Crete is a foodie destination. One of Greece’s top island getaways is renowned for its exquisite, fresh and mouthwatering dishes that not only taste great, but are also nutritional. We have compiled a list of the top 10 Cretan foods you must try when visiting the island.
The Cretan Diet
Crete is an island blessed by nature. The sun soaked seasons are gentle on the fertile soil and that is seen in the richness of the local produce.
Cretan cuisine is a delight for all the senses and the health benefits of the Cretan diet are beyond sensational. Named one of the top diets in the world the Cretan diet is tasty, nutritional and ensures good health. Olive oil is the foundation of it and is consumed daily, in generous portions.
The Cretan Diet is based on the age-old dietary traditions of the island which involves the use of pure ingredients, abundant consumption of fruits, vegetables, plenty of olive oil, moderate consumption of meats and a daily glass of wine. In Crete life is meant to be celebrated and you will get this feeling once you step foot on this blessed land.
10 Top Cretan Foods: A feast for the senses
Eating on Crete is like finding yourself in the midst of the Garden of Eden — the rich aromas and plethora of magnificently prepared dishes are alluring. When you find yourselves on Crete don’t tell us we didn’t warn you — a feast for the senses awaits. Here is a list of the 10 top Cretan foods you must try.
A traditional delicatessen made from pork, which is seasoned and cured, smoked with olive wood and infused with local herbs such as sage, marjoram and thyme.
Crete is a cheese heaven and local cheeses are served at every meal. The majority of the Cretan cheeses are made out of sheep or goat milk, or both. Cheese making is art and every village is known for its own distinctive production. Some of the most popular Cretan cheeses are:
- Graviera: One of the classic hard Cretan cheeses is made of sheep’s milk and can either be enjoyed plain, with bread or topped with honey for a unique flavor.
- Myzithra: This famous soft, creamy cheese is commonly seen at a dinner table. It is either consumed as light meze with olives, fresh tomatoes and bread, used on salad toppings or simply sprinkled on pasta dishes.
- Kefalotiri: Slightly a darker yellow color it is salty and tangy in flavor.
- Pichtogalo of Chania: This simple, everyday soft cheese resembles yogurt in texture with a slightly sharp taste. It is either consumed on its own or used as a filling in pies.
Dakos is a traditional appetizer which is an absolute must-try when on Crete. A delicious, light meze also known as koukouvagia which translates to owl.
The secret behind this refreshing dish is the use of juicy grated tomatoes which tops the barley rusk, garnished with myzithra cheese, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. The secret to making the crunchy barley rusks soft is adding a touch of water or olive oil.
Fried snails (Chochlioi Boubouristi)
The chochlioi boubouristi are fried snails and it is an extremely popular dish. Locals hand pick the snails from their secret spots, dust them with flour and fry them in olive oil, inundating them with wine or vinegar for an enticing taste.
Gamopilafo is the local version of risotto which translating from Greek means wedding rice. It is a staple dish served at weddings and baptisms, nowadays you will come across it on most of the taverna and restaurant menus.
The cooking process is rather lengthy which involves hours of boiling the meat, usually local lamb or goat accompanied by rice which is flavored with butter and lemon. It is definitely one of the best dishes to try.
Kaltsounia (Cheese pies)
This sweet and sour pastry is a Greek Easter holiday favorite which can be savored all year round. It is also commonly served at Cretan weddings. The sweet little cheese pies make the perfect appetizer — made of myzithra cheese, flavored with cinnamon and baked to perfection.
Kolokythoanthoi (Stuffed zucchini flowers)
Difficult to pronounce yet tantalizingly delicious these stuffed zucchini flowers are a much-loved Cretan dish. The squash blossoms are stuffed with rice and herbs, served with a smooth yogurt on the side.
A traditional pie recipe prepared using fresh fennel, onion and spinach fried with a touch of oil on a pan.
A classic Greek dish made with rabbit or hare. The Cretans love this dish and you will find it almost everywhere. Cooked with small onions in red wine sauce, it is considered a local delicacy.
This alcoholic beverage is served everywhere around the island and it is a custom to have a glass of raki or two after your meal. Don’t be surprised if you receive a small carafe of raki and fruits after your meal. The Cretans are very hospitable and it is their pleasure to serve you their all-time favorite drink.
We hope that you find our list of 10 top Cretan foods you must try useful. Have you tried any? Let us know which is your favorite by commenting below.