Culture & Food in the Greek Island of Crete

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When planning our trip to Greece, I had mainly pictures of Santorini on the mind.  Those calderas with the signature blue doors…the ruby red sunsets and the Aegean. Aaaah, this surely was the best that Greece had to offer, right? Little did we know.  Greece has so much more – it has Crete!

And so,I’m so glad we visited because soon after we got to Rethymnon and walked around town, it became one of our favorite places in our journey through the country, and well, why should it not?  The greatest food in all of Greece, a quaint, small town feel with intimate beaches but which are surrounded by mountains. Crete really has all the essence of Greece and then some encompassed within its’ four regions.

This time around, we only had the opportunity to visit the smallest piece of the Cretian glory —-Rethymnon, and though relatively small in size, it surely did not disappoint when it came to small town charm or food…whether it be the Greek varieties at authentic restaurants or restaurants which fused Greek food along with other cuisines or be it, the continental breakfasts with the freshest feta cheeses and juicy olives.

Casa Vitae Entrance

Our Room – The Amaryllis

Food Highlights

A meal which stood out the most for us was at none other than Avli Restaurant . The fact that this place is just jaw droppingly beautiful and located on a patio which is decked out from head to toe with the most stunning flowers and includes a hotel, wine cellar and shops, doesn’t mean that the quality and taste of the food is compromised. We had our best meal in Crete (and moreso Greece overall) at Avli. The menu consists of Mediterranean influenced salads, entrees and desserts and you will looooove it like crazy.

Potato wedges with aioli

fish

Crispy Fish

Feta Cheese, Cucumbers and Kalamata Olives

We walked around and tried much of the other food around town and they were all really good though our hotel breakfasts were fresh and authentic and we remember them most fondly.

We especially remember the feta. It’s a lot less salty than the stuff you have here and far more crumbly in texture.

Ouzo

Anise flavored liquour which is considered an aperitif which should be drank before a meal to stimulate the appetite. I really don’t think that’s why we decided to down these suckers by the boat load. It was definitely rather because we were on vacation and when in Europe, do as the….

Around Town

In and around Rethymnon, we found that the old harbor was a good landmark as it lined the old town and a lot of the mainstream seafood restaurants and bars around the town.  We noticed that the map was a grid like one and no cars were allowed on the small cobble stoned streets around the old town.

The town is built by the Republic of Venice and the art is unmistakably just that — Venetian – take the architecture like on the Rimondi fountain, the flower boxes, the cobbled streets, the harbor and the lighthouse to name a few. Our itinerary mainly consisted of just people watching, sitting at the Old Harbor and taking forever and a day to savor some of the most delicious food ever.

Compared to the rest of Greece, Crete had the most authentic and sincere feel and hence for us, it was a true winner.  I think it was definitely due to the fact that we ran into so many more locals here, it felt more quaint and less crowded with tourists, the food was Greek but also mixed so many different styles of cooking and fused together with staple Greek ingredients.

I think it also felt so genuine due to the fact that it is THE source; a lot of the food products which are shipped to the rest of the country originate in Crete. I wouldn’t say that it has much to do besides strolling the streets and taking in the quiet charm but isn’t that what getaways are for?

Kinjal Nayar
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