Maybe one of the most picturesque ports in the world, Chania grabs your attention the minute you set foot in the area. It gives you a hint as you drive from the smallest, shyer Rethymnon towards the king of the Cretan island, especially if you do so during spring. The countless shades of green that light up and turn to white when your eyes reach the cliffs of Psiloriti (the tallest mountain of the island), the smell of local herbs, fruits, cheese and honey laying around and the endless blue of the Aegean on the other side of the road give a clear sign that something remarkable will come along. And it does.
Chania is the second largest city of Crete (population of the actual city is around 54.000 and if you include the peripheral towns and villages it goes up to 108.500) and the capital of the Chania regional unit. Equipped with a large functional port (Souda) and an airport, Chania welcomes more than a million of visitors every year, 6 out of 10 of which not only are confident to come again but state they would definitely tell their friends to come too.
So what makes Chania so unique? The endless beauty, the smiley people, the hospitality, the beautiful deep blue sea, the extended walks, the history, the culture, the authenticity, the local traditions, the Cretan leventia (valiancy, bravery) and the food.
Chania is the ultimate choice for food lovers. It is a gastronomic paradise! Cretan specialties are unique, nutritious and delicious. Mediterranean diet, the world’s most famous diet and nutritional recommendation is based on the dietary patterns of Chania. The diet is rich in olive oil, olives, fruit and vegetables, wild herbs and greens and ingredients that derive from natural sources.
No words can describe the variety of culinary delights and traditional Cretan specialties one can find in Chania. Gourmet specialists will be surprised and delighted by the wide range of tasty choices that can satisfy all desires.
But, if we have to pick just one to recommend, that should definitely be gamopilafo (wedding pilaf). When you visit Crete don’t miss out on indulging your palate with the trademark dish of Chania. Gamopilafo is traditionally served in weddings and it a dish that is related with happiness. It is like a risotto, cooked in meat and topped with a generous scoop of staka. The meat used is traditionally goat and rooster but lamb and chicken can also be used as substitutes. It is a simple and minimal recipe, avoiding the use of too complicated ingredients but the preparation can take 3 hours. Its flavour and taste relies especially on the aroma of special staka.
Staka is a roux dish made from home-made goat-milk fat. It a sinfully delicious plate, extra cholesterol rich that can be found (or cooked properly) only in Crete. It is also served with eggs (eggs with staka).
Gamopilafo can be paired with a glass (or two) of the divine Cretan wine marouvas. Marouvas is a deep red, high-alcohol, exceptional wine produced in the area of Kissamos in Chania.
Alternatively, you can perfect the taste with an ice-cold tsikoudia (or raki). Tsikoudia is an alcoholic grape-based pomace beverage that contains 40%–65% alcohol by volume! A shot of tsikoudia is a very common treat in Chania and a sign of traditional Cretan hospitality. But be careful with the quantity and no matter what, don’t try to compete with the locals.
Are you keen on visiting a gastronomic paradise? Taste the experience in one of the special dinners and experiences featured on CuisineBlue.com.0