Corfiot cuisine is irresistible because of the combination of Mediterranean cuisine, Venetian scent and a light British touch. The basis of the ingredients used in cooking is the olive oil which is combined with pasta, fish, vegetables and a lot of spices. The spices carefully treasured in velvet pouches were of paramount importance and were given to the grooms as part of the dowry for the daughters of rich families.
The Corfiot cuisine influenced by the long Venetian occupation uses specific ways of cooking, with the most frequent way to be in a saucepan, more than anywhere else in Greece. Moreover, very common way of cooking named “savouro” which is a marinade of vinegar, oil, rosemary, salt, and raisins that is used on vegetables and fishes. Also, the local cuisine has been influenced by the English people as well, despite their coexistence and their involvement with the locals for only a short period of time.
In the northern part of the Corfu, the tastes are much more intense and spicy thanks to the existence of crushed red chili pepper. The crushed red pepper was used in almost every local dish of this area because of its low price since the people of the region lived in extreme poverty circumstances up to a few decades ago.
The most important product of Corfiot cuisine, is undoubtedly the olive oil which is one of the core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. Corfu is covered by huge areas with millions of olive trees, with some of them to count 400 years of life. It is worth mentioning that the 3% of the world’s olive oil comes from Corfiot olive trees and that during the Venetian occupation olive trees were planted massively.
Corfu has a long tradition and is famous for its wines. Historically, the first wine that made the island famous through Odyssey, the ancient Greek epic poem of the Homer, is the wine of the Phaeakeans (the people living in Corfu). Except olive trees that were planted by Venetians, the island has large areas of vineyards. Local varieties of wine are Kakotrygis (quite a few grape varieties in the Ionians have black, red and white variants, and this is one of particular taste), Petrokoritho (a dry red brousko wine), Fraoula (a strong heavy red wine), Moschato (a particularly fragrant white wine) and Martzavi (a dry mellow wine made from dark red grapes with heavy taste, known as black Corfiot wine). There are several small wineries in Corfu, producing wines in limited quantities but of a very high quality. Some of them are Theotoky Estate in the Ropa Valley and Nicolouzos wines.
Kumquat in Chinese means “golden orange” and it resembles indeed to very small oranges. It was introduced to Corfu by the English agronomist Merlin (responsible also for the introduction of the very well-known Merlin oranges variety) and is now the island’s trademark. You will find it preserved as a liqueur, candied, chocolate-coated, and processed into sweets, jam, marmalade and even perfume!
Corfu Beer brewery is a modern microbrewery in Arillas, where you can try delicious fresh beers, made from pure ingredients, free from any chemicals, stabilizers and pasteurization. Corfu Beer brewery has been awarded as the third best microbrewery worldwide for 2013. During your visit to the microbrewery, you can meet the people behind this project idea, who are passionate about real ale, and driven by making beer as it is supposed to be!
Ginger beer (tzitzibira in Corfiot), a soft drink made from lemon juice, ground ginger, water and sugar ripened in the bottle, without preservatives, is another trademark of the island. It was introduced by the British and became very popular to the locals. Ginger beer is very refreshing and said to be very good for the stomach and that it can cure diarrhea and nausea. Ginger may also decrease pain from arthritis and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease.
From the olive tree are created the olive oil soaps which for centuries have been used for general cleaning purposes and for personal hygiene. Pure olive oil soap is considered as the most natural adequate skin cleanser since it unblocks skin pores by effectively removing dirt, oily substances and dead cells. Is manufactured from natural raw materials and the final product does not contain any additives.
Nouboulo: High quality pork fillet, which is salt cured and spiced with black pepper and then filled in intestine smoked on beech wood among a variety of aromatic herbs. Its’ gentle taste confirms the meaning of its name: noble! And it accompanies perfectly a nice glass of wine or beer. Other charcuterie products include Salami Salado (ground smoked pork) and Pancetta (pork belly meat).
Mandolato: A kind of nougat popular throughout the Ionian made with honey, almonds and meringue.
Mandoles: candied almonds
Corfiot Traditional Specialities
Sofrito: slices of veal or beef cooked slowly with garlic and parsley, normally served with mashed potatoes or rice.
Pastitsada: rooster or beef cooked in a rich spicy tomato sauce with long and thick bucatini spaghetti.
Bourdeto: fish cooked in a (hot) spicy sauce.
Bianco: fillet of cod in the pot with potatoes and sauce of garlic, parsley, white pepper and lemon juice.
Tsigareli: sautéed local greens in pot enriched with a lot of paprika.
Other Greek Specialities
Kleftiko: lamb, potatoes and vegetables cooked and served in individual clay pots.
Mousaka: layers of aubergine, courgettes, mincemeat and topped with a béchamel sauce.
Pastitsio: a pasta pie of mincemeat in spicy tomato sauce topped with béchamel sauce.
Stifado: a stew made with beef, rabbit or hare flavored with red wine, garlic, bay leave, small onions and tomatoes.
Dolmades: Vine or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, parsley and sometimes served with egg and lemon sauce.
Gemista: stuffed green peppers and tomatoes, with herbs and rice (and sometimes mincemeat).
Souvlaki: a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It may be served on the skewer with bread, in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, (usually tzatziki) or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes.