When you make your way down to the biggest island of Greece, Crete, you’ll see for yourself why the Cretan cuisine is like no other! Home to hundreds of traditional recipes, Crete has such a unique and different cuisine from the rest of the country, that even Greeks from other parts of the country visit the island every year just to indulge in the delicious dishes! From mouthwatering smoked pork, to refreshing and light salads, Crete is world renowned for its healthy and nutritious foods. Enjoy every Cretan dish to its fullest while visiting this delightful island, but incase you don’t know from where to start, we’ve came up the top 10 Greek foods you must try in Crete!
Starting our list of the top foods to must try in Crete is Dakos, a traditional Cretan salad. This simple and refreshing salad consists of dried bread or barley rusk (paximadi) covered in chopped tomatoes, Cretan cheese, mizithra, and finally topped with oregano and olives. Dakos is as healthy as is delicious, made from local products, it is the ultimate quick and nutritious salad to try while in Crete.
Apaki is a traditional Cretan smoked pork found in every restaurant in Crete. First the pork is marinated with herbs and extra virgin olive oil then it is slowly smoked over wood, bringing out all the aromas in a natural process. It can be eaten as is or it sautéed in a pan for a few minutes before served. This tasty meat is the ideal tapas to add to any Cretan lunch or dinner with raki right by its side! Join some of our favorite food tours in Crete, such as the Heraklion for Foodies Tour to learn how apaki is prepared and served.
3. Sfakiani pita (cheese pie)
Just like the rest of Greece, Crete is home to various kinds of pies, one being the sfakiani pie, the most famous of them all. Originating from Sfakia in Crete, this thin pie can be described as something between a crepe and a pancake filled with soft white Cretan cheese, myzithra. To add to this deliciousness, locals sprinkle Cretan honey and sesame on top for an extra gastronomic pleasure.
4. Fried snails (Chochlioi Boubouristi)
Continuing our food guide to Crete is fried snails or Chochlioi Boubouristi. If you thought snails were only found in France, think again! A locals’ favorite, fried snails is usually accompanied with raki, a traditional Cretan drink. To prepare the snails, they are first dipped in flour then fried in Cretan olive oil before adding rosemary and vinegar. This all time Cretan dish might seem daunting at first but we promise you that is it definitely worth the try!
Next on our list of the 10 Greek foods you must try in Crete is gamopilafo. As the name suggests, gamos – meaning wedding in Greek, and pilaf, is a Cretan dish traditionally served at weddings. These days however, gamopilafo can be found in most taverns or restaurants on the island. Like a risotto, gamopilafo is prepared in a rich meat broth with a hint of lemon juice and butter. The result? – A creamy and rich Cretan dish that you will surely savor.
Yet another Cretan gastronomic addition the food guide to Crete is kaltsonia, small cheese or herb pies that can be enjoyed in different variations; whether your appetite calls for a sweet treat poured with honey on top, or salty kaltsonia, stuffed with either mizithra, or various herbs, these famous delicacies render Crete as one of Greece’s strongest in traditional cuisines. Join one of our favorite food tours in Crete, the cooking class in Chania to learn the secrets to this favorite Greek appetizer!
7. Chaniotiko Boureki
Another Greek dish you must try in Crete is the chaniotiko boureki, a delicious zucchini and potato pie. Originally from Chania, the chaniotiko boureki consists of zucchini, potatoes and mizithra cheese, all covered with homemade phyllo dough. This tasty summer dish is a healthy and filling option to choose if you are visiting Crete.
Firstly served in Western Crete, the traditional dish, tsigariasto, known for its minimalistic recipe yet thriving in its taste, consists of just three ingredients: lamb or goat, olive oil and basic spices. That being said, making it savory is solely based on the purity of the raw materials and the cooking process, browning the meet at a slow temperature. Originally, the meat used for this dish was that of the Cretan goat, commonly known as Kri-Kri, however, being lead to near extinction, the hunting of the Cretan ibex has been banned since.
9. Skioufichta Makaronia
Crete’s take on linguine is skioufichta makaronia, which name derives from the rolling motion of the hand when molding the dough. A slightly different approach to other forms of pasta, skioufichta makaronia needs more time to boil, and according to the traditional version, they are served with heated stakovoutiro (local pure butter oil), and various other grated cheeses. Just like every other local cuisine of Greece, combining these culinary portraits with products from the same area can skyrocket your palate to heaven.
Last but not least on our list of the top Greek dishes to try in Crete is Raki. Ok technically, raki is a drink, but since Crete is so famously known for this strong drink we could not have completed this list without adding raki to it. Similar to the Greek ouzo or tsipouro, raki is a spirit made from grapes, served in taverns and cafes. Raki can either be accompanied with mezes (Greek tapas) or enjoyed at the end of a meal. Whichever the case, a quick shot of raki, and you will definitely remember this Cretan drink!