8 Days Culture, Art, Culinary Vacation in Greece

  • Porto Club Travel Services, 28, Efodou Street, 71303 Heraklion Crete, Greece

Overview

Cookery Holidays in Greece

Every cooking experience is an adventure for the eyes, ears, nose, palate and soul offered with genuine smiles from heart. And there is no tastier food than what is shared with a smiling face. Enjoy excellent traditional home cooking and cooking vacations in Greece. Get to know Crete in a unique way, the mountains, the villages, the culture, the cuisine. We offer you the means and the experience, our knowledge, our connections, and our love for the island we are living in!

Highlights

  • Baking class
  • 3 cooking classes
  • Market visits, farm visit
  • Dancing class, art / craft class
  • Palace tour, excursions in Heraklion
  • Performance by a famous local entertainer
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 6 days with instruction
  • English
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Day 1: Arrival

  • Arrival at the airport of Heraklion. Reception at the airport. Transportation to the villa. Presentation of the program.
  • Rest of the day free to get over the jet lag and dinner at a local restaurant with number of vegetarian / vegan specialties.

Day 2: Excursion, food tasting

  • Knossos and mountain tour
  • The Palace of Knossos, Crete is the island of King Minos, whose name was borrowed to describe the Bronze Age period on the island (3000-1350 B.C. Today, after breakfast we drive to the site of Knossos, the mythical home of Minos himself and his son, the Minotaur!
  • Ending the visit we do a mountain tour, contact local people and taste fresh picked and cooked wild greens and vegetables from the near mountains.

Day 3: Market visit, cooking class

  • Morning we visit an open farmers market in the city of Heraklion. Shop the fresh ingredients needed, walk the city, have a break for a cup of coffee and back to the villa.
  • Todays hands-on class focuses on the casserole mageirefta or ladera| and youll use several types of wild greens, green beans, broad beans and other ingredients to create delicious dishes to enjoy them as the main meal accompanied of local wine and raki.

Day 4: Art / craft class, cooking class

  • Icon painting or wood sculpturing
  • Pancakes with honey or grapes must syrup cream pie and variety of fresh fruits for breakfast and time to learn the secrets of icon painting. 5 hours class.
  • Break for lunch at a local restaurant with variety of vegetarian dishes.
  • Early afternoon back to our villa.
  • Tonight's hands-on class is based on a variety of vegetables with prep techniques that transforms basic ingredients into a full table of colour. Meat free Moussaka, Aubergines imam in tomato sauce, fried vegetables in tomato sauce, smoked eggplant all the way vegan and vegetarian options will be in abundance. As always, local wine will compliment your meal and enhance your evening.

Day 5: Farm visit, market visit

  • Spend the day with locals.
  • Morning we may go with farm ladies to pick up greens and vegetables straight from the country land or go to an open fruit and vegetable market. In a warm relaxed atmosphere we work together in an easy to make way and make the dishes wanted.
  • Today the cook is farm house lady. She gives directions the way her mother or grand mother gave her to come to the taste she wants. When ready we all join the cooked food. We taste a variety of Cretan Mediterranean home cooked meals.

Day 6: Baking class, excursion

  • Learn to make Kalitsounia and Loukoumades, yogurt with honey and cheese pies for the vegetarian ones and moustokouloura sweet bread and oil cookies for the vegan ones, mountain herbal tea for breakfast, and leave on a tour to meet local people in their environment working preparing and making cookies traditional way and we all join, prepare and make spoon sweets. Lunch at a nice mountainous spot.
  • Dinner at local restaurant.

Day 7: Dancing lesson, cooking class

  • What better than join a natural - fresh healthy meal accompanying by traditional Cretan music and of course dancing lesson. You will join your meal the way Cretans do. We do it in a friendly relaxed atmosphere!

Day 8: Departure

  • Last day. Breakfast.
  • Transportation to the airport.

Cretan cuisine

Vegetarian and vegan cuisine

Cretans eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. The fat we use in our cooked food and salads is mainly olive oil. We eat pulses and vegetables in large amounts. They are the basis in our daily diet. No more than two or three days would go without pulses in a meal and not a day without vegetables, wild greens, olives, uncooked fresh vegetables and greens as salad, Cretan rusks and fruits. We eat more fruit than most, in fact, 4 times more than the other inhabitants of the Mediterranean.

A traveler in Greece when goes for lunch or dinner can find a huge variety of vegetarian / vegan meals in Estiatorion (restaurant). In these restaurants they present their specialties in show tables so guests can view the meals and choose one of them. Estiatorion is restaurant that operates mostly for local people. They always supply a big number of free-meat dishes we call them Ladera. You can find them at taverns or other kind of restaurants but Estiatorion is the ones I always suggest.

I have no compunction in saying that Crete and Greece is an ideal destination for a vegan / vegetarian, at least nutritionally. There is still a long way to go to connect with the philosophy and spirit of the vegan way, but any vegan visitor will be surprised at how harmoniously local Cretan people live with animals, almost all of whom free range in the fields or mountains. I hope and believe respect is a good first step between Cretans and vegans / vegetarians worldwide.

For many Greeks (especially in the countryside and islands), five days a week their meal is vegetarian or vegan. Yes, Greeks are meat and dairy eaters, but because such a large percentage of our diet consists of pulses, vegetables, greens and fruits, a vegan or vegetarian visitor will not have any difficulty in finding a huge variety of vegetarian food all over Greece. You dont have to apologize or explain why you dont eat meat.

Taste the healthy Cretan and Greek Mediterranean meat-free delicacies and our fine wine. You shall feel strong humanity, away from the stress of our daily life. You shall feel the warmth of Greek and Cretan company. You shall be captured by the place, perhaps because you think that time has stood still or because they welcome you with a shot of Tsikoudia with Cretan rusks and fresh tomato or a tsipouro or an ouzo.

Cretan dishes

  • Casseroles
  • Dolmadakia vine leaf wraps stuffed with sorrel, pumpkin flowers
  • Ladera
  • Mageirefta
  • Moussakas
  • Saganaki (fried cheese)
  • Sfakiani (stuffed pitta)
  • Soups
  • Stuffed peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and Aubergines (Papoutsakia)

Cretan bakery and desserts

  • Cookies: On Crete, these cookies are traditionally made and served over the Christmas and New Year's holiday season. They are enjoyed at other times of year as well, but in December and January, they come together to create a fabulous collection of tastes and textures.
  • Kalitsounia: These sweet cheese pastries are an Easter favourite on the island of Crete.
  • Kouloura: These sweet breads are an Easter favourite as well on the island of Crete.
  • Kourabiethes: Kourabiethes (also kourambiedes) are traditional celebration cookies, served at Christmas, New Year's, weddings, and baptisms. Toasted almond shortbread-type cookies topped with a generous coating of confectioner's sugar, they melt in the mouth.
  • Melomakarouna: Melomakarona are a Christmas tradition in Greece (but enjoyed at other times of the year). All over Greece, kitchens will be filled with the wonderful smell of these spice cookies that will adorn tables, be given as hostess gifts, and eaten in huge quantities.
  • Pastries: these cookies are traditionally made and served over the Easter holiday season.
  • Pies: Crete is famous for its cuisine and mostly of its traditional Kalitsounia, which are small pies that can be filled with different fillings, such as cheese (tyropitakia) or greens and wild herbs (Hortopitakia). These unique delicacies are served across the entire island and are a very tasteful and healthy snack you can enjoy any time of the day, as an appetizer or light meal.
  • Spoon Sweets: Spoon sweets are healthy confections, visually pleasing, distinctive, and extremely versatile. Offering them to guests is a wonderful tradition and a sign of "sweet" hospitality. Nowadays they are used as healthy spreads, in baked goods, and to top ice cream, cakes, and yogurt. Spoon sweets reflect the spirit of the Cretan and Greek hospitality. Spoon sweets are a traditional offering in Greek homes. Spoon sweets are fruits, preserved in syrup. They are commonly known as "spoon sweets" which translates to sweet of the spoon. due to the traditional way of serving the sweets on a well-filled teaspoon accompanied by cold water.

Porto Club

Porto Club Travel Services

Porto Club is a family founded company that set out to share the wonders and mysteries of Cretan regional cuisine with the world. Founded on the principles of passion, sharing and learning we pride ourselves in enjoying with others the uniqueness, wonders and pleasure of Cretan Vegetarian regional cuisine while ensuring to intertwine these with an understanding of the production, pride and culture specific to each region.

In Crete, a meal is not only a celebration but also a culmination of various events. Enjoy culinary explorations that blend all the secrets particular of the region of Crete and let you enjoy and learn about them first-hand alongside the locals. Going from one region of Crete to another changes not only what you eat, but how you eat it, how its prepared and what accompanies it. Each region is a mystery unto itself. Immerse yourself in the fantastic flavours and mouth-watering smells of regional Crete.

Porto Club Vegetarian & Vegan Tours

We believe that the most authentic way to experience and understand the heritage of Cretan culture, nutrition, history, way of life and its people, is in the company of a local scholar, walking through streets which are alive with religion, art and history, immersing in the architecture, learning about the life, traditions, and customs of Cretan people, past and present.

You will sample some of the finest meals as well as fruit and vegetables in the world. You will drink selected spirits (ouzo, raki, liquors) and wines that will elevate your spirit and help you relax, and relish the excellent traditional cooking in some of the less obvious restaurants that we will point you out.

Follow Porto Club Vegetarian lead, come on a route of adventure, travel and wonder as you explore the mysteries, flavours and customs particular to various Cretan regions on our unique & authentic Cretan vegetarian food holiday. We can promise you we will not be part of any tourist trail or the sheep following mentality. Our aim has always been to offer quality not quantity, so Porto Club remains small but perfectly formed.

Porto Club Cooking Trips

We offer a unique opportunity to experience at first hand authentic Cretan regional cooking techniques and recipes that have been developed and handed down over generations. All of the ingredients you will use are bought each morning from local open market and so you will be working with fresh fruit and vegetables in season.

Throughout our cooking you will learn about the ingredients and the traditions around the dishes. You will learn the passion of the Cretan kitchen and, importantly, have a lot of fun and enjoyment doing it.

Your week in Crete will be as much a hands on cooking experience as a cultural one. George will introduce you to the philosophy of local cooking and its traditions. You will learn about the history of Cretan cuisine and how it was influenced by its occupation for more than 2000 years.

You will learn the inspirations behind the Cretan dishes, the methods employed by local producers, how to make a variety of Cretan dishes from simple ingredients you can find back home, how very few ingredients can be the basis for 6 or 7 dishes.

You will learn how to prepare traditional Cretan dishes adapted to vegetarian requirements but never compromising on flavor as well as the cooking techniques and methods used to create the dishes.

  • 1 icon painting lesson
  • 1 Cretan dancing lesson
  • 7 days exclusive chartered vehicle with English speaking driver
  • 7 nights accommodation on a private villa or home on double occupancy
  • All meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners according the program
  • Daily cooking lessons / classes of the Cretan Mediterranean nutrition
  • Daily services from 8 am to 10pm
  • Fuel
  • Info material, maps
  • Private performance by a famous Cretan music player / singer
  • The palace of Knossos guided tour with entrance fees
  • Transportation airport - villa - airport
  • Visits to small villages, churches, monasteries, open markets, women cooperatives, excursions, homes, farms
For information about the booking conditions, please send Porto Club Travel Services an inquiry.

Testimonials

  • Review by Carolyn and Ian

    "It was a memorable tour and as Ian said a true "slow food" experience! Thanks for your generosity and hospitality, for sharing your passion for Crete and showing us all the wonderful things it has to offer. Our time in Crete was much enriched by joining your tour. Thanks again."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Suzanne

    "First of all thank you for the wonderful week with you in Crete and immersing me in the Cretan culture, food and beautiful scenery. Your vibrant personality made it so much more fun. Thank you also for sending me the recipes, I will put them to good use. Again thank you again for the wonderful time in Crete, and the cave dinner was truly a highlight during that week."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Diana

    "I just wanted to say, that you are a true professional and a very special person. You made the experience truly memorable. You treated all of us like family instead of just strangers.You took us to local eating establishments which really enriched the experience. The cooking classes were a lot of fun, they were very hands on, which I bloody loved. You went out of your way to make sure that we all had a fabulous time.The lodgings were very nice and the location was really spectacular! George I will always remember my time there as very special, and wish you and your family the very best. I will always have a grand smile as I remember my time in Crete."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by David from USA

    "I cannot thank you enough for the truly remarkable experience in Crete. Since I arrived back in the USA, I have cooked several meals using the principles you shared with us and enjoyed every one of them.Unfortunately we cannot get the freshest ingredients, but even the techniques you showed (simple combinations of ingredients that show up in most dishes, grating tomatoes, different ways of chopping onions, cooking with potatoes, and so on) have been very useful. I cannot wait to entertain others with the Cretan cuisine!The best part of the trip was that you took us to places that tourists would probably never know about, where you knew the people and their families. That made the vacation especially authentic and memorable. Even the long drives were okay, because we got to experience the wonderful sights of the island."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Christina

    "David and I enjoyed the week we spent in Crete. The sites we visited and the food that was cooked and ate were definitely unique and delicious. Below are some feedbacks on the culinary tour.Thaloris location in the mountains and it is integrated into the village provide a local Cretan experience. Georges knowledge on Crete history and Thaloris hospitality makes the visit enjoyable.The various local restaurants that we ate at enabled David and I taste local Crete food and cooking. The ingredients were very fresh, very delicious. The cooking experience where we got hands-on experience in preparing and cooking Cretan food each night.The small group setting allows the group members and George to interact and build close relationship during the week. This helps adjust the flexible itinerary if the group likes to explore/visit some different sites. The bottom line: the food and alcoholic beverages were great."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Chantal

    "Our trip was great, but of course, the highlight was our week on Crete. We have already made tsaziki, lots of boiled and sauted greens, the cucumber appetizers, the eggplant dip, and greek salad. We bought some grape leaves and phyllo dough so will try making some more dishes soon.As far as critical thoughts about our stay in Crete, we enjoyed the trip and learned so much about Cretan food, culture, and history. Thank you again for a fantastic week full of learning and good memories."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Rene

    "I am writing to you because I am still awestruck by the experience of a lifetime! I could never have imagined how wonderful, gracious, enjoyable and entertaining a vacation it was to be. I absolutely fell in love with Crete and George. I couldn't have planned a better trip and I can't wait to go back. Thanks for all your help and please tell everyone this is the vacation not to be missed. There was plenty of everything. I didn't want for anything!"

    Porto Club website, edited

Travel provider for small group exclusive weekly packages on the island of Crete. Food and wine, cultural visits and hands on cooking classes in Greece.

Speaks English

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8 days / 7 nights

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