Sampling traditional Greek cuisine in Crete
The largest of the Greek islands and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, Crete is an island paradise that boasts spectacular beaches, exceptionally warm climate and large number of archaeological sites. While the island undoubtedly has a lot of the ingredients of a great holiday, it’s also a prime destination for the foodies of the world.
Tourism is the island’s economy and as a result, Crete’s infrastructure revolves around the needs and wants of the millions of tourists that flock to the island every year. The tourists that travel to the island are diverse and unique, and because of this, the facilities on the island cater to every possible taste and this is very obvious when it comes to the island’s restaurants.
Greek cuisine heaven… and more
The culinary scene in Crete is rich and diverse and features food from all over the world, including, but not limited to, American, Italian, Chinese, traditional Cretan and most importantly, Greek cuisine. In fact, Greek food is having something of a revival in recent years and as a result, lots of Greek restaurants have opened up on the island to cater to the growing demand for authentic and traditional Greek dishes.
From secluded tavernas to fresh new faces on the restaurant scene, Crete has everything that an international foodie could hope for. As it’s an island, fresh seafood features heavily in the Cretan diet, with dishes such as skáros (parrotfish), marinated anchovies, grilled sardines and soupiá (cuttlefish) all proving popular with locals and tourists alike.
Something for everyone
However, if you don’t like seafood, Crete has lots more to offer, including lashings of local greens such as grilled vegetables, lagoudofáï (a wild green), all types of lamb, including sautéed snails, delicious lamb chops and the rather delicious apáki (cured streaky pork). Some tavernas also offer goat dishes which are cooked on a wood-burning stove, although be aware that you might need to pre-order this dish.
Where to begin with the flavours of the island
If you’re a first time visitor to the island and you don’t know where to start and what to order, take inspiration from the many sharing dishes, such as platters that are always available in restaurants on Crete. With an emphasis on sharing food and being sociable meat platters, vegetarian platters and seafood platters are widely available and give you the chance to sample a little bit of everything before you order your next main meal.
Once you’ve devoured your platter, you can wash it all down with beer or one of the local wines, such as retsína, a wine flavoured with pine resin, or a good local bulk spirit such as tskioudía or rakí, locally distilled spirits which are made from grape pressings and are widely available at restaurants around the island.
Famed for its beaches and year-round sunshine, Crete isn’t just a beach holiday destination; it’s the perfect getaway for foodies and their families. So, why not join the long-overdue renaissance of Greek cuisine and head to Crete for a delicious journey of culinary discovery?