One of my favorite things about traveling is when you accidentally stumble onto something spectacular. That’s what happened to me in Crete this month. When I initially booked the Hotel Kaliviani I didn’t really pay that much attention to the listing, I was more interested in finding a hotel near Balos Beach in western Crete. But it turned out when I booked the traditional Kaliviani Hotel in the village of Kaliviani, I was in for a huge treat.
I won’t even mention the sea views of the rooms or the quaint Cretan village itself. No, I’m gonna focus on the food which turned out to be one of the best gastronomique experiences ever.
Here’s the back story. Ioannis Deiktakis’s mother and father built and operated this little, traditional hotel for many years. People loved it in particular because his mother was sweet and adorable and a talented cook of traditional Cretan food.
About 20 years ago, Ioannis started working in the family business. He took a break and traveled around the world, particularly Europe and South America. He returned home with a new idea for the restaurant. He wanted to combine the love and passion his mother put into the food with some of the tastes he had experienced elsewhere. He called the restaurant Mama’s Dinner, and the result is fantastic. He changes the food and wine menu every year. I don’t usually eat a lot of red meat, but I went for it after seeing and smelling some mouth-watering dishes emerge from the kitchen.
I had two spectacular dishes. The first was a Cretan tart with lamb and local cheeses. I followed that up with lamb which had been cooked in low heat (55F) for 24 hours. It was tender, tasty with a perfect balance of olive oil, garlic and lemon.
But enough from me. Let Ioannis tell you about Mama’s Dinner himself.
And here’s the Balos Beach that initially attracted me to Kaliviani in the first place.