The late afternoon light gently caresses the once grand terraces that curl above Corfu Old Town. Lunch hour is long over and there is not a soul to be seen. The air is hot and still. The buildings shuttered against the sun. There is no sound save for the odd chirrup of a dusty sparrow and, far in the distance, the pleasant domestic chatter of women working away in their cool dark kitchens. A child’s laughter. Sun-beached doors their window panes covered with embroidered white cotton reveal nothing of what lies behind them. Maria Callas gazes down beguilingly, her body shrouded by the shadow of a towel and a pair of garish trunks still dripping with sea water. They belong to a collector of natural sponges. We walk down to his place of work, a turquoise sea set against the distant mountains of Albania. We wonder at the glittering beauty of it all – could he be one of the luckiest men alive – before turning into the shaded courtyard of a favourite backstreet taverna for a glass of chilled retsina, some freshly baked pitta and a plate of htipiti, a wondrous combination of roasted red peppers, feta, chilli and Kalamata olive oil. One of my favourite dishes in the world.
Serves 4 as a side dish
250g red peppers (I roast them but the Greek jarred ones are also fine, I like Karyatis)
1 red chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped
250g good quality feta, mashed with a fork
3 tbsp Kalamata extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Fresh dill, finely chopped
How I make it
Heat an oven to 100C.
Place the peppers on a baking tray and leave them to gently roast for one hour. Remove from the oven and place the them in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set aside to cool. Then remove the skins and roughly chop them. Place in a food processor with the chilli and blitz into a rough paste.
Turn out into a large bowl and add the feta, olive oil and plenty of pepper.
Stir to combine, garnish with the dill and chill before serving with warm flatbread or pitta.