Olive trees have grown on the island since ancient times. Due to the extended periods of sunshine and the age-long experience of farmers, the oil produced on the island is of excellent quality. The Rhodian extra virgin oil has a bright yellow-green color, a rich flavor and a delicate aroma and it has been awarded a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). In the Women’s Agrotourism Association “Apolloniatisses, in the Apollona village, local women revive traditional recipes and promote the exceptional quality products of their region. You can find melekounia, marzipans, trahana, souma, liqueurs, wine, sweet preserves (spoon sweets) and herbs from the mountain Profitis Elias.
Tel. number: +30 22460 91284.
A retail outlet is also available in the city of Rhodes, on 68, Apostolou Pavlou Street, tel. number: +30 22410 64322
Pure Rhodian honey, honey-based sweets (melekounia, Turkish delights, jelly sweets, mandolata (nougats), pastelia (sesame seed candies), mandoles (roasted and caramelized almond bars) as well as cosmetics based on beehive products (body lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc.) can be found at “Melissokomiki Dodecanesou” (Beekeeping Company of the Dodecanese), on the 5th km of Tsairi–Airport national road, in Pastida village. On the company’s premises a Museum of Apiculture and Natural History of the Bee has been created.
Tel. number: +30 22410 48200, www.mel.gr
Many villages on Rhodes have their own specialties. In Archangelos “rifiki” is cooked, namely a kid or lamb backbone stuffed with rice and roasted in a clay pot overnight. In Lindos there is “giaprakia”, a mixture of minced meat, rice, onion, tomato pulp and dill weed wrapped in vine leaves and cooked in tomato juice, lemon juice and olive oil. “Dolmadakia” with lentils and rice wrapped either in vine or cyclamen leaves is considered a similar dish. “Gamopilafo” (served at weddings – “gamos”), namely pilaf with rice and chickpeas cooked in seasoned beef broth also comes from Lindos. Messanagros is famous for “koulouria” (the stress goes on /i/), a soup with handmade oblong pasta and goat meat that is traditionally served at weddings.
Generally speaking, Rhodes has a long tradition in handmade pasta, such as the hand-shaped spaghetti with garlic or the “loukoumi” (a kind of “hilopites”, which is egg pasta resembling tagliatelle). This tradition has probably something to do with the short presence of the Italians on the island. One of the most widespread traditional dishes is “pitaroudia” with onions, namely fried croquettes with finely chopped onions, finely chopped tomatoes, mint and flour. There are many kinds of “pitaroudia”: with chickpeas purée or courgette or minced meat.
A few more traditional Rhodian dishes are “loukoum pilaf” (hilopites and minced meat cooked in the oven), “fakoryzo” (lentils and rice) and “soupioryzo” (risotto boiled in cuttlefish ink). The most common side dish in the Rhodian cuisine is “pligouri” (bulgur) or “pergouri”, as it is called in the local dialect. It can accompany from meat to fish and it is served even in the most expensive restaurants.“Rouzetia” (Pearly razorfish - in other places they are called “katsoules” or “chtenia”) is a great seafood delicacy (meze). They are small red sandfish that are served fried, accompanied by “skordalia” (garlic dip). You will certainly find this dish in the fish taverns of Stegna beach. You can also look for Symian small shrimps in fish taverns. They are very small shrimps that are caught in the neighboring Symi island and they are served fried and crispy.
Of all the Rhodian sweets, the one that stands out is “melekouni”, a pastry offered at weddings and christenings. It is made of toasted sesame seeds, thyme honey, whole almonds, orange zest and cinnamon. “Melekouni” is soft and diamond-shaped. “Ritseli” is a sweet preserve made only on Rhodes of grapemust, dried figs, quinces and watermelon peels, while “talagoutes” are pancakes made with honey, walnuts, sesame seeds and cinnamon. Generally speaking, honey is widely used in Rhodian confectionery, as it is one of the products for which the island is famous.
Rhodian wines are considered unique. The mainly wine producing regions are the mountainous areas of western Rhodes and particularly the villages Embonas, Hagios Isidoros and Siana. The vineyards cover 600 hectares of land and the varieties grown are Athiri and Muscat, which produce white wine, as well as Mandilaria (or Amorgiano), which produces red wine.
Rodofili (white fume), Chevalier de Rhodes (red wine), Zacosta and Archontiko (red wines, aged in oak barrels), Granrose (rose wine) and the white wine Muscat de Rhodes, produced from Muscat grapes, are worth a try. Many grape growers make their own bulk wine, with which they supply the island’s taverns and coffee houses. It is said that Rhodes was the first island in the Aegean where a vineyard was cultivated and wine was produced. What is certain is that the Rhodians as early as the 7th century BC were the greatest wine merchants in the Mediterranean. The mountainous areas of the west side (Embonas, Hagios Isidoros, Siana) produce the best grapes. For the winemaking process, the varieties Athiri and Muscat (for white wine) and Mandilaria or Amorgiano (for red wine) are preferred.
Souma is the Rhodian tsipouro and it is produced by distilling grape pomace. It is a strong alcoholic drink and it is available in two types: single and double distilled (the strongest). Siana is regarded as the top village of souma production and every year in August the Honey and Souma Festival is held there, where you can taste this traditional drink as well as buy some from the distilleries that are located in the village. Rhodes produces two liqueurs that you will not find anywhere else. The Sette herbe (seven herbs) is a drink made by the Franciscan friars that lived in the monastery of Kira tou Filerimou (Our Lady of Filerimos). It was renowned for its digestive properties and in order to produce it the friars used seven herbs: sage, oregano, thyme, wormwood and three more which are kept secret. Today it is produced by a Rhodian distillery and you can find it at the stall that is operating in front of the entrance of the monastery.
The second traditional Rhodian liqueur is Koriandolino. Its characteristic feature is the sugar-coated coriander branch that is inside the bottle and looks like a small tree. Its production is limited because the bottling has to be made by hand and it is available in various flavors. It has always been the classic gift everyone visiting Rhodes brought back to friends and relatives.
On the island the only beer Premium Lager type is also produced.