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CRETE OUR BELOVED NEW DESTINATION




As winter settles upon us, let me warm your day by our newfound love: Crete, Greece. After our unforgettable Culinary Adventure in September 2023, Anthony and I set sail to Crete to unwind and, more importantly, to explore in preparation for our thrilling Crete Culinary Adventure in May 2024!


I must admit, I can be a bit of a nerd when it comes to trip planning. To me, the preparing, planning and organizing phase is of the outmost exciting! By the time we set foot in Crete, I had conducted extensive research, memorized Google Maps, delved into local dishes and traditions, reached out to various local vendors and even learned a few Greek words. As the planning goes on, I get myself overly excited and with out realizing it, set up expectations. Let’s be honest; high expectations…


Crete exceeded all our expectations. Anthony and I fell head over heels in love with the island instantly. There is an undeniable authenticity and genuineness to Crete that sets it apart. While Greece boasts several islands, each with its own distinctive voice and personality, Crete stands out for its raw and unapologetic nature. It embraces its true essence without pretense. The island is a dynamic tapestry of contrasts: crystal-clear waters and rugged terrains, small villages where age-old traditions coexist with modernity, and the proximity of the sea and mountains within minutes of each other.


In a way, our experience felt like journeying back to our own roots, as our business name draws inspiration from a Greek philosopher, and Crete itself is the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet, which happens to be Anthony’s signature cooking style. It was an exhilaratingly different world that somehow felt familiar and close to home at the same time.


I am dying for you to discover it!


OUR CRETE VILLA




First and foremost, let me tell you about our extraordinary villa in Crete. It is the epitome of luxury, offering breathtaking views of the sea. With a fully equipped outdoor kitchen and a magnificent outdoor dining room, we can look forward to unforgettable evenings watching the sunset. As if that weren’t enough, we also have private access to the sea, an outdoor pool, and a spa with a stunning sea views. And for some indulgent pampering, we have an indoor pool, sauna, and hamam. For those who like to stay active, we even have our own gym and tennis court. Spending the entire day at the villa could be tempting, but that would mean missing out on all that Crete has to offer.

Rest assured, Anthony and I have struck the perfect balance between active exploration and moments of relaxation and rejuvenation. We have meticulously planned our days to ensure we make the most of our time here, discovering the wonders of Crete while also allowing ourselves ample time to unwind and recharge from our busy lives.


I am always on the hunt for truly authentic experiences. It can be challenging to find those hidden gems off the beaten path while still capturing the essence of a destination. But in Crete, we were pleasantly surprised to find that every single activity we had selected exceeded our expectations.


What truly makes these experiences in Crete extraordinary is the incredible people leading these activities. Their kindness, passion, and generosity left a lasting impression on us. I am excited for you to meet them all and experience the magic they bring to this journey. Allow me to share some of the highlights from our trip:


COOKING CLASS



One of the most memorable activities during our time in Crete was the cooking class. We were warmly welcomed into Andronikis and Manuelo’s beautiful home, which boasted a stunning garden and backyard overlooking the sea. Their generosity in sharing their passion for food was truly remarkable.


Our experience began with a leisurely stroll through their picturesque garden, where Andronikis guided us through the various crops she cultivated. She hand-picked fresh vegetables and an impressive bouquet of herbs, which we would later use in our cooking. Meanwhile, Manuelo tended to the outdoor wood oven, adding to the anticipation and delight, as we knew all our dishes would be cooked over the crackling flames. Anthony couldn’t help but salivate at the sight of the wood oven!


We then gathered around a table in the backyard, ready to embark on a culinary journey like no other. With Andronikis and Manuelo’s guidance, we prepared an astonishing array of seven dishes - cheese pies, stuffed vegetables (including zucchini flowers!), moussaka, beans and vegetables, and we even ventured into the realm of making fresh cheese! This was a truly hands-on experience, and we all embraced the opportunity to get our aprons dirty. Even Chef Anthony, with his culinary expertise, learned new techniques and dishes along the way.


Throughout the cooking process, Manuelo continuously poured us generous servings of his homemade Raki. Although he didn’t speak much English, his warm smiles and sparkling eyes spoke volumes. It was evident that he was genuinely excited to have us in their home, sharing a meal together. It was, without a doubt, the most incredible dining experience we had in Crete. The food itself was astonishing, but what made it even more special was the genuine pride and joy Andronikis and Manuelo had in hosting people from all over the world. It was a one-of-a-kind experience, exactly what we strive to offer on our Culinary Adventures.

Visiting vineyards never fails to captivate me, and each visit, I discover something new. Having explored olive grove/mills in France, Italy, and now Greece, I can confidently say that visiting olive groves/ mills can be just as fascinating. Each place has its own unique story and characteristics, allowing us to deepen our knowledge and appreciation for the craft of producing excellent olive oil.

OLIVE GROVE


Sitting outdoor in the shade of an olive three, we had the pleasure of experiencing a unique olive oil tasting led by Aspassia. It really struck a chord with me as it was similar to the wine tastings I host with the Epicureans, but with a focus on olive oil. Aspassia had thoughtfully curated a selection of four high-quality oils for us to sample. The sensory experience began with taking in the aromas of each oil, trying to discern their unique scents. We then moved on to tasting each oil, identifying their distinct flavors. It was truly remarkable how each one differed from the others. To enhance the tasting, we were provided with a variety of dishes to pair with the olive oil. The results were mind-blowing! The olive oils took on a new dimension when paired with food. It reminded me of the intricacies of wine pairing, where a dish could completely change our perception of a wine or vice versa. As someone who is passionate about these sensory experiences, I found it exhilarating. Now, I understand that not everyone may share my enthusiasm for such experiences, but imagine this: sitting in the midst of an olive grove, enjoying a picnic under the shade of a 3000-year-old olive tree. It is an experience that is truly priceless and one that I can guarantee will be unforgettable for everyone. Trust me, this is something you won’t want to miss!


AGRECO FARM




Agreco Farm, located on a hilltop overlooking the sea on Crete Island, is the epitome of a farm-to-table restaurant. Part of the luxurious Grecotel, this unique establishment offers an immersive experience like no other and a 0KM farm to table menu. The entire farm is a faithful reenactment of a traditional Cretan village, complete with farms, dairy, a winery, an olive grove and press, a distillery, bakery, church, plaza, restaurant and even a souvenir shop.


Our visit to Agreco Farm began with a guided tour through the gardens, where we saw firsthand the vegetables and ingredients that would be used in our upcoming meals. At each “house” in the village, we learned about the traditional methods of making honey, bread, wine, raki, and olive oil. The tour concluded at the picturesque plaza in front of the church, where we were treated to a beverage and an outstanding view of the sea.


Soon after, we were seated for a feast of numerous local dishes, each one made with ingredients sourced right from the farm’s gardens. The plates kept coming, delighting our taste buds with their flavors and authenticity. The meal concluded with a delectable dessert and traditional Greek coffee, which was prepared in a captivating show of its own. This experience set the stage for our first evening in Crete and is truly one to remember.


TRADITIONS


One aspect that truly fascinated me was how deeply rooted traditions are in Greece, particularly in Crete. Anthony, often shared stories about his grandfather making wines, and I thought it was something reserved for the “old times.” However, on this island, it seemed like everyone kept the tradition alive by making their own wine and raki in their backyards. It was amazing to see recycled water bottles filled with what turned out to be homemade wine or raki for sale in gift shops, gas stations, and even bakeries. We couldn’t resist trying some of these homemade concoctions. And yes, we found some excellent wines! (not the ones in recycled water bottles, if you wonder ;) We even had the opportunity to invite a winemaker for a dinner at the villa for our Culinary Adventure!


And it wasn’t just the wine that reflected the strong ties to the past. As soon as traditional music started playing in the restaurants, the servers couldn’t help themselves but break into a few dance steps. The energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and it was a joy to witness the preservation of these cultural traditions. In fact, we even planned to attend a traditional music and dance dinner in one of the small village towns nearby. It promised to be an evening full of lively entertainment and a deeper dive into the rich Cretan culture.


I could talk about our experiences in Crete for hours on end. The island left an indelible mark on our hearts, and we can’t help but long for others to share in the gems we discovered along the way. So, if you’re reading this and interested in experiencing the magic of Crete firsthand, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We still have a few rooms available, and we’d be thrilled to have you join us on this unforgettable journey!


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