A quest to find restaurants with matriarchs in charge has stops in Sicily, New Orleans and London

Inspired by my Greek granny’s delicious recipes, I set out four years ago with my friend and fellow cook Iska Lupton to write Grand Dishes, a book of recipes and stories collected from grandmothers around the world. 

And we can now reveal some of the best foodie spots that have truly great grandmothers at the helm – keeping alive traditional local recipes that need to be tasted to be believed. 

Rocca delle Tre Contrade, Sicily

Enchanting: Rocca delle Tre Contrade, Sicily, where Nonna Dora runs the kitchen

Enchanting: Rocca delle Tre Contrade, Sicily, where Nonna Dora runs the kitchen

One of Nonna Dora's delicious dishes

One of Nonna Dora’s delicious dishes  

To really appreciate Sicilian food, take the whole family to stay at this enchanting villa in a lemon grove, where you can meet Nonna Dora, who commands the kitchen. Try her aubergine caponata – a sweet-sour Sicilian classic served atop a crisp bruschetta that sings of summer.

Check in: £17,000 for one week for 24 guests (trecontrade.com). 

Enoteca Maria, New York

Take the ferry to Staten Island to this well-loved local which boasts a kitchen manned only by grannies. Maral’s Azerbaijani Three Sisters dish is a standout – oven-baked peppers and aubergines filled with aromatic spiced lamb (enotecamaria.com).

Check in: Ace Hotel, £160 per room per night (acehotel.com).

Cooking With The Duchess, Sicily

Nonna Nicoletta is Italian aristocracy. The Duchess of Palma runs Butera 28, a stunning 18th Century palazzo in Palermo from which she hosts cooking classes that start with a tour of the city’s cacophonous Capo Market. Learn how to make pasta con le sarde – a mighty sardine pasta with sweet bursts of raisins and fennel.

Check in: Self-catering apartments in the palazzo from £60 per night.

Blue Nile, London

Eritrean grandmother Shewa Hagos runs this cafe in Woolwich, South-East London. Eating with your fingers is advised, tearing off airy injera (flatbread) and using it to scoop up lentils, spiced squash and spinach stew (bluenilecafe.co.uk).

Check in: Artist Residence, from £295 per room per night (artistresidence.co.uk).  

To Periptero, Andros

Granny Margarita serves up local Cycladic dishes at her roadside cafe, which has sweeping views of the island’s verdant landscape. Try her gigantic potato fourtalia – a traditional omelette.

Check in: Melisses, rooms from £215 per night (melissesandros.com). 

Yiayia’s, Corfu

Family feast: Anastasia Miari with her inspirational grandmother, Yiayia, in Corfu

Family feast: Anastasia Miari with her inspirational grandmother, Yiayia, in Corfu

My grandmother Yiayia hosts Greek coffee mornings at her house in Perivoli in the rural south of Corfu. Enjoy a morning hike through the olive grove and tour of her village, ending at Yiayia’s for coffee and baklava (instagram.com/greecemistiko).

Check in: Agia Pelagia Villa, from £5,500 for a week for up to 24 guests (myluxurycorfuvillas.com).

New Orleans School of Cooking

Grannies Anne and Harriet are New Orleans through and through – and love a good party. Book into a class now on Zoom from £30 and you’ll come away with more than culinary know-how as they’re qualified tour guides, bursting with energy and charm that will make you fall in love with this magical city (neworleansschoolofcooking.com).

Check in: The Old No 77 Hotel, from £100 per room per night (provenancehotels.com).

Villa Meneghello, Palmizana

Fresh fish is on the menu at Grandma Dagmar's Villa Meneghello. Pictured is a platter of desserts

Fresh fish is on the menu at Grandma Dagmar’s Villa Meneghello. Pictured is a platter of desserts 

Grandma Dagmar founded Villa Meneghello on this remote Croatian island in the 1960s. You’ll be spoilt with the choice of fresh fish here – enjoy a seafood gregada (Croatian stew) in the dappled shade overlooking the Adriatic.

Check in: Villa Meneghello, B&B from £390 a night (villameneghello.com).

Helen’s Bar-B-Q, Tennessee

Grandmother Helen Turner’s smoke shack is as idiosyncratic as they come, down to its corrugated-iron roof. Wolf down a pulled pork sandwich doused in her special sauce (helens-bar-bq.edan.io).

Check in: Central Station Memphis, rooms from £200 (centralstationmemphis.com).

  • Grand Dishes, £25, is available from granddishes.com. Follow Anastasia and Iska on Instagram at @granddishes. 

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