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Monday, 13 March 2017

Where to eat in Crete

 At youphoria villas we are lucky to be located near this rare find at Mama's Dinner Fine dinning
A place with superb atmosphere and personalized service by Giannis Deiktakis

Open from mid May to Mid September it offers a chance for something different from the usual Greek Tavernas.
Our on site concierge can book you a table .
Visit the web site to see the menu

#wheretoeatincrete #kisamosrestaurants

Friday, 24 February 2017

Inland Crete - An active day out - Deliana gorge walk and olive press visit

If you are feeling active and want to explore the off road Crete, why not try a great day out walking, bird watching, visiting a unique organic olive oil press and sampling home made Cretan food in a typical inland quiet Cretan village.
Deliana Gorge
You can park literaly at the end of Deliana gorge and walk up for as long as you like. The gorge provides a scenic walk on a paved track through it that is not too strenuous.
The track is surrounded by towering cliffs on either side with Hawks and Griffon Vultures wheeling overhead. The large flock of vultures lives and nests in that gorge so you are guaranteed to see them.
A tiny church in a clearing provides a resting place at the top of the gorge.
Various species of the Cretan flora are found here. Carob trees, skinos (mastic tree Pistacia lentiscus).

 Dragon Arum
From mid April to end of May one can see many Dragon Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) mostly in shaded bits around the river bed.
It is a good idea to extend the walk through Deliana village and see the lovely houses with vegetable allotments, flower gardens and fruit trees all very typical of Crete. There are derelict old buildings including an old olive press.
On a side lane (sign posted) one can find the very old listed church of Agios Ioannis. Go in and see the centuries old frescoes. The stunning Venetian arch way above entrance with a Latin inscription dominates the building. 
Lunch at the village square in a little cute tavern Called Faraggi (gorge) is a must to complete the experience.
The tavern is a Cretan family run place where the father  produces and  provides, the house wife cooks  and the son serves. Try wonderful Cretan delicacies such as seasons Kalitsounia (pies) and vilage Chorta (greens). You will find Fava (yelow lentils mesh), Dakos (Cretan rusk with goats cheese) ruster Caasserole, goat tsigariasto (sizzled goat).
On the way out do not miss out stopping at Violea organic olive oil press only 1 Km from the village square.

Just a few kilometers inland from Kolymbari and within a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) area, are the olive groves of the Astrikas Estate.

They were acquired by the Dimitriadis family in the mid-18th century and are farmed today by the 5th generation descendant Giorgios Dimitriadis who founded Biolea in 1994.

Biolea specializes in estate-produced stone-milled and cold-pressed organic olive oil. The company’s aim is to achieve excellence in the quality of its products by combining the benefits of the traditional method of oil extraction with modern equipment and knowledge, while respecting the environment by managing wastes and promoting sustainable agriculture. Since its inception, Biolea has gained a high reputation in gourmet and health food markets all over the world.
Biolea is an artisanal olive oil and is a true representation of its place of origin, reflecting the uniqueness and the organoleptic properties of the soil and micro-climate in the region.

Biolea’s stone-mill was built specifically to welcome tourists and to hold presentations and olive oil tastings. The factory stays open all year: tours are by appointment only. Tel: 28240 23281.

Getting there
The only way is by car so, head east on the highway towards Chania and at the Melssourgio turn right towards Nochia. Keep on the same road, passing through the villages of Karthiana, Vasilopoulo Astrikas (where on the hilltop to the right, you will see Astrikas Estate) and finally Deliana. Past the village square turn left on the sign to the gorge.

Deliana village is only a few minutes away from Youphoria Chania Sea View Villas.
No real need for walking boots. Just confy shoes will do

My Famous Falasarna Chania Fish Day

An authentic experience suggestion for our Youphoria Sea View and Youphoria Beachfront Villa guests

By Vassilis Gialamarakis

Yiannis Baladakis. A real character, and rare personality
It all started here in Chania where I grew up. Late 80’s , we were all young lads crazy with activities like, snorkeling, fishing, sea urchin picking. We even had our perfect summer day. That would be to drive to Falasarna beach for a swim (those days there were hardly any people and no sun beds at all). 

After a quick swim in the crystal clear turquoise waters, we would  then dive and collect sea urchins on the rocks next to the beach.

We would then spend a good hour under the sun to cut them open and extract the divine fresh  caviar. Lunch would be followed at the Sunset restaurant at Sfinari beach meeting our friends and restaurant owners Giannis and Eleni Baladakis.

Secret cove just before Sfinari. Typical Cretan shoreline with volcanic rocks and Oleanders  

 The menu was fixed. The fruits of our labors (fresh sea urchin salad- no longer exists really)  and  definitely Kakavia fish soup, Greek salad and of course Retsina. Now we add stuffed cuttlefish  on the barbeque.

Cuttle fish on the BBQ

After the feast and the wine we just sleep under the tamarisk trees on the beach there.
Every time we had friends staying with us we would just take them with us to share our “perfect” day at sea.

The famous Cretan Dittany (Oreganum Dittany) The rocks over the restaurant are full of it

Years later when I was called to show our hotel guests “ the real Crete” I just thought that I would just take people  there and do the same thing. Of course diving for sea urchins was not always feasible but the whole day experience was a huge success mainly for the authenticity of it all.
We always visit a nearby Hellenistic archaeological site of the ancient Falasarna. A real must see place (open from 0900 to 1500) and with signs placed you get essential info about it. There is also a new app that gives you simulation of the ancient city.
Driving south to the isolated, beachside village of Sfinari (20 minutes) where the Baladakis family will serve a lunch of fresh local fish, Kakavia (fish soup), organically produced vegetables and plenty of village style wine known as Marouvas.  This is old Cretan farmers wine produced only in Chania from the local grape Romeiko, an acquired taste really resembling a sherry type wine. Definitely worth trying and in my experience it grows on you.

Table on the water at Sunset restaurant. The actual restaurant is at the back so you feel like dining alone in nature. 

Also, it is the end of the road so no cars and perfect for families with young kids. 

The Baladakis family will encourage you to watch the food being prepared in the kitchen. Everything (except the beer) is produced locally - the vegetables from the gardens, seaweed from the rocky shores, fresh fish caught by the son Nikos, tomatoes and cucumbers from the family's greenhouses.
Salt is gathered from the rocks by Yiannis ( I get my sea salt from him each year). The goats cheese on the Greek salad is made daily from wife Eleni.
 The olives and olive oil are from their olive groves.
After June you find on the menu - boiled greens (Vlita  - Amaranthus blitum) which is our definition of summer greens. Try them with loads of lemon olive oil and sea salt.
The remains of a world war two sea mane that was washed out on Sfinari beach , still there.

The lunch and the goodbye are always long but our guests agree this is their favorite day!

Kakavia fish soup is my definition of divine food.

Not an everyday dish for Cretans, but produced traditionally by fishermen on the boat or between fishing sessions to use up the left overs of the catch such as very small fish, eel small crayfish that could not be sold. A very rich taste with loads of olive oil and lemon, this dish will take your mind away. Always served with Cretan barley Rusk- not bread as the fishermen were away for days and bread would not last on boats.

Dusky Grouper is granted as one of the best fish to make Kakavia soup with

Alongside the soup you get the fish with vegetables and remember not to order many starters as Kakavia will fill you up. This is a meal to be shared amongst group of large party definitely represents the real taste of Crete. For many years I had set myself a hosting challenge, that none of my hotel guests leaves Crete without experiencing my special Falasarna fish day.
Falasarna beach is only 7 min drive from Youphoria sea view villas and Sfinari village is 25 min.

Cost. With Kakavia soup you do not buy the soup but the fish by the kilo. You choose what you want to eat and pay around 50 euros per kilo. Depending on the group size allow around 200 to 300grams per person or ask them for help.