The history of culinary treasures, is started many years before, by the Minoans. Minoans weren’t so interested in architecture, like Venetians but they were interested in gastronomy. They were the ones to systematically produce and export products such as olive oil and wine. Minoans were also the first to elevate Chania and Crete to a totally new culinary level. If you see the culinary history of the island, you will understand that, until today, the traditional gastronomy of Chania and Crete is still based on the same timeless superb foods that are produced on the island.

Some of the most known local products and produce are: olive oil, fine quality cereals, meet (of course), greens and herbs. Don’t forget about the famous Mediterranean diet which is totally culinary based in the Cretan diet. Probably the best way to taste the best of the gastronomy of Chania and Crete, is to take part in a culinary excursion or tour while on your holidays. Crete was one of the first destinations in the Mediterranean to encourage gastronomy holidays, so nowadays it offers plenty of culinary experiences you can (literally) taste.

Dakos! What is it? Something delicious! Just try it! It is a fantastic Greek maze or salad reminiscent of bruschetta but based on barley rusks or paximadi, not on bread. The rusks are lightly soaked in water or olive oil to soften them and then they are topped with grated fresh tomato and myzithra (the creamy sheep or goat’s milk cheese). Dakos drizzled with Cretan virgin oil and dusted with salt, oregano, pepper! Bon apetit!

If you really want to try something originally Cretan, then, try Chochlious Boubouristous (Fried snails). In Crete, women usually collect the snails by hand and then, they cooked up live! Yes, and French people treat snails as a delicacy but Cretans made them delicious! Fried snails are fried with flour and hot olive oil in a pan, then doused with wine or vinegar and… here we are! Ready to serve them and eat! If you want, you can add a dash of wild rosemary.

Another delightful dish is the Kaltsounia or Cretan Cheese Pies! Kaltsounia recipe is a handmade pastry dough which is must, usually shaped into tiny cups. The filling varies because each region and every family has its preferences. They tend toward the sweet, and count on any number of those luscious Cretan cheeses like myzithra but not feta. If you want, try the Kaltsounia with rosewater. Of course, the final touch is Cretan honey on the top, making the pies a heady combination of sweet and savory.

If you like pies, the super suggestion is Sfakianes pites or Sfakia pies. The origin of these pies are from a mountainous coastal region which is called Sfakia. When you see Sfakia pies, you will think about pancakes but, beyond the flour, the dough contains local olive oil and the famous Cretan liquor, raki. Then, any number of the various Cretan fresh, soft, white goat or sheep’s milk cheeses like myzithra or pichtogalo Chanion are incorporated into the center of the pie. Fried with only a light brushing of olive oil, they are eaten with a drizzling of thyme or heather honey.

As you see, in Crete, Cretans use enough the local honey and their cheeses. Crete, is a huge island that produces many products of every kind. The ground everywhere is very productive and that’s why they have a lot of goodies to eat and treat their voyagers.

Everyone who knows Crete, knows Gamopilafo! As the name hinds (gamos means wedding in greek), this rice dish is offered at traditional Cretan weddings. Of course, you will find the Gamopilafo dish in every restaurant or taverna you will go. The first thought in your mind when you see Gamopilafo dish, is that looks like a deluxe risotto and the truth is that this dish prepared like that but in a rich meat broth that you make from a lengthy simmering of goat, lamb or rooster. Then, you incorporate a dash of lemon juice and liberal amounts of stakovoutiro - this is a butter created from the creamy skin that forms on the top of boiled fresh goat’s milk and is turned into a roux.

One more culinary treasure of Crete which is almost known in the world is the Lamb with Stamnagathi. Stamnagathi is a wild green that has become trendy or late. The Cretan lamb is sautéed in hot olive oil and oregano accompanied with the stamnagathi green and the well-known avgolemono (egg and lemon based).

Finally, you will find in every catalogue at every restaurant or taverna the Hirina apakia or smoked pork dish! To prepare this dish, there is a certain process that it has to be followed. The cooking of Hirina Apakia is to marinate strips of pork in vinegar for several days. Then, a fire is made using local herbs, sage, bay, rosemary and you leave the meat to smoke! The smoke is continuously stoked to keep the herby aroma infusing the meat. The final product tastes of the fresh herbs and can be served later, cold, in thin slices.

Enjoy your meal!