Top 5 dishes to try in Crete

Unique flavors to savor when in Crete

World-renowned for its simplicity, fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, and products with protected designation of origin, the Cretan cuisine is definitely worth a try.

On Ferryhopper we made a list with our 5 favorite dishes of the Cretan cuisine. Take a look at our suggestions and discover the real food that locals eat on the island.

Appetizer with tomato, olives and rusks, Crete

A simple yet delicious meze for your raki

The top 5 dishes of the Cretan cuisine

When it comes to Cretan food, the competition is always fierce and necessarily some dishes were left out of our list. Below you can find the 5 dishes of Cretan cuisine that passed to the next round.

  1. Dakos
  2. Gamopilafo
  3. Snails
  4. Eggs with staka
  5. Pies

Dakos

A trademark of Cretan cuisine, dakos has many variations but only one secret: the superior-quality ingredients of the Cretan land: juicy tomatoes, xinomizithra (a creamy sheep or goat’s milk cheese), barley rusks, olives, and of course extra virgin olive oil. Its taste is synonymous with summer and is the perfect summer meal.

Bare in mind that depending on the area of Crete in which you travel, you may meet it under different names: in Rethymno and Chania they also call it "koukouvagia" (which means owl), while in Heraklion and Lassithi the same dish is known as "landouristo", "ladopsomo" and "kouloukopsomo".

Interesting fact: in some taverns in Crete, the rusks are lightly soaked in seawater.

Dakos salad with feta cheese, tomato, olives and olive oil, in Crete

Cretan Dakos, one of the most characteristic dishes in Greece

Gamopilafo

If you think this is a simple risotto, then you are wrong. This rich in taste (but also in fat, let’s be honest) dish of the Cretan cuisine, is reserved for special occasions and various festivities, like weddings.

The main ingredients of gamopilafo (literally wedding rice) are rice, goat, rustic chicken, and stakovoutyro (butter created from the creamy skin of goat's milk), but remember that all the taste comes from the way of cooking: large pot, slow cooking and a little patience until the rice gets all the flavors from the meat broth.

Tip: if you get dizzy after a night out drinking raki, gamopilafo is the ideal food for your hangover.

Chochlioi

This ugly-delicious meze of the Cretan cuisine will satisfy even the most demanding palates. The snails (chochlioi as are known in Crete) can be cooked with lemon and flour in a pan (mpoumpouristoi), with vinegar, or with tomato sauce and onions.

They are ideally accompanied with ksinoxontros (beaten wheat), french fries but they are also eaten plain.

Tip: eating snails might sound unpleasant, but if you can get past any mental blocks you have, their taste will reward you.

Snails with tomato sauce, in Crete

Tomato-braised snails in Crete

Eggs with staka

If you are looking for a mouthwatering breakfast in Crete, then you have to try eggs with staka. A dish rich in flavor that is ideally combined with wild greens such as avronies (wild asparagus) or stamnagathia (variety of wild chicory), which balance the oiliness of the dish and make it a complete meal.

The secret to the "Cretan brunch" is the simplicity of its ingredients: the creamy stakovoutyro or staka (thick skin formed on the boiled sheep’s milk), the fresh eggs, the wild greens, and a nice sourdough bread on the side offer the most umami taste experience.

Pies

Cretans are very proud of their pies and they fill them only with the best ingredients. From the savory ones, you have to try the fennel pie, which is ideal if you follow a vegan diet. Sfakiani pita on the other hand is a flat pie, stuffed with mizithra (creamy cheese) and accompanied with thyme honey, while the Cretan meat pie (also known as "Chaniotiki kreatotourta"), is a traditional Easter delicacy that can be found in restaurants all year round.

In Crete, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with the sweet kalitsounia (small tarts filled with sweet myzithra cheese). The most famous are called “anevata”, prepared mainly in Chania and "lychnarakia", which are prepared in Heraklion. The sweet mizithra in combination with cinammon make these soft tarts highly addictive.

Tip: do not leave Crete without taking with you some local delicacies from shops with traditional products.

Flat fennel pie, in Crete

Fennel pie, an ideal vegetarian choice of Cretan cuisine

If yοu are ready to explore the philosophy of the Cretan cuisine, on Ferryhopper you can start planning your trip to Crete and book ferry tickets with no extra cost.

Check out all the ferry routes on our Map of ferries and get ready for a tasteful trip. 

Tip: if you want to avoid crowds, check why you should visit Crete in September.

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