Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hora Sfakia: An Afternoon at Despina’s

Some of the best travel memories are those made from life’s simplest pleasures ~ like that afternoon at Despina’s on the waterfront in Hora Sfakia, Crete.

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Hora Sfakia - Crete
Hora Sfakia, as I’ve told you in earlier posts, was a hub of activity in World War II, (click here for that post). These days this small quiet village on Crete’s southern shore is a stopping off place for hikers heading to or from the three nearby gorges: Samaria, Imbrios or Aradena. There are some people like us, who don’t hike, but simply adore the town and think a trip to Crete is incomplete without a visit here.

Because April's visit was our fourth here, we were looking forward to seeing folks we’ve gotten to know – or at least recognize – from our earlier visits.  Most of the shop keepers and restaurateurs call out greetings both to new-comers and ‘regulars’ like ourselves from their entryways in this pedestrian-friendly area of town.

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Despina
One of the most welcoming is Despina the owner and operator of a small café and patisserie along the waterfront here. . . she’s also the creator of those wonderful goodies in the display cases pictured above and below.

Despina’s has been open year-round here for 15 years..  In the high season (summer) she opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. then she goes to work making the new creations that will fill her shelves the following morning. (She admitted that often times she gets but a couple hours sleep each night during the height of the tourist season.)

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The temptations that fill the refrigerated shelves usually include the likes of her cheese cakes and apple pie, chocolate souffle, tiramisu cheesecake, mocha amaretto and traditional Kataifi, a pastry that looks like shredded wheat, stuffed with nuts and drenched in honey.  During our recent visit, however, it was a lemon cake in an incredible lemon sauce – both made from fresh lemons that kept calling out each time we passed.

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In past visits our will power has steered us past her cafe, with just a tingle of the sweet tooth. Sometimes we’ve had coffee there or a raki the local 'fire water' or two to end our evening’s pleasures. We’ve managed to resist the Sweet Siren.

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Like many of the restaurants that line the waterfront in this small town, the kitchen and inside seating is separated from the ‘deck’ seating by a walkway/driveway.  While not many cars pass by, when they do, they are close – but that just adds to the ambiance of the experience.

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But this time that lemon cake was too much to resist.  I’d like to have shown you how big a piece it was that we shared, but I barely remembered to pull out the camera before we had wolfed it away completely. . .

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That is our  Foodie Tuesday tale this week for our linkup at Inside Journeys.  Hope you’ll join us Thursday when we “Target Tinos”. (Yep, you have to come back to figure that one out.) Thanks for the time you spent with us today~as always, it is appreciated.

23 comments:

  1. Hello Jackie and Joel:

    And now our mouths are watering!! What an incredible place Hora Sfakia appears to be and what an amazing woman Despina surely is. To work those long hours, to prepare and cook so much herself and to remain open all year is some undertaking. She must simply collapse into bed some nights, that is if she has time to sleep at all.

    The lemon cake [or what is left of it!!] looks truly delicious.

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    1. I am constantly amazed at how people like Despina can burn the candle at both ends and still offer an engaging smile to everyone who passes. She is a definite jewel in Sfakia!

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  2. Oh, how I miss the Greek Islands. You made my mouth water again for Greek food and sweets.

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    1. Marlys, we too are suffering Greek withdrawal pains, but after I stepped on the scales, I decided it might have been good to leave for a time anyway and eat a bit of cottage cheese and celery!

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  3. I have such happy memories of this place - thank you taking me there again. F xx

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    1. Oh so glad you came along with us today, Francesca. It is a lovely village isn't it?

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  4. That Kataifi sounds delightful and delicious -- you caught me with the "drenched in honey" description.
    I take my hat off to Despina. It's no joke working such long hours but I hope they bring her equal amount of joy and remuneration.
    Thanks for sharing this bit of Crete with us and for linking up this week, Jackie. As usual, I'm enjoying seeing these lovely quaint out of the way places -- they're just my speed - through your eyes.

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    1. Glad you are enjoying my little out of the way places, Marcia. They provided us some of the most economical stays and enriching experiences in Greece. And thanks again for hosting Foodie Tuesday!

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks for your visit today - always appreciated!

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  6. That looks absolutely scrumptious...I think I would go every time I passed!

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    1. That was the problem Corinne: two main streets led to our hotel, one of them we had to pass Despina's and the other we passed Niki's bakery (that I wrote about last year) sigh. . .oh the temptations! Thanks much for your visit!

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  7. Que bonito post, me he paseado por tu bloc y ha estado un regalo visitarlo, te invito a ver el mio, “ Pintar es muy divertido. Constituye una delicia observar y exprimir los colores. Espero tu visita y si no eres seguidora me encantarías que te hicieras y así compartir nuestros blocs. Elracodeldetall.blogspot.com

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  8. Julia, Muchas gracias por su visite a TravelnWrite. Yo hablo un poquito espanol pero visitarlo sus blocs ayer - estan muy bonito y interesante!

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  9. Hora Sfakia is a magical place for its stunning scenery, and now, for its scrumptious sweets! Have been there many times, but somehow missed this charming cafe! Thanks for this inside info; will definitely seek Despina and her delicious decadent delights next time I'm there!

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. When you get back to Hora Sfakia, Poppy, do try some of Despina's handiwork - all are worth giving in to temptation. And do tell her I said hello!

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  10. Despina sounds like superwoman and her creations just devine. I'd love to go to her place. #FoodieTuesday

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    1. Phoebe, thanks for stopping by today. You would drool just looking at her display case, that's for sure!

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  11. OK, I want that lemon cake right now! What wonderful memories you have of this trip, Jackie.

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    1. Oh Andrew it makes my mouth water just thinking about that lovely temptation.

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  12. We left Despina on Wednesday after only a brief stay for coffee before our taxi for Chania and a meal (otherwise it would have been cheesecake/Sfakia Pie or some other delicacy ....) before going to the airport. The ferry was running 45 minutes late (but this is southern Crete!) so we only had time for a quick catch up with this lovely lady. She tells us her daughter, Stella, had a little girl, Maria, and how she loves being a grandmother. We promised next time to catch the earlier ferry and spend more time with her ..... and the cakes.

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    1. Oh Val, we were wondering if you were still in Crete. Will write an email soon and get caught up with you two!

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  13. I really appreciate your way of presentation. Some great information to be absorbed in this post.
    Thanks a lot for sharing
    The Shine Chiang Mai

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