Cretan Bougatsa

One of our favorite Cretan delights is the delicious Cretan bougatsa, which is not so well-known outside Crete. Bougatsa is a pie made of smooth and crunchy filo pastry and can have various filings. The common Greek Macedonian bougatsa is either sweet, filled with semolina custard, or savory, filled with feta cheese, spinach or minced meat (other savoury fillings are also possible). The sweet Macedonian bougatsa is topped with icing sugar and cinnamon. This is not the case with Cretan bougatsa which is always sweet (there is no savoury version) and is filled with ksinomizithra cheese (traditional Cretan sour cheese resembling ricotta). Cretan bougatsa is topped not with icing sugar like Macedonian bougatsa but with white granulated sugar and cinnamon. The sourness of the cheese is fantastically counterbalanced by the sweetness of the white sugar and the pungence of cinnamon. Cretan bougatsa should not be missed when in Heraklion or Chania, the only two cities where Cretan bougatsa is available. We could not think of a better breakfast snack or accompaniment to coffee or tea!

Fantastic Cretan bougatsa filled with a lot of ksinomizithra and topped with white sugar and cinnamon

Our favorite place to enjoy Cretan bougatsa is Kir Kor, a century old (since 1922) bougatsa café bang on the centre of Heraklion, in the Lions square (known as “liontaria“). In fact, almost every time we go to central Heraklion we pay a visit to this place! There you enjoy your bougatsa while admiring the famous Morosini fountain with the adorned Venetian lions being the main landmark of Heraklion and one of the symbols of Crete. Do not forget to order the cheese bougatsa (which the Cretan bougatsa) and not the also available bougatsa with cream (which is the Macedonian bougatsa). Macedonian bougatsa is also great but is much more common and is widely available throughout Greece.

Enjoying our bougatsa with great coffee and view of one of the nicest squares in Crete

The exact location of the bougatsa café is shown below.

It is also interesting to have a look at how bougatsa pies look before and after being cut. Making bougatsa filo is a really labor intensive work requiring high skill; there so few bougatsa cafés for a reason!

Complete bougatsa pies after baking (left), cutting with a special knife (center) and display window (right)

Last but not least, when you are there do not forget to have a walk in the pedestrian zone and admire the heart of Heraklion with its impressive landmarks!

Three landmarks of Heraklion, the Venetian loggia which is also the city hall (left), Morosini fountain (center) and the beautiful historic Saint Titus church (right)

© Article by Agisilaos Papadogiannis.