TASTE THE LOCAL PRODUCTS OF CRETE
Raki or Tsikoudia is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Cretan origin that contains 25% to 32% alcohol by volume. It is similar to the tsipouro made in mainland Greece, to the Spanish orujo, French marc, Georgian chacha, Portuguese bagaceira and Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian rakija (in Istria: grappa), Romanian tescovina.
Cheese consumption in Crete is the highest throughout the world. Cretan graviera, kefalograviera, kefalotyri, anthotyro, sweet and sour mizythra and other cheeses which are produced in the traditional way are known for their excellent taste and quality. An important source of proteins of high biological quality, cheese plays a central role in the Cretan diet. It is said to be a source of saturated fats but the Cretans who eat it do not have high levels of cholesterol, probably the combinations of the Cretan nutritional model provide the ideal balance. Except for the excellent taste, Cretan cheeses contain a lot of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid), as well as basic minerals and aminoacids.
Ntakos, otherwise known as “Koukouvágia” (owl), is also a traditional Cretan Food based on barley rusk. On the rusk there is rubbed tomato and the Cretan cream cheese “myzíthra” while the dish is complemented by olive oil, salt, oregano and olives. Usually it is served as salad, and it’s a quick and easy dish that offers a complete and nutritious meal.
The “apáki” is made from pork in Anogia of Crete. It is first marinated for two or three days in strong vinegar made of Cretan wine. Then it is smoked with aromatic herbs and wrapped in a layer of spices and herbs in order to obtain aromatic taste. It can be eaten as it is or to warm up for a few minutes in the pan, in the oven or on the grill. Creative Greek cuisine is increasingly using apaki instead of imported Italian and Spanish cured meats.
Andikristo is a quite remarkable tradition of roasting lamb and goat meat, mostly followed in mainland Crete and rooted in the shepherds’ roasting methods while they resided at the mitata. The meat is first generously sprinkled with salt and then roasted for hours and hours opposite (andikri) an open fire. It is a particularly healthy roasting method, as the long cooking time drains the meat of most of its fat. However, it does require a quite skilled roaster.