods in the main town are also a great spot for picking up souvenirs to take back with you.
For those really looking to delve into the flavoursome island life, there is also the annual Tinos Food Paths event. Each May islanders and visitors alike gather for a trail around the island which brings those involved to the best gastronomic spots. Events take place in villages across the island but much of the action centres around Tinos’ fish market where locals served up their finest dishes every night. Highlights included cuttlefish cooked in its ink with noodles, Tinos gooseberry and fresh herbs and sweet lamb with Aegean pumpkin. Hard to resist.
But if you’ve missed Food Paths this year, fear not. Tinos’ sumptuous culinary offering is guaranteed to enthrall all year round.