The perfect holiday requires a balanced amalgamation of many factors. But great food and drink is always, a non negotiable, element of the equation. Crete with its sun kissed local products and age old culinary tradition, has in recent years become one of the leading gastronomic destinations on the planet. After all the Cretan diet is internationally recognised as the paragon for sound health and delectable taste.
Specially dedicated to all of you-aspiring or accomplished- foodies, without further ado, we hereby present our handpicked Oscar Suites & Village top 5 delicacies you have to try when visiting Chania.
Olive Oil – Crete’s Elixir
The greatest star of the world famous Cretan nutrition is no other than olive oil: A powerful antioxidant, packed with goodness and taste, that has been shown to inhibit cancer and diabetes, help maintain weight and reverse aging, among others. Crete is home to 30 million olive trees; and Cretans have made good use of this miraculous fruit since Minoan times. Nowadays the Cretan olive oil is pretty much harvested as it used to be so many eons ago. Entirely organic and boasting a rich color palette ranging from dark green to golden, full flavours, texture and density, it is no wonder likened to liquid gold. All traditional recipes, like Chaniotiko boureki, gamopilafo or kohlioi boubouristoi, incorporate it -and this is why they taste so good! Alternatively savor it fresh, in a salad, with dakos, or in its own right, as the most delectable dip; for it is without doubt one of the top 5 delicacies you have to try when visiting Chania.
Grains – The basis of the Cretan nutricion
Evidence suggests that ancient Minoans grew -and exported- three kinds of grains, wheat, barley and rye. This fibre rich diet promotes the health of the intestines and is packed with vitamins, particularly of the B complex which is indispensable for the functioning of the nervous system. Cretans followed the lead of their ancestors; and this is perhaps why up to today they are among the happiest and healthiest people on the planet. Just think about the smiling octogenarian villager and his 100 year old mother! Infact locals until recently only consumed brown bread, while its white counterpart was reserved for special occasions only: Christmas, Easter and a few other religious celebrations throughout the year. Dakos-the traditional doughnut -shaped hard bread roll- of course nowadays remains a staple of the Cretan nutricion. Delectable when topped with some Cretan mizithra, tomato and a generous dollop of olive oil.
Honey – The Gods’ Ambrosia
One of the top 5 delicacies you have to try when visiting Chania, honey, has been a staple of the locals’ nutrition since prehistoric times. It actually owes its unique, trademark taste and bouquet of aromas to the Cretan bio system which is super rich in endemic plants and herbs. Nowadays the flagship of the island’s agricultural produce, it has been celebrated since antiquity for its wealth of health benefits-increased stamina, vitality and balance, among others. Try it at breakfast with some Cretan yoghurt-thick, rich and creamy; or in the “kalitsounia”, the traditional thin crispy pastries with mizithra and a local cheese called “malaka”.
Cheese – Zeus’ baby food
And this brings us to the next item of the top 5 delicacies you have to try when visiting Chania, which is no other than the amazing Cretan cheeses: gruyere, anthotyro, galomyzithra, staka, malaka, pichtogalo or kephalotyri… An important source of high quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, they are to be enjoyed from morning to midnight: as an accompaniment or as the main ingredient of the meal; as an appetizer or for dessert. In fact cheese consumption in Crete is the largest on a world scale; and this is traced back to ancient mythology: Legend has it that Zeus was born in a Cretan cave and raised by Amaltheia and her milk. She was actually a goat! Animal farming has not changed much since antiquity, and it is based on small goats and sheeps rather than cows, which are free and fed on wild plants, indigenous herbs and bushes. The latter of course makes a world of difference and explains the unsurpassed taste of Cretan cheeses!
Raki – The Cretan Water of Life
Cretans are passionate, fiery creatures; and their signature drink could not but -abundantly-share the same qualities: “Tsikoudia” or “raki” is a clear and potent, 40% proof spirit which -you guessed it!- dates back to antiquity: Minoans had it with their meals, while throughout the centuries it has been used for all sorts of purposes including medicinal and entertainment. Nowadays raki remains an integral -perhaps the most characteristic- part of the Cretan culture, identity and philosophy: It is to be savored as an aperitif or digestif, at the beginning and ending of meals; in feasts and celebrations; in weddings and funerals; as a welcome to friends and strangers; actually in every occasion of everyday life. A Cretan trademark, raki is certainly one of the top 5 delicacies you have to try when visiting Chania -and then take some with you back home!
At Oscar Suites and Village, our family run, cordial and welcoming hotel in vibrant, seaside Agia Marina Platanias, just 9 km from the historic town of Chania, we aim to showcase the manifold wonders of the place we are lucky enough to call home. Don’t hesitate to ask us -we are more than happy to share our insiders’ tips and ideas on how to make the most out of your stay in the delightful island of Crete.