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If you’re a fan of fromage, Crete will feel like the Promised Land. Cretans are curd crazy and almost every village produces its own signature variety of cheese, be it hard or soft, stinky or sweet.
One favourite is graviera, a hard cheese that starts off sweet but develops a deep nutty flavour after ageing. Sometimes fried and served hot, it’s cheese heaven.
Another Cretan classic is myzithra, a soft cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk with a creamy, mild tang.
Cheese works its way into all kinds of Cretan dishes, from appetizers all the way to desserts and street snacks.
One must-munch is dakos, the Greek equivalent of bruschetta. Instead of bread, barley rusks are softened and served with fresh Cretan tomatoes, a dollop of creamy myzithra cheese, a splash (or seven) of olive oil and a sprinkling of oregano.
You can pick up fresh cheese pastries (kaltsounia, sarikopitakia and sfakia) all over the place, making them fantastic snacking fodder. Often finished with a drizzle of honey, you’ll soon be hooked on the addictive mixture of sweet and savoury.
Wild herbs and greens grow all over the meadows and mountainsides of Crete, adding a scented layer to the stunning scenery. Nothing is wasted here, so you’ll find yourself trying all sorts of foraged greens that have never passed your lips before.
Be sure to taste Mountain Bulbs (Askordoulakous), often served as a salad with a drizzle of liquid-gold olive oil or stewed with vinegar and flour.
Despite being an island, Cretan cuisine isn’t heavy on seafood, mostly because over-fishing has pushed up prices. Instead, you’ll find all kinds of mouth-watering meat dishes made from free-roaming local animals.
Lamb with a wild green called stamnagathi is a Cretan classic, while gamopilafo is an incredible slow-cooked risotto made with lamb, goat or rooster and a butter made from the skin of fresh goat’s milk.
Wild hare with artichoke hearts is another winner or, for something more offbeat, try chochlioi boubouristi, snails fried with olive oil, cracked wheat and rosemary.
You might fancy a calorie-bashing boogie after all that deliciousness. If you do, find out where the party is at on our Crete nightlife page.
If you’re a fully-fledged foodie, take a holiday to Crete during one of its harvest-themed celebrations. Hobnob with the locals, feast on fresh produce and knock back far too much fire water.
The Sultana Festival kicks off in Sitia in August, the Sardine Festival stinks out Chania in September, the Chestnut Festival takes places in western Crete towards the end of October and the rowdy and liver-wrecking Tsikoudiá (Raki) Festival is celebrated from mid-October to early November.