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Gabriella's Kitchen

Recipes & Tales from a Greek Island

Gabriella Cristiani

80 pages
Nimbus Publishing

When Gabriella first saw the Greek island of Corfu, "it was simply paradise"—except that there were no good restaurants. So she and her sociable Greek husband rented a charming old Venetian villa "effectively hidden from the road, and from clients, by an ancient wall submerged in wisteria" and opened their own. The garden was so full of magnolia, olive, and fruit trees that they only had room for a few tables. Here, Gabriella began a 30-year self-apprenticeship in the art of fine cooking, developing her own special recipes and catering to the rich and famous who increasingly found their way to her door (Julian Huxley, Paul McCartney, and Albert Finney, to name a few). For relaxation, and between customers, Gabriella created patchwork images of her paradisiacal home.

In this bright, practical, and unusual cookbook, Gabriella shares her original recipes: delectable "starters"—often meals in themselves—breads and pizzas, simple and delicious fish and chicken dishes (including one that earned her a kiss from George Peppard), and creative, easy-to-prepare desserts. Sprinkled throughout the book are engaging stories of people and events that coloured and enriched her life.

Gabriella closed her restaurant in 1985 after the death of her husband, and made several prolonged visits to Canada before finally making Halifax, Nova Scotia, her home.

Author Bio
Gabriella Cristiani was born in Varese, Italy in 1929. She moved to Corfu in the 1960s, and with her husband, Stefano Prifti, Cristiani established a restaurant in Kanoni on the outskirts of Corfu town. She named the restaurant for Nausicaa, a character in Homer's Odyssey that is associated with the island. Set in an idyllic Venetian villa submerged in Wisteria and surrounded by magnolia, pepper, olive and fruit trees, Ristorante Nausicaa became popular with the 'jet-set' that frequented the island paradise. Long before the onslaught of modern tourism, Cristiani hosted stars such as Paul MacCartney and Albert Finney. She became friendly with the Durrell family, especially Gerald, well-known author and zoologist. Cristiani closed the restaurant in the late 1980s when Prifti died. She built a villa overlooking the beautiful bay of Agio Gordios, where she was a mixed material artist working with oils and appliqué. Cristiani brings texture and depth to landscapes and vitality to figures in the appliqué ornamental needlework illustrating her cookbook. In the 1990's, Cristiani moved to Canada. Living in Halifax Nova Scotia and London Ontario, she continues to create fantasy scenes, which depict elements of Lombardia, Corfu and Nova Scotia, using a variety of materials.