Cretan Cuisine – A guide to the gastronomy of Crete

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Crete is the biggest island of Greece and apart from its wonderful beaches, amazing landscapes and picturesque towns, it also has a famous culinary scene. It’s not a secret that the Cretan soil and climate are considered the best in the Mediterranean.

That’s the reason why Crete produces delicious vegetables and fruits! The Cretan Diet is one of the healthiest and tastiest worldwide. Moreover, it is important to note that food plays a major role in the locals’ lifestyle and longevity. You will understand this as soon as you set foot on the island!

These are the reasons why Crete has become one of the most popular destinations for foodies. So, after our Greek meze list, we present you the must-try food and dishes of this gastronomic paradise. Take notes!

#Cretan Cheeses

Cheese is the absolute favorite food of the Cretans. The cheese produced on the island is of excellent quality and some types are registered as “Protected designation of origin” products. The Cretan cheese was even famous since ancient times when the island used to export it! The most famous Cretan cheeses are anthotyros, graviera, kefalotiri, myzithra, and staka. Of course, cheese is used in many Cretan recipes as well.

#Dakos

The Cretan Dakos (also known as “koukouvayia”) is always a nice option for a light complete meal or an appetizer. Dakos is a type of greek bruschetta, easy and quick to make with just a few simple ingredients. It consists of homemade Cretan rusk, Cretan olive oil, tomato, olives, and, of course, a Cretan white cheese such as Feta, Mizithra or Anthotyros.

#Snails (Chochlioi)

Chochlios means snail in the Cretan dialect. It is one of the most favorite delicacies in Crete! The locals like to cook them in many different ways. The most common is frying them with flour and hot olive oil in a pan. Other dishes with snails are snails with tomato sauce and French fries, snails with eggplants, snails with rosemary and wine, snails with pligouri, etc. You can always choose the one closest to your taste.

#Cretan Little Pies (Kalitsounia)

These little Cretan cheese pies, also known as kalitsounia, are one of the most famous local delicacies. You can find them everywhere! You can eat them with anthotyro cheese and spearmint or with spinach and myzithra cheese. Either way, they are delicious. There is also a sweet version of kalitsounia known as “lyhnarakia”, that is traditionally made during the Easter period but you can find them all year long at every pastry shop.

#Gamopilafo

Gamopilafo is a Cretan dish, famous all over Greece as a traditional wedding dish. Gamopilafo consists of rice or “pilafi” that is well cooked – its’ taste is enhanced with a lot of butter – and of course, it is served with boiled lamb or chicken.

#Cretan Brandy (Raki or Tsikoudia)

Raki or tsikoudia is a traditional Cretan spirit with a really strong aroma, which contains a high percentage of alcohol by volume. Raki or Tsikoudia is produced every autumn after the grape harvest and it is traditionally offered to the visitors as a welcome drink. It is a way for the Cretans to express their hospitality and you surely have to drink it or some of them may feel insulted. Be prepared to drink a lot! Raki is also a nice gift choice for your friends and family back home. You can find bottles in every size at the supermarkets or every little shop selling local products.

#Apaki

Apaki is smoked and salted pork meat marinated with a mix of local herbs. The traditional smoking process is slow and natural, bringing out the characteristic fumé aroma of the wood. It is an appetizer and it is typically served in small and thin slices.

These were just some of the best Cretan dishes. Unfortunately, the list of Cretan food and local delicacies is endless and we will soon publish a new post presenting even more delicious recipes.

Until then, check Greeka’s up to date selection of the finest restaurants and local tavernas in:
Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, and Lassithi

Feel free to make your research before booking your dinner!

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