Where To Eat In Corfu – An Island Itinerary From Food Writer Anastasia Miari

Cookbook author Anastasia Miari takes us on a food-fuelled tour of her home island, with tips on dishes to try, restaurants to book and tucked-away bars for midnight dancing

A Corfiot by birth, Anastasia Miari spent her childhood running between the island's olive groves and visiting the kitchen of her grandmother to taste-test the matriarch's sugo sauces. "My yiayia cooks all the classic Corfiot dishes," says Miari. "My favourite memories are Sundays in her kitchen as she cooks up a rich pastitsada, the scents of the spices mixing with the twang of the bouzouki on the radio."

With historic influences from Venice, the island's cuisine takes surprising jumps into Italian-style cookery. You're as likely to find sugo on a taverna menu as you are spanakopita.

Anastasia Miari
Corfu, Greece

Despite the ubiquity of Greek salads across the islands (and mainland), Corfu's cuisine differences aren't as uncommon as you may think. Miari - who continues to visit Corfu every summer - was inspired by her grandmother's cookbook, and the variance of the Greek cuisine, to create a record of these unexpected flavours. Yiayia, which is out now, is a nostalgia-filled, ravenous romp through Greek food, told through the recipes of the country's senior citizens. Visiting Balkan villages, Cycladic coastlines and Ionian homes, Miari peered behind the beaded curtains of traditional Greek households to find more black-clad, headscarf-wrapped yiayias, and record their instinctive knowledge of local gastronomy.

Here, the writer shares her love of her home island and its distinctive cuisine, with recommendations on dishes to try and restaurants to visit.

Editor's Note: Wildfires have been, and continue to be, affecting Greece this summer, including the island of Corfu, but the message reverberating loudly around the region from authorities and communities affected is that visitors are still welcome, and needed. This piece is published in that spirit.

Anastasia Miari's food-fuelled guide to Corfu

Food, Corfu, Greece
Corfu, Greece

Why visit Corfu in late summer?

The island is less crowded and the heat cools off, allowing for some great hikes and adventures into the deep green forests and olive groves of the island.

Describe the island

Corfu is different to any other Greek island, owing to its proximity to Italy and the island's complex history. In the past 400 years, it has fallen under Venetian, French and British rule, so its architecture, food and people are a little different to the rest of Greece. It's also lush and green, and dense with wild flowers.

Where should we stay?

I love the old town for the real flavour of Corfu's unique attributes and rich cultural history.

What's the food like?

Corfiot cuisine stands out from the usual moussaka and tzatziki of the Hellenic region. Pasta and spices feature heavily. The conquering Venetians put Corfu on the spice trail, so nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, hot chilli powder, paprika and Cayenne pepper are firm favourites.

Corfu, Greece

Any dishes we can't miss?

Bourdeto ("brodeto" in Italian), a rich, scorpion fish stew; stifado ("stufato"), slow-braised meat with shallots; pastitsada, pasta topped with braised meat in a spicy sauce; octopus; and rabbit or beef cooked in thick sugo and served with pasta.

Somewhere for a lazy, late summer lunch

Fisheye on Marathias beach, in the south of the island. They have an incredible seafood offering. I always go for the taramosalata, which is served with smoked chilli oil - an ingenious touch. Also, the homemade fries, a Greek salad and the butterflied grilled sardines in lemon and olive oil.

The best spot for dinner, al fresco?

The Venetian Well in Corfu town is a firm favourite. The food is Corfiot but with a fine-dining twist.

Somewhere to drink and dance the night away?

Head to Old Buoy (El Venizelou 28, Kerkira) for great cocktails, and then to Polytechno (Scholemvourgou 39, Kerkira) for dancing and good DJs.

Tell us something we don't know about the island

People on the island speak in a sort of sing-song-sounding dialect, which features many Italian words. Often, other Greeks find it difficult to understand when Corfiots speak in full dialect.

Elderly cook, Corfu, Greece
Food, Corfu, Greece

The best beach days are at…

Palaiokastritsa. It has some of the best water on the island and is a great beach to visit at the end of the summer season.

Any favourite shops we should check out?

I love Muses, La Poupée and Koryfo Concept in Corfu town. Muses is great for a curated selection of Greek designers, La Poupée for fun, colourful collections of ready-to-wear, and Koryfo for high-end resort wear.

What local businesses do you love?

Too many! Visit Cake Boutique in Corfu town if you have a sweet tooth. They make the best desserts with a flavour of the island, using native produce.

If you're in search of a farm stay, I would recommend Dr Kavvadia's Organic Farm. You can enjoy farm-to-table cooking and see the olive harvest in action.

A book to bring with us?

Forget the Durrells; it's The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller for me, every time.

The Lowdown

Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece's Grandmothers by Anastasia Miari is published by Hardie Grant Books (£27). It is available to purchase at bookshop.org

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