Cooking and Traditions of Crete

From its gorgeous beaches and breathtaking mountains to its bustling cities and fairytale-like villages, Crete is a magical place. The natural beauty of the Greek island is only rivaled by that of its history, as the island is the birthplace of the Minoans, and even today vestiges of the island’s past populate Crete. Pair the island’s beauty with the gastronomy of the island — which has been named some of the healthiest in the world, as the diet is rich in fruits and vegetables — and Crete has the makings of a foodie heaven.

In this heaven on earth, escape to Lasithi Plateau, one of the largest plateaux in all of Greece and located in a rural part of the island. Don’t be surprised to hear the sound of goat bells, while enjoying the stunning views of cloudy mountain peaks and fertile fields populated with orchards and old wind mills.

Your hosts for the week are the lovely husband and wife team of Yiannis and Eleni, who started offering cooking tours in 2012. Yiannis has a background in geography, and in addition to running the apartments, he represents local cultural organizations. While it is Eleni who leads the cookery courses, he appreciates the traditional cuisine and loves spending time in the kitchen too.


Trip Details

Your 4 hands-on lessons will be with Eleni, who has a deep knowledge of island culinary traditions. She will introduce you to the food of the island and how its gastronomy is a way of life — and a healthy one at that! The diet of Crete dates back, as so much of the island does, to the time of the Minoans; in fact its thought that the ancient Minoans consumed much of the same food that Cretans do today.
The hands-on courses take place either in a well-equipped kitchen or on the veranda in the outdoor barbecue area, where you may enjoy your meal as well, weather permitting. Only local products are used, including virgin olive oil, pure honey, herbs, cheese, and meat. Dishes are simply prepared — often roasted, boiled, or stewed — and always determined by the season.
With more than 2 decades of studying and cooking, in addition to growing up on a family farm and working in the family’s tavern, Eleni has an extensive knowledge of local food. That’s reflected in her success: she’s been awarded a variety of golden and silver medals by Crete’s Chef Club, participated in several cook books, and hosted several TV programs. She’s also a dedicated teacher and loves sharing her knowledge with her guests.


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Itinerary

Day One

The island of Crete

  • Transfer from Heraklion airport on Crete to your rustic and charming apartment accommodations on Lasithi Plateau.
  • Some time to relax before meeting your hosts, Eleni and Yiannis, for your welcome dinner with local wine.
  • Overnight.

Your hosts for your cooking vacation on Crete


Day Two

  • Breakfast with “Amalthea’s Goods.” (Amalthea was a she-goat — or a nymph, according to some — who was Zeus’s foster mother when he was hidden in a cave. When Zeus grew up, he crafted his thunder-shield from her hide and the horn of plenty from her crown). Breakfast throughout your time on Crete will feature local goods.
  • In the morning, start your first hands-on cooking lesson, which will be an introduction to Greek flavors. Some dishes you may prepare include moussaka, tzatziki, Greek salad, and zucchini fritters.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts. Weather permitting, enjoy it out on the veranda. A bottle of local wine is included.
  • Afterwards, enjoy some time to relax before departing on a walk through the nature of the plateau, as well as some nearby villages.
  • Dinner tonight will be in the village of Krassi, where the biggest platen tree is located, where — as the mythology goes — the god of Zeus mated with Europa. Krassi is also where Nikos Kazantazaki — a famous Greek writer — used to relax, write, and meet friends.
  • Overnight.

Greek food enjoyed al fresco


Day Three

  • Traditional breakfast.
  • Return to the kitchen for your next hands-on cooking class focusing on Cretan specialties. Your menu may include giant beans with herbs and vegetables; snails with vinegar and rosemary; tomato feta and oregano fritters; and briam with cheese.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts with a bottle of local wine.
  • In the afternoon, visit the cave where it’s said the god of Zeus was born.
  • Next it’s on to a local creamery to learn about and taste Cretan cheese and butter. While here learn how to prepare olive oil and herb soap, which you can take home as gifts!
  • Dinner back at your accommodations.
  • Overnight.

Grapes at a winery in Greece


Day Four

  • Traditional breakfast.
  • In the morning, visit Knossos Palace, an ancient archaeological site that’s considered Europe’s oldest city; it was once the capital of Minoan Crete.
  • Continue to a local award-winning winery for a food and wine tasting lunch that includes six dishes with wine.
  • In the afternoon, stop for a visit at the Natural History Museum of Crete, which is focused on the study of the flora and fauna of the beautiful island.
  • Walk over to Heraklion, the largest city on the island. During this brief visit to the bustling modern metropolis with plenty of shopping, stop for a Greek coffee and “bougatsa” (pastry) tasting. Dinner tonight is included.
  • Overnight.

Greek sardines


Day Five

  • Following breakfast, head to the beach for some time relaxing in the sun and swimming in the crystal clear sea.
  • Enjoy a fresh juice, or frappe, tasting while at the beach.
  • Take part in your next cooking class, this time in a fisherman’s village. The course will focus on fresh fish and seafood. Lunch to follow based on your efforts with one bottle of local wine.
  • In the afternoon, it’s time to learn about Greek raki, which resembles Italy’s grappa. It’s made with grapes and is a byproduct of the wine-making process, resulting in a strong alcoholic drink. Tour three different places, enjoy some tastings of raki along with salty mezedes (or small plates) for dinner.
  • Overnight.

Cooking classes in Greece


Day Six

  • Traditional breakfast.
  • In the morning, have some time on your own to relax, explore, and enjoy your last morning on the Greek island.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • Return to the kitchen one last time for your final cooking class with Eleni, and to receive your cooking certificate. A farewell dinner to follow with a bottle of local wine.
  • Overnight.

Day Seven

  • Breakfast followed by check out and group departure transfer to Heraklion airport.

Trip Details

Included in the 6-Night Trip

Accommodations

6 nights accommodations in guesthouse apartment (2-3 people) or private villa (4 or more)

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfast
  • 4 lunches, wine included
  • 6 dinners, wine included

Classes & Instructors

Your 4 hands-on lessons will be with Eleni, who has a deep knowledge of island culinary traditions. She will introduce you to the food of the island and how its gastronomy is a way of life — and a healthy one at that! The diet of Crete dates back, as so much of the island does, to the time of the Minoans; in fact its thought that the ancient Minoans consumed much of the same food that Cretans do today.
The hands-on courses take place either in a well-equipped kitchen or on the veranda in the outdoor barbecue area, where you may enjoy your meal as well, weather permitting. Only local products are used, including virgin olive oil, pure honey, herbs, cheese, and meat. Dishes are simply prepared — often roasted, boiled, or stewed — and always determined by the season.
With more than 2 decades of studying and cooking, in addition to growing up on a family farm and working in the family’s tavern, Eleni has an extensive knowledge of local food. That’s reflected in her success: she’s been awarded a variety of golden and silver medals by Crete’s Chef Club, participated in several cook books, and hosted several TV programs. She’s also a dedicated teacher and loves sharing her knowledge with her guests.

Excursions

  • Nature walk through the plateau and its villages
  • Visit of the cave of Zeus
  • Trip to the local cremery with tasting
  • Visit of Knossos Palace
  • Visit of the Natural History Museum of Crete
  • Visit of Heraklion
  • Trip to the beach

Transfer Details

  • Round-trip group arrival/departure transfers from/to Heraklion airport

Miscellaneous

  • ‘Raki’ tasting

Accommodation Information

Situated in the mountainous village of Jermiadon, your accommodations for the week are the Argoulias apartments. The property includes two studio units as well as nine apartments, all made with stone, in addition to a fully-equipped kitchen for the cooking classes and a lounge with a fire place. Room amenities are basic but comfortable, and the entire property has central heating. From the property’s balcony, take in the stunning views of the plateau and mountain. (Note that for weeks with four or more, you will stay at a private villa in Lasithi).

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Pricing:
January through May, September through December

6-night Program
US$2950 per person based on double occupancy

    30% deposit due to confirm booking.
    Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!

    Single occupancy pricing: please inquire.


    Tour Dates

    Available the following dates for a minimum of 2 people. Other start dates may be possible, please inquire.
    Not available during the summer months (June, July, and August).

    2019
    February 3-9
    February 10-16
    February 17-23
    February 24-March 2
    March 3-9
    March 10-16
    March 17-23
    March 24-30
    March 31-April 6
    April 7-13
    April 14-20
    April 21-27
    April 28-May 4
    May 5-11
    May 12-18
    May 19-25
    May 26-June 1
    September 1-7
    September 8-14
    September 15-21
    September 22-28
    September 29-October 5
    October 6-12
    October 13-19
    October 20-26
    October 27-November 2
    November 3-9
    November 10-16
    November 17-23
    November 24-30
    December 1-7
    December 8-14
    December 15-21
    December 22-28

    Pricing & Dates

    Class Pricing

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