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Cultural getaway and Hands on Cooking Courses in Crete
Expand your casserole veggies repertoire on this wonderful cookery getaway course in Crete where you’ll learn to cook and prepare fresh foods Cretan style; stay in a 150 year old / newly restored Cretan villa or the Traditional manor - Historical listed monument for 6 nights / 7 days and discover the delights of the freshest of Cretan cuisine on this
FOOD, WINE, CULTURAL GETAWAY AND HANDS ON COOKING COURSES WITH HOST GEORGE
Crete for Vegans
My name is George Portokalakis, I run a vegan/vegetarian tourism company in my homeland of Crete, and I salute the vegans and vegetarians globally. I am a 63-year-old Greek travel provider. I was born and live on the island of Crete in Greece. I am involved in everything concerning tourism, but I am specifically concerned with culinary and cooking tours. Over the past eighteen years I have studied and worked very hard to learn as much as possible of vegetarianism. I have learned a lot.
I cannot say I am fully vegan or vegetarian, but nutritionally I live half of my days as vegan, and ¾ of my life as vegetarian. Since I remember myself, in the weekly menu of our family, five days were “devoted” in pulses, legumes and vegetables, while meat and fish was consumed only the remaining two. Not so far in the past, meat was only cooked and consumed on Sundays, or even more every second Sunday and during special occasions, like Christmas, Easter and other Holidays.Vegetarian nutrition it is part of our diet. Cretans and generally Greeks, without being aware of it, are by 70% vegetarians; and this is due to the non meat meals are part of our daily life.
We, 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 of our daily diet. No more than two or three days would go by without pulses in a meal and not a day without vegetables, local greens, olives, uncooked vegetables and greens as salad, Cretan rusks and fruits.
We eat more fruit than most, in fact, four times more than the other inhabitants of the Mediterranean.
I have been diabetic since 1999. I do not use any insulin or heavy drugs, and over the past five years, following the Easter period Orthodox vegan feast, which lasts 49 days, I have found that my blood sugar came much closer to normal levels.
How I got involved in vegan and vegetarian philosophy and travel
In the old days, being a city child, I couldn’t imagine the charm of a diet that follows the passing of one season to the next.
Later on, when I became involved in alternative tourism and having in me the love of cooking, I watched most carefully the various dishes of our local farming cuisine. I found that, above all, the most important thing is “the tasty hand”.
It’s true. No food – bread, vegetable, sweet or cake – produced by hand can be the same as another one. Every hand has a unique strength, warmth, power and skill. Behind the unbelievable inspiration and taste sensations of Cretan and Greek traditional cuisine there are many, many tasty hands. Based on that spirit, the Greek traditional cuisine is an art that has been in practice for hundreds of years by talented, creative and unnamed women, and today we are the recipients of this art.
I also discovered the huge number of meat-free dishes all over Greece, ideal for a vegan/vegetarian traveller. I have no compunction in saying that Crete 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 [nonhuman] 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 and vegetarians worldwide.
George (Giorgos) Portokalakis
7 days / 6 nights
$3.328 (For One Person, Double Occupancy based on 2people)
Availability: Year Round Based on Your Availability
Please note that holiday do not include flights
Included in the price
Non-vegetarians are welcome on the course but they must be aware no meat will be used during the cooking classes
Please specify what type of vegetarian diet you follow at the time of booking under the special requests box
Minimum age 8 (under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult)
Day 1. SUNDAY
Arrival Heraklion port. Reception at the port. Transportation to the villa. Dinner at the villa with local home cooked foods accompanied by owners wine. Accommodation villa Kerasia.
Day 2. MONDAY
SOUTH CENTRAL CRETE: CULTURE FOOD AND HISTORY
Day start at 09.AM. After your buffet breakfast, set out with your host George to see 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 first palace built around 2000 BC which stands dominantly on a hill with panoramic views. According to mythology, King Radamanthes, son of Zeus, ruled over the city and over the South of Crete, 4000 years ago. The caves of Matala have a rich history from Roman occupation 2000 years ago to more modern luminaries such as Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens, Lunch will be in the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos for lunch and enjoy local specialities – or freshly caught seafood for the pescatarians
After lunch you’ll head back to the villa and head to the kitchen for your first cooking class
Cretan Heritage Cooking Class
This evening’s hands-on class focuses on vegetables 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
Day 3. TUESDAY
WESTERN CRETE: ARKADI MONASTERY, CITY OF RETHYMNON AND THE WATERS OF ARGYROUPOLIS
After a rich breakfast, you will enjoy a slow drive through the vineyards and small villages of the region. You will visit the 16th century monastery of Arkadi, the small village of Margarites popular for the ceramics they produce and the city of Rethymnon where every street will take you on a journey through history. Venetian and Turkish buildings have become small restaurants, cafés and shops. Your walk down the narrow streets will take you to small tourists’ shops and coffee houses where you can mingle with locals. A slow drive to the Water of Argyroupolis where lunch will be served with a variety of Cretan vegetable and cheese specialties.
The “Ladera” Cooking Class
Tonight’s cooking class is based around the mageirefta or ladera and you’ll use several types of wild greens, green beans, broad beans and other ingredients to create a delicious dish to enjoy with the other guests of local wine and raki
After the class you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labour along with some raki and local wine
Day 4. WEDNESDAY
AGIOS NIKOLAOS / STUFFED VEGETABLES COOKING CLASS
Breakfast and drive north east to visit Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. Lunch at a sea front tavern in village of Plaka facing the Spinalonga Island. After lunch, drive back to the villa and get prepared for the third 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.
CENTRAL CRETE: FORGOTTEN MONASTERY. MOUNTAINS AND THE WOMEN COOPERATIVES ART PASTRY WORK SHOP AND HONEY TASTING:
After your buffet breakfast your tour will start in the direction of MountNida (Psiloritis) the highest mountain on Crete, and according to legend, where Zeus was born. A visit to a unique small stoned church of St. Iakinthos (Orthodox Saint Valentine) built by the well-known famous song writer and singer Loudovikos of Anogia. You will taste the finest quality cheeses, including Kefalotyri and Kefalogryere. Next, the village of Axos and the drive ends at the small village of Drossia known by the local people with the Turkish name GENI-GAVE where you will enjoy lunch at the finest little restaurant on the island – Giannis Petoussis Tavern. Lunch will feature everything natural and fresh from the proprietor’s own land, cooked by the lady of the house. After lunch, you visit two almost forgotten monasteries, and a church with beautiful frescoes.. Next stop at the women cooperative work shop at village Marathos and at Doxa, a small local café run by the owners since 1949. Just 20 km from the city, it is beautifully untouched, and a natural pasture for bees. Old traditional bee-keeping methods ensure ecological, clean honey that is free from any additives. This golden yellow honey is a perfect source of natural vitamins and minerals. You will sample honeycombs straight from the beehive and learn a few secrets know only to the bee-keepers. At the end of this visit you will sample an herbal tea comprised of 9 mountain herbs, and enjoy local donuts drizzled with pure thyme honey.
Traditional Cretan wild greens Pies Cooking Class
On arrival back at the resort, you will begin your final cooking class which features special traditional pies which are roasted and fried in the pan.
You’ll enjoy dinner accompanied by wine and raki with your fellow guests Dinner will be accompanied with copious amounts of pure, homemade local wines. Viniculture is a 4000 year old practice on the island of Crete.
WINE TASTING, THE PALACE OF KNOSSOS / CITY OF HERAKLION
Today we visit the palace of Knossos.
When visiting the island of Crete someone must see the ancient palace of Knossos, built 3.500 years ago. Combination of archaeological discoveries and food tasting: The day start at 9.30 am and drive to the near 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. Keep driving direction the palace of Knossos. Start at 11.30 AM. Visit takes 1 1Ž2 hour. After the palace we drive back to the city and will walk the streets of the city and meet nutritional wanderings elevating the palate to heaven!! Will explore unique tastes on this walking tour of Heraklion. Visit at a small cheese shop (one of the best in Crete) and taste unique fresh and old Cretan cheese accompanied by a shot of Raki. Walk the central market and stop for an OUZO (anise) with MEZE (small bites accompanies the spirit) at one of the traditional Mezedopolion of the street. On the way back after lunch stop at one of the finest small family wineries and taste some of the best wines Crete provides. Back to the villa.
Tonight your dinner will be prepared by the owners 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.
LAST DAY, FLIGHT BACK HOME
Breakfast and transportation to the eirport. ΚΑΛΟ ΤΑΞΙΔΙ
Accommodations for the cooking Holiday
April 10 - Oct. 30
This lovingly restored 150 year old Cretan storehouse is surrounded by breathtaking views, an unspoiled landscape of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyard valleys is the setting for your Cretan holiday, only 15 minutes from Heraklion city and 20 minutes from the airport.
Traditional manor - Historical listed monument
ALL YEAR ROUND
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 retired University professor of Music a very nice and warm lady and her sons.
George Portokalakis, PORTO Club founder will be your host and personal guide all the way! You will taste the best Cretan traditional Vegetarian food that Crete has to offer and you will experience a way of life that very few - not Cretans - will have the chance to experience. All meals - lunch, dinner, snacks (we call it meze), traditional cookies, sweets, drinks (home wine, old home made wine, raki - Cretan snap, refreshments, fruit juices, bottled water - according to the program during your visit to the Cretan traditional gastronomic area.
Comments / Feedbacks
Kind words from our lovely guests
From: pep chef
Sent: Monday, June 09,
To: Portokalakis Giorgos
Subject: Re: Greece May / 13 people culinary tour
I just wanted to thank you for the trip. The organization was fabulous and i felt that the group got a wonderful insight into the Greek culture and kitchen. We got fantastic feedback from the group and it was important for me to pass that on to you. Thanks again, and we look forward to working together in the future.
Sent: Thursday, June 16,
To: Portokalakis Giorgos
Subject: Re: Crete
The Cretan Cooking experience was exactly what I hope for in a cooking adventure! Not only was the sign up easy, but there was a proper amount of interaction prior to the trip. At no time was I concerned that my trip wasn't going to go as planned. Once I arrived, George was both professional and friendly. He was very welcoming and made the experience one that I will always remember. Not only did we cook and eat (a lot!), but George introduced me to the culture of Crete. I appreciated that I didn't feel like I was on a "tour" but able to learn about the Cretan culture in a very organic and spontaneous way."
Sent: Monday, September 29,
To: Giorgos Portokalakis
Subject: Re: Crete / George
I loved the Resort. It was awesome being there and it was such an authentic experience. You were a great host and we certainly enjoyed your company and your enthusiasm in teaching us about Crete and its food. We definitely enjoyed our time with you and loved Crete. The food was amazing, although there was way to much food to eat!. You were a wonderful host!.
Sent: Thursday, October 16,
To: Portokalakis Giorgos
Subject: Re: Crete
I was just looking back at all of the photographs from the amazing trip to Crete which you hosted. Hope you are well.. If you ever need a great reference I would be more than happy to tell everyone how wonderful you are and how memorable you made the trip
Thank you again for helping make beautiful memories
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