8 Must-Try Dishes of Cretan Region
Greek cuisine is famous around the world for its simple yet absolutely delicious cuisine. While this is well-known, the fact that Crete is one of the major gastronomic destinations for Greeks puts our island on the map as a place not to be missed by all the global foodies! The developed agricultural infrastructure, hence the abundance of fresh high-quality meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables provide the perfect foundation for an exquisite gastronomic experience.
Living in Crete all your life, you still won’t be able to try out and know all the best tavernas & restaurants of the island. That being said, we have decided to put together for you a mini-guide of the few dishes you simply can’t miss while visiting Crete!
1. Cretan Salad (DUH!)
Most of you have heard about the wonderful Greek salad. Cretan salad has a similar base but the few extra ingredients take it to the whole different level! Yes, we are subjective but trust us on this one 😛 To the usual mix of tomato-cucumber-onion-olives we add crunchy rusks softened in olive oil and instead of feta Cretans often use mizithra – soft creamy goat cheese. Pure heaven!
2. Fresh grilled/ fried seafood
We won’t go into specifics here, as there are countless incredible plates to satisfy any taste, even for those who are not a fan of fish & seafood. Kalamari, soupia, mussels, sea urchins, shrimps, sardines and grilled fish… Pescatarians, Crete is your Mecca!
3. Fresh Kalitsounia
These traditional Greek pies that are tightly associated with Cretan home-made cuisine are definitely a must-try during your visit. Baked to perfect crunchiness and sprinkled with sesame seeds, kalitsounia come with different fillings – soft white mizithra cheese & honey, flavourful graviera cheese, spinach and mixed of wild herbs… Pick up a few fresh pies from a bakery nearby for an ultimate Cretan breakfast.
4. Lamb Chops
Greek lamb chops are a bit different from what you usually expect to get in overseas restaurants. While often the local lamb is quite lean and the chops are not as meaty, prepared on a grill they come out very smoky and flavourful. Just add some salt and lots of lemon to appreciate the dish to the full!
5. Apaki – Smoked Pork
Apaki is a traditional smoked and salted pork. The process of preparing apaki, proven by centuries, brings out strong aromatic qualities of the meat. The taste is overwhelming and, perhaps, not for everybody, but many carnivores absolutely love this local creation. Besides, it goes so well with tsikoudia 😉
This Greek street food doesn’t need any special introduction. Chunks of pork/chicken with hot fries, onion, tomatoes and thick Greek yoghurt wrapped in oily pita… You just can’t go wrong with this combination!
7. Xorta – Wild Mountain Herbs
Xorta is a general term for a variety of wild mountain herbs. Once you get acquainted with this taste, you can’t get enough of it! Apart from horta being the most perfect side dish for both fish and meat, packed with vitamins these herbs provide great nutritional value. Boiled in water, it is served with a generous splash of olive oil, lemon and some salt.
Boureki is zucchini & potato feta cheese gratin, a go-to dish for vegetarians and not only! And when it comes sizzling straight out of the oven… Don’t get us started!
These are just a few of the hundreds most incredible dishes and products Cretan cuisine is so rich with. The simplicity and high quality of local gastronomy make it hands down one of the best cuisines in the world. When visiting our beautiful island, make sure to explore this aspect of local culture!