On the crossroads between east, west, north and south, the island of Crete is undoubtedly charismatic. It’s sun kissed, blessed terrain produces an array of edible gems- delectable taste bombs- that have made Crete world famous for yet another reason.
Raki: The Cretan Water of Life
The most fiery is without doubt “tsikoudia” or “raki”: A Cretan trademark, this 40% proof spirit dates back to antiquity. In fact evidence from ancient pottery suggests that the Minoans used to enjoy a similar beverage with their meals. Throughout the centuries raki has been used for a number of purposes, including the medicinal. It’s secrets of production were thus passed on from one generation to the next. In the 1920, the then prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, granted special permissions to farmers to distill raki for additional income. This marked the beginning of the “custom of the distilleries”: Every autumn, following the grape harvest, raki is created from the residues of the grapes that have been pressed to make wine. When this process is complete, celebrations involving dancing, singing and copious amounts of the clear, potent drink, ensue in the distilleries, throughout the island of Crete. Offered at the beginning or ending of meals; in feasts and celebrations; in sorrows and joys; as a welcome to friends and strangers; and pretty much in every occasion and manifestation of everyday life; much more than just a local product; the cretan raki is an intrinsic part of the native culture and philosophy and best encapsulates the concept of cretan hospitality.
Rakomelo: The Cretan Cocktail
Raki is indeed pure and (in moderation) good for you, but it’s distinct, characteristic taste does not agree with all. Rakomelo-in effect a blend of raki with local honey infused with spices and herbs– is the more palatable, subtler version of the ardent drink. According to one variation of the story, it originated some seven centuries ago in Mount Athos, where it was used as a remedy for colds or stomach aches by the monks; and was spread via sea merchants, in the island of Crete. Consumed hot or cold, it is the quintessential Cretan cocktail.
Cretan Honey: The Food of Gods
Rakomelo, of course owes much of its allure to the honey -as well as the herbs- that are used in its mix. Honey is undoubtedly the flagship of the Cretan agricultural produce. One of the most valuable, nutritious and healthiest foods, it energises the muscles, clears the mind, disinfects and regulates the digestive system. In fact honey has been used since antiquity for vitality and to prolong life. It was the Olympian Gods “ambrosia”; Hippocrates swore by it; while ancient athletes consumed it before entering the stadium, for enhanced energy and stamina. Crete’s unique climate and soil, produce an excellent quality honey, which has received international acclaim.
Herbs: Cretan Earth’s Treasures
As per the other ingredient of rakomelo, herbs, that is; they are extensively used in all local dishes. In fact the latter owe their exquisite bouquet of aromas and flavors to these aromatic plants. They grow everywhere throughout the island of Crete: In the mountains, in farming lands and in coastal areas. A lot of them are endemic- botanical studies demonstrate that Crete has one of the richest and most interesting ecosystems in Europe-and have been known since the ancient times for their therapeutic properties. Packed with goodness, herbs like “malotira” and “dittany”; “tilio”, sage, mint, tilly, or laurel; are amassed by experienced collectors, dried under natural conditions and packed in modern packaging, without any chemical treatment. Following the island’s great tradition, they are used as remedies for all kinds of ailments; and certainly to add their unmistakable flavor to the everyday table.
Olive Oil: Crete’s Liquid Gold
Yet no mention of the famous Cretan diet is complete without paying a special tribute to its protagonist: No other than the extra virgin olive oil; a powerful natural antioxidant used freely to bring out the intense tastes of the local produce. Rightfully likened to liquid gold, the olive oil of the island of Crete, boasts a rich color palette ranging from dark green to golden, full flavours, texture and density. It is the basis of the Cretan nutricion; which is internationally recognised as the secret of good health and longevity.
Incredible: The Luxury Residence Signature Collection of Traditional Cretan Products
Aiming to showcase the wealth and goodness of Crete’s produce; at the Luxury Residence Collection, an outstanding complex of opulent villas at Akrotiri in Chania, we are launching a series of premium quality, traditional Cretan products: Handpicked olive oil, honey, raki, rakomelo, and herbs; from select local producers; branded and marketed with our signature quality; in innovative, easy to use combinations and a modern packaging with a worldly appeal.
In a playful tribute to the very land that gave them birth, our traditional Cretan product series, is baptized “Incredible”. After all the Cretan terroir indeed bears outstanding fruits! The “Incredible” series is available in our opulent, luxurious villas, for purchase and as a treat to our guests; while our immediate plans include extending its points of sale in Greece and abroad.
With “philoxenia” firmly rooted at the core of our philosophy, through our “Incredible” series, we invite you to sample-and savor-the delectable treasures of the island of Crete. And then -why not?-take a slice of your gastronomic holiday memories back home. How would you like, for example, to flavor your next BBQ with the unmistakable taste and aromas of Cretan herbs? Or maybe take your tea with the characteristic, thyme infused, Cretan honey? Now there is an idea to dazzle your friends-and-upgrade your everyday lives…