We’ve got into a routine of going to a street market in Chania, to buy all our fruit and veg, yoghurt and cheeses. Its on a Monday in a narrow street, just up from Elefteria Square. Its a real experience, and we’ve got to know some of the stall holders, and talk a bit in whatever – “with hands and feet” as Yasmin would say, a bit of Greek, English, German, and lots of hand waving, and smiling!
One of our favorites is Maria, the Honey! Her honeys come from their hives in Falassana, on the western most tip of Crete, and very unusually for Crete, she sells a whole series of separate flavours. There’s the usual thyme honey – like you can get all over the island, aromatic and intense; heather reputed to be the most beneficial with minerals and vitamins. There’s pine honey, dark, spicy and piquant; and our favorite, orange blossom, with the most gorgeous delicate citrus flavours.
Then there’s the orange man, very important for us with our daily fresh orange juice! He’s a gem, so generous, always friendly and cheerful, and always insisting on giving us extra fruit, mandarins, clementines, eating oranges.
Mastorakis is the dairy, based in Tsitsifes, a mountain village nearby Xiliomoudou. They have the best yoghurt in the area we believe – its tangy and sharp, with a firm texture. What’s unique about it, in our experience is that it does not produce any whey over time – so many of the other yoghurts are half liquid after a few days.
Another of our favorites, is their low fat goats milk cheese – beautiful texture, and delicate taste. They also have fresh goat and sheep milk, but we need to be there early as they often sell out.
There’s a stall selling virtually only herbs – heaps of vivid green parsley, dill, mint, sometimes coriander and fennel.
Its strange that the Cretans don’t deal with more herbs, and their cooking reflects a conservative approach – thyme, oregano, parsley, dill and mint – but we love to grow and use other herbs.
All the serious shoppers have a shopping trolley – partly so you can thrust your way thru the crowd, running over feet not quick enough to get out of the way!, but also to carry the massive amounts of fresh produce. 10 kilos of oranges; apples, pears, bananas; broccoli, courgettes, red peppers; herbs & spring onions; potatoes, onions, carrots; oak leaf & lollo biondi lettuce, rucola, and the local greens: stamnagathi & others.
The olive man did not want his picture taken – maybe its his religion, maybe he’s shy, or maybe its the tax man?! But his olives are great, we particularly like the ones preserved with pergamon – bitter orange. We asked him why each of the olives is sliced, “its what we always do” he said!
Then its back home again for a huge unpacking session, filling fridge, washing and prepping herbs, stocking up the store cupboard.