10 Delicious Foods and Drinks from Kos that You’ll Love!
In ancient times, Kos was considered a paradise, the island of Hippocrates, the god of medicine, where people went to heal. That’s how lush its verdant slopes were and how fertile its lands. That hasn’t changed!
Kos remains one of the most beautiful islands of the Aegean. Lying north of Rhodes, it’s the third biggest of the Dodecanese, the island group in the southeast of Greece, very near Turkey.
When you go to Kos, you will not only be amazed by its gorgeous, lush nature that one never quite expects to find on a Greek island, but you’ll also find excellent amenities that don’t ruin the experience of authentic traditions.
History on Kos is everywhere, but tightly woven into the present and the future. So, together with the ancient sites and the picturesque villages, you can cycle everywhere, watch the main city becoming sustainable, and enjoy the stunning beaches knowing that they are being cherished.
And when you’re ready to take a break, you will get to enjoy the amazing food of the island. The natural opulence of the land combined with its strategic trade and commerce position, as well as its long history of cultures blending with the local is why the cuisine here is irresistible.
Our list will start you off on an amazing culinary journey of tradition and flavor. But keep in mind that is is really only the first chapter of a great and plentiful experience!
The distinctive, unique cuisine of Kos
In the millennia of its constant habitation, Kos has always been agriculturally opulent: watermelons, melons, grapes, a large variety of vegetables, and vast vineyards. The wine was exported even during antiquity, but also in Roman and Byzantine times.
Through the turbulent modern times, Kos has remained a very rich island with a thriving economy based on stock raising and cultivation of the land. And though today some of the island’s population has given up working the land in favor of tourism, a good, solid percentage maintain the beautiful orchards, vineyards, and olive groves of Kos.
The local cuisine ranks as the classic Mediterranean diet, so it is quite healthy and nutritious. Beyond that, however, the specific historical and cultural influences blending with the classic Greek elements have yielded a distinctive style of cooking on this Island.
For Kos, the staple food is the tomato, locally produced, the variety of cheeses, the honey, and the good wines. Combined, they yield delectable food and drink.
Literally called “wine cheese” or “wine for drinking” (tyri tis posias), this small, barrel-like white cheese is made with sheep or goat’s milk. It is securely tied and dipped several times, then left to mature in wine lees.
The result is a dark red exterior and a salty, smooth and distinctive cheese that is, you guessed it, great for wine party cheese platters.
A popular way of consuming it is also fried in olive oil with a sprinkle of lemon, in the usual “saganaki” method that is popular all over Greece. The result is a crunchy crust and a creamy, irresistible cheesy goodness that begs for bread to be dipped in it!
This is a type of flat pasta that is made with water and flour and a special rolling pin called a “pitaridi”. The rolling pin is used to make the dough really thin, before cutting it into wide stripes. Once ready, pitaridia are boiled in some kind of meat stock, usually beef, to give them a strong meat flavor.
They are served with butter and grated mitzithra cheese. This dish has the feel of opulence, but is actually a good way to stretch the budget. But it tastes so irresistibly good, it is incredibly popular, regardless of hardship.
3. Katimeria (Stuffed Cheese Loops)
Katimeria are deep fried doughy discs stuffed with a creamy, soft cheese, either anthotyro or soft mitzithra. They can be savory, where the cheese is mixed with herbs and salt, or sweet, where the cheese is mixed with honey and cinnamon.
Katimeria are a staple food for the carnival season, but you can find them all year round nowadays! They make for a great snack, breakfast, or quick lunch!
4. Pasha Makarouna
This is the best, but also the rarest dish in Kos because pasha makarouna involve a lot of work, skill, and dedication. If you are lucky enough to be invited home for a dish, do not pass up the invitation!
Pasha makarouna can be described as a type of lasagna. It requires very thin pasta dough, made from scratch, rolled paper thin with a pitaridia and carefully layered. The layers are alternately filled with a mix of three types of minced meat, prepared with spices and olive oil, and mitzithra cheese or a mix of local cheeses.
The secret is to keep there layers to no more that a couple of centimeters deep: the more skilled the cook, the thinner the layers. Once layered, meat stock is poured over the top and it is slowly cooked so that the dough ends up something between a crispy pasta and phyllo dough. The result is a veritable chorus of taste, texture, and richness.
5. Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
This delicate and succulent dish is a symbol of oil-based summer dishes on Kos. Large zucchini flowers are stuffed with a mix of rice and herbs, doused with vegetable stock, and baked in the oven.
It is surprisingly filling and satisfying, with flavors and fragrances making for an excellent lunch that’ll fuel you for your afternoon explorations without weighing heavy on your stomach.
6. Pork with Groats
This dish is considered relatively simple but extremely satisfying and warming, especially during cold winter nights. Chopped pork is first briefly roasted in olive oil over a high heat, before turning down the heat and finishing it off so it is soft and tender.
Groats are then added, to soak up the juices, together with cumin and other spices to create a very tasty, nutritious meal.
As their name implies, these pies are made during Easter (which is also called “Lambri” in Greek). They are pies made with a yoghurt-based dough (which takes quite a bit of skill to keep airy), filled with white cheese, such as feta, and cinnamon.
They are baked in the oven and have to be left to cool or they are so crumbly they fall apart. They have a unique taste that simply has to be experienced!
This is a quick omelet cooked in a tomato and onion sauce, fried in olive oil, and topped with crumbled feta cheese. A warm, filling meal for any time of the day.
Maeria is a vegan dessert that is very popular on Kos during Lent. It is made with citrus fruit leaves, ouzo, cinnamon, and walnuts. It is a semi-transparent, very fragrant, sweet pudding that has a velvety texture which is balanced by the crunchiness of the walnuts.
10. The Drinks of Kos
Kos is well known for its wine legacy. Hippocrates considered wine a necessary part of a healthy diet, and so Kos had a long and thriving wine making history. High quality red, white, and rose wines are made by long standing wineries of the island. Make sure to book your spot for wine tasting tours, and enjoy the lush varieties of Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, and Kydonitsa.
If you aren’t really a fan of alcohol, perhaps a refreshment is more like it! Try the local kanelada, which is a hot or iced cinnamon drink that is sweet and stimulating.
The food of Kos is fresh, tasty, and unique. A lot of the dishes listed just here can’t be found anywhere else. So when you are in Kos, make sure you taste them all, and others that the locals will suggest from the rich heritage that is Kos’ cuisine!
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