Guided Cooking Tour of Crete Explores Island’s Local Cuisine and Ancient Culture
The largest and most populous of the Greek islands, Crete is composed of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes adrift in the Aegean Sea, 100 miles south of the mainland. The island was once as the seat of the Minoan civilization, and traditional Cretan cuisine reflects their rich, proud heritage. Here, the locals dine on fresh seafood, smoked eggplant, free-range lamb tsigariasto, homemade grape-peel raki, and much more. Master the art of crafting these dishes while exploring the island on a seven-day cooking and cultural tour of Crete from CookingVacations.com.
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An English-speaking guide will greet you upon arrival at Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport (HER) in Crete’s administrative capital, Heraklion. Indulge in a Greek coffee—which is brewed stronger than American coffee—and a traditional Cretan meal before heading west to the Aoritis Villas in the tiny village of Lampini, which has a population of about 200. Aortitis’s five villas combine stone, marble, and antique furniture for a traditional Greek feel, enhanced by kitchenettes, WiFi, and televisions. Take in breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Each day, you’ll explore Crete’s history and present culture. One trip ventures to Phaestos, the first Minoan palace, which overlooks the island from the top of a hill. Nearby, the manmade caves of Matala were likely carved by Romans or early Christians about 2,000 years ago. Hippies most recently inhabited them in the 1960s. At the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos, you’ll dine on just-caught seafood for lunch. Tours also hit the Palace of Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, with a post-palace stop at a natural bee pasture to sample honey straight from the honeycomb.
Each night, you’ll learn to cook up to 10 classic Cretan dishes during a hands-on lesson. Lessons range from beginner’s course in stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and vine-leaf wrapped dolmadakia to an evening spent making kakavia, a hearty provincial fish soup. Ingredients for lessons are picked up at local markets throughout the day, with less than 12 hours having passed between the food’s harvest and its place on the table. You’ll also visit the region of Chania, where more than 65 stores sell everything from fruits cultivated on the island to fresh bread. To end the tour in style, groups enjoy a farewell dinner of Cretan specialties prepared by the lady of the house and her mother.
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