Tsikoudia or Raki

Crete’s powerful welcome!

Tsikoudia or Raki is called a transparent, strong, alcoholic drink made and consumed largely in Crete. Each November, throughout the island, people gather around a boiler or “kazani” as they call it, and engage not only in the distillation of pomace, but they also produce distillates of wisdom, the famous Cretan “mantinades” (a kind of soul serenades) like their ancestors used to do.

rakiThe word tsikoudia comes from the tsikouda, meaning the residues of the wine-making process. In Crete it is also called raki, like the similar Turkish spirit. It differentiates from all other distillates, since it comes from the distillery of pure tsikouda, without any other aromatic additives and contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume, ranking it as one of the strongest spirits.

Cretan tsikoudia has a long history. Charred remains of bunches and grape seeds found in a kind of jar used during Minoan times in the palace of Phaistos, provide proof that tsikoudia is a spirit produced in Crete for thousands of years.

Tsikoudia is the perfect spirit when drinking with companion and it’s best to accompany it with Cretan traditional mezes like potatoes “oftes”, olives, raw cabbage, cucumbers, snails and rusks.

patata-ofti-sto-fournoMLGFB Tip:

How to prepare potatoes “oftes” (baked) so as to deliciously accompany your tsikoudia

Ingredients: as many potatoes as you want, preferably of medium size

Preparation:

  • Wash the potatoes thoroughly enough to be edible with their skin
  • Dry them with kitchen paper and make 2-3 holes on their flesh with a fork
  •  Wrap them with tin foil and push them deep into the hot ashes of the fire
  • In less than an hour (depending on their size) fork them to check if they’re soft enough and unwrap them. Should you find resistance, let them for a little longer near the cinder

They are served hot and pair nicely either with salt, oregano and olive oil or with yogurt and some chopped rosemary. If you don’t have a fireplace, you could bake them for about half an hour in the oven

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