Lets start on the Cretan diet, not with olive oil – about which we’ve already written a blog (part I!). But with milk, sheep and goats milk, because it’s the basis of the wonderful yoghurt and Graviera. Its the king of Cretan cheeses.
Strained Greek yoghurt
Outside of Greece you’ll find “Greek yoghurt” – this is normally the strained cows milk yoghurt. Its beautifully smooth and creamy, so at Panokosmos we use it to top waffles, as the creamy layers in Yasmin’s fruit trifle.
Its normally 10% fat, but we find the 2% is still just beautiful and cuts down on the calories!
However the real Cretan yoghurt is that made in the mountains. Its got a much more tangy nature, is thicker and full of goodness! You can sometimes find it in terracotta pots, with a top sheet held on with an elastic band. Increasingly though now they sell them in plastic pots. It is 8% fat, but this is more easily digested. It is not as high in saturated fats, and it is higher in vitamins and minerals than other yoghurts.
Around us are several villages with local dairies which make yoghurt from sheep’s milk – thats a key element in the Cretan diet.
The closest to Panokosmos, in the next village Ramni, is Matsomakis. We like his yoghurt because it is mild, creamy and stays firm even after you’ve started using it and the skin is cut. Its not widely available but you can buy it in the local Kalyves shops, and a few outlets in Chania.
Mastorakis is more widely available, they make it in Fres, another village in the foothills of the White Mountains. This has a very firm texture and a sharper, more acidic taste. We prefer Kostakis yoghurt, which also comes from Fres. You can buy it in one of their two stalls in the Agora – the covered market in the centre.
Graviera, the king of Cretan cheeses
Similarly they all make Graviera too, often with a blend of sheep and goats milk. The locals prize Gravieras which have been matured for 6-12 months, tho we find them rather too dry and crumbly. Our pick is the young “freska” cheese which has beautiful soft pliant texture and a wonderful sharp and moreish taste. Kostakis make a thyme graviera and Mastorakis a low fat goats milk cheese als.
Apart from the dairies, you can also buy a great yoghurt from the butcher in Armenoi, in the centre of the village by the plain tree and opposite the truly authentic kafenion, but he wont tell us which dairy supplies him!
Myzithra and Anthotiro
Also from sheeps milk comes Myzithra, a soft cheese with flavours varying from creamy mild to sharply tangy, and textures from crumbly to creamy smooth. Then there is Anthotiro, a soft runny cheese, which the dairies dry with salt to make a solid white cheese which process brings out a lovely herby flavour. Not to forget feta, of course!
Cretan Impressions at Panokosmos
Cretan Impressions is the breakfast we serve at Panokosmos, which showcases all these, together with a variety of rusks, of olives and of honey – about which more in another post! And of course, in the Cretan dietm no meal would be complete without a little raki, served at -20 deg both to cleanse the palate, and to prove that its 40% and hasn’t been diluted!
And if you want to short cut the Cretan diet, sample Cretan Impressions and experience all these good things, come to stay at Panokosmos!
Lots more to see and do…
In any case for your holiday in Crete you might like to look at our blogs which show things to do in Crete, whether it be walking a gorge, hiking in the foothills of the White Mountains, or taking a drive to see the sites. Chania is a great town to visit, particularly to go to the street markets, and of course you’ll want to get the benefits of the Cretan diet – be it the yoghurt and cheese, or the olive oil.