The Unique Rusks of the Mystrakis Family from Rethymno

The hard, soft rusk of the Mystrakis family from Atsipopoulo in Rethymno is a different kind of rusk, made of pure wheat.


This is no ordinary rusk. Hand-rolled into small circular shapes with a hole in the middle, made of 100% wheat and sourdough, it is baked in the Mystrakis family’s stone-built wood oven in Atsipopoulo, Rethymno. This family of bakers has been making this unique rusk since 1974, passing down the recipe from generation to generation.

Every day, they raisethe old family sourdough, let the dough rise overnight, and then bake it in the hot wood-fired oven the next day to make this dry rusk. They only bake it for a few minutes; when it comes out, it is pale and exudes not only the smoky aroma of the oven, but also the lovely smell of quality flour sourced from the Cretan Mills. 

I found it in two or three well stocked grocery stores in Athens, along with…  instructions for use. Fellow villager Yiannis Vogiatzidakis of Paradosiako Bakaliko (Traditional Grocery Store) proudly recommends it and suggests breaking the rusk, placing it on a plate, and topping with salad – tomato salad in the summer, boiled greens in the winter.

“You’ll see how it comes alive, soaking up the juices of the salad and swelling up to become like bread again.” Grocer Stamatis Tsikniadopoulos says it may be the most delicious rusk he’s ever tasted; he eats it in a variety ways and recommends pairing it with spreads such as melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), taramosalata, or hummus. I have it for brunch or a light dinner, either with molasses and yogurt; with honey, raisins, and xigalo cheese; or with ripe Cretan graviera cheese, olive oil, and boiled eggs.

 

Mystrakis Rusks won First Prize at the 16th Gastronomos Quality Awards, organized by Gastronomos, Greece’s leading food magazine and held in December of 2023.

This article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.

Info

You can find it in stores specializing in Cretan and traditional Greek products.

For instance:

 

Greek Delicacies, 8 Hatzichristou, Athens, Tel. (+30) 210.922.4060 51 Kallidromiou, Exarchia, Tel. (+30) 210.330.0384.

Traditional Grocery Store, 31 Proklou, Pagrati, Tel. (+30) 210.756.0055 • 2 28th October Square, Ilioupoli, Tel. (+30) 210.995.4500. 

Halkiadakis, 68 A. Papandreou, Halandri, Tel. (+30) 210.689.3495 • 1 M. Botsari, Glyfada, Tel. (+30) 210.894.7832 • 40 P. Tsaldari, Peristeri, Tel. (+30) 210.572.2491 • 28 Komninon, Thessaloniki, Tel. (+30) 2310.225.510.



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