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Favorite Simple Tastes of Crete

Our favorite Cretan Tastes

Very simple dishes with the strongest of tastes

Ntakos (or koukouvagia)

Ntakos, alternatively known as “Koukouvagia” (which translates to the owl), is a very simple traditional Cretan starter based on barley rusk. On the rusk, there are chopped tomatoes, olives, capers, and herbs such as oregano and the Cretan cream cheese “myzíthra” or "feta" while the dish is complemented by olive oil and salt. It’s a quick and easy dish that offers a nutritious meal.


Another of the traditional simple (minimum preparation) dishes of Cretan culinary tradition. This dish is exceptionally rare to discover in menus of "fancy" restaurants, although it can be found very easily in local, small or "traditional Cretan" restaurants, usually in distant places of small villages of Crete. Askordoulakas or Leopoldia comosa is a plant that typically grows in wild, mountainous/rocky areas. When collected, the bulbs are thoroughly cleaned and can be cooked. When you ask "askordoulakous", "askolimprous" or "askordoulakes" in a Cretan tavern, you are actually about to taste the bulbs of a plant, boiled and then served with vinegar (or lemon) and olive oil. You must be warned though, this is a , that is not common to most palates, it is a favored "delicacy" among the Cretans, as it is usually served, to accompany meat, or other more "soothing" tastes.


Marathópita (Fennel Pies) is a delicious pie, with aromatic fennel and olive oil wrapped in a simple dough. It has a strong fennel taste, usually served (optionally with sour fresh cheese and/or green onion leaves), fried with olive oil in the pan. It is a traditional Cretan food but can be found throughout the island. The pie is filled with fresh fennel, which gives a wonderful flavor to this recipe. Spinach, sorrel and fresh onion are usually added in the pie.


Sfakianopita (or Sfakiani pita) is a traditional Cretan treat with dough kneaded with whey cheese, made with flour, olive oil, water, salt, and a shot of raki (Cretan tsikoudia). In some other parts of Crete, you may discover a variation of this with the dough filled with cheese. When prepared, it is flattened out, and fried (on a pan with a few drops of olive oil) until golden and spotted. It is known, to have first started in the village of Sfakia in southern Crete, and possibly started from Cretan shepherds of the area of Sfakia, hence the name sfakianopita. it is best served with honey while still warm and it is usually accompanied by cold "raki" on the side (or tsikoudia - alcoholic local drink made of grapes)


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