Greek walnut baklava

My sweet tooth had a field day whilst travelling in Crete.

At cafés and bakeries, you find fabulous local sweets and cakes like baklava, loukoumadhes (small dough balls served with honey and cinnammon), kataïfi (honey-soaked rolls of angel hair pastry filled with chopped walnuts), rizogalo (rice pudding) and yummy galaktobourekos (a custard-filled pastry).

These desserts are as good as they are because of the quality of the locally sourced ingredients.  Golden olive oil, brittle, fresh walnuts, and fragrant honey from the Cretan mountains, which can have notes of thyme or other wild herbs are the basis of these crispy and sticky delicacies.

In Rethymnon, for example, I followed a recommendation from my guide book, which said to visit Yiorgos Hatziparaskos, whose shop is tucked away in a hard-to-find side street, but was well worth finding.  He makes baklava and kataïfi the traditional way, and like the book said, they are to die for!

If you want advise to find the best baklava in Crete, or would like to take a cookery class to learn to make it yourself, ask Karma Travel!

Extraordinary Food

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Expect beautiful, healthy food made from fresh ingredients and prepared rather simply. Cretan food is amazing, and truly, it is all about the fresh fish, straight out of the sea, the just-picked plump and crisp vegetables, fresh and fragrant wild herbs sourced from the hills, and the golden olive oil used to prepare it. Uncomplicated and delicious!

I learnt that the average consumption of olive oil in Crete is 25 litres per person per year. It may sound like a lot, but it’s just so good that it’s easy to understand once you tried it. It is also used in many things, from salads to desserts like crispy and sweet baklava.

Be sure to try the traditional Cretan Rusks, traditional bread which is dried and baked several times until it is crispy and gold, and is served topped with grated tomato, olive oil, a bit of Feta cheese and oregano. It’s the perfect starter!

There was a night when I was not particularly hungry and thought a salad and a plate of ‘mixed mezedes’ should do. Well, the portions were so generous that three people could have happily shared! The meze selection was amazing, too. I had courgette flowers filled with soft cheese, dolmades, red peppers stuffed with rice and minced meat, croquettes, breaded sheep’s milk cheese sticks, calamari, gorgeous olives and artichokes.

Oh, the life!

If you want advise on Cretan cookery lessons, places to eat, or special places where you can go in Crete to savour local specialities, consult with Karma Travel!

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