Culinary Tour to the Island of Crete, Greece

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I spent a month in Crete years ago and fell head over heels in love with this island. It truly has it all!  This island has ancient legends, delicious cuisine, crystal-clear blue water, and glorious sunshine. I can't wait to return and share this magnificent place with you!

There’s so much to see and do on Greece’s largest island. During our week together, we'll experience everything from the remains of an ancient world to tasting delicious wine made from centuries-old Cretan varieties. In fact, my friend Isabella, food & travel writer, storyteller, and author of “Handcrafted Crete”, will guide us through her favorite cultural and culinary spots! Together, we'll explore roads less traveled and immerse ourselves in Greece’s cultural and culinary richness. 

Throughout the week, we'll cook, taste, and explore our way through this incredible island!

We'll cook Crete’s island specialties and learn how to make ornamental wedding bread & cookies with women committed to carrying on their families' rich traditions. One day, we can take a turn at pottery making or visit a wild herbs specialist and forage ingredients for our lunch.

We could stop at an olive oil mill on our way to Chania, where we'll find a 14th-century harbor, complete with a 16th-century lighthouse with Venetian, Egyptian, and Ottoman influences. Then, we can stroll around the Old Town’s maze-like alleys with the beautiful Venetian mansions as the fountains and the churches guide us through well-preserved historical monuments.

Our home for the week is the lovingly renovated 17th-century village in the prefecture of Rethymno, Crete. This unique property is a member of the Historic Hotels of Europe, with a story as rich as the land on which it's built. Formerly a tiny settlement created by the Arkadi Monastery, it housed people working the land and olive mill. Nowadays, the settlement of Kapsaliana has been converted into a unique hotel with love, artistry, and ultimate respect for the history and architecture of this land. Plus, we will have easy access to some of the best spots to explore.

Just an easy flight or ferry ride from Athens, Crete has something for everyone.  Get ready for an unforgettable experience on the island of Crete!

 

* Price based on double occupancy.  A single supplement charge of $1500.00US applies for solo travelers. Airfare not included. A deposit of $2000.00US per person is required to secure a spot. See tour terms here.

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Our home for the week is ideally situated in the prefecture of Rethymno, Crete.  This unique and magnificent property is a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of Europe, with a story as rich as the land upon which it was built.  The settlement began with the Arkadi Monastery in the 1600s with the church's construction and continued with the creation of the olive oil mill in 1763.  As people came to the area to work on the olive trees and land, they built houses around the olive oil mill, which, during the peak era, accommodated 13 families. 

Recently, the architect owner converted the settlement of Kapsaliana with love and artistry into a unique, beautiful hotel.  Guests now enjoy the transformation of the olive oil mill, the church, and the village houses in their spacious rooms and suites, on-site restaurant, swimming pool, bar, and lounge.  At an altitude of 260m over the sea, the estate lies at the heart of one of the island's most extensive olive groves.  This is a place where time stands still.  Imagine a quaint, meticulously restored traditional village surrounded by the splendor of Cretan nature. 

These renovated, authentic village houses are exquisitely appointed with modern amenities like Wi-Fi, natural COCO-MAT mattresses, bathrobes, natural bath products, and luxurious linens.  The clear Cretan sky and pure air were the inspiration for giving the rooms and suites names of stars and constellations.  Each has a unique personality, such as lovely sea views, terraces, and stone walls.  The entire property was meticulously restored with high respect for the history and architecture of this land.  Get ready for an unforgettable experience on the island of Crete!

Take a virtual tour below and get ready for an unforgettable experience on the island of Crete!

 

* If you are interested in an upgraded suite. please inquire about availability and pricing.  

Our estate has a fully equipped and spacious kitchen, so we'll take full advantage of it during the hands-on cooking classes.  Cretan cuisine is all about fresh, local, seasonal and mostly organic quality ingredients.  With pristine coasts to fertile mountain ranges, the island provides a bounty of seafood and edible wild weeds grazed upon by livestock whose meat becomes incredibly flavorful when slow-cooked in traditional stews.  Nearly 20 food products and another dozen wines from Crete have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.  

But wait, there's more... Crete has produced olive oil for 3500 years!  And it is incredible!

When ready to create, we can start with Crete's most ubiquitous starter, dakos.  This twice-baked snack of barley toast slowly soaks up olive oil and the juice of chopped tomatoes sprinkled with wild oregano and Xinomyzithra (salted white local cheese).  But that's just the beginning!  We could make tasty homemade turnovers with phyllo and all kinds of savory and sweet fillings.  

Speaking of cheese, Cretans adore their cheese and eat it by itself as meze, as an accompaniment, and stuffed in filo pastry.  Myzithra is common and replaces feta in horiatiki (Greek salad).  It's made from whey and is almost ricotta-like.  Xinomyzithra, mentioned above, is a Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) and has a delightful sourness that cheese lovers adore.  We'll sample these cheeses as part of a meze board with other local products. 

We can also try the traditional Cretan barbecue, such as skewered lamb, salted, and then arranged around a fire on a multi-tiered metal skirt. For centuries, shepherds in the mountains would roast the meat until the skin was carmelized and crackling.  YUMMMM!  Or we could make boureki from Chania, a comforting vegetarian dish layered with zucchini, local cheese, potato and filo or puff pastry. 

Let's not forget the simple fish dish, Psari Plaki.  Fresh fish is baked with tomatoes and onions and seasoned with fresh oregano and cumin.  Of course, we'll serve it with rustic bread to soak up the tasty sauce.  Or we'll roast whole fish with lemon, olive oil, and Greek oregano over an open fire.

We can also head out to cook with locals and learn how to make traditional favorites like ornamental wedding bread & cookies.  Come hungry!

Discover a land of ancient legends, delicious cuisine, and glorious sunshine on this adventure in Crete.

There's so much to see and do on Greece's largest island; we won't have to travel far to experience ancient legends, delicious cuisine, and glorious sunshine on this adventure.  

We'll visit the remains of an ancient world at the Knossos archaeological site. I visited here years ago, and I will never, ever forget it. Situated 6km south of the sea, on the north central coast of Crete, this 9,000-year-old settlement is home to many different cultural layers (Neolithic through Byzantine), and it is the second most important and visited archaeological site in Greece after the Acropolis at Athens.

We must visit a winery to sample some of Crete's best wines, and my Greek friend, Isabella, has the perfect place in mind for an expertly curated tasting and outdoor lunch amongst the vines. They make delicious wine from centuries-old Cretan varieties in an idyllic setting surrounded by vineyards and the Lassithi mountains.

Then, we can learn how to make ornamental wedding bread & cookies with women committed to carrying on their families' rich traditions. Oh, and Isabella loves the quaint and colorful village of Margarites, so we'd love to take you there to admire the architecture and discover some of Crete's most unique pottery.   What a great thing to take home!   We could even learn how to make pottery or visit a wild herbs specialist and forage ingredients for our lunch in Atsipopoulo!

We may have to stop at an olive oil mill on our way to Chania, where we'll find a 14th-century harbor, complete with a 16th-century lighthouse with Venetian, Egyptian, and Ottoman influences. Then, we can stroll around the Old Town's maze-like cobblestone alleys with the beautiful Venetian mansions as the fountains and the churches guide us through well-preserved historical monuments.

And this is just the beginning of this exhilarating week in Crete. Our itinerary will be extraordinary, and we'll cook, taste, and explore our way through this incredible island throughout the week!

The island of Crete is an easy flight or ferry ride away from Athens. The closest International airport is Heraklion Kazantzakis Airport. The price for this tour includes a group transfer to and from Heraklion Airport. Our driver will meet the group for pick-up at approximately 4:30pm on the first day of the tour, and drop-off is on the morning of the final day of the tour. The precise timing of the group transfers will be confirmed before the tour dates. We can arrange private transportation at an additional cost.

We suggest arriving in Greece at least one day before this tour. Not only does this give you some time to adjust to the time difference, but it also provides you with more time to explore.  The tour begins with a welcome reception on the evening of the first day and concludes with breakfast and a return group transfer on the final day.

A non-refundable deposit of $2,000.00 US per person is required to register for this tour. See the Terms and Conditions link above for details. A single supplement charge of $1500.00 US applies for solo travelers. The tour package includes accommodations, cooking classes, excursions, wine, tastings, and meals (excluding one optional dinner). Airfare is not included in the package price. Final payments are to be made by personal check or money order to avoid an additional surcharge. Please read the Tour Terms and Conditions before registering.

We strongly recommended that participants obtain travel insurance. Please note that travel insurance policies and their provisions vary greatly.

During this tour, we are committed to following Federal, State, and local health guidelines to the best of our ability.