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Friday 24 February 2017

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.

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