During the past week I’ve been vacationing on the island of Lefkada, located on the Ionian side of Greece. Lefkada is one of the few islands where a ferry boat is not used to reach it. Mainland Greece can be seen from the east side of the island and the other side faces the west, towards Italy. You can’t see it but you here it with the many radio stations being picked up on the car stereo.
Lefkada is not a large island but it’s not small either. One could probably circle the island in two hours. The entry point to Lefkada passes through the main town (Lefkada) then you’re free to explore this lush green isle with fabulous beaches and the many quality eateries. The side of the island that faces mainland Greece (east) is where most of the hotels are located. There are beaches here, they are clean but I don’t think you’ll be too impressed with them. All the beach action is on the Ionian side of the island – facing Italy.
Each day has been filled with traveling to/from a new beach, a stop at a restaurant or taverna then back to the hotel to rest-up for the next day’s adventure. There are many traditional products from Lefkada such as their salami, sesame snaps, nougat and enough local dishes to fill a cookbook but today I’m going to focus on a gem of a fish and seafood taverna located at the southern end of the island, in a well-protected harbour of Sivota Bay.
This small fishing village is frequented by many boaters/sailors, there’s a campground and many hotels and pensions that can be spotted way up around the bay. Those in the know also come to Sivota Bay for the food and I have to say that I’ve had some of the freshest fish and seafood EVER here at Spiridoula’s Taverna.
Spirdoula’s is owned and operated by Spiridoula (since 1970) who runs the day to day operations alongside her husband Panagiotis, who also helps out around the taverna but more importantly, he’s a fisherman who brings in the day’s fresh catch. One of his boats can be seen docked in front of the taverna and if you’re real lucky, one of the waiters will pull up a lobster trap from the water and show the slipper lobsters they caught that day!
I ate at Spiridoula’s on two occasions and both times the service was prompt, courteous and the prices are affordable, a menu that offers both seafood and traditional Greek dishes that would satisfy most Greeks missing mom’s cooking. If you’re at a fish/seafood taverna, order off the fish and seafood menu…it just seems silly to be ordering lamb by the seaside. Large fish are kept in a fridge in the kitchen and you’re more than welcome to head back and pick your own fresh “catch of the day”. Even before we ordered, a basket of grilled bread doused in olive oil and dried Greek oregano arrives.
The first of the fish dishes was the fried atherina…a very small sea smelt where one gently squeezes out the guts and then you dredge them in seasoned flour and fry them They become crisp like chips and they are eaten whole. I love’em!
Another fave of mine is sardines…sardines of the Mediterranean which are smaller than the Pacific fish that’s served as sardines. I don’t find fresh sardines that often in Toronto so this is another sure order. These sardines were the freshest I’ve ever tasted as they are only scaled and they are grilled with the guts still in them. Simply tear the head off and the guts go with it. Eat the meat off the spine and repeat. Sublime.
Tavera Spiridoula is located in Sivota Bay, Lefkada. Tel. is 26450/31182 and 26450/31989
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