Crete: the ultimate culinary destination
15 Jan 2019

Crete: the ultimate culinary destination

Post by eyewide

Have you ever wondered why the Cretan cuisine is so famous worldwide? Numerous articles and researches praise the Cretan diet as one of the healthiest in the world, but if you want to really appreciate its value and the unique flavor of Cretan products, you have to visit Crete!

The basics

In Crete no dish is complete without a generous amount of – you guessed it- olive oil!
Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Cretan cuisine and the secret to the rich flavor that characterizes all dishes. In fact, Cretans consume more olive oil than any other people on earth! The best way to appreciate it is in fresh salads, as a topping on bread with oregano or as the main ingredient of sauces for fish dishes. PDO Cretan olive oil is characterized by its exceptionally high quality and is considered to be the best in the world. Cretan brands have received numerous awards and distinctions so don’t forget to buy some before you return home!

The appetizers

Cretan appetizers (aka meze) are not only amazingly tasty, but they are also very much connected to local culture. The best way to experience meze culture is by visiting a local kafenio to enjoy your raki or wine with a variety of side dishes filled with small culinary surprises! Typical appetizers include the famous Cretan dakos (cretan rusk topped with trimmed tomato and feta cheese), olives and cheese, taramosalata (fish roe spread) dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice filling), fava (yellow split peas puree), apaki (traditionally smoked ham), anthotiro (white cheese spread) or Cretan sausages. Cretan appetizers are so filling that perhaps you won’t need to order a main dish!
Try delicious Cretan appetizers at the Taverna-Ouzeri “Meltemi”

“Meltemi” is like a typical greek Ouzerie

The main dishes

Cretan cuisine is an amazing combination of simplicity and variety. Cretans don’t cook complicated dishes and only use a couple of main ingredients and herbs (usually oregano or thyme) for cooking instead of many spices. In this way, you will be able to appreciate the quality and real flavor of Cretan produce. Meat is usually roasted or boiled, served with freshly cut potatoes, pilaf or spaghetti. Vegetables and pulses are cooked with plenty of olive oil in the oven or casserole (a category known as ladera). Try briam (an assortment of oven-baked vegetables) or gemista (tomatoes, peppers and zucchini stuffed with rice) and fasolakia (fresh green beans in tomato sauce). Don’t leave without trying the glorious antikristo (traditionally roasted lamb) and cretan pilaf. If you are lucky enough to attend a Cretan wedding or a folklore festival in the summer, you will realize that Cretan cuisine is rich in both quality and quantity!

Taste the “stars” of the Cretan cuisine at Taverna Kriti, while enjoying a perfect view to the sea!

The desserts

In Crete, you can enjoy a local version of popular eastern specialties, like mouthwatering baklava, but also some very Cretan sweet treats that are both delicious and healthy. Typical Cretan desserts include cheese filled pies topped with honey or sugar & cinnamon (mizithropitakia, xerotigana, Sfakian pies) and yogurt topped with “spoon sweets” (local fruit preserves). Don’t forget to try galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie) and loukoumades (deep fried dough puffs topped with honey or chocolate). Finally, don’t forget to take back home a bottle of petimezi (grape syrup) or Cretan carob syrup, a healthier alternative for your breakfast pancakes!

Tags: , ,