If there’s one thing you need to know about Crete, one of Greece’s most beautiful islands, is that people there know how to cook, eat, and turn a simple routine like cooking into an art form. Welcome to the world of Cretan cuisine.
Let’s try and define Crete in just three words. The term we’d generate would be something like this: “Each bite counts.” But there’s a common misconception about the tastes and foods of Greece: that it only has to offer traditional, homemade, granny-like dishes that lack sophistication and gourmet elements.
Allow us to disagree. Because Greek cuisine (and Cretan cuisine, of course) have evolved. A lot.
But first things first.
The Greek food culture
Greeks live to eat and not the other way around.
Every single meal is a celebration which honors companionship, and the tradition in all the dishes that Greeks were raised on. This is why a dinner, which is always a social occasion in Greece, can last for hours. Greeks talk over food, good wine, and take their time while enjoying the one time of the day they come together.
Take this scenario. You’ve booked a table at a Cretan restaurant, located in a luxury hotel in Crete. The restaurant is famous for its great food and the wine feels like a divine gift. But where do you begin?
First, you get the hors d’ oeuvres, little dishes with the purpose to whet your appetite and allow you to enjoy your wine. Then the cold dishes (like salads) arrive, and, last but definitely not least, there are the warm dishes such as meat or fish. All hand-picked, fresh, and made with love — just like it happens with every single good food recipe in Crete.
But does this mean that Greek cuisine is traditional only and nothing more? Of course not.
But let’s take it from the top.
Traditional Greek gastronomy
It’s true that from the ancient times to today, the Greek population has changed the way they eat so radically that we cannot really summarize the country’s eating habits or gastronomical culture.
If you take a look at Greece’s geolocation, you’ll notice how much it looks like a crossroads. This, alone, has helped the country get familiar with many different influences imported from abroad. Crete, as an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, was one of the first Greek regions to be affected by different cultures. Yes, Cretan cuisine is a mix of various eating habits.
However, there’s one thing that the country and Crete have kept intact. The emphasis on high-quality raw ingredients that make a simple recipe taste like one of the best pieces of food you’ve ever eaten. Some of these Greek and Cretan high-quality raw materials include olive oil, herbs, and vegetables grown on Cretan soil.
Greek cuisine and the 21st century
Today, however, Greece has welcomed a new wave of chefs. All of them are trying to keep the Greek cooking spirit alive but at the same time introduce some new practices and techniques when cooking dishes all Greeks recognize from their childhoods.
These chefs have often trained abroad, so their influences are shaped in different lifestyles, which they combine later with the Greek traditional cuisine. All this experimentation has led to an entirely new trend that’s been around Greece for the past 20 years or so: Greek gourmet cuisine that is usually found in 5-star gastronomy hotels on islands like Crete.
So, now, you know. Greek cuisine is much more than the image of a grandmother preparing dinner for her loved ones. And yes. Crete is full of gastronomy hotels that make luxury and food go hand in hand. After all, It’s no secret some of the best hotels in Crete are actually some of the best hotels in Greece.
Eating in Crete
Someone could say that Cretan cuisine is based on tradition.
Even the most gourmet dishes are revamped, modern versions of the original recipes that the chefs of today have inherited from their parents or even grandparents. With the main ingredients including extra virgin olive oil, cheese, fresh fish, herbs, freshly produced greens, and A-class meat, you can understand how important it is to taste as much as you can from this blessed-by-the-sun island.
But how could you? Gourmet, traditional, inspiring new-wave gastronomy… It sounds like a lot. Well, not if you’re in the right place.
And there’s a spot where you can taste the whole island in a bite.
A luxury hotel in Crete for gastronomy enthusiasts
Allow us to talk about Minos Beach Art Hotel in Agios Nikolaos, Crete.
It’s not just one of the best hotels in Crete; it’s a complete experience. Want proof? The eight different venues where you can taste all the variations of the original cuisine of Greece will provide all the evidence you need.
Start your day at Bacchus, the hotel’s main restaurant where breakfast is served from 5 am. Then, it’s time for a stop at Ibiscus pool bar or Dionyssos lobby bar for a cocktail, a coffee, or a light cold snack.
Does the idea of sunbathing on a private beach sound more appealing? Pure, the hotel’s lounge bar, will do its best to help you relax and get in touch with nature.
For some traditional, Cretan cuisine delicacies, Terpsis is the best place to go, and if you want to taste the gourmet Mediterranean flavors, then you should definitely pay a visit to La Bouillabaisse which also accommodates a wine bar.
Last but not least, Kafeneion Adeste will travel you back in the time when kafeneion (the traditional Greek coffee places) were the most prominent gathering places in the country. You can get some coffee, beer, retsina, ouzo or raki to go with a traditional Cretan appetizer. So, there you go. That was Crete’s gastronomy in just one paragraph — and just one place. A luxury hotel in Crete where Cretan cuisine is blooming.