Hundreds of years ago, Crete was ruled by the Venetians. The gorgeously restored 16th-century guesthouse Metohi Kindelis is one of the remaining buildings from that era. Located in the outskirts of Chaniá, the property is surrounded by organic vegetable gardens and orchards of pomegranate and citrus trees. Danai Kindeli, who recently moved back from Madrid to manage the place, stocks the small kitchens in each room with fresh eggs and local cheeses; occasionally she’ll leave guests an orange juice–and–olive oil cake that tastes of the sun.
Kindeli recently began working with local food historian Mariana Kavroulaki to organize reenactments of ancient Greek meals and recipes. (Re-creating the culinary past is a growing trend worldwide, inspired in part by star chef Heston Blumenthal, who researches recipes at The British Library and serves them at his restaurant Dinner.) Kavroulaki, who has produced banquets for The Archaeological Museum of Delphi, prepared an Ottoman-inspired brunch for me. On a wooden table under a blooming jasmine tree, she set out bowls of a fresh quince, dried apricot and fig compote, based on a recipe from ancient Persia. Alongside, she served kaikanas, a dish of scrambled eggs with walnuts and goat cheese, and wheat bread from a recipe that goes back to the 16th century. “Crete has been a home for many cultures,” said Kavroulaki. “Tasting the island’s gastronomic past helps you understand its history.”