One of the joys of holidaying in the Mediterranean in summer is eating outside. Sit in the shade of a carob tree or tamarisk. Look out over sun drenched landscapes to the oh so blue sea. Have your tastebuds thrilled with mouth-watering fresh local produce. Have your eyes enchanted with the colours and aromas stimulating an appetite you didn’t realise you had! Its all about al fresco eating in Crete!
Take breakfast, with juice from those impossibly sweet Cretan oranges. Freshly cut fruit to nibble. And the irresistible smells of freshly ground coffee.
Maybe you’d like a light lunch with salad of home made pesto on griddled courgettes with rucola and mint leaves topped with graviera shavings? Accompanied by mixed tapenades on fresh baked rolls.
Come the balmy cool of the evening, sip a soft drink or cocktail on a balcony with majestic mountains providing a backdrop to the view out over green and fertile countryside.
Dining al fresco
There’s nothing quite like dining outside, in the light of a rising moon, in the quiet and solitude of the depths of the countryside. The sound of sheep bells, the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle, that special quality of twilight – its all impossibly romantic!
And the food! Chicken breast stuffed with a mix of sun dried tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano from the garden and feta cheese, wrapped in prosciutto.
A white wine sauce with a hint of Carob syrup and a tang of aged Lazaridis Balsamic vinegar. Griddled courgettes, bursting with sweetness and flavour. A bitter tang of stamnagathi, the local greens. All contrasting with couscous prepared with stock, carrots and parsley.
If you keep portion size small you’ll be able to manage desserts. There might be summery orange tiramisu, made with cream, marscapone and local yoghurt.
Or a berry tartlet with its delightful contrast between crunchy biscuit case and creamy smooth filling is a appropriate finish to a three course meal!
Homemade icecream with a sweet Muscat dessert wine from Samos is another little luxury you can perhaps spoil yourself with?
Not to mention Cretan Wines…
And the wines! Cretans are beginning to excel, using the unparalleled terroir, the fantastic climate. Not to mention their preparedness to employ skills and use expertise from France, Italy and Germany to help develop their own grape varieties and styles.
The fine Douloufakis champagne, from the local Vidiano grape is a triumph from Nikos Douloufakis.
Goes well on its own! But also with fish dishes and the lighter salads. The unusual Lyrarakis Thrapsathiri wine, is great with fish, having a “whiff of the sea” on the aftertaste. A new winery, Koukoulou, in the Amari region of Rethymnon, has a light, refreshing and fun easy drinking rosé.
And the reds of Daskalakis, some originally laid down in 2012, are a solid accompaniment to red meat and rich sauces.
The dark plum and berry fruit, rich and full mouthfeel, and long long aftertaste will amaze you.
So where to go for al fresco eating in Crete. Tavernas all set up for outside eating as Spring approaches, some with charming and characterful atmosphere. The smells of meat barbecuing on charcoal, the chatter of parties of friends, and the welcoming of the owner, anxious that you sample the best of Mama’s cooking. Recipes handed down from mother to daughter, making best use of vegetables in season, whether it be mousakas, stuffed aubergines or baked sardines with tomatoes. Some of the more adventurous owners tweak traditional dishes with new and unusual twists. You just need to know where to go!
At Panokosmos we blend international cuisine with the best of local produce and Cretan fayre. Want to see more – take a look here. In counterpoint, we add Cretan touches to our cooking – maybe our vegan pink mousakas with a white sauce including pureed cauliflower, and sweet potato. Or our fun “full English “ breakfast, with, not a “banger” but a local loukanika sausage (we drive to the Askifou plateau to get our from a renowned local butcher).
Places to try al fresco eating in Crete
We encourage our guests to sample the local cuisine, and direct them to those places that are really special. These are often off the beaten track, or even a bit unlikely at first sight. They may need help to find but reward the effort. We’ve got directions off to a fine art, with google routes and pictures of hard to find locations.
Fancy fish and chips, Cretan style? Or some of the best cooking in clay plots? Great fish at a table on the rocks at the edge of the sea with a good wine list. Can you manage the biggest pork chops you ever saw, still sizzling from the charcoal barbecue, cooked by the local village butcher? Try a modern version of the traditional “lift the lids of the pots in the kitchen” taverna to find out what’s on offer. Gyros meat platter the lawyers love. What about a delicate octopus carpaccio in front of boats in the harbour? We can help you get to all of these!
Get in touch with us to set up your accommodation.
Whether or not you decide to come to the carnival next year, if you are thinking of a holiday in Crete do take a 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.
The food pictures in this blog are courtesy of Christian, one of our guests, taken in our gardens during a week’s holiday al fresco eating in Crete!