Having a balanced, Cretan diet is sure to make you happier. Not only is the food delicious, but also an intricate mix of ingredients and flavours. The quality and the freshness of every ingredient is the foundation and the strength of every dish, whether sweet or savoury.
There are so many delicious and tempting dishes you might find it hard to choose. However, there are some that you just can’t miss!
In Greek cuisine, piláfi is a soft and fluffy rice boiled in meat stock, and prepared in the oven. This rice dish is usually offered at traditional Cretan weddings (gamos means “wedding” in Greek). Considered a deluxe risotto, gamopílafo is a savoury dish prepared in a rich meat broth made from the long simmering of lamb or goat. Adding a touch of lemon juice and butter creates a wonderful smooth texture to the dish.
These days you can find it in many Cretan taverns, where you can enjoy this creamy dish while visiting the beautiful island.
A Greek yogurt cake with orange syrup, portokalopita is a fluffy and moist cake. Blending fresh orange and cinnamon aromas, an addition of vanilla ice cream and chocolate drizzle will complement this delicious dessert.
Lamb with Stamnagathi
Stamnagathi is a wild green used to cook this lamb dish; the lamb is sautéed in hot olive oil and oregano, with a dash of avgolemono (which is a lemon and egg based sauced) or a bit of freshly squeezed lemon. Stamnagathi can also be added to salads for an extra, luxurious touch to your food.
These small cheese or herb pies are similar to cheese stuffed pies. In Chania, the kalitsounia is salty and filled with local cheese, myzithra, or various herbs (with no cheese), or sweet and filled with myzithra and honey drizzled on top.
Served throughout the island, kalitsounia is obligatorily made with handmade pastry dough, usually shaped into tiny cups. The fillings can vary, especially with Crete’s amazing cheese selection, but feta isn’t used. You can have a kalitsounia that is both sweet and savoury, enjoying the delicious cheese pie at its fullest.
To top your delicious meals, a glass of raki, or Cretan Brandy, is a must. This fragrant, grape-based pomace alcoholic drink is also called tsikoudia in in some parts of Crete. It’s made from the distilling of pomace (or pieces of grapes that were previously pressed for the wine making process).
Drunk in shot glasses, it’s sometimes served cold as a digestif or aperitif with fruits and sweets after the meal. Lemon rind, rosemary, or honey can be used to flavour raki.