Local Specialities
Worldwide known for its benefits, the Cretan Diet is proven to increase overall health and prolong life. Whoever chooses Rethymno as a travel destination, will land in an authentic place where traditional recipes are present in the city’s restaurants but mostly in the picturesque villages all over the prefecture.

Local Dishes

Beef Stifado: A traditional casserole with beef and onions, a perfect winter comfort food. Best served with crusty bread fried potatoes and green salad.

Lamb Kleftiko: A slow roast lamb cooked for 1 hour and then heat reduced to low. After 3 hours, potatoes and lemon slices are added and cooked for another 2 hours. The outcome is a soft, sweet tasted meat with a sour hue.

Village Chicken: Key to its success lies in the chicken quality and in the preparation. Organic, free-range chicken will make the difference in the mouth. Best, cooked in a casserole with onions, wine, lemon juice and sage sprig.

Meat with aubergines or chickpeas: Both dishes are very popular during the winter season. Rustic and full of flavor, for this recipe beef or pork meat is used.

Stuffed aubergines: A culinary delight. There are many variations of the filling mixture. The classic filling is minced meat, béchamel and grated cheese on top for extra flavor. It can be also served cold as a meze starter.

Snails: A traditional delight! The classic combination is a recipe for snail cooked with cracked wheat. Other recipes include snails with rosemary and wine, snail with potatoes and courgettes, snails with tomatoes or with vinegar (famously known as “hochlioi mpoumpouristoi”, hochlioi for snails in the Cretan dialect, and mpoumpouristoi for being in the pan facing its bottom).

Gamopilafo: A traditional wedding dish, typical of entire Crete, aiming at “announcing” a successful wedding. A risotto prepared in the juices of cooked lamb, served after the appetizers and before the roast lamb in all the Cretan wedding tables.

Baked Fish: A healthy way to prepare various fish in whole or fillet form. The baking in a wax paper ensures that all flavor and moisture of the fish is maintained while saving lots of calories compared to fried cooking. Served with steamed mixed vegetables and rice or with fresh green salad and potatoes.

Cuttlefish with fennel: A perfect winter casserole dish and a variation of the classic Greek cuttlefish with spinach. Adds of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and wine accentuate the fennel aroma. Best served with fresh fried country potatoes.

Octopus with knocked macaroni: A light and simple casserole dish prepared with extra virgin oil, onions, fresh tomatoes and wine. Can be also served cold as a meze for raki.

Stuffed calamari: Another way to enjoy common squid. Large squids filled with delicious ingredients such as vegetables, rice and herbs. Cooked in tomato/wine sauce and served with green salad.

Broad beans (also called fava beans) with artichoke hearts: A delightful taste combination and a favorite dish during the Lenten season as a main course with some crusted bread and feta cheese on the side.
Baked cauliflower or cabbage: Both recipes are a very simple and easy way to make even kids love these vegetables. Can be enriched with butter, bacon, béchamel, tomatoes or cheese. Served as a main course or a side dish.

Greens:  The entire Crete is a paradise for greens’ lovers. Greens include dishes such as: stamnangathi, radikia, vlita, skolymno, styfno, amvronies, almyrikia, papoules, volvi, kafkalithra, etc. They can be cooked and served as a salad with an oil-lemon vinaigrette, in combination with meat in a white or red sauce, or as a filling (mainly the wild and more aromatic sorts) for small fried pies.

Omanites: Local word for a large mushroom of the plevrotus family. They are served either fried or cooked as a ‘stifado’ (with onions, tomatoes wine and laurel leaves).

Sfouggato: A simple summer dish using eggs and potatoes or vegetables like zucchinis or tomatoes. The word origins from the Greek word for ‘sponge’. Sometimes it comes out like a thick omelet, while others like scrambled eggs.

Xinohondros soup: Soup made of cracked wheat, boiled in vegetable broth (for non vegetarians in meat bouillon) and flavored simply with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Local Sweets

Kalitsounia: Sweet pies made of soft pastry and filled with myzithra cheese. They are served with honey and cinnamon.

Spoon sweets: Traditional sweets made with any fruit, sometimes also from vegetables, in a sugar syrup. A typical welcome sweet for guests as a gesture of hospitality.

Xerotigana: A classic light flaky sweet made with simple and pure ingredients and dipped in honey. They are mostly offered in social celebrations such as engagements, weddings and baptisms.

Amygdalota: Macaron-like sweets based on marzipan paste with the characteristic almond flavor, backed in different shapes.

Stafidota: Sweet rusks filled with raisins and flavored with cinnamon and cloves.

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