Wondering about Crete — Imaginer la Crête

Summer is far from being over in Boston, on the contrary. We’ve had the best weather, the one that makes New England a wonderful place to live in. That special Indian summer is already starting to take shape, and settle. It almost makes me regret that we are taking a vacation at this time of year. A good thing that where we are off to, it will be charming. It will be home too.

So it might be a little quieter around here over the coming weeks. Our suitcases are almost packed — still some work to do — and we are excited like young kids that would get to see the sea for the first time: I was actually six when that happened, and I still remember it clearly.

This time, many years later, I will be landing in Crete for the first time, and I cannot wait.

I am looking forward to embracing the island’s glorious landscapes, dig my feet deep in the warm sand, smell the olive and pine trees when we wake up in the morning, feel the sea breeze gently brush my face, taste scrumptious Mediterranean food, meet the faces of locals, and enjoy the comfort of the lovely house we rented there for an entire week. We will cook, dine out, swim, hike, cycle, and try to put our busy life behind, enjoying the present. We need to come home refreshed.

So tell me, do you have any suggestions about must see, taste, do on the island?

Feel free to drop a line as I would love to hear your impressions.

In the meantime, be good and stay well. I kept a refreshing summer recipe here for you, easy to put together.

And oh of course, I will also make a stop in France, and Paris. Passage obligé !

A bientôt ! I hope to come back with lots of nice stories and photos.

Nectarines in Lavender-Infused Raspberry Sauce

Nectarines in Lavender-Infused Raspberry Sauce

(For 4 people)

You need:

  • 7 oz raspberries
  • 1 tsp lavender
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp
  • 4 nectarines
  • Mint or lemon balm leaves

Steps:

  • In a pot, place 5 1/4 oz raspberries, lavender, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then stop the heat and cover; let infuse for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat a pot of water and drop the nectarines in it, and boil for 1 min. Rinse under cold water and peel the fruit.
  • Mix the raspberries with the syrup and strain.
  • Serve the nectarines with the raspberry sauce, the rest of the raspberries, and a few leaves of mint or lemon balm.
Le coin français
Nectarines et sauce aux framboises parfumée à la lavande

(Pour 4 personnes)

Ingrédients :

  • 200 g de framboises
  • 1 càc de lavande alimentaire
  • 15 cl d’eau
  • 60 g de sucre de canne blond
  • 4 nectarines
  • Feuilles de menthe ou de mélisse

Etapes :

  • Dans une casserole, mettez 150 g de framboises avec la lavande, le sucre et l’eau. Amenez à ébullition puis arrêtez le feu. Couvrez et laissez infuser pendant 30 minutes.
  • Pendant ce temps, faites chauffer de l’eau dans une casserole. Une fois bouillante, plongez-y les nectarines pendant 1 minute. Rinsez les fruits sous de l’eau froide, puis pelez les fruits.
  • Mixez les framboises avec le sirop et passez la sauce au tamis.
  • Servez les nectarines avec la sauce aux framboises, le reste de framboises, et des feuilles de menthe ou de mélisse.
Posted in Dessert, Food & Travel, Fruit, Gluten Free | 46 Comments

46 comments

  1. Without knowing where on the island you’re staying, it’s difficult to give specific recommendations, but I would very strongly recommend taking a trip to Chania if you can – they have a wonderful market there, and lots of lovely cobbled streets lined with lovely shops, as well as a very attractive harbour area.

    It’s a beautiful island, and very lovely at this time of year (not too hot, but not yet cold and windy).

    The people are wonderful, and the food is pretty much all wonderfully fresh and tasty – even when it’s something as simple as a greek salad with bread.

    Be prepared for a “freebie” at the end of any evening meal – this often takes the shape of fruit or cake and a shot or two of Raki (a local licor with a reasonably strong taste – it’ll grow on you, i promise). It took me a while to get used to, but it’s a lovely custom.

    Enjoy!

  2. Ooh, I recently spent a week on Crete – mainly in Chania – and absolutely loved it. All the places that we ate were wonderful, but one that really stood out was called O Leventis Taverna. It was a little ways outside of town and tricky to find, but totally worth it! Amazing food, run by wonderful people, perched on a lovely hilltop, really reasonable prices. There’s also a seafood restaurant inside the Chania market that served hands-down the best fish we had on the island. Elafonisi beach, Samaria gorge… so much beauty there. Enjoy!

  3. have a wonderful time bea. enjoy, relax, take it all in – and i can’t wait to read the stories when you get back :)

  4. Wow, I love this photo, the green shadow! And a trip to Crete, you’re full of wonderful surprises today. I’ve never traveled in southern Europe, but if I could Greece and it’s islands would be a must. I love the food, the climate, the colors. Béa, take a few photos of the pastries. Yum. Have a wonderful time!

  5. It’s been 15 years since I went there so I am afraid I can’t help much! Have a lovely trip, relax, enjoy the sun and the blue waters! Hard work deserves its rewards!

  6. Bea- I have to ask about the glassware. I bought very similar ones (though wine goblets) in Nice last summer. Can you get these in the states?? That surely would make my day!

  7. oh la la la crete!! you’re a lucky gal. bring us tons of pictures so that we can experience it vicariously.

  8. Last year I spent three weeks in Crete, one of the best times of my life!!
    If you have enough time, try rentin a car and driving to the western coast (not so far from Chania). Down there you’ll see plenty of long beach with pink sand (really! pink!): it’s so amazing!!

    About food, Crete is a mix of Greek and Turkish food, so you can enjoy stuffed tomatoes, moussaka, but also dolmades and humus, as well as delicious tzatziki, and of course fish!!

    Have fun!!

    DDgirl

  9. Et voila notre bea qui s’envole again. Bon voyage et j’attends avec impatience ton prochain repartage.
    Take care.

  10. Have a wonderful time in crete! I have never been there so I will be waiting for you to share info and tips! Of course, with your stunning photos!
    I can’t wait to be away for holidays too! In less than 3 working day, I will be in L’ile de Re!!
    I love Nectarines!!

  11. j’espère que tu ne vas pas être trop décue car à part l’intérieur qui est très beau et quelques cotes encore sauvages, le reste est très bétonné ou couvert de serres.
    j’avais réussi à trouver deux trois plages isolées assez cool côté sud. Tu nous raconteras

  12. Hi Bea,
    I just found your site and love it so much…..I think you are such a colorful person (judging from what you’re wearing in your photo, also the dishes that you’ve made).

    I’ve never been to Crete, I heard it’s absolutely gorgeous! I’m sure you’ll have fun and plenty good food for you to enjoy. I just came back from Bali and still have my jet-leg!
    So Bon Voyage!

  13. Bonjour from the Dordogne! If you are in Chania, be sure to stroll through the Central Market Hall to (shop!) and get a sense of local products. Lots of locals go there for coffee, too. That stretch of Crete’s coast is splendid, dotted with Venetian forts and fishing towns. On the Heraklion harbor some fishermen sell their morning catch from the back of the boat; do return to watch the sunset from the Venetian fort. And Knossos, where cats sleep on ancient walls…and do taste the Skorthalia, usually as a side with fish….somewhere. Looking forward to your posts on return.

  14. Have a delightful time in Greece, and please share about your adventures in France, too. I love to hear about your travels.

    I don’t comment very often but I read your blog addictively. You are such an inspiration!

  15. Hello and congradulations for your site! I am Greek and I live in Chania, so I can tell you a few things!…You should absolutely visit: Elafonisi, Falasarna, Loutraki(beaches), Balos and Gramvousa (with local boats), the Samaria and the Agia Irini(Saint Irini) Gorge, the Kournas Lake, village Therisso (at the mountains) for eating local food etc…At the centre of the old town in Chania (you should explore it on foot), me and my husband usually eat at Tamam restaurant, it’s very good and with logical prices. All this only for Chania, if you stay at Heraklion visit all the archeological places. Try to explore the most isolated places in order to see the beautiful nature!…Thanks everybody for your good words for our island!I really hope that you will enjoy your staying here and as for as…please keep cooking! :-)

  16. Aubergines and figs, that’s what reminds me of Crete. We went to Crete this year in July for the first time for 2 weeks with our 2 small daughters and it was FANTASTIC, the people, the place and the weather.
    We stayed 20 min drive from Hania (Chania/xania) in a village called Armeni which in itself is a great place to go to eat as the village is made of a church, about 5 taverna and a local butcher who sells fantastic meat and dairy products (try their Graviera, a must!!). Our favourite place to eat in Armeni was called Tzitzifes, it is off the main road and not easy to find (when you drive through the village turn right leaving the church on your left and follow the road until you see a restaurant on your right under the trees) but which served food more authentic than the others and without deep fried chips as in most of the other tourist places!

    Here is a list of what I liked to eat the most: aubergine slices rolled up and filled with breadcrumbs and tomatoes (can’t remember the greek name for this dish), Dokas: a type of rusk which gets wet with water and covered with feta and fresh tomatoes, Briam: a sort of vegetable stew, Melitzanasaláta and Tsatsiki, Boureki: a kind of oven pie made with courgettes and cheese and horta: wild greens steamed or lightly cooked and served with olive oil and lemon, fava dip: split lentils pureed and served with olive oil.

    The only downside has been the fish, most calamares and prawns are frozen and that put me off them completely (which thinking back is probably silly as I should have tried how they cook them!) but you can eat fresh fish which is very often indicated on the menus piced by the kilo.

    oh, I forgot about the figs… just found the by the road near our house, directly from the tree every morning, sweet and warm by the sun.

    If you are renting the accomodation like we were and have the chance to cook, the ingredients are just so fresh that anything just comes out tasting incredible with very little effort, I am italian and we cooked pasta with tomato sauce a few times.. the tomatoes came from the local people selling them in the village square and were so sweet and ripe and made an incredible sauce (fantastic cretan olive oil, btw).

    As for the places to visit, we were a bit limited by our 2 daughters who only wanted to be in the water however I reccommend Hania and its indoor market (we missed the street one which I think is on saturdays), Rethimno where we ate in this lovely place PRIMA PLORA (ΠΡΙΜΑ ΠΛΩΡΑ, Address: Akrotiriou, 2 koubes. 74100 Rethymno) with amazing views of the sea (quite expensive though and not really a place to go with children, more suited for a romantic dinner for 2, google it and try to get a map before hand as road signs are not that easy in Crete, not just because of the alphabet, they are just not there!), and a nice village called Argiropolis where you can go and eat near the water springs (the locals suggested the restaurant called the Old mill but we missed it by mistake!).

    Have a fantastic time, I do envy you. I came home with a bunch of Origano picked around the fields and many fond memories of this island, cannot wait to read yours when you are back.

  17. Another gorgeous photo…..reminds me a Lilly Pulitzer ad (pink/green).
    Going to Paris next week, would love your recommendations for dinner in the 6th, by the Luxembourg Gardens.
    Thanks, Stacey

  18. Best wishes for safe travels and thank you for leaving us with such a beautiful dessert that must be delicious and refreshing.

  19. These look so beautifully delicious. As nectarines begin to disappear from my market, I will definitely try to take advantage of this recipe. By the way, I love that little green cup-so quirky and cute!

  20. Have a wonderful time in Crete! I spent two weeks there in May (I actually got married there; my husband’s family comes from Crete). I was also there last year AND the year before. There is an endless amount of beautiful countryside to explore. Iraklion has a wonderful archeological museum (though they may still be largely closed). Knossos (close to Iralkion) is an interesting, important place of archeological and anthropological significance. Rethymon is a quaint city (I spent an afternoon there) and larger than I imagined it would be. Hiking Samaria Gorge is rewarding, but really hard for the average person. I do not recommend drinking the water from the water-sources in the gorge (even though the tour guide might tell you it’s okay) as I got violently horribly ill from doing so!

    If you are on the eastern side of Crete, it’s well worth a visit to go to the Lasithi Plain. It’s really beautiful, not as touristy, and gives you a taste of what Crete was like in the old days. Agios Nikolaos is a nice town, extremely touristy, but lovely nonetheless.

    By far, my favorite place is Crete is Chania. Even though it’s going to be riddled with tourists, it doesn’t affect how incredibly charming and picturesque it is. And in spite of the pedestrian streets, parking is not that hard to find. Just look on either end of the old harbor, especially the west end, known as “the Hand” because of the giant hand sculpture. There are endless shops, restaurants, and cafes. People are super friendly too.

    Some of my favorite places to eat in Chania are:

    - Tamam (located at 49 Zambeliou the main street behind the Old Harbor), : absolutely delicious Cretan/Mediterranean food. The inside is an old bathhouse, and it’s fun and cozy to eat in there. If you sit outside, you can take advantage of the breeze and the people watching, as long as you don’t mind a steady stream of tourists walking by and staring at your food. My favorite dishes there are the gigantes (giant beans), the Cretan salad, and the chicken and aubergine. Everything there is delicious.

    - Karnagio Taverna (located Katechaki Square 8 – just walk past the old armories and it is on the waterfront at the back end of a parking lot). This place is super friendly and they made delicious traditional Cretan fare.

    - Apostolis (located in the old harbor, on the water, next to the Porto Veneziano hotel. IMPORTANT: there are TWO Apostolis, this is the one that is on the LEFT as you face the Porto Veneziano hotel) – the BEST seafood. They will let you go in the back and pick your fish out. Everything is super fresh. Our particular favorites that were in season in May were red mullet, snapper, and octopus. They also have delicious olive oil! They also give you (for free – at the end of the meal) some wonderful yogurt with a variety of spoon-fruits. My favorite was bergamot, though they are all delicious and you will probably come home and crave them like I do. We ate here five times when we were there in May!

    - Although we’ve never been, Nykterida, near the Prophet Ilias hill, is supposed to be the best restaurant in Crete. The Prophet Ilias church (on the hill) is a lovely spot with a fantastic view of Chania. Incidentally, this is where I got married!

    - Near the airport, Gourounakia (means little pigs) is a local spot that specializes in traditional fare and especially meat.

    - There are some bougatsa places off of the main platia (I think its called 1860 Square, it’s at the top of Halidon St). Bougatsa is a traditional Cretan dish of phyllo, soured custard, and sugar. Bougatsa Iordanis is particularly good and very famous.

    - The old market is well worth a look. I can’t remember his name, but there is a cheese-seller who has a stall on the very end on the right as you are facing out the door. He has excellent local cheese.

    - Gelato: the best one that I found was the gelato place on the alley to the left of the Metropolis church.

    - Not in Chania proper, but in the very touristy area of Platanias is O Mylos, a lovely and a little pricier restaurant.

    A lot of people might suggest NOT eating in the old Harbor area, and I have had great meals both in and out of the area. I don’t think you can go too wrong in Crete. And the lovely thing is that even with the weak dollar/strong euro, the prices are not outrageous at all.

    I also find that the local “well” wine was just as good if not better than the more expensive imported stuff. You will also get a small bottle of raki/tsikoudia at the end of every meal. Some is better than others! Also very popular and delicious is horta or greens. These can be any kind of wild greens that are boiled (sometimes with the addition of zucchini and/or potatoes) and then eaten with salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Vlita are delicious as are stamnagathi, which are a little on the bitter side if you like that kind of thing. Whatever is in season is what is served. Horta also becomes something that you crave, like a lot of food from Crete.

    Anyhow, I hope this helps. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or whatnot. Have a wonderful trip!

  21. Nectarines, framboises et mélisse… que de bonnes odeurs m’évoquent cete photo…
    j’espère que vous ne serez pas trop déçue d ela crète, mais je viens d’y passer un petit séjour et n’y ai vu aucuns de ces produits…
    des légumes (aubergines, courgettes, poivrons…), des melons, des oliviers à perte de vue et aussi beaucoup de béton sur la côte où j’étais…
    curiosité, il y avait des régimes des bananes à vendre sur le trottoir, la branche (le régime entier), suspendu avec la balance dessous…
    bon voyage, je suis certaine de toute façon de trouver de superbes photos à votre retour…

  22. Have a wonderful trip!

    I just adore nectarines and these photos are exactly why. Such colour that are so rarely let down by the flavour they tempt you with. Beautiful!

  23. I’ve been in Crete for a love affair, some years ago, spending many times and weeks in that lovely island. Everything is really wonderful. You should visit Elafonisi island (the water is crystal and tropical), the small village of Matala with ancient caves digged in the rocks over the sea, Chania, Spinalonga island and the archeological sites of Knossos, Festos and Gortis (Gortina).
    There’s a great choise of food, don’t forget to taste the typical “Paximadi” or twice baked loaf (sometimes made with chick-pea flour), the “Yemistas” stuffed vegetables with rice and mint; “Saganaki” fried cheese (usually feta); “Dolmades” stuffed wine leaves, “Spetsofai” country sausages with peppers and wine, and the savoury tzatziki, skordalia (garlic-potatoes salad) and melitzanosalata. From the sweet side: risogalo (rice pudding), galaktoboureko (Custard with phyllo pastry) baklava and the wellknown yoghurt with thime honey and…fabulous thime honey of course! Have a very nice trip!

  24. Hi Bea~

    Tes photos sont absolument magnifiques…
    I can never have enough of your gorgeous photos!

  25. Many thanks everyone for your advice and comments. I am on a dial-up connection, so cannot post pictures, but we are having a really nice time. The villa we rented is truly amazingly good to relax at! Cannot wait to share my experience with you. Crete kept lovely sceneries for us! A bientot. My next step is France!

  26. Pingback: South of Greece, there is Crete — Au sud de la Grèce, il y a la Crête by La Tartine Gourmande

  27. Pingback: The Coco Målé blog – your daily dose of interior design inspiration! » Blog Archive » The ultimate refreshing summer dessert!

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