7 Greek dishes you must try in Crete.
Don't leave Crete without feasting on ...
The first thing you must do when you arrive in Crete, even before you set your bags down and check into your hotel, is find a cafe that serves bougatsa. And, when in Chania, do as Chaniots do and order a plate of bougatsa at Bougatsa Iordanis or Bougatsa Chanion. These nearly next door neighbor shops have been serving the popular phyllo pastry for decades, so you know they’re doing it right. Look for the long lines of hungry diners eager to get their bites. I recommend the bougatsa with mizithra cheese. Or, if you have a sweeter tooth, the creamy custard version topped with cinnamon and sugar is equally perfect.
Crete just might be the best place on earth for any veggie lover to visit. Cretans are the masters of scores of hearty vegetable dishes. Cretan boureki (vegetable pie) is just one wonderful example with its thick layers of thinly cut zucchini and potatoes. A hint of mint and a combination of Cretan cheeses enhance this flavorful dish.
After a rain, snails become active and start moving about. That's when Cretans gather them by the bunches. After a process of cleansing, the snails are stored in burlap sacks until it's time for chocholioi boubouritsi—fried snails topped with herbs and doused in vinegar. Voila! Snails are a Cretan delicacy too, and they are served in many cooking styles besides boubouritsi, including as the protein in stews or pastas.
Ah, dakos, one of my absolute favorites. Dakos is simply a hard barley rusk topped with juicy tomatoes, creamy mizithra cheese, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, with a Kalamata olive on top for a finishing touch. It may look like a snack but dakos will fill you up.
Baked or fried, you can’t have just one kalitsounia no matter how hard you try. These handheld pies are traditionally made with rolled out dough and filled with local Cretan cheese. A drizzle of Cretan honey on top makes them all the more addicting.
Sfakiani pita is a scrumptious pie of local fame from the mountainous region of Sfakia. Sfakianes pites resemble a really thin crepe or pancake made all the more mysterious since the dough wraps around a ball of mizithra before it’s flattened out and fried. Top yours with lots of honey. Cretan honey, please.
Xerotigana (which translates to dry fries are sometimes called diples in other regions of Greece) makes pastry freaks very happy. This light dough fried in olive oil, soaked in honey, and topped with sesame seeds or chopped nuts deserves your taste buds full attention. Notice a theme here? Cretans love their honey! Xerotigana are traditionally served at weddings or other special occasions, yet some tavernas will feature this treat on their menu so keep your eyes peeled.
Do YOU have a Cretan dish you absolutely love? Let me know :)
Article written by Eleni Saltas, find more about Eleni on: