Crete Revisited

I’ve recently returned from a sunny week in Crete, my second ever visit to the island and it was as welcoming and beautiful as ever. The post-holiday blues are hitting hard as I write this, can’t I go back for a few more days?!

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Beautiful views of Crete from Spinalonga

We stayed at the fabulous Blue Palace Resort & Spa, a large hotel that somehow still felt intimate and friendly. Built on a hillside, it had its own funicular to take you down to the beach, where the water was just beautiful.

Foodie highlights were not short supply, the hotel had numerous restaurants, my favourite was the Blue Door, which sat right on the waterfront and offered a feast of traditional Cretan and Greek dishes. I enjoyed feta, halloumi,vine leaves and plenty of tzatziki. In addition to some lovely local wines, the cocktails from the hotel bar were heaven too…

The hotel even had its own Shisha menu and an expert to recommend different blends. It had to be done!

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Total relaxation

The nearby towns of Plaka and Elounda were full of fantastic food too. Plaka is a very short walk away and we enjoyed a delicious meal at Thalassa, tucking into a traditional Moussaka and some fresh fish. Venturing a little further afield into Elounda we enjoyed the food at restaurants including Kanali, Olondi and Lotus Eaters. Here’s just a selection of the delicious dishes we tucked into during our stay…

Sometimes on holiday, you can’t beat a lazy day with a good book and a spot of sunbathing on the balcony, on one such day we did just that and ordered room service. It certainly was lunch with a view!

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A lovely lunch on the balcony

The views from the hotel were simply stunning, our room looked right out on to the uninhabited island of Spinalonga. The island is full of history, going back to Byzantine and Venetian times and more recently in the 1900s as a place for people with leprosy to live.

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Beautiful views of Spinalonga from our room

We took a boat across to Spinalonga to explore. It’s always quite busy with tourists taking in the sights and history of the island – but we went a little off the beaten track, taking an unconventional (and rocky!) route, which turned out to be well worth it. We found a few quiet, peaceful spots to stop and admire the views and consider the history around us.

All in all it was a fabulously relaxing week, full of food and wine, absolute heaven! I highly recommend Crete for a holiday,  I’m sure this won’t be my last visit. Thanks to the lovely staff at the Blue Palace who helped make our week a really memorable one and to Winchester’s Independent Holiday Shop who organised everything for us.

Post holiday diet starts next week!

xXx

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Magnificent Mediterranean at Woodfire, Stockbridge

I recently paid a visit to Woodfire, the Mediterranean-themed pizza and mezze restaurant in Stockbridge. I was looking for somewhere a little different, and dare I say, outside of Winchester for a change. So I booked up a table after hearing good things and the news that Woodfire was celebrating its first six months in business with extended opening hours, a new Italian pizza chef and a special ‘Pizza and a Pint’ offer.

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Woodfire is situated on Stockbridge High Street

It was lovely to visit Stockbridge again, I’d not been in quite a few years despite it being so close. The high street and surrounding area were as picturesque as ever. Once inside Woodfire, the atmosphere was pleasantly busy and staff were very welcoming too.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely lunch for a family member’s birthday treat, so naturally that meant three courses for me (not everyone around the table was as greedy!). The menu had mixture of Greek style mezze dishes such as hummus and flatbread and other Mediterranean favourites like halloumi and cured meats, as well as main dishes and a delicious pizza menu. The pizza menu was brand new, devised by Italian master pizzaiolo, Luciano, from Naples, alongside Woodfire’s French Head Chef Alex Thomelin. The tempting sounding new pizzas on the menu included: Broccoli Salsiccia with Italian fennel sausage, broccoli, chilli, tomato and mozzarella and Calzone with prosciutto cotto, spinach, wild mushrooms, parmesan, tomato and mozzarella. And of course, all the pizzas were hand-made and baked in a wood-fired oven.

We opted a for a mix of breads and dips to start with including hummus and baba ganoush and received a lovely selection of small plates to nibble on between us. The hummus was divine, one member of the party who previously claimed not to like hummus actually enjoyed it – so it must have been good!

Having already done my fast days that week, I was definitely up for a large lunch and opted for a pizza for my main course. I chose the Melanzane Parmigiana pizza, which came with aubergine, paremesan, tomato, mozzarella and I added some extra prosciutto.

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A close up of my scrummy pizza

I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza, polishing off pretty much the entire plateful! Most of the table also enjoyed a pizza for their main course too, one member of the party had a lamb tagine dish though – which looked very tasty (I do love anything with cous cous!)

Main Course at Woodfire Stockbridge

Lamb, squash and apricot tagine with almond cous cous and coriander yoghurt

Yes…I was pretty full by this stage but they had affogato on the desserts list, which is essentially espresso and ice cream, so I thought I could probably find room for that. Woodfire’s take on this classic dessert came with amaretto (my favourite!) and biscotti – it was just perfect finish to the meal, I loved the mix of coffee and amaretto together.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon’s eating and I would highly recommend a visit to Woodfire if you’re in the mood for some Mediterranean cuisine.

For more information or to make a reservation, you can contact the restaurant on 01264 810248 or visit www.woodfirestockbridge.co.uk. Woodfire is open Monday and Wednesday 9am – 5.30pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9am – 11pm, and Sunday 10am – 4pm. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

Magnificent Meze and More in Cyprus

It’s been a little quiet lately on FoodTeaLife and it’s in part due to a wonderful trip to Cyprus, lucky me! The other contributing factor was the dieting in the lead up to my time away, which left me with few yummy foodie things to write about (any one see my post on fast day foods?!). Thankfully the foodie drought is well and truly over now and this post is packed with delicious highlights from Cyprus.

Okay, apologies in advance for some of the terrible photography in this post – clearly I enjoyed a little too much of the lovely local wine every night!

On the subject of the local wine, here they are…

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Both from the Vasilikon Winery in Pathos, Cyprus – it’s fair to say many many bottles of both the white Vasilikon and the red Methy (a Cabernet Sauvignonwere consumed! It left us all wondering why don’t we get more lovely wines like this over in the UK?! I’m not going to get all wine notes here but they were both so very pleasant and very reasonably priced for being so enjoyable.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, right by the coast, so naturally plenty of fish and seafood featured in the holiday diet, including two separate fish meze nights! Meze (as anyone who’s seen Come Dine With Me will know) is a selection of small dishes often including pitta and salad, what I didn’t realise was that it doesn’t all come together (like it does on Come Dine With Me!) but continuously, course after course! The word literally means ‘small dishes’ and it’s a style of eating that features many different courses, but each course contains just a little of each item, enough to have a taste. Well, even though they are ‘small dishes’ – it soon gets pretty filling, especially if you gorge on salad and pitta bread in between courses! Here’s just a small selection of the dishes included in our fish meze…

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

King Prawns

Terribly out of focus but delicious king prawns

Sardines

Sardines

white fish mezze

White fish

As you can imagine as all of these dishes (and more) kept coming our table got pretty chaotic…

Messy meze!

Messy meze!

Every inch of the table was packed with plates of fish, seafood, salad and pitta…which of course meant you just had to keep on eating to free up some space! Heavenly though it all was, it has certainly not done my waistline any favours – so worth it though! The fish was cooked so well, with just a little olive oil and lemon, simple but lovely.

I couldn’t let the week pass without indulging in a little traditional moussaka either…

mmm...moussaka

mmm…moussaka

Of course I had to sample one of the local desserts too…

Baklava

Baklava!

I do love Baklava! It’s little rolls of filo pastry with a deliciously sweet, cinnamony, nutty filling – so good with ice cream!

Our hotel (the Amathus Beach) was lovely too – check out these little delights left in our room most days…

free fizz, petit fours and canapes!

free fizz, petit fours and canapés!

The cocktails served at the hotel were absolutely delightful – we sampled many of these too of course…

Holiday classic - a pina colada

Pina Colada, a holiday classic!

All in all it was one beautiful, delicious, laughter-filled week in sunshine. A huge thank you to my extended family for the magical trip!

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Fun in sun

Amathus

And relax…

xXx