09 June 2021

A Big Blue Guide To Greek Cuisine - Santorini, Ithaca, Crete & Lefkada -

A Big Blue Guide To Greek Cuisine - Santorini, Ithaca, Crete & Lefkada -

As much as swimming is a huge part of our trips, we also love to take our guests to wonderful local restaurants and diners serving signature and speciality dishes native to each of the Greek islands.

Below we take you through some of the most iconic, special and ultimately delicious dishes which are a ‘must try’ on your visit to Greece. You won’t find flavours as rich and wonderful anywhere else!


As well as its amazing views, gorgeous sunsets and quaint villages, Santorini is also home to delectable dishes that are sure to get your mouth watering.

Santorini Fava - This is a simple and healthy Greek appetizer and is incredibly popular in Greece. The island is known for growing some of the best yellow split peas (the soil gives them a distinct taste) which have a velvety texture and are rather sweet. The peas are cooked alongside onions, garlic and fresh herbs and are then mashed up until smooth. The dish is considered a key part of any Meze and is extremely tasty!

Saganaki - No Greek restaurant is complete without Saganaki. The term refers to the small, two-handled heavy-bottomed frying pan the dish is prepared in, which is called a ‘saganaki.’ A slice of hard cheese is usually best for this appetizer and the most popular cheese used in Saganaki is kefalograviera, a hard cheese made from goat’s milk. The cheese is soaked in milk, covered in a light dusting of flour, drizzled with olive oil and fried in the pan. It is then finished off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice - delicious!

Spanakopita - A tasty savoury well-known Greek dish that stems from two words, ‘spana’ meaning spinach and pita. It is made of crispy layers of phyllo dough and is filled to the brim with spinach and feta cheese.

Souvlaki & Gyros - Both are very similar but also different. The main difference is that gyros are cooked as vertical cones of meat, whereas the souvlaki meat is cooked horizontally on skewers which are rotated on a grill. Souvlaki/Gyros are well-known dishes and have been adapted all over the world, but nothing tastes quite as good as the real thing! Souvlaki/Gyros is made with chicken or pork (lamb is sometimes used), you add chips, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and sauce, then wrap it in pita bread and it’s done! Not a particularly healthy dish but who’s counting the calories on holiday right?

Moussaka - A layered dish that is made up of aubergine, potato and ground beef. The food is layered starting with potato, then aubergine and is seasoned with ground beef and topped with a bechamel sauce. It is usually slow-cooked and served with rice, more potatoes and vegetables. Again, this is another dish that has been adopted worldwide but Santorini Moussaka is the best you will taste!


Famous for being the setting of one of the most famous myths of Greek history, the Odyssey. The beautiful island of Ithaca has some delightful dishes.

Riganada - A tasty light dish, riganada, also referred to as ‘bruschetta,’ is slices of bread dipped into water and topped with oregano, olive oil, tomato and feta cheese.

Rovani - A delicious sticky and sweet rice dessert, Rovani requires time and patience to make but the reward is absolutely worth it. Native to Ithaca, this dish holds a toffee-like crust on top of a gelatinous base of rice offering a sweet and tasty experience.

Polenta - This is a wonderful dish made of coarsely ground corn. When it is cooked fresh, polenta is soft and creamy (like porridge) and is often used as a base for sauces. It tastes a lot like corn and has been comparable to the flavour of cornbread.

Chicken Cherepa (Tserapa) - Tserepa is a casserole made of clay. The meat is put into a metal pan, which in turn is covered by the tserepa and then surrounded by charcoal for uniform baking.


A vibrant, beautiful island filled with ancient ruins and breathtaking beaches, Crete has some delicious dishes you must try when you visit!

Cretan Cheeses - Kefalotyri, Mizithra, Anthotyros, there are several tasty Cretan cheeses to choose from when you visit. But the ‘must try’ cheese has to be Graviera or Graviera Kritis which is the flagship cheese of Crete. It is usually made of sheep’s milk (or a combination of sheep and goat milk) and is matured up to six months, often in caves! It has a sweet and nutty flavour to it and is often paired with a glass of good red wine.

Dakos/Koukouvagia - Also known as ntakos or koukouvayia, or in eastern Crete, kouloukopsomo, Dakos is a Cretan meze of a slice of soaked dried bread topped with tomatoes, crumbled feta and dried oregano. This is quite similar to riganada found in Ithaca.

Chochlioi Boubouristi - Are you partial to snails? Then this is the meal for you. Chochlioi Boubouristi are fried snails cooked in flour and olive oil in a pan and served. Sometimes dried leaves of rosemary are added for extra flavour.

Gamopilafo - Meaning “rice of the wedding” Gamopilafo is a traditional Cretan dish often served as the primary food at a wedding breakfast. It consists of goat meat and turkey and is accompanied by rice cooked in a meat broth. If you see it offered on a menu, it is definitely worth a try!

Apaki - An extremely tasty traditional Cretan food, Apaki is smoked and salted lean pork, marinated in many herbs and olive oil. It is smoked through a slow and natural process and is served on meze platters or on its own. It is a well-known dish across Greece for its high quality and taste!

Cretan Raki/Tsikoudia - An alcoholic beverage with a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy containing 40-65% alcohol by volume. It is made by distilling of pomace from what remains of grapes pressed in winemaking. The pomace ferments over six weeks in a barrel and is then distilled. This alcohol is often homemade across the island.


Striking beaches, relaxing atmosphere and delectable food, Lefkada is a wonderful island to visit, with fabulous signature dishes.

Spetsofai - A rustic Greek dish made with Lefkada’s delicious sausages and peppers in a rich tomato sauce. This meal is often paired with kefalotyri cheese or feta with a lot of crusty bread. The spicy sausages and local salamis of Lefkada are an absolute must when you visit!

Savoro Fish - The taste of the ocean! - This meal is made up of whitebait or mullet combined with garlic, olive oil, spring onions, vinegar and raisins.

Image taken from google. Lentil Salad - This is very much a traditional dish on the island. The lentils are cultivated in Lefkada and are considered a staple diet. They are usually topped with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, vinegar and sea salt dressing. Simple, yet tasty!

Ladopita - Meaning ‘oil pie’ is a traditional sweet dish hailing from Lefkada. The pie is made often on New Year’s Day and a coin is placed inside so whoever finds it will have good luck for the rest of the year. It is also served on special occasions such as engagements, weddings and birthdays. The dish is made up of oil, sugar, water, cinnamon, almonds, sesame seeds, flour and semolina.

Whichever island you choose to visit with us you are certainly in for a taste sensation! The Greeks offer some fantastic dishes traditional to their respective islands and we love having the opportunity to eat the wonderful offerings we come across every year!

Which island’s speciality dishes do you prefer? Let us know on our social platforms! If you haven’t booked your place with us yet this year, you still have an opportunity to do so, and you too could be sampling some of these wonderful, traditional meals.

Head to www.thebigblueswim.com/bookings

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