Corfiot Cuisine

Corfu’s cuisine is inextricably tied in with its history and this is what makes the food here so different from the rest of Greece. The four best known Corfiot dishes show their Venetian influence.

These are:
1- Sofrito (sliced veal cooked with vinegar, garlic and parsley).
2- Bourdeto (a peppery fish stew).
3- Bianco, (a white, garlicky fish stew).
4- Pastitsada, (a pasta and meat dish).

Pastitsada is a speciality of Corfu and consists of meat or chicken in a rich tomato sauce with macaroni. (4 Portions)
1 kilo of veal or rouster, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon cinnamo,  4 garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 onions, finely choppe,  1/2 (120ml) cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in vinegar, a few cloves, a large pinch of sugar, 4 cups water & 1/2 kilo macaroni No 7, grated parmesan or regato cheese.
Wash the meat and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Pierce the meat in different places and insert the garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a saucepan and braise the meat with the onions. Add the tomato paste, the vinegar and a pinch of sugar to sweeten the sauce. Cover the meat with the water and bring to a boil. Place the lid on the saucepan and simmer for at least two hours so that the sauce thickens. Check occasionally to see if more water is necessary. When the meat is almost ready prepare the macaroni. Serve with grated cheese.

Bourdetto (fish).
A tasty Ionian Island dish. The recipe requires salted codfish or white fish but any other kind of fish can be used. (4 Portions)
1000 gr fish, 1 cup (240ml) olive oil, 1 or (even hotter!) 2 teaspoons red pepper, 1 medium onion chopped, 1 whole garlic chopped, 1 ripe tomato, peeled and finely chopped or, 1 coffee cup tomato juice, 1 kilo potatoes, peeled and diced, 1 teacup (60ml) water, some finely chopped parsley.
Discard fish scales, bones, fins and skin if necessary and cut into portions. If you use salted codfish shake off the extra salt and place the fish into a large bowl with cold water. Change at least 2 – 3 times over a 24 hour period. A helpful tip is to place the fish in a colander into the water. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the red pepper. Stir constantly for a few seconds so it does not burn and immediately add the onions and the garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the tomatoes, potatoes and the black pepper then cover in water. Boil for 10 minutes, place the pieces of fish on top and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until the sauce maintains a consistency.

Greek Salad.
3-4 tomatoes, quartered, 1 cucumber sliced, 1 onion, 1 green pepper, 200 gr feta cheese, few olives, 1/2 teacup olive oil, salt to taste, oregano, capers.
Wash the tomatoes and the cucumber, slice the onion and the pepper and put all the ingredients into a salad bowl. Add the olives, the capers, the feta cheese, in chunks and season with oregano and salt. Pour the olive oil over the salad.

This is one of the top dishes recommended to visitors to the Greek island of Corfu (Kerkyra). Serve with rice or potatoes.
3 pounds of round steak, thinly sliced, 5 cloves of garlic chopped, 1 shot glass of vinegar, 1 shot glass of dry white wine, 1 bunch of fresh parsley chopped (leaves and tender stems), 1 stalk of rosemary with leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, olive oil for frying, flour for dredging.
In a frying pan large enough to hold the strips of meat lengthwise, add 1/3 inch of oil and bring it to high heat. Put flour on a large plate, dredge the strips of meat, and brown on both sides. Place in a large pot and set aside. In a clean frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to medium heat. Sauté garlic and parsley. When the garlic starts to change color and the parsley wilts, add the pepper, salt, wine, and vinegar. Stir well and pour over the meat. Add enough water to the pot to barely cover the meat. Holding the handles, shake the pot gently to mix ingredients without stirring. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. At the point where it comes to a boil, add the rosemary and shake the pot gently.

Order a Bianco on the mainland you will get the famous Martini, but on Corfu you get something different. It is a specialty dish of either dry-salted or fresh Mediterranean cod called Bakaliaros. Of course, it is cooked in a white sauce with garlic, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. It is cooked with potatoes which take on the flavour of the fish. The origin of the word is Italian-Venetian.

The meat of the poor. It is cabbage and other greens with fresh tomato, paprika, potatoes and herbs like fennel.

Is a piece of cornmeal dough, fried in olive oil like a pancake with some sugar on top. It is a delicious breakfast with some olives and feta cheese. Kids have it as a sweet and also used to take it to school as a snack.

This was the most popular bread during the first part of the last century. It is made of maize flour and is prepared just like ordinary bread baked in the oven.

Is pasta with different kind of vegetables and herbs, normally very spicy and very filling. It is a good way for a housewife to please the family with very little expense. It is also called manestra kolopimperi.

This is a kind of omelette. The smashed eggs are mixed with tomato sauce, oregano or thyme and optionally green pepper. Recipe available

As the italian name reveals, mandola is almond, which has been caramelised

Below are just a few of the many items you will find on menus in local restaurants and tavernas. (Many of the local dishes are suitable for vegetarians.)

Arni: lamb
Avgolemono: an egg and lemon mixture used as a sauce or a soup base
Baklava: layers of fila pastry, chopped nuts and honey
Dolmades: vine leaves stuffed with rice or meat
Feta: the classic white goat cheese
Garides: prawns
Horiatiki: village salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumber, olives and feta
Kalamaria: squid
Keftaidakia: meatballs
Melitzanosalata: aubergine purée
Mezethes: small savoury appetizers
Moskari: described on menus as ‘veal’ but is in fact beef
Moussaka: layers of aubergine and minced meat, topped with a béchamel
Papoutsakia: aubergine stuffed with mince, tomato sauce and cheese
Pastitsio: layers of macaroni and minced meat, topped with a béchamel sauce
Psari: fish
Saganaki: fried  cheese
Skordalia: garlic sauce
Souvlakia: skewered kebabs
Spanakopita: spinach pie
Taramosalata: fish roe spread
Tiropita: cheese pie
Tsatziki: cucumber yoghurt dip

Greek Wines
All tourists visiting Corfu try the wines available. For a family the price can often be less than a few bottles of beer and minerals. When at a restaurant those tourists not familiar with Greek wines, the choice of make is either difficult or pot luck, then it is either retsina, red, white or rose. The wines at the higher price range may also not suite the palette of those drinking it. My own thought is to point those wishing wine with their meal in the right direction for their first selection, then it is well worth experimenting with the wines available and as you enjoy your holiday compare the taste and cost with the first choice as a base line. You will soon choose one that suits the party. Many restaurants have their own home wine or buy it locally. The quality obviously varies considerably from almost undrinkable to excellent. It is well worth asking if you can try their “dopio kressi” before ordering a carafe or deciding to change to bottled wine. Retsina I think takes time to cultivate the taste and many tourists avoid it, but the pine flavoured wine can be included in your taste of different wines.

Aniseed flavoured aperitif, distilled from crushed grape stems. Mixed with water, it turns milky white and dilutes its strength or, like the locals, drink it straight.

Metaxa – Excellent Greek, top quality brandy with a lightly spiced flavour available in three, five and seven star ratings.

Koum Kuat
Corfu’s speciality. A sweet liquor produced from miniature oranges growing on the island but native of Japan. Add tonic water to ease the sweetness.

Greek coffee (from Turkish origin) is very strong and served with a glass of water. Ask for gliko (sweet), metrio (medium), or sketo (without sugar). If in doubt, ask for Nescafe if you would like an ordinary coffee with milk.
Many known brands served just like home! You can be different and try a herbal tea, again you will find it very refreshing in the heat of the summer.
Ginger beer: This is a famous corfiot drink. It is made with ginger in powdered form, sugar and lemon juice.

Kumquats are slow-growing, evergreen shrubs or small trees with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns. The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers pure white, similar to other citrus flowers. The kumquat (KOYM KOYAT in Greek) has been cultivated in China & Japan for centuries and in Cantonese means ‘little orange’. It was first introduced into Europe in 1846 by horticulturist Robert Fortune, who spent two decades in the far east collecting plants for the Royal Horticultural Society. It was originally classified as a citrus fruit since it is closely related, but it does have botanical differences. Having found its way to Corfu, it soon became firmly established and is mainly grown in the area around Nymfes, just south of Roda.

The fruits are oval in shape and the rind is very thin & sweet and can be eaten. By contrast, the flesh is quite tart and is used to add a sharp edge to salads, cakes and tarts. In addition, kumquats make great stuffing’s and sauces for rich meats like goose, pork or duck and they can be caramelised as an accompaniment. They excel of course, as marmalades, jellies and pickles and, cooked with ginger, they make a wonderful sauce for ice cream. Like all brightly coloured fruits, kumquats are rich in vitamin ‘A’ which is essential for the development of strong teeth & bones. As might be expected, they also contain vitamin ‘C’ and a good amount of potassium and other minerals. Available across the island, kumquat is now a famous Corfiot liqueur. The standard drink is bright orange, the colour being from the rind and it is quite sweet. There is also a colourless distillation of kumquat juice which is far more potent and adventurous. All manner of other drinks, candies and sweets are produced using kumquats.

For those who make their own fruit liqueurs, kumquat is a real treat when steeped in vodka and sugar for a few months, the sliced fruits left over making a very special cheesecake topping – for adults only! Kumquats from China can often be found in supermarkets in other parts of Europe and the liqueurs, candied sweets, jams and whole host of other derivatives can be bought in Corfu.