There’s a taverna down the road from us in Chorafakia called Sunset. Not a name to conjure with, I grant you, but you can glory in a burnt orange sky while eating delicious home-made food.
The owner-chef, Maria, was born in 1950 in the mountain village of Semprona and arrived in Chorafakia at the oh-so-young age of 16 to marry Jacob Pantzelioudakis. She likes nothing more than providing traditional Cretan recipes using fresh food. She grows her own fruit and vegetables and rears her own chickens, lambs, goats, rabbits and more. When so many tavernas this side of Crete (north-west), cheat their customers with mass-produced moussakas heated in a microwave, it’s a relief knowing you will be served freshly cooked food every time.
In our early years here, we were naïve enough to eat in a taverna at one end of the Venetian Harbour in Chania. I had moussaka and Mr FND had a steak—what was he thinking of! The first had been microwaved to within an inch of its life and had evidently first seen the light of day a week before. The second had seen service at Chernobyl. We sent both meals back. We already knew that the Greeks like their meat well done but this well done? They tried again with exactly the same result. Even Mr FND’s Retsina was grotesque. We gave up and went to complain, and saying we refused to pay. There was a huge furore with the restaurant owner, the chef and us. We were accused of scamming them. I won’t continue but you get the picture. Needless to say, we have never returned.
The best moussaka I have eaten here in seven years was cooked by our friend Stela when she invited us to supper. I no longer order moussaka anywhere. I lie. There is another taverna in one of the nearby villages that does a mean moussaka. But it’s still not as tasty as Stela’s.
The following recipe is adapted from Maria’s self-published cookery book, Maria’s Recipes. Sadly, we had an accident a few months ago which meant that part of the book has been blighted by water damage. What is even sadder is that Maria has not been able to afford to do print run for the last couple of years or I’d buy a further copy.
There’s Taramasalata and Tzatziki but have you heard of Skordalia? It’s a garlic dip and fans of garlic will want to double up the following quantities. In fact, to serve four, I’d suggest you quadruple the ingredients!
Skordalia (Σκορδαλιά) Garlic Dip
3 medium potatoes
3 slices of brown bread
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. Soak the bread in water then squeeze hard to remove excess water and place together with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil.
Yes, it’s that simple! It can be served as a dip but is most often served as a side dish with salted cod. However, it goes well as an accompaniment to most fish, meat or vegetable dishes.
Take care and keep laughing!