Food and Drink, Crete Island
Lidl supermarkets have become extremely popular in Crete, they seem to be everywhere. Fortunately for us, being budget minded, there was a Lidl on the outskirts of Hersonissos. Easy to get to in the car and plenty of parking (even under sun-canopies!) we were grateful of it's proximity to our accommodation.
What to buy: We bought mainly drinks from Lidl.
What to pay: Fresh milk was much cheaper than other supermarkets but food items were not necessarily cheaper.
Most prices were dearer than in an English Lidl.
What to buy:
I noticed that 'collections' of different local spices are quite popular among tourists who wish to take a bit of Cretean taste back home. The 'collections' or 'sets' can be purchased all over the island - in shops, markets and supermarkets.
Please remember that you shouldn't expect much from those spices. Usually they've already lost their taste and only look good. I'd rather suggest that you get yourself your own selection of fresh spice from a local shop. Such a souvenir doesn't look so attractive but it tastes way better.
What to pay: Not much ;-)
In the main square in Matala there is a gyro place, which sells lovely gyros to take away or sit down. However I noticed they had water bottles full of thier own produce for sale. Olive oil, white or red wine and raki. I bought 2 bottles of thier olive oil and since coming home can say that it is extemely authentic, and a fraction of the price I would have paid from a shop.
What to pay: 5 euros a bottle
What to buy:
I especially love Greek and Cretean goat cheese. There's nothing like that here, in Poland so every time I go to Greece I come back with my luggage full of well packed cheese :-)
Greece and Crete are famous for wonderful olive oil. It's something you cannot miss.
I can also recommend honey with nuts or - if you please - nuts in honey.
What to buy:
Olives, one of Greek specials should be bought in small private shops or in municipal markets. Although they may not look as attractive as those olives packed in glass or plastic containers, they're much better and fresh.
Remember not to buy too much in advance - olives bought in markets don't contain chemical preservatives and should be eaten within a couple of days of their purchase. Should you eat them up, don't worry as they're available all year round.
What to buy:
Retsina - a very special kind of wine. You can hate it or you can love it. One thing is for sure - you cannot ignore it :-)
Whatever your experience with retsina is going to be, give it a chance. To me there is no better wine than a good local retsina.
What you see in this pic is a bottle of a simple local retsina from Kissamos, west Crete. There is nothing special in how the bottle looks, there's nothing awkward in the design of the label. But the treasure is locked inside the bottle. This retsina is incredibly smooth and delicate (for a retsina).
Taste as many brands of retsina as you can. Select your favourite brand and producer.
What to pay: Not much indeed. Usually twice as much as mineral water.
My total favourite - Cretean (and generally Greek) cheese. Whenever I'm in Greece I bring home a bag full of cheese.
What you buy in supermarkets is not as good as what you can get in municipal markets but still the tase is fantastic.
Sorry for the quality of the picture but it was taken on the day the tip was written and it shows a colection of my favourite 'graviera', I brought from Crete four weeks earlier.
My greatest favourite is goat cheese - it's hard and tastes unique. Its Greek name is 'katsikisio tiri'.
What to pay: As much as possible!!! It's worth it!