FOOD, WINE CULTURE AND HANDS ON COOKING HOLIDAY WITH HOST GEORGE
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From December 15, 2017 - to March 25, and April 29 - to May 12, 2018
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COOKERY HOLIDAY IN CRETE GREECE
Guided Cooking Tour of Crete Explores Island’s Local Cuisine and Ancient Minoan Culture.
7 Days Culinary Tour in Crete with Accommodations, All Meals and Hands on Culinary Classes discounted cookery offer!!
One of the greatest Greek poets Odysseas Elytis having a intense sense of harmony had said.”The cuisine of a place has to be in a total harmony with the natural and spiritual environment” to be inspired from it and to serve it.
This holiday is for people who would like to learn the culture of Crete, to visit and walk the ruins ancient civilizations and join basic skills in preparing the famous Cretan traditional Mediterranean Cuisine. They will gain hands on experience through class participation.
Here, the locals dine on fresh seafood, smoked eggplant, free-range lamb tsigariasto, homemade raki, and much more. Master the art of crafting these dishes while exploring the island on this seven-day cooking and cultural tour of Crete from Active Gourmet Holidays and Porto Club tours.
The taste and aroma of Cretan plates are both balanced and keep going through centuries with the knowledge and experience that have passed from the older female family member to the younger, like a class in the school and the recipes survive in time.
Participants will learn various cooking methods, eat nutritiously, meal planning tips, and where and how to shop for ingredients.
7 days / 6 nights
Price per person / double occupancy
$3.700 (For One Person, Single Occupancy based on 1person)
$3.350 (For One Person, Double Occupancy based on 2 people)
Availability: Year Round Based on Your Availability
6 Nights, Kouriton house historic house - For One (Dbl Occupancy)
Arrival, Greeting and Traditional Cretan Dinner
Region of Chania Culinary Tour
The “Seafood Evening” Cooking Class
The Monastery of Arkadi, the City of Rethymnon walking tour and the waters of Argyroupolis
Cretan Heritage Cooking Class
South Central Crete: Culture, Food and History
Local Meats and Casseroles Cooking Class
Central Crete: Forgotten Monastery, Women cooperative workshop, honey tasting and wine tasting
Cooking Class Featuring Stuffed Vegetables, Vine Leaves and Olive Oils
Knossos, Heraklion walking culinary tour
Day 1. Sunday: Arrival, Greeting and Traditional Cretan Dinner
Upon arrival at the airport of Heraklion you will be met by George your personal English speaking driver and host with welcome refreshment. Within minutes you realize that you have been transported to another time – you need only relax and soak in the experience. You will be treated to Greek coffee and a Cretan traditional Mediterranean meal with a variety of dishes, and then later driven west to the Lodge. It is a 70 minute drive, and if you have arrived mid-day, you will also enjoy home-made Cretan food. You can even join in the meal preparation if you wish, or just relax and have it all done for you. The flavours and freshness of the picture perfect variety of foods are a wonderful welcome to the Island of Crete.
Day 2. Monday: Region of Chania Culinary Tour
After a full breakfast buffet consisting of fresh pastry, fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and cheese, you will depart with George who is knowledgeable of Crete, her history and allure. The town market of Chania dating back to the 1900’s is a cross-shaped gallery that houses over 65 food stores, presenting fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, breads, legumes and anything else you may want such as cafés, restaurants and shopping. Lunch will be in Spaltzia (Turkish quarter during the Turkish occupation) at an old harbour restaurant featuring a variety of local specialties. On the way back to the lodge, there is a stop to buy fresh seafood for the evening cooking class, and also a stop to buy the famous bread of Georgioupolis made in the same method for the last 150 years with its unique smoked taste.
The “Seafood Evening” Cooking Class
The evening will feature your first hands-on cooking class based on the fish and seafood that was purchased earlier in the day. Fish soup with rice in egg and lemon, the famous KAKAVIA (fisherman fish soup), fish with tomato and onion sauce baked in the oven, fresh fish grilled and fried are a few of the cooking menu items. A basic feature of the Cretan diet is the large consumption of vegetables. On average Cretans are at the top of the scale in terms of vegetable consumption. In fact, they consume three times the amount of vegetables than Europeans! That too is a part of their secret for a long and healthy life. A delicious dinner will be enjoyed that your own hands helped prepare. Lots of pure homemade local wine is served with dinner meals
Day 3. Tuesday: Arkadi monastery, city of Rethymnon, Argyroupolis natural springs, second cooking class
After breakfast at the Kouriton House where you will be staying, take a drive through the vineyards and small villages of the Rethymnon region. Visit the 16th century monastery of Arkadi. Next you’ll visit the city a Rethymnon, a city steeped in history and an attractive place to wander through its narrow streets and marvel at Venetian and Turkish architecture that house its restaurants, cafes and shops. After browsing the shops and a coffee break where you can mingle with the locals, you’ll drive to the natural springs of Argyroupolis a site boasting attractive cascades and an idyllic setting for lunch where you’ll enjoy Cretan vegetable and cheese specialties.
After lunch you’ll return to the Kouriton house and prepare for your second cooking class with George this time focusing ona variety of vegetables and minced meat. After the class you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labour with the group along with some raki and local wine.
Cretan Heritage Cooking Class
You now find yourself in the heart of the Cretan kitchen. Cretans feel the urge to share their secrets of life with the world. Besides their history and culture, you will share their prized heritage known as the Cretan Diet. Local producers warrant that all Cretan products are pure, without chemical substances or other preservatives and additives. These products, being a part of century old tradition, are treated with the same respect as that afforded to them by their ancestors. Tonight’s hands-on class is based on a variety of vegetables and minced meat with prep techniques that transforms basic ingredients into a full table of colour, variety and richness. Moussaka, Aubergines Papoutsakia, fried vegetables in tomato sauce, smoked eggplant and Pastitsio, with vegan and vegetarian options will being in abundance . As always, local wine will complement your meal and enhance your evening.
Day 4 Wednesday: South Central Crete: Culture, Food and History
Explore south-central Crete, visit to archaeological sites of Gortys, and Phaestos, Kokkinos Pyrgos village and 3rd cooking lesson. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading out to explore the south-central part of the island with your host George.
Today you’ll visit Gortys, the ruined capital city of the Roman province which included the island of Crete. You’ll see the impressive amphitheatre and the Basilica of St Titus before driving west to the archaeological site of Phaestos, the second most significant site of the Minoan civilization. Phaestos is an ancient palace and you’ll also see the site of the ancient city which offers a detailed insight into ancient life. Stop off in the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos for lunch and enjoy local specialties or freshly caught seafood. After lunch you’ll head back to the Kouriton House and head to the kitchen for your 3rd cooking class. This evening’s hands-on class focuses on local meats and casseroles and George will teach you preparation techniques that transform basic ingredients into the stars of the table, full of richness colour and flavour. After the class sit down and enjoy the meal you’ve learned to cook accompanied by local wine.
Local Meats and Casseroles Cooking Class
Preparation is the key to the variety of dishes that will be created. Time spent in slicing, dicing, chopping and peeling enables the assembly of various dishes in record time. Pork bites in tomato sauce, and Drunken Pork bites cooked in wine and oregano are wonderful appetizers paired with Raki (an alcoholic drink that is made from the grape peel, after the wine has been produced). Boneless pork with celery and egg and lemon sauce, oven baked lamb with potatoes , Free-range lamb tsigariasto and lamb fricassee are also on the menu. Dinner will be accompanied with copious amounts of pure, homemade local wines. Viniculture is a 4000 year old practice on the island of Crete.
Day 5. Thursday: Central Crete: Forgotten Monastery, Art pastry women’s cooperatives work shop, Honey Bees and wine tasting – sweets tasting, honey tasting, distillery visit
After your buffet breakfast your tour will start in the direction of Heraklion driving the side roads to Heraklion. First break you visit one almost forgotten monastery, and a church with beautiful frescoes. Keep driving to the village of Marathos where we visit the women cooperative work shop at the village of Marathos where they make the very special (unique art pastry small and bigger round breads), we call them “Xompliasto Koulouri” and big variety traditional hand made cookies and sweets. Next stop the little café of Doxa. The place is 20 km far from the city of Heraklion and 50 km from our accommodation; Beautiful untouched nature is a perfect pasture for bees. Old traditional bee-keeping methods ensure ecological, clean and free from any additives honey and other bee products. First honey of the season is collected from spring thyme blossoms. This golden yellow honey is a perfect source of nature’s ingredients.
We take a break at this small local café / restaurant run by the bee-keepers since 1949. The owners (two brothers) have been beekeepers since all their lifetime taking the business from their father. Therefore, we taste honeycombs straight from the beehive and learn everything about bees and beekeeping as well as having a kind of pancakes we call them “tiganites”, deep in honey and small cheese pies with honey in company with local wine and the Cretan snap, Raki. You will definitely feel the positive effect to your body and soul.
A slow drive to the village of Sivas where we visit one of the best small family wineries providing organic wines. Spend some time there tasting a variety of wines. Ending the visit break for lunch tasting the “street foods” of Greece like gyros pita and souvlaki pita. Drive back to the hotel and get prepared for our last cooking class
Cooking Class Featuring Stuffed Vegetables, Vine Leaves and Olive Oils
It is believed that the secret for a long and healthy life lies in olive oil, the principle ingredient in the Cretan diet. Past and present research conducted in the US and Europe supports the view that olive oil not only shields the human heart from disease, but also increases healthy operation of other organs by reducing cholesterol. Olive oil is an important ingredient in all dishes on the dinner menu. This hands-on class will take you through the process of making stuffed tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, and aubergines…as well as Dolmadakia (little stuffed wraps) with vine leaves, sorrels or pumpkin flowers. These all can be enjoyed as a meze or main course. At the conclusion of your Cretan holiday, you will be armed with a full assortment of Greek recipes that are easy to reproduce back home. Friends and family will be so impressed!
Day 6. Friday: Knossos, Foodie tour of Heraklion city and farewell dinner
After breakfast, today’s excursion takes you to Knossos, an ancient palace and must-see archaeological site of Crete.
After visiting the 3500 year old site of Knossos, you’ll head to Heraklion and take a walk through the city taking a gastronomic tour of all the best local food places and vendors. You’ll visit the best pastry shop in the city and sample filo pastries in syrups, with cheeses before heading to a coffee shop and tasting coffee roasted the traditional way in hot sand. Next you’ll explore the central market and stop for an ouzo with meze at one of the traditional Mezedopolion (restaurants). You’ll also have the opportunity to see the cathedral of Saint Minas, the Morozini fountain, Venetian church turned art gallery before heading towards the seaside. A light lunch will be served accompanied by chilled white wine before ending your gastronomic walking tour to taste the famous loukoumades, Cretan style doughnuts sprinkled with honey and sesame. After the walking tour, you’ll head back to the Kouriton House to relax before a farewell dinner which tonight is your day off from cooking and a chance to enjoy a meal cooked by the lady of the house. Dinner is a chance to sample yet more local dishes and compare them to the dishes you’ve learned during the week and discuss the sites, tastes and sounds of your holiday with new friends over wine and raki.
Tonight your dinner will be prepared by the lady of the house. You will have the opportunity to sample a large variety of specialties (called mezedes) accompanied by the Cretan Snap RAKI! Are you tempted to compare her dishes to those you have learned during the week? You have made wonderful new friends and explored a new region of the world filled with some of the best food you have ever tasted – what more could one ask? After a restful sleep, transportation will be provided for you to meet your departing flight.
Day 7. Saturday Departure day
After a leisurely breakfast guests are asked to check-out of their rooms and be ready to be taken back to the airport taking home with them an insight into Cretan life, new friendships and unique culinary and cultural memories that will stay with them long after the holiday is over.
A few words for our Hosts
ANASTASIA KOURITON HOUSE LADY
A fine stone-built country manor of 1750, the Kouriton House classified as historical. It has been preserved for its traditional architectural structure, typical of the Cretan design stemming from prehistoric Minoan mansions.
Run by the owner and her sons. The owner is a retired University ptofessor of Music, a very nice and warm lady. Breakfasts prepared by the house lady with fresh ingredients from the area but most important with love and care.
George Portokalakis is passionate about Cretan food and culture and loves to share this passion with his friends and guests.
After spending over 40 years in the travel industry and cooking business, he would tell anyone willing to listen about the wonders of Cretan cuisine, the family warmth of the Cretan people, share the delights of Cretan cuisine and culture with few people who appreciate good, fresh, natural and healthy cooking and love slow food!
You will taste the best Cretan traditional food that Crete has to offer and you will experience a way of life that very few foreigners will have the chance to experience
CRETAN MEDITERRANEAN NUTRITION
THE MIRACLE OF THE CRETAN MEDITERRANEAN DIET
The instigator and creator was the famous American professor Ancel Keys, the Mr. Cholesterol in the way Americans called him as he was the first to connect “nutrition-heart” and started the research in the late 1940s and specifically in 1947.
In the research he included Greece after the initiative and the inducement of the Greek professor Mr Aravanis in 1954 when it was agreed to include Greece as it had some special nutritional characteristics.
In the research it was also included Italy, Holland, the Former Yugoslavia and now Serbia, Finland and Japan.
For Greece Crete and Corfu were chosen.
In Crete it was chosen a group of 620 residents in the rural area of Kastelli Pediados 50km away from Heraklion where their nutrition followed a typical diet of rural people with a big consumption of oil together with hard agricultural work that is body exercise on a daily basis and a year later a second group of other 620 residents in Corfu in a similar region 45km away from the Corfu city with almost the same diet habits.
These 1240 people had since then a continuous annual observation regarding the recording of whatever illnesses appeared.
From this extended research regarding the sample from Crete, it was proved that the way Cretan lived was a major factor of longevity as in the beginning of 2000 (46 years after the beginning of the research) 150 from the 620 under research were still alive and comparatively to all the other participating countries the population of Crete had the least morbidity and mortality from heart diseases.
The differences were so big that the scientific community talked about the phenomenon of the Cretan diet and way of life.
The 7 countries research offered to the scientific and non-scientific community a famous term, that of the MEDITERRANEAN DIET the most beloved term that has been used concerning nutrition.
The level of health and death rate from chronic diseases were better in the Cretan population even compared to the population of Corfu and the other Mediterranean populations like Italy and Dalmatia.
This was attributed to the way of life and diet of the Cretans and was since then an international model of nutrition and it was created the intense interest and now a way of life the well known Mediterranean diet.
According to the professor of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition at the Medical School of Crete Prof. Antonis Kafatos, it was a discovery of great importance as this study introduced the term of risk factor concerning heart attack of myocardium and other chronic diseases and it's really significant for the prevention of chronic diseases.
This knowledge was used from countries like Finland (which had 10 times more deaths compared to Greece) that founded a national policy for prevention and nutrition.
The result was the 70% death rate reduction the last 30 years.
Margarites Tzanakiana - Rethymno - Crete