Yup, it's two posts in one day. I promised you all picts from Crete so here they are. Most will focus on the food. I left the picts of people from work/school out because I didn't ask them if I could put their images up here and don't want them mad at me. :-) Enjoy!
Perhaps one of the most famous archeological finds on Crete. If memory serves (it's been a few months) this fresco came from the Palace of Knossos and features acrobats jumping a bull. Supposedly two of these figures are female and one is male.
The trip started with me meeting up with a dear friend at the airport in Iraklio then renting a car and driving to Rethymno. Above is a bread plate, typical of those served with every meal. Unlike Italy the bread is meant to be eaten and is served fresh and usually warm. Nom!
Moussaka is not supposed to have a tomato sauce. The one served at Restaurant Alanna was actually light and enjoyable - vastly different from what American restaurants have led me to believe is normal for the dish. This was ridiculously delicious.
This was called lamb with egg sauce. Who cares? It was delicious. Very herbal and the sauce was incredibly light. I'm told this is a dish that is native to Crete.
The restaurant in Rethymno was outdoors, but it was on average 70 degrees F with a constant seabreeze. Lovely.
A bakery in the middle of Old Town Rethymno. This one featured traditional Crete baked goods in addition to all the modern stuff you'd expect to find in Europe. Traditional pastries feature dates, almond paste and sometimes figs and are sweetened with honey.
The next day we visited the breathtakingly beautiful Monestary of Arkadi and had lunch at this nondescript snack bar. Doesn't look like much but it produced this awesome food:
That's a skewer of grilled lamb in with those french fries. And wonderfully sweet fresh-made real Greek yogurt with local honey. In addition to the fresh bread. Check out that view! From the snack bar!
Just demonstrating how incredibly beautiful this place is. The grounds are covered with all kinds of fragrant flowers.
The next day we drove back to Iraklio to check in for our conference. We had dinner at a restuarant down the street where I got to sample Raki for the first time. Raki is the national drink of both Turkey and Crete. Makes sense due to their shared history. The spouse refers to Raki as Crete moonshine. The title mostly fits. Each restaurant either purchases a favorite brand or makes their own. Hard to believe but the best Raki I had on the island came from the Monestary of Arkadi. It was smooth. Everywhere else it had a significant bite. It was served almost everywhere before an evening meal.
Most meals on Crete start with a salad. I read somewhere before going that dinner salad actually originated on Crete. I'm not sure about that but noticed that most salads were tomato heavy. Not that I minded. The tomatoes were delicious.
This is traditional Creten BBQ. The meat, usually lamb, mutton and goat, are cooked low and slow over hot coals and wood. There is also chicken on this plate. All are spiced with local herbs and spices and served bone-in. The results are true caveman type of food. Some are moist, some are dry but all are delicious.
European breakfast! With a Greek twist. I love that Greek yogurt with honey. :-) And, of course, my old standby: oatmeal (aka, porridge).
During a break in the conference my work group headed over to the historic part of Iraklio and did the whole tourist thing. While we were there we grabbed dinner at the waterfront. Above you can see mackerel with steamed greens and homemade potato crisps.
We also took a trip to the Palace of Knossos. After traipsing across the rebuilt ruins we had lunch at the restuarant pictured above. Here I had my first taste of stuffed tomatoes:
Here the stuffed tomatoes are served with stuffed peppers and stuffed grape leaves. Drool! The stuffing is pine nuts with rice in an herbal sauce. These are prepped in advance (it takes 3 hours to roast these) and reheated for service.
On our last night on the island we found another restaurant down the street from our hotel. Here I got the Greek Sampler. It contains a slightly different version of everything I had elsewhere.
This place looked like a movie version of a taverna. But it really was the real thing. We were there early in the evening during the off season. I'm sure this place gets packed during tourist season.
In summary, Crete is very beautiful. And the food is fantastic. Just to leave you with a few lasting images....