This summer we enjoyed a family reunion in the sun of Corfu, the Greek Island in the Ionian Sea that we have been visiting since we were babies and which my parents fell in love with in the early 70s. My parents, my brother, sister and our families all shared a large villa for two weeks of precious time. We are a family of food lovers, with my dad trained as a hotelier and my brother a head chef. Aside from photography and parenting my other passion is food, and so we were keen to explore not just favourite restaurants but also what we could do with the local produce and the villa’s barbecue and pizza oven.
On the day we cooked the major feast, we were up early to head to Corfu Town for the markets. We beat P+O Cruises Oriana, here passing the narrowest point between the island and Albania.
The fish and vegetable market is near the New Fort of Corfu Town, a bustling alley of produce mainly of local and unsupermarketly shaped vegetables and fish so fresh rigor hadn’t subsided. Felt good to put cash in the hands of those who caught and sold fish or farmed vegetables.
We picked swordfish, squid and a large whole rock bass. We were able to have them kept cold until we came back.
Produce wise there were local courgettes, beans an aubergines of different types, melons, citrus fruits and herbs. And many many peppers and chillis.
A visit to the butcher for lamb chops and village sausage made from pork and pork offal and we were ready to return, via the spice shop for bourdeto spice mix, rigani and tea.
Returning to the villa, we set about prep, led by the Head Chef…and his apprentice…
Local garides prawns were marinaded and skewered
Village sausage was part cooked and skewered with squid, and pineapple (to tenderise)
The big bass was prepped,stuffed, scored and wrapped
Before baking in the pizza oven…
Several kinds of aubergines went straight onto the flames and coals to char for making smoked Aubergine dip, the best version yet of this Ottolenghi recipe. They taste almost of fresh tobacco when charred well. Mixed with yoghurt, garlic, parsley and lemon they sing.
As the barbecue sizzles, some of the oranges from the market are boiled in syrup for an almond and orange cake which uses the whole orange blended, and fat peaches are halved and dressed with cinnamon and alcohol for the pizza oven.
The table is set and the salads are out when the fish arrives
We also enjoyed the remainder of the courgette, cheese and salted cod pie our friend brought us the day before
The bass is unwrapped and brought to the table…the peaches take its place in the pizza oven
After a break the cake and peaches come out served with frozen yoghurt bites and caramelised nuts. We cannot move.
So we watch the sun set…and think about the journey home the following day
Ah but two weeks on…and our local fishmonger comes up with the goods and those Bourdeto spices from the spice shop take us right back to the taste of Greece