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Kefalonian Winery & Gastronomy | Traditional Dishes & Recipes

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Kefalonia | Traditional Winery & Gastronomy 

Slip into the traditional Κefalonian kitchens to taste authentic and traditional ‘’retsetes’’ (recipes), dine in style in gourmet restaurants and get to know the contemporary creative style of the authentic Kefalonian cuisine. In the Ionian kitchens, Italian and Greek traditions meet and the result becomes a ritual.

The Kefalonian cuisine was significantly influenced by the Venetians  given that it was under their occupation for a long time. Influences can be found in many local ‘’retsetes’’ (recipes) such as the Venetian pastitsio, which uses more spices as well as in ‘’oven-baked sweets’’. However, there are also many other foreign influences in the traditional recipes due to the ingredients that Cephalonian seamen would bring from their travels throughout the world. Generally speaking though, the local’s food is simple and is based on local products.

The Kefalonian pies are exceptional. It is surely worth trying the Cephalonian kreatopita (meat pie), although the bakaliaropita (cod pie), avrakoti tiropita (pastry-less cheese pie), htapodopita (octopus pie), hortaropita (vegetable pie) made from wild and aromatic edible plants, aginaropita (artichoke pie) and the sweet myzithropita have a distinctive taste.

You should also try the Kefalonian rabbit with garlic sauce, the bourgeto (a fish dish), and of course the famous aliada (garlic dip) intended for the brave palates. Both Kefalonia and Ithaca are renowned for their lamb and goat dishes.

Bourgeto

Ingredients

1kg smelt or white bait or anchovy

2-3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbls tomato paste dissolved in a glass of water

1 garlic head, finely chopped

1 ½ glasses of olive oil

1 tbls oregano

1 bay leaf

Finely chopped parsley

Salt, pepper

Directions

Clean and wash the fish. Leave to drain and add salt. Place fish in a baking dish together with all the other ingredients and mix well. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 180 C.

Riganada

Ingredients

2 slices of stale bread (preferably home-made)

Feta cheese

2 garlic cloves

1 fresh tomato

Olive oil

Oregano

Vinegar

Salt

Directions

Sprinkle some water on the bread to moisten and place on a dish.

Pour olive oil and vinegar, squeeze the tomato on the bread and add a sufficient amount of oregano and salt. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top. Riganada accompanied by two garlic cloves.

Kefalonian Rabbit

Ingredients

1 medium sized rabbit

1 garlic head, finely chopped

2 tbls tomato paste

2 glasses of vinegar

The juice of three lemons

Olive oil

Directions

Wash the rabbit and cut it into pieces and marinate for one day in vinegar and water. The next day, lightly fry the meat until golden. Place the rabbit, garlic, one glass of oil and tomato paste dissolved in a glass of water in a large pot. Allow the stew until water has evaporated and a thick sauce remains. Add lemon and salt. This dish may be accompanied with a side dish of fried potatoes or pasta.

In the preparation of Cephallonian delicacies, the determining role is played by the ageless, pure products of the land. Oregano, sage and thyme inspire the locals to use their imagination and combine these herbs in the creation of tempting dishes.

Amongst the farming products, the local wine varieties that accompany dishes of the local cuisine stand apart the rest.

Robola is the Crown jewel of the local variety, whilst the experts place it amongst the three best white varieties of the Greek vineyard. The grape is golden in colour and has a thin skin; it is cultivated on the island and produces wine of an individual quality. This white wine combines distinctive acidity with a balanced taste and discreet aroma. The cultivation centre of this renowned grape variety is the broader area of Omala; this is also the only place in Greece that has a Name of Origin of Superior Quality zone. The Robola variety grows best on the area’s dry, graveled slopes, at an elevation of up to 800m.

The Muscat is mainly cultivated in the southern section of the Paliki peninsula, where the land is of average fertility, loamy and rich in calcium. This variety of lively acidity can also produce sweet wines. Mavrodaphne is a red variety, resistant to drought. In contrast with other areas, the Mavrodaphne wine-making produces a red wine rich in anthocyanins that can be matured in oak barrels.

Vostilidi constitutes the most popular local wine variety. The vine adapts to different types os soil and is resistant to drought. This variety is of lively acidity, with a must rich in sugars and of average acidity. Lastly, after much effort, the Vostalidi variety has produced superior quality wines. Tsaousi constitutes a popular local wine variety for the locals. The cultivatable areas are continuously on the rise given the increased agricultural yield as well as the ability to mix it with other varieties such as the Robola, in order to produce refreshing wines.

Other than its local wines, Kefalonia is well-known for its feta. This traditional cheese is white in colour, soft or hard in texture and is mainly eaten on its own. Do not hesitate to try it baked in foil, in a traditional Greek salad. This feta variety also produces fresh myzithra, to which the locals usually add sugar or honey, as well as the particularly tasty prentza eaten with warm bread and olive oil. An exceptional cheese product with an intensely pungent taste is the Kefalonian kefalotyri.

Furthermore, the ecologically fish farmed sea bass and gilthead bream produced in special units on Kefalonia are of superior quality.

The exceptional quality of the Kefalonian olive oil is due to the composition of the soil, mild climate as well as the manner in which the crop is collected. The crops are hand-picked from the trees by snaking the branches or with mechanical means and within a very short time are taken the ‘’litrouvio’’ (oil-press).

The Kefalonian thyme honey is an exceptional product and maintains an excellent place amongst honey varieties of other parts of Greece. It has a golden colour and is particularly aromatic. Fir –tree honey is also produced on the island and is of a superior quality.

Kefalonia also prides itself for its delicious traditional sweets and delicacies, such as the almond-based mantoles, barboule, amygdalota, mantolata as well as sesame seed bars, pastokydona, spoon sweets and rasoli liqueur.

Mantoles

The mantola is produced from fresh almonds and a little sugar, which are carefully browned in a copper pot and mixed continuously and patiently! Just before the browning procedure has finished, red colouring from the seaweed is added. This splendid red sweet brings beautiful Cephalonia to mind.

Rasoli

A traditional Kefalonian liqueur made from mandarins, bergamot and other fruit produced on the island. It is served at every household. If given the chance, do not hesitate to try it!

Ithaca''''s Gastronomy

Ithaca’s cuisine is exceptionally simple, however has nothing to envy from the larger Ionian Islands. An authentic descendant of a great heptanese gastronomic tradition it has preserved the tastes and exquisite products of the traditional and peculiar recipes.

The Ithacan cuisine has been influenced by the Venetians, who remained on the island for many years. The Venetian influences can be found in recipes such as fish boyrgeto, sofigado and poulenta. However, there are other local diches claiming to have an authentic and traditional identity. Using local products, the women on the island create ‘’masterpieces’’ such as omelette with sea-urchins, tzieria with eggs in the fry-pan, spaghetti with tomato-stewed beef flavoured with cloves and cinnamon, fish (sovaro) marinated in garlic, rosemary and raisins.

Meat in a ‘’tserepa’’ (a clay cooking vessel with a lid), placed under lit coals, is also considered to be a local delicacy. The meat is cooked slowly for many hours and the result is scrumptious.

Amongst the sweets is Rovani, the wedding sweet, made of coarsely ground rice, honey and oil (necessary for the marriage to bond and for the couple to live a tranquil-calm and a sweet life together). In addition, the Ithacan amygdaloto, truffle and the traditional spoon sweets (grape, fig, bergamot, quince jam, etc).

Fish Savaro

Ingredients

1 ½ kilo white bait or red mullet

1 glass oil

1 glass vinegar

1 garlic head

1 rosemary bunch

2-3 bay leaves

1-2 cups raisins

Directions

Clean and wash the fish and salt them while in a colander. Fly the fish as per normal and place the cooked fish in a ceramic or pyrex dish. Pour some water in the fry-pan and add the finely-chopped garlic and rosemary after cleaning them from their oil. Allow the ingredients to simmer until the garlic has softened. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and allow further simmering. The sauce is poured over the fish until covered. Allow to cool.

The island of Ithaca produces superior quality local products, which constitute significant ingredients of the local’s nutrition.

The oil and wine are the island’s main products. Reference to the production of oil and wine is even made in the Homeric epics. Oil and raisins were the main exportable products, however, the cultivation of the vineyard and the manufacture of the wine are to this dry the two main activities in the agricultural sector.

Nowadays, the wine accompanies the resident’s everyday lives and entices the visitors to try it. In recent years there has been a turn towards organic farming in an effort to produce quality products respecting human health and the environment.

Animal farming and cheese-making has also been developed, whilst honey of exceptional quality is produced from the island’s rich flora.

 
 
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