Crete, Greece - 6 nights
Available April to October - Sunday to Saturday
Cretan cuisine is amongst the healthiest diet in the world. Through this six night cooking vacation you will hone your skills in the kitchen through hands on cooking lessons, learning seafood, casserole, meat, veggie dishes and more. Stay in a 150 year old lovingly restored Cretan stone house which is surrounded by breathtaking views, an unspoiled landscape of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyard valleys, located only 15 minutes from Heraklion City and 20 minutes from the airport.
This cultural getaway not only features hands on cooking classes but you will also discover important historical sites through excursions. You will visit Gortys, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos and Elounda and more. Cretan Delights is the tour for you if you wish to immerse yourself in the wonderful Cretain cuisine and Greek history, learning through its food, its people and its land. Your host for the week is exceptional and is anxious to share his knowledge of Greece with you!
DAY ONE - SUNDAY
Arrival Heraklion port. Reception at the port by your host. Transportation to the villa.
Dinner at the villa with local home cooked foods accompanied by owners' delicious wine.
Accommodation at your home for the week.
DAY TWO - MONDAY
SOUTH CENTRAL CRETE: CULTURE FOOD AND HISTORY
After your buffet breakfast, set out with your host to see Gortys, the ruined capital city of the Roman province which included the island of Crete. You’ll see the impressive amphitheatre and the Basilica of St Titus before driving west to the archaeological site of Phaestos, the first palace built around 2000 BC which stands dominantly on a hill with panoramic views. According to mythology, King Radamanthes, son of Zeus, ruled over the city and over the South of Crete, 4000 years ago. The caves of Matala have a rich history from Roman occupation 2000 years ago to more modern luminaries such as Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens, Lunch will be in the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos consisting of “just caught” seafood specialties.
CRETAN HERITAGE COOKING CLASS
After lunch you’ll head back to the villa and head to the kitchen for your first cooking class. Tonight’s hands-on class is based on a variety of vegetables and minced meat with prep techniques that transforms basic ingredients into a full table of color, variety and richness. Moussaka, Aubergines Papoutsakia, fried vegetables in tomato sauce, smoked eggplant and Pastitsio (the Greek Version of Mac and Cheese), with vegan and vegetarian options will be in abundance. As always, local wine will complement your meal and enhance your evening.
DAY THREE - TUESDAY
WESTERN CRETE: ARKADI MONASTERY, CITY OF RETHYMNON AND THE WATERS OF ARGYROUPOLIS
After a rich breakfast, you will enjoy a slow drive through the vineyards and small villages of
the region. You will visit the 16th century monastery of Arkadi, the small village of Margarites
popular for the ceramics they produce and the city of Rethymnon where every street will take
you on a journey through history. Venetian and Turkish buildings have become small
restaurants, cafés and shops. Your walk down the narrow streets will take you to small
tourists’ shops and coffee houses where you can mingle with locals.
A slow drive to the Water of Argyroupolis where lunch will be served with a variety of Cretan vegetable and cheese specialties and abundance of grilled meats.
The evening will feature your second hands-on cooking class based on the fish and seafood that was purchased earlier in the day. Fish soup, the famous KAKAVIA (fisherman fish soup), fish with tomato and onion sauce baked in the oven and shrimps “saganaki” in tomato sauce, wine and feta cheese are a few of the cooking menu items. Once you’ve cooked, you’ll sit down to enjoy a dinner of the delicious seafood dishes you have learned to cook that day accompanied by a few glasses of wine perfectly matched to your fish. (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
DAY FOUR - WEDNESDAY
AGIOS NIKOLAOS / STUFFED VEGETABLES COOKING CLASS
Breakfast and drive north east to visit Agios Nikolaos and Elounda.
Lunch at a sea front tavern in village of Plaka facing the Spinalonga Island. After lunch, drive back to the villa and get prepared for the third cooking class.
It is believed that the secret for a long and healthy life lies in olive oil, the principle ingredient in the Cretan diet. Past and present research conducted in the US and Europe supports the view that olive oil not only shields the human heart from disease, but also increases healthy operation of other organs by reducing cholesterol. Olive oil is an important ingredient in all dishes on the dinner menu. This hands-on class will take you through the process of making stuffed tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, and aubergines…as well as Dolmadakia (little stuffed wraps) with vine leaves, sorrels or pumpkin flowers. These all can be enjoyed as a meze or main course.
DAY FIVE - THURSDAY
CENTRAL CRETE: FORGOTTEN MONASTERY. MOUNTAINS AND THE WOMEN COOPERATIVES ART PASTRY WORK SHOP AND HONEY TASTING:
After your buffet breakfast your tour will start in the direction of Mount Nida (Psiloritis) the highest mountain on Crete, and according to legend, where Zeus was born. A visit to a unique small stoned church of St. Iakinthos (Orthodox Saint Valentine) built by the well-known famous song writer and singer Loudovikos of Anogia. You will taste the finest quality cheeses, including Kefalotyri and Kefalogryere. Next, the village of Axos and the drive ends at the small village of Drossia known by the local people with the Turkish name GENI-GAVE where you will enjoy lunch at the finest little restaurant on the island – Giannis Petoussis Tavern.
Lunch will feature everything natural and fresh from the proprietor’s own land, cooked by the lady of the house. After lunch, you visit two almost forgotten monasteries, and a church with beautiful frescoes. Next stop at the women cooperative work shop at village Marathos and at Doxa, a small local café run by the owners since 1949. Just 20 km from the city, it is beautifully untouched, and a natural pasture for bees. Old traditional bee-keeping methods ensure ecological, clean honey that is free from any additives. This golden yellow honey is a perfect source of natural vitamins and minerals. You will sample honeycombs straight from the beehive and learn a few secrets know only to the bee-keepers. At the end of this visit you will sample an herbal tea comprised of 9 mountain herbs, and enjoy local donuts drizzled with pure thyme honey.
LOCAL MEATS AND CASSEROLES COOKING CLASS
Preparation is the key to the variety of dishes that will be created. Time spent in slicing, dicing, chopping and peeling enables the assembly of various dishes in record time. Pork bites in tomato sauce, and Drunken Pork bites cooked in wine and oregano are wonderful appetizers paired with Raki (an alcoholic drink that is made from the grape peel, after the wine has been produced). Boneless pork with celery and egg and lemon sauce, with dinner being accompanied with copious amounts of pure, homemade local wines. Viniculture is a 4000 year old practice on the island of Crete.
DAY SIX - FRIDAY
WINE TASTING, THE PALACE OF KNOSSOS / CITY OF HERAKLION
Today we visit the palace of Knossos. When visiting the island of Crete someone must see the ancient palace of Knossos, built 3500 years ago. Today is a combination of archaeological discoveries and food tasting: The day starts at 9.30 am and we drive to the nearby village of Sivas where we visit one of the best small family wineries providing organic wines. We spend some time there tasting a variety of wines. Then we keep driving in the direction of the palace of Knossos. Starting at 11.30 AM the visit takes 1 ½ hours. After the palace we drive back to the city and will walk the streets and meet nutritional wanderings elevating the palate to heaven!! We will explore unique tastes on this walking tour of Heraklion. Visit a small cheese shop (one of the best in Crete) and taste unique fresh and old Cretan cheese accompanied by a shot of Raki. We will walk the central market and stop for an OUZO (anise) with MEZE (small bites accompanies the spirit) at one of the traditional Mezedopolion of the street. On the way back after lunch, we stop at one of the finest small family wineries and taste some of the best wines Crete provides. Back to the villa.
Tonight your dinner will be prepared by the owners of the house. You will have the opportunity to sample a large variety of specialties (called mezedes) accompanied by the Cretan Snap RAKI! You have made wonderful new friends and explored a new region of the world filled with some of the best food you have ever tasted – what more could one ask for?
DAY SEVEN - SATURDAY
After a restful sleep, transportation will be provided for you to meet your departing flight. Until next time!
A minimum of 2 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
The closest airport is the Heraklion Airport, which is only 20 minutes to the accommodation.
Double Room/US$3350 (based on two persons sharing a room)
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation
After availability is confirmed, a 50% per person deposit and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due in cash upon arrival.
Available April to October - Sunday to Saturday
*Four (4) cooking lessons learning to cook both seafood and casserole dishes
Local Meats and Casseroles cooking classes X 3 times/The “Seafood Evening” Cooking Class X 1 time
*All cooking materials, apron and ingredients
*Dinner with each cooking lesson with 1 bottle of wine per couple and water
*Welcome dinner with 1 bottle of wine per couple on arrival day
*Six (6) nights' accommodation in a twin/double/triple room at the villa
*Breakfast each morning
*Six (6) lunches (Days 1 - 6 with variety of Cretan Mediterranean dishes at selected spots)
*The city of Chania and the City of Rethymnon walking and tasting tour
*The city of Heraklion walking and tasting tour
*Visit to archaeological site of Knossos (guiding / entrance fees are extra)
*Visit to archaeological sites of Gortys and Phaestos (guiding / entrance fees are extra)
*Visit to local winery and tasting of wine and raki
*Honey Bees, bee comb tasting and Art pastry work shop
Airfare, ferry/train tickets, personal expenses and optional tour suggestions are not included – please inquire about cost of optional tours
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Linda B., Petersburg, Alaska"There were only the two of us in the cooking classes and touring. Our instructor/driver was very accommodating. And worked hard to give us the cooking and eating experiences we wanted. The host was excellent as was our cooking instructor."
Pauline B, Boulder, Colorado"Truly exceptional everything!"
Kimberly A., Nevada City, California"The AGH experience was exactly what I hope for in a cooking adventure! Not only was the sign up easy, but there was a proper amount of interaction prior to the trip. At no time was I concerned that my trip wasn't going to go as planned. Once I arrived, my guide was both professional and friendly. He was very welcoming and made the experience one that I will always remember. Not only did we cook and eat (a lot!), but the guide introduced me to the culture of Crete. I appreciated that I didn't feel like I was on a "tour" but able to learn about the Cretan culture in a very organic and spontaneous way."
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.