corfu island
 

Food and Drink in Corfu Greece

Greek cooking has languished unfairly in the shadow of French and Italian cuisine. But the best Greek tavernas know the value of traditional cooking and today, eating out, especially on this cosmopolitan island, can be a rewarding experience.

Mezedes
Mezedes, or mezes (starters) can be a feast in themselves and true aficionados may never get beyond them in a good taverna. They can also meet the preferences of vegetarians and vegans. Mazes are a communal experience to the Greeks. Everyone digs in. Try keftedes (spicy meat balls), bourekakia Imeat pies), potopoulo (chicken portions), saligkaria (snails): manitaria (mushrooms); spanokeftedes (spinach balls), dolmadakia (vine leaves stuffed with rice), saganaki (fried cheese), horta or tsigarelli (wild greens tossed in oil and lemon juice); and, of course, alias (olives). Throw in a selection of dips such as tzatziki (a mix of yoghurt, garlic and cucumber), or melitzanasalata (aubergine and garlic), and drink wine in copious amounts...
Meat Dishes
There is a tradition of casserole cooking on Corfu. Try pastitsada, a Corfu speciality with an Italian touch that derives from Venetian spezzatino. It is created from layered pasta, meat or veal and tomato filling, with bechamel sauce, paprika, cinnamon, and cheese topping. True Corfiot pastitsada is made with cockerel. Sofrito is another Corfiot speciality. It should contain veal preferably, or beef, cooked in white sauce with olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic and onion, plus white pepper to encourage a thirst. For a good souvlaki (shish kebab) ask for lamb (arnisio), the very best. Pork (hirinos) souvlaki is also good. The best souvlaki is flavoured subtly with herbs, Roast lamb (arnaki psito), and roast kid (katsiki sto fourno) are not always available, but can be had in rural tavernas during festivals. And for the adventurous, how about kokoretsi - lamb liver, heart, kidney and tripe kebab.
Fish Dishes
Fish, as always, is expensive, but there is nothing better than fresh fish in a good psarotaverna (fish restaurant) or beachside venue. Try marides for starters this is whitebait, fried whole in olive oil, sprinkled with lemon and accompanied by light greens. Then there is a Greek favourite, kalamari, fried squid; or the Italian-Influenced bianco, a casserole of whiting, Scorpion fish, or grey mullet cooked in garlic, pepper and lemon juice Try bourdetto, a selection of small fish, oven-cooked in a sauce of oil, garlic, tomato, spring onion and red pepper. A cheaper option is xsifhia, a kind of 'fish-kebab', with pieces of grilled swordfish sharing a skewer with tomato and onion.
Drink
Ouzo is the great Greek drink for socialising, and the essential appetizer to a feast At nearly 50 per cent alcohol, and with a strong aniseed flavour, it can shrivel the palate of the uninitiated at 50 paces Take sparingly, with water. Greek wines are often dismissed, but they have kept the Greeks smiling and singing for a long time. As long as you are not an ostentatious cork-sniffer, you'll find some good wines on Corfu. These include Santa Domenica, light white and red, made from kakotrygis grapes. Some tavernas make their own wine, varelisio, from the barrel and this can be extremely good. Small rural vintners produce distinctive wines such as Liapaditiko, a white wine produced in the Liapades area, near Paleokastritsa. Corfu's most famous wine is the expensive and elusive Theotoki Roppa. Retsina is a good standby.This is resinated wine, common throughout Greece, an acquired taste, but when it is good and from the barrel, it is persuasive; when it is bad, usually from the bottle, it can be wicked. Light beers and lagers are a standard drink throughout Greece.
Desserts
If you 'eat Greek', you rarely have room left for such effete indulgences as 'dessert'. Restaurants have a dessert menu and most tavernas have something on offer, including fresh fruit, the best way to finish a meal, or you could ask for the lip-smacking giaourti kai meli, yoghurt with honey. Alternatively, if in Corfu town, move on to a zacharoplastio, a word which translates marvellously as sugar-sculptor. This is a cafe-patisserie, where you can indulge in a feast of kataifi (wheat cakes soaked in honeyl; or baklava (nut and syrup cake), or loukoumades (fritters soaked in honey)


corfu island