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Eating in Crete

Crete is the delicatessen of Greece, famous for its tasty and healthy cuisine. The Cretan Diet was the subject of study that revealed its great health benefits and nutritional value.

A good tip is to join any of the hundreds of traditional fiestas in villages having great food, wine and live folk music.

Cheese

Unlike most regions in Greece, Feta is not produced and is not very popular in Crete. However you will find a very good variety of delicious locally produced Cretan cheeses, such as:

  • Graviera: (Greek: Γραβιέρα) The standard hard cheese; there are many types and tastes. Taste before buying.

  • Myzitra: (Greek: Μυζίθρα) A fresh cheese made of ewe's milk. It is sometimes made of goat's milk (in which case it is called "katsikisia") or mixed milk. A good goat's one will taste like these expensive French "chèvre frais".

  • Anthotiros: (Greek: Ανθότυρος) from the words "anthos" (flower) and "tiros" (cheese) it is a very mild, soft spring cheese made when the sheep pastures are still full of flowers. The closest popular cheese is the Italian mozzarella, although it is quite different.

Meat

Snails cooked in various ways (one of the most traditional dishes of Crete), Smoked ham (apaki) and smoked sausages (loukaniko), traditional mountain goat or lamb cooked in various ways, cretan pilaf (chicken risotto), souvlaki (pork meat, lamb, chicken or fish on skewers).

Fish and seafood

Sardines (Greek: σαρδέλες) , barbounia (Greek: μπαρμπούνια - red mullets), kalamarakia (Greek: καλαμαράκια - fried squids), atherina (Greek: Αθερίνα - fried tiny fishes), Octopus (Greek: Χταπόδι - sundried or drunken)

Side dishes

  • Dips and sauces

Tzatziki (dip made of garlic, oliveoil, greek yogurt and dill), taramosalata (Caviar dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant and garlic dip),kopanisti or tyrokafteri (cheese dip).

  • Salads and Vegetables:

Dakos (Greek: Ντάκος - Cretan rusk with tomato, feta cheese, olives, oregano and olive oil), Horta vrasta (boiled greens with olive oil and lemon juice), Greek salad (Greek: Χωριάτικη) (cucumber, tomatoes, onion, feta cheese and olives), kolokithakia tiganita (fried courgettes), melitzanes tiganites (fried eggplants), kolokythokeftedes (courgette crockets).

Desserts

Amigdaloto (made with almonds), sfakianopita, tyropitakia, spanakopitakia, kaltsouni, Greek yogurt with honey.

Restaurants

The Cretans themselves eat out late, after 10 or 11 PM, and often in a group. They prefer dinner in a good taverna, a small local restaurant offering the local cuisine. Most dishes are fresh from that day. The menu is only for tourists, Cretans ask the waiter for specialities, and have a look in the kitchen or in a 'vitrine', glass display case. Dinner is usually outside. Fresh fish becomes more and more rare, and is expensive, priced by the weight. Restaurants and tavernas by law have to display if they offer fresh, or frozen, fish.

Greek people seldom have breakfast. They do enjoy a copious lunch.

Heraklion Sailing Club (Greek: Ιστιοπλοϊκός Όμιλος Ηρακλείου) Heraklion Harbour. Simple and cute restaurant with fresh and quality seafood in relatively low prices. Specialities: grilled sardines, Octopus salad, clam and mussel risottos.

"Pagopieion" (Ice-Factory)is a "quirky", very different restaurant and cafe/bar, at St Titus square, by the church. You can sit outside and enjoy the setting or - you might be tempted by the dramatic decor to sit inside. Either way, the food is excellent, the menu different and interesting - Mediterranean with a twist. Good fish too.

 


 


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