The traditional spoon sweet of Agios Georgios Sykousis of Chios
Chios island, except of course for the natural Chios mastic, is also famous for the production of spoon sweets, small sweet treats consisting of one or two bites of fruit preserved in syrup and marmalades. This kind of sweets are made with very old traditional recipes, using sometimes unexpected materials. Except from fruits, flowers and vegetables are also very often used.
This time of the year the countryside of Chios island is full of wonderful aromatic herbs with incomparable aroma: fresh oregano, aromatic thyme, rosemary, lemon verbena, sage, fragrant lavender and hypericum with its healing properties. The dry and mild Mediterranean climate, combined with the Aegean Sea breeze, is extremely favorable for these plant species, allowing them to grow especially rich in aromas and essential oils. Chios island presents a great variety in endemic species of aromatic plants and herbs encountered in the Aegean Sea, but also in the opposite Asia Minor coast.
If you take a stroll on the Chios commercial streets these days you will notice that the locals are selling “tsikouda”. They are miniscule green nuts that Chians love to eat every year in September.
The unique Mastiha is the brand product of Chios. Its multiple uses are constantly increasing. However, since the old days, the Chians used to make a special liqueur flavored with mastic.
The "Chios Mastiha" liqueur is classified among the Greek PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products. It is produced either by blending mastic oil, alcohol and sugar, or by extracting alcohol from mastic tears and then distilling and mixing with sugar. It is transparent and distinguished by its particular aroma and its qualities as an excellent digestive. A glass of mastiha liqueur can accompany sweets or ice creams on an afternoon call, can perfectly close a nice meal, or give a special flavor to a fruit salad.
In recent years, its special flavor has challenged the imagination of professional bartenders all over the world, who are creating cocktails with mastiha. Also the local bars of Chios have worked hard and have managed to raise their cocktail lists to a very high level, satisfying even for the most demanding connoisseurs, and winning international bartending contests. On your next visit to Chios, visit the local bars and you will be thrilled by the variety and the quality of the mastiha flavored cocktails.
Till then, try making a Mastiha Mojito” following this recipe:
Materials:2 ½ tsp. sugar
10 ml of fresh lemon juice
40 ml mastiha liqueur
20 ml of white rum
some mint leaves for garnish
Implementation:Put the sugar, lemon and mint in a mortar and beat them. Add the rest of the ingredients and enjoy!
In Chios and especially in the northern part of the island, when it is raining, a special type of mushrooms that the locals call “Amanites”, grow on the mountains. With the scientific name Lactarius Salmanicolor, these mushrooms resemble the pleurotus mushrooms in the shape, but they have a difference in color, since they are orange, and in taste, since they are much tastier.
They are usually found under the pine trees, alone, or in groups of 2-3 mushrooms and like most wild mushrooms are scarce, since their main part is under the earth and almost always they are invisible. They grow in the most unlikely places and in order to find them one needs knowledge, effort and patience. The lovers of these mushrooms should be accompanied by an expert who knows how to distinguish them from poisonous ones that have a similar look.
The locals however know specific spots where the mushrooms grow every year and also how to discover them, and this knowledge, that of course they usually do not share, makes the process easier for them. In order to protect the species, there is a limitation by the local forestry authority, which sets a limit for every mushroom lover, to cut up to two kg per day and to be careful not to touch their roots.
Amanites are usually fried and then served with some vinegar and lemon, but they are also delicious roasted or sautéed in the pan with wine and garlic! So, next time in Chios, ask for this exquisite “meze” at the local taverns. If you accompany them with some local wine, ouzo or souma, you will understand why the Chians walk miles on the mountains, early in the morning to discover them.
The Chios Mandarin is the fruit of the Citrus deliciose tenore, and more specifically of the Common Chios variety. This delectable fruit was recently recognised by the European Commission and granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) under the trademark Mandarini Chiou, which means that no other location can claim ownership of this fruit.
The Chios Mandarin has been known under this name for several decades in Greece and abroad, and has also been responsible for a good part of the island’s citrus trade. Chios has a reputation for its unique produce (particularly its mastic gum and citrus fruits), a source of pride for the people who continue to cultivate the land with respect for the natural environment and their cultural roots, maintaining many of the estates in the heartland of this tradition, Kambos.
The difference between chios mandarine and the clementine variety, which is widely known in the market, is the intense aroma and the strong flavor. Chios Mandarin is fragrant even when it is raw and it is full of vitamins. That is why in the past, in order to preserve their special characteristics, the Chiots wrapped the mandarins on paper printed with the producer’s logo one by one, before they were exported and sold abroad, where they were considered a luxury and a great gift to offer to someone you appreciate.
Poster for advertising or boxing decoration
The locals claim that anyone who tastes Chios Mandarin can smell hours afterwards its long-lasting aroma. They love their product and traditionally use it for sweets, jams, liqueurs and add it to syrups, delights, sesame seed candies, marzipans, juices and even in tomato sauces, legumes or salads.
On your next visit to Chios, do no miss to visit the Citrus Museum, situated at Kambos area, in order to learn about the history and growth cycle of Chios’s unique fruits. Plus you will have the chance to drink your coffee and enjoy local juices and sweets of citrus fruits in a traditional Kambos courtyard.