Foodies will be smitten with the emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and lovingly prepared dishes. This is an island saturated in rustic, traditional character, yet packed with enough stylish bars, restaurants and attractions to make it a thoroughly cosmopolitan holiday destination.
Feta salads and souvlaki abound on Corfu, as do ‘English breakfasts’. Needless to say, true Corfiot cuisine is much more enticing. Because of the islands varied history, Mediterranean and Venetian influences can be found not only in the type of dishes, but also in the names of the local dishes: sofrito (veal slow-cooked in wine, parsley and chopped garlic) and bourdeto (warming tomato and scorpion fish stew). Much is made of the island’s homegrown produce, especially kumquats and olives.
As one would expect from an archipelago, fresh fish and seafood are plentiful. Fishermen supply tavernas directly, often docking right outside and handing over the catch to the chef. In the interior of the islands, fish is less common but not missed, thanks to the abundance of lamb, cheese, and a host of locally grown vegetables that will make your mouth water.
Corfian dining establishments vary enormously and most islanders consider the best places to be those where the food is plentiful and well cooked, not necessarily where the setting or the cuisine is the fanciest. It is not uncommon, therefore, to find some of the best food in the most unexpected, off-the-beaten-track places. Family-run tavernas are your best bet for getting authentic local specialities, whether it’s plates of meze, hearty game stews or spinach pies.
The combination of traditional cooking and outside influences has produced a vast range of restaurant types for you to enjoy on our beautiful island.
At one point in For Your Eyes Only, renowned wine expert James Bond asks for a glass of Theotoki Aspro, a white wine made by one of Corfu’s most prestigious producers. If that’s not a good enough recommendation to try some local vintages, we don’t know what is, particularly because Corfu has been famous for its wine since the times of Homer and the Odyssey.
Still today the most common grapes grown on Corfu are Robola, a native of Italy’s Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region, where it is known as Ribolla. Other grape varieties to look out for and try include Muscat and Kakotryghis. Make sure to try the wines labelled with PGI Kerkyra (Corfu Regional Wine) and PGI Halikouna (PGI = Protecting Geographical Indication).
After many years of decline and under-investment, Ionian Island wines are once again starting to fulfil their potential. New methods are being employed, including the production of organic and natural wines, and oenologists are working hard to unlock the significant qualities of indigenous grape varieties.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something to drink before or after a meal, why not try one of the following:
* Soumatha – a white, almond-based drink that should be stored in the fridge;
* Metaxa 3, 5 & 7 stars – the famous Greek brandy is wonderful after a meal;
* Ouzo – made from grape skins, stems and pips with the taste of aniseed.
This can be drunk neat or with anything else you choose to mix it with. Rumour has it that if you were tipsy on ouzo the night before and drink a glass of water the next day the process starts all over again!
* Retsina – wine matured in pine barrels allowing the resin to seep into the wine that gives it its particular flavour. A great accompaniment to a light lunch.
When raising a glass, make sure you do as multilingual James Bond no doubt did, and offer a good hearty Yamas! to your companions!