the stone house on the hill

Archive for the category “Food”

Diomataris’ Tavern

Hello everyone!

I would like to make some important introductions! This is Diomataris, our best man, a pure son of Crete and one of the most original people I know.

A father of three children, he used to work for years in the municipality of Chania. Two years ago, he decided that this was very restricting for him. He had grown up on the mountains of Southern Crete, he knew the land and felt he was a part of it. He was trapped in a city’s life and conventions. He felt blocked by the rhythm that his life had and more stressed every day (sounds familiar? :)) .

So he decided to go back to his village, Rodovani. A wonderful spot, in between Palaiochora and Sougia, on the top of a mountain, overlooking a wonderful gorge, with a breathtaking view, unspoiled by tourism. He got a small place and started cooking small stuff that he would find around his small restaurant. He baked his own bread, made his own honey, had his vegetables and eggs, knew his butcher veeery well (Manousos is the butcher, another huge story of his own), gathered his own snails at 4 o’clock on the few rainy summer nights and had a full house almost every day. Who would say no to the best cooked meal made with the most preciously gathered material? Who would say no to this cliff-hanging view?

This year he moved to an even better spot in the middle of the village. A fantastic place he almost made again from scratch and almost alone. His menu includes only traditional plates, really home-made. Pork with feta cheese, Tsigariasto (you find this only in Crete), small black eyed peas, fresh hand cut french fries, pies and of course traditionally made bread and raki and many, many others.

If you find yourselves in this part of Crete don’t miss it. It is not in a guide yet, but it is one of the very few, most valuable secrets still remaining unrevealed in this blessed place. It is called the Tavern of Diomataris (Η ταβέρνα του Διοματάρη) and this is its facebook page. Also the tavern has a phone, +30 28230 051043. If you arrive in the summer you don’t need to call. He is there from 10 in the morning till late at night. If you arrive in the winter and in the beginning of the week, just double check first. In any case don’t miss it!! Apart from the food that is better really than what you would find in a five star restaurant, Diomataris himself is an experience you cannot afford to miss…



The School – A restaurant to remember

This is a very important post for us.

Not only because we will talk to you about one of the best restaurants in Crete – no exaggeration really – but also because this restaurant is the primary reason why we ended up buying a house in the South of Crete.

So, this is where we arrived, when we arrived at Anydri village, SE of Paleochora, one and a half hour of driving South of Chania. It is the center of the village, some 70 meters after you pass the sign “Anydri” (Άνυδροι), and on the main road. (See related post here.)

It is the old school of the village, that was built in the 1930’s. Long after that, and while the area was one of the hot spots for hippies, in the 70’s and the 80’s, it remained deserted, rusty and destroyed. Till one day in 1996, one of the very students of the old school, Christos Vardoulakis, decided to do something with it. He and his wife, Simone, rebuilt the place more or less with their own hands. It is a big square old building, with the old windows repainted red, and a fantastic interior with loads of old objects from the everyday life of the village, ages ago.

The dreamy part of it though hides in the back yard, where all the tables are during the summer months. A huge, ancient olive tree – branches of which you can see in the picture – gives shadow on a yard with more or less 30 tables. The view of the yard is breathtaking. It looks over the gorge of Anydri – or one of them more likely – and the Libyan Sea.

The menu is a fusion of local, traditional dishes with a kind of small european twist and it has a big variety of dishes for vegetarians. As I know Christos really well, I can tell you that the ingredients of the food they are making in this place is something you cannot buy in most million-dollar-first-class restaurants around the world. The tomatoes come from his land, the beans too, the meat comes from local animals, fed on the hills, the salt comes from the sea, and the olive oil is just something else…

For two starters and two main dishes, and raki and fruit, you will pay around 30 euro. And it will be a meal to remember. Have in mind that if you go in the middle of August, you will have to queue. This place is a highlight in the area and people travel a lot just to experience its food.

Small Tip: Try going for lunch. During the day, a bunch of women from the village, are inside the kitchen and are preparing the food for the evening. It is a bliss to have a small something to eat, under the shadow, listening to the girls inside twitting with a soft music in the background. Also if you are the active type, go for a swim to Anydri beach, walk the Anydri gorge up (it starts on the back of the beach and ends exactly at the restaurant!), and arrive at the back yard of The School for a cold beer and some salad. You will oh, so thank me for it!! 🙂

Christos and Simone are just lovely. They carry the essence of Greek hospitality, they care and it shows. Everything at their place is done with “meraki”. “Meraki” is one of these Greek words almost impossible to explain. It is essentially the talent and tendency to put love and extra care in every little detail of everything you do, deeply rooted in the philosophy that happiness hides in literally everything.

Take care! 🙂

*The above picture is from Anydri beach.

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