10 Foods You Need To Try In Crete

Food in Crete is slightly different to what you’ll find on mainland Greece. This is, I’d imagine purely a regional differences thing and what harm?! There’s still all the classic Greek meals with a Cretan twist- more delicious food to try.

  1. Greek/Cretan Salad

So this is an obvious one because Greek salads are renowned but the real deal is even better than you think! Your standard Greek salad will have fresh salad-suitable veggies; tomatoes, cucumber, red onions and peppers. Often there’ll be olives in there too and lastly, a big slab of creamy feta cheese on top. Over that, olive oil and some herbs. There tends not to be lettuce of any variety in this version (so it’s quite different to what we’d have at home).

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The Cretan version, appears to be a “chuck everything in the fridge in” type of thing. There’s everything from potatoes, croutons, capers, eggs, onions and avocados alongside the usual Greek salad base in these (not all at the same time, mind- in different restaurants versions there can be anything!) After we tried it once, we had to get it again and again. It’s delicious.

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2. Moussaka

This is also an obvious one, cause it’s probably the second meal you think of when you think ‘Greek food’. A traditional Greek dish, that has similarities to lasagna, Moussaka is alternate layers of minced beef or lamb in a tomato based sauce, aubergine and a creamy béchamel sauce, topped with cheese. It’s usually served in individual baked containers with bread or salad on the side. A word of warning with this one- it’s super filling! If you aren’t that hungry, share this and a Cretan salad between two of you and you’ll be happy out!

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3. Fresh Seafood

Practically everywhere we looked in Crete, there was fishing boats, so it was high on our food list to try lots of fresh fish. A couple of places had prawns on the menu, but when we asked we were told they were frozen. If you ask for what the fresh fish is, you can get a good idea of what’s on offer.

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4. Anything Aubergine related.

I’ve mentioned Moussaka already and as aubergine is a common vegetable in Crete, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them in lots of other dishes too. These three specifically were very good; Imam is a stuffed aubergine dish with tomatoes, onions and a local cheese, usually feta. This is then baked and the aubergine becomes soft and melt-in-your-mouth. Melitzanosalata is the middle photo, it’s an aubergine dip with garlic, lemon juice, red onion and pepper. We were served it with capers and crusty brown bread. It’s incredibly moreish. Lastly there is another baked aubergine, tomato and feta dish with another local cheese over the top. I can’t recall the name of this one but it’s pure comfort food. You need to try all three! If you see the word “aubergine” on a Cretan menu, get whatever it is. Trust.

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5. Dakos or Greek Bruschetta

This is basically is the Greek version of everyone’s favourite Italian bread & tomato starter. With this, the norm is crisp, twice-baked bread slices, topped with fresh tomatoes, olives, red onions, occasionally cucumber, mixed with red wine vinegar and olive oil and finished off with lots of crumbled feta. Yum.

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6. Lamb

I don’t eat lamb but Cilian does, so he was in his element in Crete, where there tends to be lots of lamb, chicken and seafood on the menu. It seems mostly to be cooked classically in olive oil and herbs in a clay dish called Kleftiko, except for the second photo where it was baked in a parcel with potatoes and other vegetables.

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7. Meze

This is similar to tapas or antipasti and you can order all of these individually as starters also. In there you can see the afore mentioned Dakos and Melitzonsalata, alongside stuffed vine leaves (stuffed with rice, garlic and herbs), hummus, tzatziki, the two pastries are Kalitsounia– one is filled with spinach (although these can be any green vegetable), while the other is filled with cheese.

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8. Greek Desserts/Breakfasts

I’m putting these together because the breakfast I’m about to tell you about is basically a a dessert. Don’t give out to me, Greek peeps! I am of course, referring to Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. Don’t even bother recreating this at home, you won’t find yoghurt, honey or even walnuts that are comparable to what you’ll get in Crete. Coupled with a a strong coffee, it’s the best way to start the day.

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Dessert wise, we never actually ordered any from a menu, it seems to be the case that every restaurant serves you something sweet along with a lethal shot of raki after your main meal, completey gratuitously. This was a seriously lovely touch and it meant we got to try lots of really good Cretan treats. Our favourites were this crepe sandwich; filled with a soft sweet cheese and honey. My god, this was good. Buttery and crisp and sweet. So, so good. The Greek delight (rose and citrus flavoured) was also delicious.

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9. Chicken Souvlaki

Not to be confused with Gyros, another popular meat item (that’s more street food, like a kebab), souvlaki is any meat with vegetables (often peppers), on a skewer, grilled. These are quite simple really, but with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a salad (ignore the few sneaky chips), it tastes healthy and filling.

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10. Greek Wine

Although we drank a lot of Raki (similar to Italian Grappa and just as lethal) after every meal, we really enjoyed the Cretan wine that was available. Our waiter explained that because of its high altitude vines and grapes grown alongside herbs, this particular wine has a pleasingly unique taste. This obviously differs from region to region but any we did try were really good.

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Although there’s plenty more we could talk about here, that’s our top 10 for Cretan foods you must try! If we’ve forgotten anything you think is a glaring omission, please do let us know in the comments!

Chloe & Cilian.

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A Week In Crete! Next Stop; Rethymno

You can read about our stay in Chania HERE, how we got to and from each of our destinations and the general plans that we recommend you make for this sort of trip HERE. For now though, I need to tell you all about Rethymno, a tale of two towns! (Dickens must be rolling around in his grave right about now).

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The two towns I’m referring to are the Old and New Town. We stayed in the new area of Rethymno, on the seafront. While it was lovely waking up to the sound of the sea every morning and the breeze through our patio door at night certainly cooled our room, the general vicinity didn’t have a huge amount of atmosphere. We half put this down to the fact that again, we were a little early for the Summer season but aside from that, it felt like even when busy, it would have been very touristy and perhaps, lacking in a bit of soul (because of this, all the photos we’re featuring here are of the old town).

The beach itself is lovely and there’s a fine amount of loungers out every day for your eh, lounging pleasure, plus the promenade is a really pleasant walk. We ate in a nearby Thai restaurant for lunch one day and repeatedly drooled over a Haagen Das only ice cream bar (we never actually ventured in, I feared we wouldn’t be able to leave if we had) but other than that, we very much focused our time on the Old Town, which is a maze of cobbled streets, orange blossom trees, quirky shops and packed restaurants.

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Just before we hit the start of the old town, still on the beachfront, you’ll find some very trendy (we’re in our early to mid 30’s, please don’t mock us for the use of the word “trendy”) bars with loud dance music, fancy decor and a lot of youths (ditto the word “youths” for no mocking, please). We avoided those as it’s not really our scene. Instead, we explored the narrow streets of the Old Town and sought out good food and wine. We did this later one evening so much of the shops were closed, but came back a bit earlier in the afternoon the following day to do more than window shop.

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We ate in great restaurants both nights, check out 1600 Raki Baraki for a traditional Cretan meal, in lovely surroundings:

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Annoyingly, I can’t recall the name of the other place but to be honest, everywhere looked good and there are plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor for many great place to eat in Rethymno.

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If you’re not after a big meal, there’s lots of crepes, gelaterias and bars to tempt you in also. We both loved the Old town of Rethymno. If we were staying there agin, I think we’d still stay on the seafront because the walk to and from the Old Town was actually lovely. Plus, where we were located provided us with a good base to take road trips to the nearby ruins of Knossos (we’ll come back to that later on, there’s too many photos for one blog post!), so it worked out quite well for us. Our next and last stop is Plakias, which is probably our favourite of the three!

Have you visited Crete? Anything else you would recommend to do in Rethymno?

Chloe & Cilian.

A Week In Crete! First Stop; Chania.

This was our most recent holiday so it’s probably the best place to start. In April of this year we took a week off for our first trip to Greece (note; we still have never been to the mainland and Crete itself is supposedly a different kettle of fish altogether). These posts will be a bit more in depth about the places we stayed in Crete, following on from the itinerary post we wrote HERE. We felt this would be more helpful as generally in most relationships, there’s a holiday planner (Cilian) and a holiday fun person (Chloe). Guess who wrote this paragraph?!

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We flew into Chania airport, to the North of the island. Chania itself is quite a nice town so we had arranged to stay there for two nights. We hired a rental car from the airport and drove about 30 minutes to arrive to what was a bustling nighttime scene.

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We were booked into the Favela Boutique Hotel and were greeted by the lovely owner, Georgia, along with a four poster bed, a little balcony and a welcoming plate of bread, olives and Tsipouro (super strong Cretan alcohol. Get used to it, by the end of your holiday your blood-Tsipouro levels will be sky high).

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We were tired but hungry and headed out in search of food. That particular evening the restaurant that had been recommended to us was fully booked, so we wandered, taking the atmosphere in, while eating big old slices of take away pizza, which were delish, if not particularly Cretan in nature.

The following day, we headed straight to the famed Venetian harbour to explore in the sunshine. It is really beautiful around here, and probably what you picture when you think “Greek harbour”; really sunny, bright green/blue water, fishing vessels and rows of restaurants, enticing you in with the promise of good food and wine.

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We walked right around the full stretch of the harbour and back again, past the Maritime museum, which was unfortunately closed (it would reopen for the start of the tourism season, even though it was already quite busy around).

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From there, we walked through the narrow streets to the shopping centre of the town. This was mostly window shopping because it was a Sunday, everywhere was closed for the day (fear not, I took mental notes and we returned the next day so I could scope out prices). This was a great little walkabout as there was lots of colourful shopfronts, gelato stops and cats lazing in the heat.

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At that stage we were hungry and allowed ourselves to be talked into sitting out on a terrace for big glasses of beer and some food. We decided on a Greek salad and Souvlaki (skewered chicken. We’ll have a separate post on Cretan food, with WAY more detail) which were delicious and a nice way to while away the afternoon.

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On the way back to our hotel we popped into a tacky souvenir shop for our obligatory Christmas tree decoration (we get one everywhere we go so our tree will eventually be overrun with them!) and then back for a little siesta. Cilian was less up for a nap than I was and so he popped down to the Archeology Museum, handily located on our street. This was a couple of euros in and was a small exhibit but with impressive artefacts.

We headed out again that evening, in time for the most beautiful sunset ever, before sitting down for a really good seafood meal by the water.

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We tried a Cretan produced wine also, which was really good and stopped off on the way home for more gelato (pistachio & nocciolato. Delish). After that, we could just about manage to climb the hotel stairs and fall asleep.

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The following day we had a last stroll around in the morning after having breakfast. I had a mission to find reasonably priced Korres beauty products (you can read about that on my beauty/lifestyle blog HERE) and we found a pharmacy that had most of the range for 20% off. Score. We also had a look in a supermarket where we got some olive oil and sweets for people back home.

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We headed out from the main hub of the town to spend a couple of hours on the nearby Notis beach; reading, swimming, eating Haribo and generally relaxing.

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And that was that for Chania. We really enjoyed our stay there. If we were to make one complaint, it would be the difficulty in finding parking and the somewhat erratic driving around us, which took a bit of getting used to.

If you haven’t yet, have a read of our previous post on our Crete itinerary; how to get there, get around, where to stay and how much it costs. You can find all of that info HERE.

Next stop, Rethymnon which will be our next post!

If you’ve been to Crete and want to add any travel tips or you too prefer archeological museums to napping (it’s a niche group), hit us up in the comment section!

Say hello, we’d love to hear from you!

Chloe & Cilian.

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A Week in Crete: Itinerary

So this is for the planners! We have a running joke about how much Cilian and his family like to plan and we thought we’d start some of our posts with a general outline of our trip and some of the travel basics like flight costs, car hire etc.

So we went to Crete in the first week of April 2017, the tourist season was just getting started. Lots of places were still renovating but there was still plenty open and it was generally a bit quieter and a bit cooler (18-24C) than the main season. The locals thought we were crazy for swimming in the sea but though the water was a little cool to get into we thought it was very pleasant (compared to the Atlantic anyway!). Springtime also meant an abundance of wildflowers and an impressively verdant countryside with a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

Flights: We flew with Ryanair from Dublin to Chania, the second town in Crete, in the middle of the north coast. With a checked bag each it cost €390 return. The flight was long, almost 5 hours, so it was quite late when we got in.

Car hire: We normally book through standard on-line rental sites but this time we went for JustRental, a Greek car rental company and we were very happy with them. Not only were they cheaper than the bigger international companies but they didn’t hold anything against our credit card when we got there. We paid €171 for a new Hyundai i30 for the 7 days. A very pleasant gentleman met us with our name on a sign when we arrived and the car was parked outside arrivals. Return was easy, there is a car park a couple of km down the road that you return it to (“after dropping off your lady”) and there is a shuttle bus to get back to the airport.

Driving in Crete: So driving in Crete is a bit of an adventure – we kept mainly to the major routes but in the south of the island in particular we were on quite small, bendy and sometimes steep roads. These roads are worth it as some of the views are spectacular and it was great to see the small villages and wonderful countryside.

There are plenty of traffic cameras about so we kept to the speed limit but at times it seemed like we were the only ones! We just did what the locals did and used the hard shoulder as an extra lane on the bigger roads to allow people to pass.

We had downloaded GoogleMaps of the island on to an iPhone but this led us astray a few times as some of the roads it tried to bring us on were 4×4 only. It was easy to follow the signs to go the slightly longer but less treacherous / passable way.

Parking in the bigger towns was a bit of a hassle, particularly when we arrived into Chania on a Saturday night as our hotel was right in the middle of the old town on a limited access street.

Accommodation: We booked everything through booking.com – we had looked at AirBnB but the prices weren’t really any better and we had more flexibility regarding cancellation and choice of hotel with booking.com.

Chania: Favela Boutique Hotel €106 for two nights, no breakfast

Rethymno: Poseidon Hotel €80 for two nights, breakfast included

Plakias: Skinos apartments €210 for three nights, no breakfast

Itinerary:

After arriving in Chania we went straight to the Favela Boutique Hotel. Our host met us at the place and the room was lovely with a balcony overlooking the busy street. It could get a bit noisy at night but that didn’t bother us as we were out late anyway. We would definitely recommend – only real downside was the parking but we managed to get a spot about 750m away and could walk down with our bags. We have the low down on what we did in Chania HERE.

After checking out we spent a few hours on Notis beach before driving about an hour east to Rethymno. This was dual carriageway most of the way.  There was a nice beach across the road from the Poseidon hotel and we could see the sea from our balcony. The rooms were small and basic but clean and the breakfast was nice. It was a pleasant 20min stroll into the main old town and we have a post about Rethymno here.

On our second day in Rethymno we drove to the historical site of Knossos which was where the Minoan ruins were discovered in the early twentieth century. This took about 90 mins each way – we found the site a little underwhelming and we have more of that here.

Our final destination was Plakias but first we took a detour to the very interesting Monastery of Arkadi, about 30mins up some steep roads from Rethymno and we have our post about it here – we thought it was definitely worth a visit.

The journey to Plakias brought us through some fantastic country side, including Kourtaliotiko Gorge which was a worth a stop for some photos.

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We stayed in the beautiful Skinos apartments, just outside Plakias. This was our most expensive place but it was worth it – the sound of the ocean lapped into our bedroom and the views on our own private terrace were phenomenal. It was only a short stroll into the town but it really felt like it was out of the way.

During our stay we visited Prevail Monastery and spent a few hours on gorgeous Souda beach, a short drive away and also visited Schinaria beach which was beautiful with a spectacular approaching drive.

We had a late flight back on our last day so after returning to Chania we went to Ancient Aptera which was definitely worth a visit and had some stunning views.

We returned the car with ease and were home in Dublin about midnight after a truly wonderful holiday! We loved the friendliness of the people, the food was fantastic (see here) and though we did loads we also had plenty of time to relax.

We hope thats helpful and if anyone has any questions or comments leave them below and we’ll help if we can!

Cilian & Chloe.

That First, Difficult Post

Hello! You might know me from such blogs as Nurse Fancy Pants Blog, where you’ll find a healthy dose of beauty, books, lifestyle posts and up until now, travel.

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I’m Chloe, a 30 something year old nurse (unsurprising, given that blog title) and I’ve been an avid blogger for six years now. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about writing and photography, as well as travel but mostly what I’ve learned is that my husband Cilian (a 30 something year old doctor- yes, we are *that* cliché) is the best at planning and implementing holidays. Oh and, his photography skills are much, much better than my own.

It occurred to us recently that we should combine our skills and so, we bring you Eat, Drink, Travel and Be Merry, our joint travel and food blog.

We have many trips of old and future plans to talk about and we’d love for you to join us on our adventures.

Until then,

Chloe & Cilian.