Cretan cuisine is synonymous to the Mediterranean Diet. Filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, legumes and low fat dairy, lean protein and scarce meat consumption, this type of diet has been characterized as the closest thing to culinary perfection. And besides being extra healthy, it tastes great! No wonder the local housewives and traditional chefs on the island prepare dishes that impress not only with their deliciousness, but also with their generous portions, the simplicity of ingredients and warm feeling of “umami” in every single bite. Let’s have a closer look at some of the finest Crete gourmet ingredients and dishes to look forward to, while in Crete!
Of course, we have talked about fresh fruits and vegetables. Who has not tried out Cretan Dakos, whole grain rusk topped with grated tomato and soft white cheese, olive oil and oregano? A wonderful dish, served from early in the morning till late at night, as a meal itself or as a hearty snack or salad. Then, there is Sfakiani pita. This is a type of pie, resembling also flatbread and pancakes. It is a thin layer of dough, filled with mizithra cheese (soft and sweet choose variety) and fried for a couple of minutes each side. It is traditionally drizzled with extra virgin honey from the Cretan land. Another amazing delicacy from Crete gourmet recipes is that of Kalitsounia. They are Cretan cheese pies made with soft cheese like anthotyro or mizithra and topped with honey, thyme and cinnamon.
Moving on with this succulent gastronomical wonder, staka is a staple in the Cretan cuisine. It is a thick type of clarified butter from goat’s milk, encompassing the genuine flavors of the island. You can use staka butter in eggs and omelets, frying asparagus or other greens and literally skyrocketing even the plainest of ingredients. You can never go wrong with staka, for sure! And for those who want to go the extra mile, experiment with apaki. This is a type of marinated and smoked pork meat, ideal to add exquisite taste to every dish.
A typical dish served in weddings is gamopilafo, literally translated as wedding pilaf. In this recipe, rice is cooked in broth made with lamb or other type of meat. The entire richness of the meat is passed on to the rice and a feast of flavors exudes in every single bite. You serve it with lemon, salt and pepper and it is perfect to prevent you from a possible hangover. An alternative recipe substitutes rice for pasta and particularly skioufixta Greek handmade pasta.
Of course, these are just few of the marvelous Crete gourmet options to choose while visiting the island. There are also amazing delights such as marathopita (fennel pie) and chochlioi boumpouristoi (snails), Cretan boureki and Greek milk pie, fried dough strips with honey and nuts called xerotigana and spoon sweets made of seasonal fruits, these are all worth tasting!