Local Cuisine

Kefalonian Cuisine

Watching the Kefalonians eat is a pleasure in itself. Seldom do they order individually, instead they order a vast number of communal dishes which fill the table to overflowing. They are far less concerned about cold food and many dishes that arrive hot are cold before they are eaten.
Tavernas are obliged to have a menu but many still do not. Instead diners will be shown a glass show case exhibiting the range of dishes available or, as is still very common in the villages, they will be led in to the kitchen to see exactly what is cooking. If difficulties are experienced in the final choice then spoons may appear for a tasting session. It is unusual to find the table laid, apart from the oil and vinegar flasks, paper napkins and the inevitable toothpicks, but the cutlery arrives with bread after an order is placed.
There is quite a strong Italian influence found in some of the local cuisine where heavy tomato sauces prevail. Specialities of the island include the Sofrito which is veal cooked in wine with herbs, garlic and vinegar and served with a thick sauce, Kefalonian meat pie which has a tasty filling of meat and rice and the rich tasty rabbit stifado is a favourite in most tavernas.
Kefalonian cuisine is neither spicy nor bland, but rich in the flavours of the Mediterranean. Specialties consist of local ingredients found on the island, especially olives, lemons, vegetables, tomatoes and fish. Many dishes hark back to the days when cooks put all the ingredients in a single pot and left it to simmer all day.


Lamb is a principal meat in Kefalonian cooking. It can be found in dishes such as the classic Moussaka, or, cut into pieces, marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, it is grilled on skewers. Fresh oregano is commonly used with skewered lamb. Rosemary is traditional with leg of lamb, which is served with avgolemono sauce made with eggs and lemon. Other common Kefalonian herbs are basil, parsley, mint, and dill which all good house wives have growing in small pots outside their kitchen. Garlic and onions are, of course, an integral part of Kefalonian seasoning. Pork, beef, and game are marinated, grilled, and baked. Chicken is usually grilled or roasted.
Fish are traditionally cooked whole, with the head and tail still attached. They are often seasoned with herbs, and marinated in olive oil and lemon juice. Fish are grilled over hot fires, or baked. Shrimp, octopus, and squid are also popular as well as being cheaper options.
Cheese is an important part of Kefalonian cuisine. Feta cheese, made from goat's milk, is white, crumbly, and very pungent. It is used in salads, meat dishes, spread on bread, or even wrapped in grape leaves and grilled. Kefalotiri is another popular variety that is harder; it is grated and used like Parmesan.
Pasta is a favourite food in Corfu, particularly orzo, which has a distinct rice-grain shape. Thin pastry sheets, called filo, are used for appetizers like cheese or spinach pies and desserts such as the distinctive nut and pastry-layered baklava oozing with honey syrup.
Drinks are not all ouzo and retsina although these are popular with locals and tourists alike. Ouzo is a clear spirit made from vine stalks and flavoured with aniseed. Diluted with water it goes a milky colour. Sip with a plate of olives or a small meze. Retsina is white wine flavoured with pine resin. Serve very chilled and if you find the resin flavour a little strong a drop of soda water turns it into a very refreshing spritzer. Greek wine has improved immeasurably in recent years and very palatable wines are now readily available. Most beer in Greece is of the lager style and is served very cold.
Click here for a selection Kefalonian recipes.
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.)

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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

Gouvetsi:the Greek word for casserole, or baked in the oven

Garides: prawns

Horiatiki:village salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumber, olives and feta

Kalamaria:squid

Keftedakia: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 béchamel

Psari:fish

Rigani:oregano, an indispensable herb used in countless dishes

Saganaki:fried Kasseri cheese

Skordalia:garlic sauce

Souvlakia:skewered kebabs

Spanakopita:spinach pie

Taramosalata:fish roe spread

Tiropita:cheese pie

Tsatziki:garlicky cucumber yoghurt dip

 

   

Skala GR-28086 Kefalonia (Chephalonia) / Hellas
Tel.: +30 2671083627 Fax: +30 2671083626

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