Eating Out in Kefalonia
One of the great pleasures of any holiday to Kefalonia is dining out and watching the locals enjoy their food. Sharing a meal is a great social event in Kefalonia (and Greece) and meals are always a joint effort. No one really orders individual dishes; rather they will sit down together and order an array of communal dishes that will fill every corner of the table. The holiday resorts will offer you all of the usual English dishes but try to avoid these. Greek food is healthy and delicious and there are hundreds of great restaurants and tavernas all over the island that are good value and well worth taking the time to discover. The following is a brief guide to the types of thing you will discover when eating out in Kefalonia:
Breakfast – Most Greeks aren’t really into breakfast so if you’re after a fry up you’re stuck with the resorts. A more local diet involves the Greek way of nibbling on smaller dishes and snacks with your morning coffee. This could be anything from savory snacks (such as pies or pretzels) to sweet pastries to local bread. Go to the bakery for bread and try the nine-grain whole-meal breads that are a specialty of the region. Other things to look out for in terms of snack food are pitta filled with various fillings. Pitta that are worth trying include Tiropitta (cheese), Kreatopitta (minced meat), or Spanakopitta (spinach and egg or cheese). A sweet pitta that is delicious is the Milopitta, filled with apple.
Lunch – Lunch is the main meal of the day and is later than in northern Europe. Typically it is served between 2 and 3pm and it is essentially the meal that the local chef will put the most effort into, making a full range of hot dishes. (Normally the evening meals will be a selection of dishes that are left over from lunch plus a selection of grilled food you can get cooked on order.) Meals are made up of main dishes and dishes known as Mezedes. Mezedes are a variety of smaller dishes such as saganaki (fried cheese), humus, melitzano salata (aubergine dip), taramasalata (fish, potato, vinegar and oil) and tzatziki (yoghurt, garlic and cucumber), yigandes (white haricot beans in sauce or vinaigrette) and kopanisti (a spicy cheese dip). When it comes to main dishes it’s mostly meat on offer. Popular Greek mains include moussaka (mince with potato, aubergines and cheese sauce), keftedes (meat balls), biftekia (burgers made with fresh mince), chicken cooked on the spit as well as a variety of grills such as pork, veal and souvlaki. Dishes unique to Kefalonia include the Kefalonian meat pie that is a big farmhouse pie (try the Captain’s Table in Argostoli for a good example), the local cheese pie, Kouneli (rabbit) and veal with garlic and herbs cooked in wine.
If the beautiful waters of the sea get you in the mood for fish then you need to head to a psaria tavern (a fish tavern) which specializes in cooking fish. Because fish is becoming more and more expensive they price it on the menu by kilogram but you can order as little or as much as you want. Fish dishes on offer include garides (shrimps), barbounia (red mullet) and astakos (lobster). You can also get good kalamari on Kefalonia and it is quite cheap.
For desert there are few options and normally you will be offered a selection of fruit if you are still hungry.
Evening Meal – As mentioned above, the main meal of the day is lunch and most of the food for that day will be cooked by local chefs at lunchtime. In the evening Greeks will tend to have lighter, colder food and the usual selection of Mezedes accompanied by some of the grilled mains cooked to order. Dinner is served a lot later than in most northern European countries and it is best enjoyed in summer sat outside under the stars with a cool breeze.
Vegetarian Food in Kefalonia
Greece is not the best place for vegetarians as there is a lot of meat on the menu. But thankfully it is possible to eat well by being selective with the Mezedes menu. Great veggie dishes include the wild greens (Horta), fried cheese (Saga-naki), giant butter beans (Yigantes), fried courgettes (Kolo-ki-thakia), aubergine salad (Melit-zana-salata) and fried aubergine (Melit-zana), to name but a few. The tavern owners are all very helpful and having welcomed tourists for many years most will understand the concept of vegetarianism. Just get to know the phrase ‘horas kreas’ which means no meat and refer to yourself as a ‘horto fagos’ – literally a ‘vegetable eater.’