We have had Myzithra sprinkled with fresh herbs, Myzithra drizzled with honey, Myzithra in Bougatsa, and Myzithra cake. I thought we had our bases covered. But then we visited Bakaliko, a new restaurant in the center square of Archanes, a village in northern Crete that has been thriving since at least Minoan times. After a fabulous lunch of Dakos (rusks topped with tomatoes, olives, olive oil, fresh herbs and crumbled Myzithra), rice pilaf with feta, toasted pistachios and pomegranate seeds, and chicken in a spicy yogurt sauce, we were presented with — Myzithra “mousse,” layered over a crumbled sesame-honey sweet, topped with quince marmalade.
Bakaliko is run by Agnes Weninger, her business partner Zsuzsa Andoczi-Balog, and Zsuzsa’s husband, Giorgos, who was born and raised on Crete. The restaurant is one of several facing the plateia or square, which is filled with tables, chairs and umbrellas guarding against the afternoon sun. Two dogs have adopted the place and they faithfully, if languidly, guard it, as they sprawl, mostly sound asleep but occasionally lifting a head and wagging a tail, along the cool marble steps leading into Bakaliko. The smallest dog, which we call Gingersnap because of his coloring, is quite the gentleman. He even spent one morning escorting three of my students on their shopping, walking with them from store to store and waiting patiently outside while they selected and paid for this and that.
Agnes, Giorgos and Zsuzsa have been just as generous with their hospitality. Twenty-two of us have eaten every breakfast, quite a few dinners, and even an unscheduled lunch or two at their restaurant, and each meal has been as good if not amazingly better than the last. When it came time for us to leave, we were reluctant to go. We bought some of the local organic olive oils, dessert syrups, and marmalades that Bakaliko stocks (you can taste the oils before making your selection) and waved goodbye hoping one day soon to return.
We also took with us Bakaliko’s recipe for Myzithra “mousse,” which I have modified a bit:
Beat together until light and well blended 1 cup Myzithra (Agnes says you can substitute Ricotta), 1 cup full-fat yogurt that you have strained in cheese cloth for at least 15 minutes, and 1Tablespoon of your favorite honey (more to taste). If you live near a Greektown, buy some honey-sesame Pastelli, crumble it into small pieces, and place it in the bottom of an ice-cream bowl. Place a scoop of the “mousse” on top, and add a dollop of your favorite marmalade. Enjoy!
Zsuzsa also publishes a blog, “Geocaching in Crete,” of which I have become an avid follower. You can find it at geocrete.wordpress.com. To join in the fun of geocaching,”the real world treasure hunt that’s happening right now,” visit www.geocaching.com