The Cretan cuisine is the most indicative segment of the acclaimed Mediterranean diet, and it is gaining worldwide recognition not only for its innumerous health benefits, but also for the uniquely high quality of the local produce it incorporates resulting in the delicious taste of the final dishes! So if you are visiting this glorified island, forget the Gyros and Souvlaki; it would be a shame not to try some of Crete’s signature dishes! We have selected the Top – 10 of the most appetizing and gratifying dishes of the Cretan cuisine, guaranteed to elevate your stay to a gastronomic trip of immeasurable value!
Dakos: also known in many parts of Crete as “koukouvagia” (literally an owl). Probably the most favourite Cretan salad. Dakos is a big barley rusk called “paximadi”, topped with freshly chopped tomatoes and “mizithra”, a delicious Cretan goat’s cheese. Dressed with nothing but extra virgin Cretan olive oil and seasoned with dried oregano and salt, this dish thrives in its simplicity.
Kalitsounia: very similar to the well-known Greek cheese pies, and yet so unique. “Kaltsounia” are small pockets of pastry filled with a variety of Cretan soft cheeses and herbs, sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with a delicious Cretan Thyme honey.
Cochlioi boubouristoi: or fried snails, a delicacy much like the French Escargot, but with a Cretan flair that makes it an unforgettable savory experience.
Gamopilafo: a risotto-type rise dish, served customarily at weddings, but also a staple in many Cretan restaurants and tavernas. For this dish, rise is cooked in the thick broth made after simmering lamb meat, and it is served with a sprinkle of lemon juice and “stakovoutiro” a luscious roux made by goat’s milk butter.
Apakia: a smoked pork treat, served in thin slices; one of the most typical Cretan meat dishes and a staple in every Christmas dinner. To make apakia, thin strips of pork meat are first marinated in vinegar for several days before being hanged to smoke over a dried herb fire. The Cretan herbs give the meat a distinctive taste that you can’t get enough of!
Lamb with Stamnagathi: Stamnagathi is a wild green found only in Crete; its’ leaves look like baby arugula but its bitter taste vaguely resembles that of chicory. You will find it a very befitting side for lamb, and the “avgolemono” (egg and lemon) sauce that accompanies them makes this dish unforgettable!
Stuffed zucchini flowers: if you’ve traveled to Greece before, you have certainly tried the stuffed wine leaves, or “dolmadakia”. But here in Crete, everything is a tad different, and dare we say, a tad better. Try dolmadakia the Cretan way, stuffed in the orange flower of baby zucchinis and set the controversy to rest!
Grilled Skaros fish: the fish of choice for any Cretan would definitely be the Skaros, or parrot fish. Enjoy it simply grilled and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and you will never opt for another fish again!
Xerotigana: a sweet treat, usually served at weddings but also very popular in many Cretan bakery shops. Made with thin strips of pastry, wrapped, fried and drizzled with dried nuts and honey, it will please your sweet-tooth for certain.
Raki: well, technically not a dish, but such an important element of Cretan that it could not be left out of our Top – 10 Cretan dishes. Raki, or “tsikoudia” is the ultimate drink, the trademark of Crete, the staple of every Cretan meal and celebration. You will be offered a raki shot literally everywhere, and pairing it with some black Cretan olives or some Graviera cheese dipped in honey might as well transform it into a culinary delight that only the magical island of Crete can provide!
So, if you are in Crete, look around for these traditional dishes and enjoy the real flavours or Cretan cuisine! Look for more details, restaurants in Crete and details about the ingredients at www.galaxy-hotel.com/dining-overview.