|Food and Drink...
Almost every country of the world, (including McDonalds), has it's own interpretation of good food and drink. And why not? Food should be one of the pleasures in life, a meal a social event. Not a chore to be done before, during or after a working day. Of the several countries I have eaten in, each had it's own very enjoyable version of good food. Some of it exquisite. But for me the best food and drink is right here in Greece, and the centre is Crete with it's magnificently fresh fish; fruit; vegetables unbelievably well kept and crisp; and meat which is not only fresh but has had as much of the fat as possible removed before sale. It is almost impossible to find a bad cook.
Michael Winner eat your heart out - but do it right here on Crete - give your palette a real treat.
|The Mediterranean diet has been much promoted as an elixir of life, particularly so one of the main components - olive oil. The oils from NW Crete - Kissamos and particularly Kolimbari, are acknowledged as being among the very best available. If you are here on holiday take a can home with you. But be aware, it can change your whole outlook on cooking.|
|The subject of food and drink is vast...
And because there are so many (very similar) cookery books available on Greek dishes, I thought the best way to offer something useful, since this site is based on personal experience, is to offer a couple of recent dishes cooked right here in Astratigos which you might like to try. Later we will add a photo-gallery connected to recipes for several renowned Cretan dishes. If you want to start at the deep end, take one barbeque; one half bag of charcoal; one 10 kilo lamb......
|Sfakion Cheese Pie...
Driving up from Meskla to Vourna in NW Crete earlier in the year, we stopped en route to Theriso at the Aimilia Taverna, half way there, for a snack. An overcast sky with scudding clouds letting through only occasional glimpses of sunlight, the cloud shadows racing across the mountainside opposite the taverna did not really make for Greek salads; Souvlaki; special lamb or the like. What I wanted was something light. Filling but not too much so. And full of sunshine to brighten the day. What better than Sfakion cheese pie. Topped with local thyme honey. A traditional dish originating from the Sfakion area of Nomos Chanion. Together with a glass of cold water originating from the Omalos mountains.
Sfakion Cheese Pie - Recipe.
Make a soft dough with the flour, water oil and salt for the number of pies required. Roll it flat and divide it into the number. Place 1 tbspn cheese into the centre of each, fold the dough over into a parcel and flatten to the size of a small saucer. Moisten a fry pan with a little oil and fry to light golden brown. Pour honey over and serve hot.
Ala Roxanni Papaderaki. If you don't like the thought of eating rabbit, and some people don't, then this may finally convert you. It is, I promise without any hesitation, a meal that you will never, ever, forget! I venture out to different tavernas with my wife and friends regularly. Each has it's own special points and each it's own magical specialty dishes, but I refuse to even consider eating rabbit stew anywhere else but at Roxannis Taverna in lower Afrata. Mentioned in many guide books in more than one country this is the stew that Roxanni and her 'Garcon' husband Alekkos served only a few years ago to the then Prime Minister of Greece, the Cretan Mitsotakis and the then French President, Mitterand. At the same tables; with the same ingredients; with the same loving care of the Chef supreme.
A new arrival nearby recently wrote a book in which he expressed the view that it was the Mitsotakis and Mitterand visit to this out of the way spot which made Roxanni famous. He has it back to front. For two such prominent men to visit an isolated taverna there had to be a more demanding reason. And of course there was. The Cretan Mitsotakis knew about the rabbit stew! Unfortunately for us Roxanni, while she will willingly tell you how to make rabbit stew, will not tell us about the ingredients which make hers so very, very special. So our recipe, whilst good, cannot rival her perfection.
If you are on holiday in this area don't miss this. But if you intend to drink, and Allekos invariably starts the proceedings with a gift of already poured Tsikouthia (Rakis) take a taxi. The mountain road can be demanding, especially at night, and taxis here are very much cheaper than in the UK.
Wash the rabbit in cold water. Cut into seven portions counting the head as one. Sauté the rabbit in a mixture of oil, salt, peppers and skinned onions for an hour in the cooking pot. Add 200ml of cold water and simmer until the meat is tender. Remove the rabbit and onions and place them on an oval plate or platter. Add the wine and cream to the pot and thicken the mix for a few minutes. Pour the thickened sauce over the rabbit and serve.
|The next page includes a recipe for Kalitsounia, another type of small Cretan pie which are often served as Mezethes (starters) in Tavernas here. Fillings vary - this one is for Mizithra cheese.|