One of the many benefits of booking holiday villas in Crete is the ability to prepare your own meals, saving you money on dining out. But if you’re looking to experience true Cretan culture – including the island’s food and drink – there are plenty of specialities you have to try. Here’s a run-down of our top five. 

1. Dakos

Depending on where you are in Crete, this dish could be listed as dakos, koukouvagia or kouloukopsomo on local menus. It’s bruschetta, Crete-style: barley rusks topped with fresh tomato, creamy local cheese, olive oil and herbs for a delicious meze treat.

2. Sfakianes Pites

These pancake-style pies hail from the Sfakia region of Crete’s south coast. The dough itself is made with flour, olive oil and the brandy known as raki, before being filled with cheese and sometimes wild greens. Sfakianes pites are then pan-fried like pancakes, and served with a drizzle of local honey.

3. Lamb with Stamnagathi

Lamb is commonly eaten throughout Crete – and serving it with stamnagathi is a popular choice. It’s a wild green that’s similar to spinach, with a distinctive sweet and slightly bitter taste. The lamb and stamnagathi, which usually boiled with olive oil and lemon, are often served with avgolemono – a sauce made with eggs and lemons.

4. Gamopilafo

Literally translating as “rice of the wedding”, gamopilafo is a risotto-style dish commonly eaten at weddings in Crete. You’ll also find it in restaurants across the island, though: a decadent dish that sees rice cooked with a slow-cooked meat broth, lemon juice and butter – delicious!

5. Chochlioi Boubouristi

If you’re feeling more adventurous and see chochlioi boubouristi on a Cretan restaurant menu, give them a try! It’s a dish of fried snails: traditionally, women will collect the snails by hand before they are washed and fried in a hot pan along with flour and olive oil. The final touch is a liberal sprinkling of either wine or vinegar, and they’re ready to be served. Some will add wild rosemary for extra flavour too.