CYPRUS GOURMET MAGAZINE
THE RESETTLED CHEF
CONTACT: Tel. 22678666 / Fax. 22678664 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WANDERING CHEF
Founder/Editor: Patrick Skinner Publisher: Masis der Parthogh Contributors: Serena Smith, Mateo Jarrin Cuvi, George Kassianos, Matthew Stowell, Nichole Dake, Elena SavvidesDoughman, Robert Skinner, Avo Koushian Layout and Design: Avo Koushian Printers: Cassoulides Masterprinters, Nicosia. Distribution: Hellenic Distribution Co. ISSN: 1986-258X (Print Edition) ISSN: 1986-4132 (Online Edition)
Patrick Skinner is inspired by Vassos Michaelâ€™s local recipes at the Londa
Matthew Stowell tracks down talented Constantinos Pitsillides in Philadelphia
Mateo Cuvi visits Archontiko Papadopoulou and talks to Greek Cypriot celebrity TV cook Tonia Buxton
28-31 4 cyprusgourmet.com
- Cyprus Wines Come of Age - The Award-winning Wines - Michel Picard: Lover of Cyprus Wines - Matching Food with Wines and Recipes
2011 WINE AWARDS SPECIAL
Patrick Skinner goes out of his way to find the Platres Pioneers
Food, wine, service, tradition and hospitality at its best in Lebanon
Our Nicosia Nose takes a Tapas or Two at Vino Cultura
As I write, there are hints in the breeze and the temperature gauge that then weather is getting a slight end-of-summer feeling. It’s been a customarily hot season, with good news and bad for all. Tourist levels and income have been better than expected, giving hope for those in the business. Although it is somewhat patchy, Cyprus still has a prosperous feel to it and, hopefully, can still come through the recession without disaster. The private sector hasn’t been helped by official incompetence in economic management, as well as the tragic, preventable explosion which demolished EAC’s largest electricity generating plant. In common with other small businesses, ours has been hampered, hindered and delayed by the aftermath.
But, we’ve made it! So… Welcome to this issue of Cyprus Gourmet Magazine, packed full of good things to read and look at. Our biggest issue yet, and coming with our assurance that from now on we are going to publish on a regular basis. We have assembled the best editorial team ever for this issue – and it is in place for the future, to take the whole Cyprus Gourmet operation onwards and upwards. In this issue we salute two Cypriot chefs blazing new trails for our national cuisine. Matthew Stowell, whose writing graced these pages in 2009, has just lately returned to Cyprus after a two year sojourn in the U.S.A. There he found an amazing Cypriot chef-proprietor in Philadelphia and reports on his work. Closer to home, I profile the innovative Cypriot cooking of the Londa Hotel’s Vassos Michael. We look at the food and wine of neighbouring Lebanon with Elena Savvides-Doghman, and as the summer holidays beckon, what better to feature three icons of Platres – Augostos Soteriou at Phini Taverna, Chris Lambouris at the eponymous winery and the scion of hoteliers Hercules Skyrianides at the Forest Park Hotel. The intrepid Serena Smith contributes a status report on local meat production – she also dines, well, at the Higher Hotel Catering Institute in Nicosia, whilst our Nicosia Nose, Mateo Jarrin Cuvi has been on the Tapas Trail in the big city and tasting super preserves in Kato Drys. George Kassianos reflects on the 2011 Cyprus Gourmet Magazine Top 50 Wine Awards, answering the oft-asked question: “Why 14 Golds this year and none last year?” And he joins me in picking some great summer wines and matching them to lunch and dinner menus. When you read about our wine awards, you will see the part you, the wine buyers and consumers, played in selecting the winners. Public votes started the ball rolling, forming the basis of the whole project. We did it this way because Cyprus Gourmet is here to serve the consumer – to find and promote the best quality in the food, wine and related services available, and to press for good value in all these things. What you think; what you like and don’t like; the places you choose to eat and buy your food and wine; to have your thoughts about these and other matters are what is vital to us. We are aware that you are out there – so keep in touch! After four years’ work creating the Cyprus Gourmet and editing its weekly columns, magazine and website, I have put myself out to grass (literally, in Suffolk rural farming country, in the East of England) and am handing over the editor’s chair to Matthew Stowell. He is a marvelous writer, food, wine and people lover and I know you are in good hands. I am asked, though, to contribute from time to time, which I shall happily do. Enjoy this Cyprus Gourmet Magazine! With all good wishes
PRESERVING MORE THAN TRADITION by Mateo Jarrin Cuvi Elli Paraskeva’s romance with cooking started at an early age. Her parents loved spending time in the kitchen and encouraged their daughters to chip in as precocious sous-chefs by stirring cake batters and cracking eggs. At playschool, Elli put these skills to good use during cooking class, vividly remembering the sweet smell of baked goodies permeating throughout the classroom. When she turned eleven, she received her first cookbook as a gift from her parents and prepared a threecourse feast starring stuffed tomatoes as appetizer. Her mother taught her how to make preserves, while her foodie father served as critic to her culinary experiments. Elli fondly recalls ap p r o a c h i n g her father with a spoon full to the brim and offering him a taste of her latest creation. “Dad’s eyes smiled,” she reminisced, “and if they lit up, I knew it was good.” After her father passed away a few years ago, Elli found herself in need of a steady income and a semblance of a career. Since cooking came so naturally to her, she took out a loan to open JAR, a shop dedicated to making gourmet and 100% natural preserves. Housed in a beautiful corner store in Kato Drys, JAR consists of a modern kitchen, a small yet tastefully decorated salesroom, and a narrow veranda 6 cyprusgourmet.com
Elli Paraskeva sitting in Jar’s quaint salesroom. Most people know about Jar via word-of-mouth.
that looks out into the main street of the village and serves as center stage for her scrumptious brunches. Elli is a stickler for detail and this shows in her handmade products. She spends hours visiting nearby markets to handpick her ingredients, always opting for the best quality rather than the spoiling produce commonly used for jams. All fruits and vegetables are hand-cut—her mother assists with the onion chopping—and any spice needed, including those for her homespun curry, is ground onsite. The only artificial thickener present is the stove’s heat, and all labels and jar covers are trimmed and handwritten by Elli herself. Her vibrant imagination and artistic
skills shine through her sweet and savory combinations. One creation leads to another in an ongoing process of thinking outside the jar. Elli, however, remains firm in her belief in simplicity, preferring to combine two or three ingredients that perfectly complement one another. She has been able to create recipes with her products that are certain to make one salivate like a hungry puppy—the strawberry, blackcurrant and pure vanilla jam blended with strained yoghurt for breakfast or as a luscious dessert; the curried tomato chutney mixed with fresh anari cheese and chopped cilantro as a party dip; her hot sweet corn with pepper relish tossed with tuna and dill served with cream cheese on toast. Her jams
match cheeses, foie gras, roasted poultry and fatty fishes such as salmon, and can also stuff basic muffins. Elli loves to entertain people at her store, encouraging visitors to try as many of her products as possible. After spending a couple hours with her, I needed a couch to crash just to allow my blood sugar levels to normalise. She’s so in love with her “babies” that she wants people to find one that they will adore and take home. For now, she plans on chugging along, loving what she does without compromising on quality or the arduous yet utterly rewarding process.
A COFFEE HOUSE FIT FOR A QUEEN
When Serena Smith let off steam about unsatisfactory coffee shops recently on the Gourmet page in an issue of Financial Mirror, a reader wrote back: Has she ever been to Ibsen in Limassol? She may find that it ticks all her boxes. Here is her reportâ€Ś Coffee from the hands of a barista looks and tastes different. Two cappuccinos were ready on the counter of this tiny back-street cafĂŠ as I walked in, and they commanded my instant admiration. A good smell was coming from the kitchen, and a scattering of settees with polka-dot cushions among the seven-odd tables looked comfortable and inviting. A barista (coffeehouse bartender), explains Bente Michlis, the owner of Ibsen coffee house, must have enough knowledge of the whole process of making coffee to prepare the perfect cup. That demands more expertise than it seems and sounds. She trained in her native Norway and was taught by the barista world champion. Not easy, she recalls, as the techniques of making good coffee are very specific. But with the name of the famous Norwegian 8 cyprusgourmet.com
playwright of A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler attached to her establishment (because she opened shop in the centenary year of Hendrik Ibsen’s death, 2006), she has to live up to standards. The café started out as a place to have breakfast, coffee and cake, but has since grown to provide lunches and special theme evenings, host monthly book club meetings and can be rented as a party venue. It even has a therapy room up a winding wrought-iron staircase, where massages and other therapies (than coffee and gossip) are provided by a colleague of Bente’s. In fact, if this shop had been called Coffee, Books and Sympathy, it would not have been incorrect at all. There is an in-built warmth to it, and Bente admits that she wanted to create a home from home for her clientele. The daily lunch menu always comprises a soup (as a starter at €4.50 or a main meal at €6.50), a main of either fish or meat or chicken (€8.75), two different quiches served with salad (€6.75), one of which is invariably vegetarian, a choice of two Kyperounta wines, white or red, by the glass (€3.50), or a really outstanding homemade lemonade (€2.50). I sampled a lightly curried chicken soup with lentils and rice in it, a chilli beef stew, and one of the quiches, all of which were delicious, as was the carrot cake (€3.95). The bread is imported frozen from Germany and baked on the premises in the morning. Sandwiches vary between €3.60 and €6.50 and there are several varieties of salad for €8.50. A filter coffee will set you back €2.80, an espresso €2.50 and the perfect cappuccino €3.20. Ibsen, 16 Chrysanthou Mylonas, Limassol, tel 25340714. Open Monday to Friday 8 – 17.30, Saturday 9 – 15.00, closed on Sunday
Haute Cuisine @ Cost By Serena Smith
Next year, students from the Higher Hotel Institute in Nicosia will be called on to cater for EU banquets and functions, as Cyprus is the rotating chairman of the EU in 2012. Are they up to it? Can they do it? Serena Smith went to taste for herself, and discovered what she calls ‘haute cuisine at cost’.
towel against his shoulder (while waiting for the spinach). He saw V (at the sinks) turn round and stare at him. The boy’s look was one of terror.” Something of this kind of panic was what I expected when booking at the training restaurant of the finishing school for the restaurant and hotel industry in Nicosia. Instead, I found calm order,
I think of a restaurant kitchen as a battlefield. Something along the lines of what Rose Tremain describes with lurid detail in The Road Home, when the penniless Lev becomes the ‘veg prep’ in a fancy London restaurant. The description gave me cold shivers: “Labouring his way through the skinning and seeding of tomatoes for a coulis, he was aware that P needed spinach, and GK, who was moulding courgette cakes, shouted to him that he’d run out of mint leaves. Lev left the tomatoes sliding in a bloody mass to the far edges of the chopping area, tore a bundle of mint from the chiller, rinsed it and began picking off the leaves and hurling them into a colander. He waltzed the mint round to GK, waltzed back, piled up the clean spinach, pressing it down, piling on more. P was standing and watching him, furious at his enforced idleness, flicking a tea-
Too many cooks don’t always spoil the broth – if they work as like one man, a sense of order reigns in the
attentive service, and unassuming but confident enthusiasm on the part of the talented young chefs and waiters who served up an impressive meal at an unbelievably low price. Every Wednesday and Thursday for five weeks in March and April, a team from the third-year Culinary Arts class laid on ethnic gastronomy for the public, ranging from Mexican to French, Chinese and Italian food. The option I investigated was labeled ‘Healthy Cuisine’. Baked chicken scaloppini with a devilish touch of chilli was the main course, after a guacamole appetizer and beetroot soup, with a sorbet midway to clean the palate. The bill for a sterling five-course meal came to a staggering €8!
A waiter-in-training serves the Director of the Higher Hotel Institute, Dr Evi Soteriou, in the training restaurant.
From November, a fresh intake of Culinary Arts students will run a similar series open to the public at their training restaurant, while first-years from the Hotel and Catering Operations programme practise their waitering skills. You will not find this quality of food and service at the price the Higher Hotel Institute Cyprus students produce it, anywhere on the island. I can heartily recommend it.
For more information about past and future Higher Hotel Institute Cyprus public lunches and about their courses, visit the website www.hhic.ac.cy and for bookings, dial 22404800/818. A reservation is recommended. Lunch is served between 13.30 and 15.00. The Institute is situated in Aglantzias Avenue, Nicosia.
Haute Cuisine @ Cost
The aim of the Higher Hotel Institute Cyprus is to deliver educated tourism professionals. It is a tertiary institute whose students are immediately employable after finishing their studies, thanks to wide exposure to the hospitality industry and placement of several months in industry, but their students can proceed to a Bachelors and Masters degree if they so wish, because the courses are accredited. There are two study streams, the one delivering trained chefs through a three-year programme, and the other trained managers in the hospitality and catering industry after two study years. The student intake is about 160 per year. The Institute came into existence almost half a century ago. A prospectus outlining all available courses can be ordered by contacting the Institute on 22404800
THE AMERICAN CONNECTION
“Head for the USA!” has been the maxim of many a young Cypriot man or woman wanting career experience and a challenge in the food and wine business. There’s no bigger, more exciting – or tough – place in the world. Whether short term or longer, if you make it there, you can make it anywhere. We focus on two Cypriot chefs who went to the States to see what it was all about. Limassol born Constantinos Pitsillides crossed the Atlantic, stayed and settled, and now runs a highly acclaimed and much awarded Cypriot restaurant in Philadelphia, where Matthew Stowell caught up with him and wrote a profile. Famagustan Vlasidis Michael trained here and then went to the USA where he worked for several years. He came back and is now a pillar of the cuisine at the Londa, where Patrick Skinner chatted with him. In recognition of their work to develop and popularise Cyprus kitchen, here and abroad, we have given both our first SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS.
The Permanently Re-settled Chef by Patrick Skinner
Vlasidis (“Vassos”) Michael has been a chef at the Londa since 1982. You might think that he would be set in his ways, but this is far from the case. As assistant chef one of his responsibilities is to enhance the Cypriot side of the international menus of this niche boutique hotel and he is doing this with style. “With a young and successful clientele like ours”, Vassos told me at the start of the interview, “You couldn’t serve up the traditional Cyprus menu, even if you wanted to. Attitudes to food in Cyprus have changed a lot in the past few years, and a chef has to change with them, no matter how long he’s been cooking or how old he is – indeed he should lead the way”. I’ve known the Londa for many years and watched its transformation from a comfortable all-suite small hotel for essentially middle-brow guests to something much trendier and in keeping with today’s needs. So, my meeting with Vassos was by no means our first. This time we got together because Cyprus Gourmet Mag-
azine was holding a celebratory dinner after the 2011 Top Fifty Cyprus Wines Awards presentation on May 13th. and our brief was a threecourse menu in which ALL the ingredients for the food and all the wines w e r e Cypriot.
ent A ward
s Mi chae l
Hote For l, Lim imag his inno asso inativ vativ e to co l e mple modern creation men o t Aw Cyprus d f high q ard W ua is innin hes and lity, m g Cy prus enus, Wine s
Patr ic Cypru k Skinn er, s Go urm Founde et M agaz r ine June 2011
Like any good chef, Vassos didn’t over-elaborate any part of the meal, which was uncomplicated and original. The diners enjoyed and applauded when guest of honour Michel Picard brought on Vassos to take a bow for his cooking. This rose to a cheer when Michel stated that the red served with the main course reminded him of a good Chateauneuf du Pape. Our thoughts on food and wine are on the following pages. Vassos, a family man with three daughters (38, 23 and 18) travelled quite a bit before re-settling in Cyprus. He started his training pre-1974 at the Constandia Hotel, Famagusta and early work experience included hotels in Larnaca and Forest Park Platres. And then, desirous of seeing what was out there, he moved to the wide open spaces of America. “I spent several years in California. I liked it there, but not to live permanently. I had some good times and some amusing ones… I remember once, I was driving to Las Vagas from Los Angeles, which is around 435 kms (20o miles) and quite a lot of it is across the Mojave desert. We stopped for lunch at a roadside diner and there was a guy running it from Cyprus. It was our food! Imagine a Cypriot Taverna in the AMerican desert!” After his travels and working experience he returned to Cyprus for good. Londa regulars are happy with the arrangement.
First Course The Chef ’s Mediterranean Salad. This comprised red mullet, water cress, radishes, spring onions and cherry tomatoes served with oven-dried Hiromeri and Halloumi balls. Its wine match was 2010 Zambartas Xynisteri Food: fillets of baby mullet, juicy and flavoursome on a sensibly sized bed of greenery. The added touch of oven-dried hiromeri and Halloumi cheese balls was a brilliant idea (More was what I wanted of the cheese balls – recipe for these please, chef! ) Wine: elegance in a bottle. Gentle fruit, beautifully balanced with acidity and perfect for drinking now. It elicited a lot of contented “Mmmmmms”from the assembled company.
Main Course Whole Roasted Pork Fillet served with lemon and Kolokassi, sautéed local sorrel and Commandaria sauce. Wine Match: Ezousa Winery 2007 “Metharme” Maratheftiko Food: ‘All this is local?’ a diner asked. Yes, and it shows what we can do with our cuisine – the sorrel was super, complementing the properly cooked juicy tender pork perfectly. Kolokassi was, great, we could have had more! Sauce: yummy. Wine: a revelation; layered, complex, elegant with enough fruit to satisfy and a wonderful match for chef Michael’s creation.
Dessert Fresh Anari in Fyllo nest with walnuts, cinnamon and honey served with citron in sugar and carob syrup. Wine Match: Ayia Mavri 2006 Moschato Food: Very pretty to look at on the plate and a miniature symphony of flavours and textures. Lovely, original take on the traditional. Wine: no wonder Yiannis and Yianoulla Ioannidis win Gold every year for this wine. I am not an ardent lover of sweet wines, but this was absolute nectar and slipped down a treat with the dessert. See pages 62-65 for the recipes for this dinner. cyprusgourmet.com 17
The Wandering Chef Hero Words and Photos by Matthew Stowell
In the genteel neighbourhood of Washington Park West in Philadelphia’s historic City Center, Constantinos Pitsillides keeps the perpetual pilot flame of Cypriot cuisine and culture burning. As if it were a globe-travelling Olympic torch, he has carried his culinary talent halfway across the world, from Cyprus to England and across the Atlantic to America’s heavily populated, gastronomically savvy eastern shore. He is a classically trained, passionate young man on a mission, a noble quest. But unlike Jason at the helm of the Argo, Constantinos is an adventurer already in possession of his golden fleece— his talent for cooking—and his quest has been only about where to practise that skill. His story begins in Limassol, where Constantinos was raised in a family that for several generations had thrived in the tannery business. Sent off to the UK to study Chemical and Tannery Engineering, the intense young man soon realised that he had little interest in following the same well-trod path of his forebears. But he wasn’t certain about what to do instead. He knew only that he had tremendous energy and drive, and after the cosmopolitan experience of England, his work must be something that would allow some freedom of movement. At first, like so many other young Cypriots abroad, he settled on the hospitality business, earning two degrees in hotel management from Thames Valley University. But it wasn’t until he worked for an ancillary degree in pastry that he began to feel his true calling. Without being fully aware of it, he had discovered within himself a deeply ingrained part of Cypriot culture, perhaps the most enduring and certainly the most exportable: He loved 18 cyprusgourmet.com
working in the kitchen to create something that would bring pleasure and satisfaction to others. Still in England, he continued his studies in cookery and served a long apprenticeship with some of the stars of London’s thriving, fiercely competitive restaurant scene. Among them were Pierre Kaufmann at the Michelin three-star La Tante Claire, Michel Bordan at the Connaught Hotel and, Nico Ladenis (at the legendary Chez Nico), who seems to have exerted the greatest influence on Constantinos’ cooking style and his culinary philosophy. Ladenis was famous as much for his cantankerous nature and obsessive control over the dining experience—refusing customers a second cocktail before dinner, denying them salt and pepper shakers, enforcing a strict rule of no substitutions—as for his superior and experimental cooking skills. Pitsillides doesn’t go that far. “I do allow substitutions, if logical. At Kanella, we have no salt on our tables, but people can ask for it, even though it’s not necessary. If somebody requests Tabasco for the nationwide-awarded Cyprus Breakfast, I will give it to them, with a warning that the food will not be the same.” However, Pitsillides has such a commanding presence that if he engages directly with a customer, the customer will most likely follow his advice. In the dining room he is an amiable host and he loves talking about various cuisines with diners, but he also has a reputation in Philadelphia for his late night, retaliatory phone calls to critics and his handwritten, window-
posted rants whose combative passion and dramatic delivery have attracted more than a few customers—as well as substantial media publicity. While enjoying a recent lunch at one of Kanella’s lovely window tables, I observed two different men out on the pavement photographing Pitsillides battle notes. This may be due as much to the dominance of the new, politically correct, “safe” atmosphere of American life (most US newspapers these days won’t publish restaurant reviews for fear of offending the owner or chef), as to the entertainment value of the opinionated chef ’s outbursts. “At last,” the feeling runs, “someone in the land of the free and the home of the brave has the courage to speak his mind” One such missive informs the sidewalk traffic that “The customer is not always right!” While another states “I want to remind my customers that I am not a Greek restaurant. I was born in Cyprus, and that makes Kanella a Greek-Cypriot restaurant. We in Cyprus use a lot more spices and cilantro than the Greeks.” This last probably speaks to Pitsillides’ greatest passion: to present and promote to the world the unique cuisine of Cyprus, which we all know has benefitted throughout the country’s troubled history from the various nearby conquering kingdoms. In conversation, Konstantinos likes to say that his menu reflects not just the Greek or Turkish influences that have contributed so much, but, more accurately, the diverse cuisines of all the Levant. He loves Lebanese, Syrian,
Persian, Palestinian, Egyptian and North African food. On the set menu, we find: the Middle Eastern tabuleh and falafel; moshari and soumada from Greece; shaksouka from Tunisia; malohwa from Yemen; couscous from Algeria and Morocco; lacham atzeen, the Armenian spiced ground lamb; mahalepi from Cyprus; and Persian-style rice. Specials of the day might feature recipes from anywhere in the Mediterranean or beyond. Pitsillides collects cookbooks the way Imelda Marcos collected shoes. “I have 1200 of them just here in Philadelphia and more in Cyprus. Soon, I hope to produce my own Cypriot cookbook that will be available all over the world.” On a recent weekday morning, I arrived at 11:30 to interview the chef and sample his menu. By 12, the restaurant was full and more customers were beginning to form a queue at the door. Kanella has only been open for two years, but already it has received the sort of reviews and media attention that usually take five to ten years to gather. All the local newspapers and television stations have given him raves, and chefs from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York (an hour away by train) often visit to enjoy the food and perhaps pick up new ideas. Recently Pitsillides’ talents were honored with a nomination for a James Beard award. Kanella’s Cyprus Breakfast has been featured on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” segment, and sure enough that’s what more than half of the customers seemed to be ordering for the first hour of my visit. One reason may be that it’s difficult cyprusgourmet.com 19
in the States to find a restaurant that makes a special effort for breakfast. Pitsillides has cleverly combined the lemony, creamy sensations of extra-thick slabs of deep-fried halloumi, the salty savoriness of grilled lounza, the good-morning smile of sunnyside-up eggs, fried in richly flavoured olive oil, and the yeasty earthiness of whole grain rolls created fresh every day in the kitchen’s oven. Impassioned accolades for the Cyprus Breakfast abound across the range of Philadelphia ‘foodie’ blogs. The next most popular item at breakfast and weekend brunch is Shaksouka, which consists of two eggs poached in a cuminscented tomato and pepper stew and served with grilled bread. I started my own tasting with a sampler plate of the aforementioned fried halloumi; the chef ’s own version of sheftelia, which was more refined than what you get at your average souvlaki stand (no gristle or unchewable bits of fat here); a smattering of delicious house-made pikla, of which our chef is justifiably proud; tasty-in-theextreme tabuleh to rival any you might find in Lebanon; a fritter of falafel, light in tone and taste but a bit too lightly seasoned for my palate; a sharp green pepper, onion and radish salad to refresh the taste buds; and tzatziki, made with locally sourced baby cucumbers and heavily loaded (as it should be)
t Awa rd
rant, for th Phila e delph excell creation o ia, U.S ent c f ookin a high q .A. u g a li a ty Cy nd th “The p e r Cypr us Ta successfu iot restau ran ble” in lp Amer romotion t, ica. of
Patric k Cypru Skinner, Fo s Gou rmet under Maga zine June 2011
with high quality organically grown garlic. Cypriots might say, “No big deal. I can eat this every day in any number of meze tavernas on the island.” And they’d be right, but Pitsillides is doing it thousands of miles from Cyprus in a land where bland macaroni and cheese (after the ubiquitous cheeseburger) is by far the most popular dish, and he is finessing it using his own carefully honed, meticulously learned skills and sense of personal style. And he is
succeeding beyond anyone’s expectations. He is adamant to point out in one of his window messages that he is not cooking (as some have remarked) his “granny’s food”, but a case can be made that it seems a combination or interpretation of many Cypriots’ and Levantines’ grannies’ foods, after an educational run-through in the kitchens of London’s finest restaurants. Not everything I tried at Kanella was a triumph. The lamb shank was tough and sinewy though I believe the fault was not with the chef or his personally trained staff. The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to find young tender lamb in America. It can’t be found in the supermarket or butchers. You may use every connection you own to procure the coveted private number of a small-scale local breeder, who will swear on his family’s bible that he is selling you carefully fed baby lamb or goat (at Porterhouse steak prices), but what you usually end up with is mutton that’s so old it could apply for a pension. The lamb shank at Kanella was not mutton, but the meat refused to separate itself from the bone, and I had to content myself with its succulent consume-type sauce of lamb juice, fresh leeks, spices and locally made pastourma. This was more than excellent, and I used my bread to soak up every drop of it, though the bread, made on site, can’t compete with the manna made from that special yellow-toned flour in Cyprus. My meal finished with a briki-made Greek coffee, and a dessert that brought to mind the chef ’s earlier assertion that he first understood his destiny while learning pastry making. Kanella’s Sticky Date
and Chocolate Cake is served with warm caramel sauce and house-made vanilla ice cream. It was marvelous in every way, with just the right amount of sticky date fiber in a slightly firm cake, a deep center lode of rich but not overpowering chocolate and a lightly enhancing sauce. The high-butterfat-content ice cream was the perfect accompaniment. When I raved about the dish to Constantinos, he explained that it took a long time to perfect the recipe and that his wife, Caroline, did most of the work. “She has helped me a great deal. She is my inspiration and I wouldn’t be in this place today without her.” There is a movement afoot in Cyprus, the Vakhis scheme, to focus on traditional, albeit more labor-intensive but more honest methods of cooking. Yet when Pitsillides returned to the island after his London sojourn to assess the possibilities of opening his own restaurant, he felt the trend in dining was overwhelmingly to westernize Cypriot cooking. He was dismayed to note the pablum-eating habits of Cyprus’ young people, who seemed content with Burger King, Dominos and KFC. And when he approached fellow chefs in the island’s toprated hotel restaurants, he received a frigid reception (in much the same way star chef Dino Costi, of Dino’s Art Café, was first treated). “They weren’t interested in even talking to me, never mind offering me a position, even though I had trained with some of the best in Europe and had run my own successful gastronomic café in London for six years. I don’t know if it was narrowmindedness or simply fear of competition, but I sensed that the time wasn’t right for me in Cyprus.” On the one hand, Pitsillides wants to preserve and promote the traditional cooking of Cyprus, on the other, he wants the freedom to expand his scope to include other influences, as long as they are honest and, when using meat or fish, utilise the beast from head to tail. Another sign in his window states his basic philosophy: “Precision – begins with the buying of ingredients and ends with the cooking time; Restraint – means avoiding the temptation to experiment every time you cook; Simplicity – to eschew garish taste and over-elaboration.” Philadelphians are exceedingly lucky to be hosting Mr Pitsillides and his culinary talents. I would like to launch a campaign to lure him back to Limassol, where I hope—this time—he will feel that he belongs. cyprusgourmet.com 21
Fabulous food choices plus wise tactics keep Limanaki in the island’s top ten
words and photos Nicole Dake
Very non-pc, but oft perceived, the notion that a curvaceous blonde is probably not over-blessed with brains may similarly be akin to the view that a talented chef with masses of culinary innovation is unlikely to have the business skills to keep his restaurant topping the gourmet charts. Not so with Sam Kazzaz, whose Lebanese/fusion restaurant, just off the beach at Pissouri, has gone 22 cyprusgourmet.com
from strength to strength since opening in 2005. Sam’s business skills come from a Harvard Master’s degree and nearly a decade and a half in shipping; his culinary knowledge from two years in a prestigious Paris chef-school. But the creativity and sheer fizzing genius of Sam himself is what keeps people coming back to what he terms his
‘life’s dream’ - a restaurant with the highest standards, sustained good-value prices and a team which has delivered the goods since opening. That’s not to say that Limanaki’s owner/ executive chef Kazzaz has not experienced ups and downs, especially with his health, in these six years; but, the new offering Spring/ Summer menu, the newest addition to his
team – 15 year old god-daughter Nadia – and expansion to include a herb boutique, cookery school and ‘al Fresco’ outside catering, proves his operation has forged way beyond the ordinary restaurant business model. Prices have been maintained for two years now, reflecting Sam’s understanding of his - mainly-expatriate - regular clientele and his belief that profit margins should be sensitive to the current financial climate. Limanaki remains THE place in Pissouri for excellent food and delightful international ambience, despite several new outlets opening up near the village; it’s far more than a ‘special night out’ place and rarely disappoints. Right now the new menu – changed even since we reviewed it in FMCG in April – has both old favourites like ‘Crevettos: I’m never allowed to take them off the menu, and they’re Nadia’s favourite too,’ remarked Sam – and new, like succulent BBQ Loins of Lamb and Orangeen Cote du Porc, the latter served with a sweet fruity sauce of wild cranberries and mandarin, flamed with orange liqueur. In honour of Nadia joining the team, Sam has also used his pet name for her when creating Di Di Beef (€13.95), a sublimely tender casserole with hints of bacon, cream and cognac. Whilst wonderful to take your time to sample a special occasion three-course meal chez Sam, it’s also possible to ‘pick’n’mix’ according to your appetite. A particular favourite of mine is Medi Melanzanes, a melting aubergine dish with minted yoghurt/tahini dressing, topped with pine nuts in a crispy pitta-bread basket (€6.95); just ideal for a light meal. Equally, last visit at lunchtime we simply ordered our two favourite starters, Curried Away Calamari (spicy sauce with tender baby rings - €8.25) and those Crevettos – jumbo prawns, lime butter dressing and a hint of Moorish coconut (€8.50) - as mains. These then came with rice and/or freshly sautéed baby new potatoes plus vegetables of the day. There’s something entirely delicious about organically grown, local potatoes, served alongside seasonal vegetables which clearly demonstrates a kitchen team that cares about fundamental meal components. For photography (and I admit more than a sneaky taste!), I opted to watch Sam’s innovative preparation and treatment of the fresh wild sea bass (€15.95), a secret he shared but would not allow me to write. Sufficient to say, the finished fillets are tender, moist, crammed with flavour and beautifully served, with a lemon dressing on the side and … those vegetables, including fresh asparagus. Something this delicious makes a special visit truly worthwhile, as are the desserts I raved about in April. I’ve still to try the Lebanese meat or fish meze (€24.95/26.95)) as these seem to be leisurely Sunday lunch or summer even-
ing options which, given Sam’s clever combinations of traditional and modern, I’m sure will delight the discerning palate. Drinks are also well-priced, so if you choose to pop by for an early evening ‘apero’ (from €3) or a beer (from €2.95), you’ll be made welcome. The Limanaki operation and the whole expanding ‘Kazzaz empire’ is taking on a new dimension, especially as Nadia joins the team as heir-apparent, learning Sam’s skills in culinary and business wisdom. The ongoing Limanaki offering is clearly identified on the website (www.limanakipissouri.com), also showing Sam’s strong dedication to fresh ingredients and superb service. There’s charitable involvement, too, with the proceeds of his Monday cookery school going to leukaemia charities - and more. Limanaki is going from strength to strength. Don’t leave it too long before you visit; be sure to book, citing Cyprus Gourmet as your restaurant guide. Limanaki: Tel: 25221 1288 Just off the beach at “Pissouri jetty” Cards: all. Meal cost for 2 – from €80 Disabled access: yes – through a separate entrance Hours: daily from midday to 10pm except
CYPRIOT LAMBANDBEEF STILL OUT GRAZING by Serena Smith
The verdict about Cypriot beef and lamb is out: NOT QUITE THERE YET. Serena Smith spoke to people along the whole supply chain – agricultural researcher to producer, butcher to chef – and their opinion is unanimous: local lamb is good for souvla and kleftiko, but not for epicurean medium grilled lamb chops, local beef is fine for stifado and kokkinisto, but don’t expect it to turn out the perfect medium or medium rare steak. You may be lucky but sometimes you’re not – and what host wants to stake his or her reputation on inconsistent quality? ‘Cypriot beef is not ready yet.’ John Kouphou, executive chef at Eléa Golf Estate’s restaurant, says by way of explanation why his menu displays Black Angus steak from Uruguay, Wagyu dishes (a Black Angus and Japanese Kobe cattle breed) and lamb from New Zealand, but not Cypriot beef or lamb. I have heard of blind tastings before, but hitherto only always of wine. Before the opening of the golf club restaurant some months ago, John got together five staff members from different departments and put before them unidentified beef and lamb samples from various origins. He selected different suppliers and countries. All were prepared in a simple style. He had the panel score each sample out of five and give reasons for the score. This is how the selection for his menu was made. 24 cyprusgourmet.com
Dr Alkis Koumas, a senior research officer from the Agricultural Research Institute, points out that Cypriots seem happy enough with local lamb and beef for their traditional methods of preparation. He makes the point that the cooking method the chef chooses is actually more important than the quality of meat bought. Why waste a leg of lamb on kleftiko? Why indeed? You could produce a first-class kleftiko with a lesser cut (say shoulder or shank), as the meat cannot but be tender and flavourful after ten hours in the slow oven in the company of wonderfully aromatic herbs. Perhaps because beef was always regarded as tough meat here, wonderful slow-cooked traditional stews sprang up. Alkis relates how a tasting panel with international participants that he once attended in Spain could not discern between as disparate a duo of meats as turkey and rabbit, although the meat was cooked plainly, without sauces. The conclusion is: if the cooking method suits the cut used, the result will be good.
But why is it that indigenous beef and lamb are not on a par with quality imports? I received the same answer from everybody I interviewed: the reasons are that this is a small, dry island, there is not enough available grazing. Sheep like to feed on little bushes and grass, not just planted pasturage or, worse, indoor feeding. I also heard that management of herds is often lackadaisical. Thirdly, both sheep and cattle here are also used for milk (think Cyprus and you think halloumi). No maturation time is built into the beef-producing cycle here as is the case in Europe, because the same cow that gives milk is also slaughtered for the table. At bottom, there are simply ‘not enough hooves’, as George Sotiriou, manager of Grazie Italian restaurant in Paphos, put it, to satisfy this carnivorous society. He will not come near either mallet or tenderising powder to tenderise tough local beef. While talking to George, a delivery of vacuum-packed imported beef came in, and I saw the invoice: €33 a kilo. Of this he says,
This Beef Wellington does have pastry, but it is on top and not around - hence Deconstructed. ‘ What I did was to take a Beef Wellington apart and put it together in a different way,’ the chef told me. All the elements are there: the ‘ghoo’ as I call the filling, the crust, the cooked yet still pink (inside) meat, served with potatoes, mushrooms and greenbeans. Price 32 euro.
‘My friends and other chefs call me crazy, but I am still here, while many others in Paphos are closing’. The discerning customer is still prepared to pay €22 and €29 for a plateful of flavourful prime fillet steak done on the charcoal grill. Voting with his feet, he or she will go where care is taken to provide the best ingredients it is possible to buy. Grazie’s A4-size menus contain far more than a list of the dishes available; it also sets out information about the ingredients. Of Certified Angus Beef it says, ‘The United States Department of Agriculture operates a voluntary beef grading programme. There are eight beef quality grades based on two main criteria: the degree of marbling (intramuscular fat) in the beef, and the maturity (estimated age of the animal at slaughter). The Certified Angus Beef brand is a cut above the rest.’ Paphos butcher Neofytos Hadjialexandrou, who owns Butcher Boy, stresses the negative effect of lack of a classification system at the island’s abattoir. In the rest of Europe, colour codes indicate factors such as how much muscle a certain cut contains, how much fat it has inside and outside the muscle, and the approximate age of the animal when slaughtered. Prices vary according to the colour codes. Because it is not done in Cyprus, there is no guarantee of consistency. With local beef or lamb, it depends on the
luck of the draw. Neofytos’ advice is to experiment with different cooking methods, as ‘every cut has its own proper purpose’. His experience shows a customer resistance to trying new recipes, but if one is open to new suggestions, a whole range of less expensive cuts can be turned into very tasty dishes. He points out that the beauty of ordering meat from overseas is that the butcher can specify the cuts he wants (‘Send me ten legs, two shoulders, one rib, etc’), while in Cyprus one is obliged to buy the whole animal from the producers. That leaves the challenge of what to do with the less desirable parts. From Antonis Markou, whose company Markos Nikolaou supplies the Debenhams Korivos butchery in Paphos, I hear about a common complaint by customers regarding imported lamb: the funny smell, which is the result of blood trapped in the vacuum wrapping and frozen with the meat. To overcome this problem, Antonis lands fresh lamb, imported in two days by ship from Greece, on the island. He explains, with a smile, that Greece, of course, is only the ‘finishing school’ for lamb from Romania and Bulgaria that has spent its last days or weeks in Greece. Looking at me with his head cocked he says,
If you have spent the first 20 years of your life in England and the last 20 in Cyprus, are you Cypriot or are you English? By the same token, if a sheep grazed on lovely Romanian pastures for three months and spent its last three weeks in Greece, who is to say that it is not Greek lamb? The consensus seems clear: Cypriot beef and lamb still have a way to go. As Mr Yiannis Douvis, Food and Beverage Operation Manager of the Annabelle Hotel in Paphos points out, for the more sophisticated methods of preparation, especially beef but also lamb have to be imported. Fortunately Cyprus is in the position that it can choose from many countries of origin: New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, the United States, Ireland, Scotland – you name it. That does not mean that no incentive programme or research is in place to encourage local producers to improve. Since Cyprus joined the European Union, beef is slaughtered younger already, thanks to a EU subsidy passed on by the Cypriot government to local producers who slaughter at 15 months instead of the previous norm of over 24 months. There is also ongoing research by the Agricultural Research Institute into the production of lamb with better amino-acid to prevent cancer. ‘Meat is an important part of the quality of life in Cyprus,’ Butcher Boy’s Neofytos sums it up neatly. You bet! The statistics for meat consumption in Cyprus certainly bear him out. A staggering 140 kilogram of meat per person is consumed on the island every year! However, the bulk of that mountain of meat is pork, then chicken, then lamb (a seasonal indulgence), with beef in the lowest position. So, for the time being, at least, it seems that local pork is what Neofytos must have had in mind, in addition to quality imported lamb and beef. cyprusgourmet.com 25
Location, location - the Web as prime location words and photos Serena Smith
Ever heard of a wedding cake designed by email? Jackie Kuflik is a sugar wizard who ascribes her business success to her website, and to discreet use of new forms of social networking. Serena Smith went to visit her in a tucked-away studio in Kissonerga to hear more about her marketing ideas. I marvelled how any first-timer to the island would be able to find Jackie, never mind order anything from her – and not just anything, The Wedding Cake! If business success is so intimately tied up with location, how does this work? Jackie, ex lecturer and writer on sugarcraft, and ex chair of judges for the British Sugarcraft Guild, says her most important marketing tool is her website, commissioned from real web experts. Google her site, www. love-island-cakes.com, and one is immediately in celebration mood. The number of hits on her site explains partly why she is hav-
ing a good year. Another trade secret is interactivity. Often a wedding cake is created by email, through numerous exchanges with the bride, and Jackie gets to meet the couple only when they come to pay the balance. She likes playing with colours, ribbons, letters, even suggesting decorating techniques that pre-date the bride, only to see the disbelief and pleasure when her idea is snatched up as something new and thrilling! Cyprus is a ready source of quality local ingredients such as crystallised fruit, almonds and walnuts, plus plenty of good imported butter - all necessities for a solid, substantial cake. Jackie bakes from scratch, as packet mixes and plastic decorations are anathema to her, and “will in any case not stand up to the heat”. Jackie has a number of links on other business websites, but she is very particular about whom she gets into bed with (figuratively speaking, of course), as only real synergy bears fruit. Relationships with specific wedding planners, hotels and restaurants on the island also bring her business, as do busi-
ness cards and postcards. Because her cakes are so beautiful, the cards are eye-catching. They must be asked for, though, she says, not dished out pell-mell. Jackie orders her cards dirt cheap over the internet. Hundreds of couples have found their way to the sugarplum fairy’s thanks to a popular tourist restaurant, whose owner, impressed by Jackie’s cakes, puts a love-island business card with every bill. This is powerful word-of-mouth. Facebook has also become a business tool. It has allowed Jackie, for instance, to comment on Kate and Will’s wedding cake! She often takes part in forum discussions on the Net, but believes firmly that naivety and aggression in internet discussions put people off. “It’s not about flogging your name, but about offering helpful information on Net forums, then simply signing off with the name of your business,” she says. Reflecting on the effect of the economy on the wedding industry, Jackie says there tend to be fewer weddings, and couples book wedding cakes later than before. Unfortunately for Paphos, bad roads and municipalities and hotels that are less than accommodating have forced more and more ‘wedding tourists’ to the east coast, but as Jackie delivers her sugar craft island wide, it does not affect her. Right now she is ready to pass her knowledge and experience on to a young Cypriot apprentice who might like, in a year or two’s time, to take the brand and run with it. For in spite of her dedication and visible insistence on perfection, Jackie keeps reminding herself that the most important thing in life is to keep the balance right between work and play. She did come to Love Island to retire, after all!
Tonia Buxton: in search of local, fresh ingredients By Mateo Jarrín Cuvi
fresh attitude towards life goes a long way. Whether it is preparing English favorites such as honey-glazed gammon and apple crumble for her husband and four kids or changing Britain’s mindset towards Cypriot cuisine, Tonia Buxton, star of Discovery Travel & Living’s My Greek Kitchen and My Cypriot Kitchen, certainly has a boatload of fresh moxie guiding her along. Born in Cyprus to Cypriot parents but brought up in the UK, Tonia has had the privilege of soaking up the best of both cultures and pushing aside those narrow-minded traits that weigh people down. Formerly a primary school teacher, she started My Greek Kitchen at the age of thirty 28 cyprusgourmet.com
thanks to the undying support of her half-Cypriot husband Paul who first pitched the idea to her. Since then, she has hosted three seasons of My Greek and My Cypriot Kitchen, written a book on holistic pregnancy and lifestyle columns in newspapers and magazines, and is in the process of releasing her first cookbook (Spring 2012) compiling all of the recipes from her highly-successful television shows. Passionate about cooking, dedicated to her family, hardworking, witty, outspoken, vibrant, charismatic and beautiful, Tonia should be a source of inspiration to women worldwide.
For Tonia, whom I interviewed at Archontiko Papadopoulou, a cultural centre in Kornos for Cypriot gastronomy, wine and pottery art, everything begins with family and tradition. One of her fondest childhood memories is preparing rosewater-infused rice pudding with her grandmother in Latsia, an activity planned specially for her upon arrival to the Mediterranean island. She affectionately recalls scooping up the remnants of the cinnamon-packed creamy rice with a wooden spoon and then licking the pot clean. Tonia also reminisces on her days at the beach, burying a watermelon in the sand with her parents to keep it chilled, carving it in the afternoon and sharing a large chunk with a piece of halloumi, her favorite Cypriot ingredient thanks to its versatility and uniqueness. She was ebullient while imagining the fruitâ€™s sweet juice running down her chin and onto the hot sand like pinkish raindrops. Even though her children are â€œmortally embarrassedâ€? by her celebrity status, she has made a valiant effort to instill in them her love for cooking and build for them similar memories. Antigone and Sophia have shown some interest, even sharing screen time with their mother to make keftedes and go on long bike rides in the Troodos Mountains. On the other hand, cyprusgourmet.com 29
the young boys participate with the dear hope a food fight breaks out over the pots, pans and mixing bowls and they get a chance to make a muck of the kitchen. At the end of the day, though, Tonia believes the easiest way to get children involved in cooking is to “tell them they are not allowed to do it.” Like her belief in family and tradition, respect for ingredients—particularly organic produce— is paramount to Tonia. She believes the only way the Cypriot culinary scene will move forward is by highly valuing agriculture and maximizing the use of local and indigenous products. “It does not matter what you’re doing,” she says, “as long as one starts with fresh ingredients.” Besides Mediterranean fare, for instance, she loves the freshness and aromatics of Thai food and raves about her monkfish curry. Furthermore, her uncle Eddie, who has his own Facebook page with about 300 fans, has a plot of land in Cyprus where he grows all sorts of fruits and vegetables and encourages Tonia to stop by to load up on fresh produce. This time around, Uncle Eddie’s cherry tomatoes (which according to Tonia are a pain in the butt to pick) were ripe for the picking. Even in usually gloomy England, Tonia spends a good amount of time with her children trying to grow herbs and other plants to be served on the dining table. Given this holistic attitude, no wonder Tonia fell in love with Archontiko Papadopoulou, taking time off from her family vacation to promote its efforts to learn about the region’s history and preserve Cypriot culture. As part of this initiative, Tonia made rustic breads and fresh pasta with the old village women and later cooked some traditional dishes with the restaurant’s chef. She admires the cultural centre’s vision—particularly that it is neither “stuck in the past nor tacky modern”—and she sincerely wishes it “becomes the most successful place in Cyprus.” Clearly enough, this event was a deep breath of fresh air for everyone and a bright sign that there’s plenty of hope for our island’s culinary future. 30 cyprusgourmet.com
Bringing to life old traditional recipes Tonia Buxton prepared with chef Vasilis Koutouroushis, Sous Chef Christina-Sofia Mamtzavinou and the Chef de partie Christoforos Kourtzides, old traditional Cyprus recipes using locally grown herbs from Kornos and traditional bread baked in the courtyard’s old oven. The chefs use fresh ingredients cooked in virgin olive oil and freshly picked Cyprus herbs. The menu of the day was kindly provided by the owner, Peri Vronti: Village Salad – Local anari cheese, garnished with mint mixed with crunchy Cyprus greens, tossed in the Chef’s secret dressing made from Kornos honey. Rocket Salad – Kefalotiri cheese, garnished with pine nuts, tossed with pomegrante and walnuts in grape sauce. Kornos Halloumi Salad with sesame and virgin olive oil. Kornos Ttavas – Lamb cubes with rice, artichoke and other seasonal vegetables, garnished with cumin. Kornos Ttavas (vegetarian) – Rice, artichoke and other seasonal vegetables, garnished with cumin. Pork with Beetroots – Pork, fresh coriander and fresh lemon juice (originally from the Orounda area). Traditional handmade pasta with zucchini cream and fresh Cyprus herbs from the Archontiko garden. Dessert – Anari cream with local Kornos anari. Tirokantaifi – Combination of four Cyprus cheeses wrapped in kantaifi served with homemade tomato sauce. Archontiko Papadopoulou, 67 Arch Makarios III Ave., Kornos, Larnaca District. Take Exit 11 on the NicosiaLimassol highway. Enter the village, and drive through. Parking in the rear. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9.30am – 3pm, 6-11pm. Tel: 22531000. www.archontikopapadopoulou.com. cy
THE PLATRES PIONEERS words and photos Patrick Skinner
Hospitality, Food, Wine…..three Icons of the hill resort, 21 years on.
In September 1990, fresh from the heat of Jordan and its desert, my wife and I passed several weeks in Platres, staying at the Forest Park Hotel, which we had known since our first vacations in Cyprus in the 1970s, not only as a comfortable billet but as a pioneer of hotel-keeping in Cyprus. We asked the avuncular managing director of the hotel, Hercules Skyrianides, if there was a restaurant nearby where we might go one evening. ” Try Augostos at Phini (now spelt Foini) taverna”, he replied, “He does
very good steaks and seafood”. We went, and there encountered another pioneer. Augustos Soteriou, chef proprietor blazed a trail of good international food in the hills when he opened his place in Foini towards the end of the 1980s. And then, dining at a taverna in Platres main street, I asked for local wine. A bottle of young red was brought – it exploded on to our tongues, a veritable (modern) symphony of flavours. It was a riot! I had to meet the man who
made it. I asked the waiter “Who made this wine?” “Chris Lambouris”, he replied. “Where can I find him?” “Easy”, said the waiter, “He works just down the road in the electricity office”. The next day we met Chris and started a friendship that has lasted to this day. So, here was our third Platres pioneer. Probably the longest-serving winemaker in Cyprus. Platres is indeed a pioneering sort of place.
1936 leaflet extols the attractions of Platres’ new luxury hotel.
The 1936 Chevrolet Sedan, used 75 years ago to ferry hotel guests to and from Limassol Port. Still running well and featuring in Cyprus Vintage Car Rallies, driven by Hercules Skyrianides.
The Pioneering Hotel Throughout Europe you find charming hotels that have been in existence for generations - grand ones, glamorous one, concrete and glass ones, and smaller comfortable ones whose management (and custom) passes from father and mother to son and daughter, and whose ambience wraps itself around you like a favourite old jacket. With its short history of tourism, Cyprus hotels are almost entirely ‘modern’. The exception is the Forest Park Hotel at Platres, which was opened 75 years ago by the Skyrianides family and still run by them. Today, sons of the founder, Hercules and Anthony are present every day, whilst Anthony’s sons Marios and George are involved in sales and marketing and food and beverage.
Architect’s drawing for what would become the Forest Park Hotel
“After the Ball?” comment in visitors’ book by the British Governor in September 1936.
Hercules Skyrianides today
It was the first hotel in Cyprus to offer a pool, entertainment and luxurious comfort. Its promotional materials proudly announced all this. Since the 1930s, of course, it has been constantly upgraded and expanded. Managing Director Hercules, or “Mr Hercules” as his long-serving staff call him, will tell you of the days when King Farouk used to book a whole floor in summer, to escape from the heat of Egypt. Something that many of the great and good did. Arriving at Limassol Port in 1936, guests would be met by a motor-bus or the hotel’s new, sleek, Chevrolet Sedan (still alive and well) to ferry them to Platres. The roads were narrow, twisting and often not made up – and the journey took three to four hours. Drivers and passengers wore special dust-protection clothing. In summer, the British Colonial Governor and his staff came down from their summer quarters in Troodos on Saturday nights for a grand dinner dance. As befitted the Governor, he and his lady took the floor to start the dancing. In high days and holidays, at wedding and birthday parties you can still dance at the Forest Park, though the music, the dancing and mode of dress have all moved on somewhat from the 1930s. To many writers, artists, political figures, celebrities, or the simply wealthy, the Forest Park was their home-from-home for weeks and sometimes months during the heat of the summer. The years have seen many changes and the family Skyrianides have adapted to them. Nowadays, the guests stay for two weeks, one week or a weekend. They may come on package tours from England, Germany, Scandinavia or further afield, 34 cyprusgourmet.com
and at this time of year, the Forest Park is full of local people, who, like the arrivals from Limassol port 75 years ago, come from sea-level heat to enjoy the cooler air of the pine-filled hills and to relax in the friendly, family atmosphere of the Forest Park. Some may take added pleasure from noting its history and its pioneering place in Cyprus tourism.
The Forest Park Hotel Platres.
Tel. 2542 1571. Open all year round. Restaurant open for lunch and dinner every day. Access for disabled. Major cards.
The Pioneering Restaurateur Augostos Soteriou learned his trade in a large steak-house on Limassol’s Strip. In those days in such places there were no short-cuts, no stock cubes and instantthis-and-that. The sauces that accompanied meat and fish dishes were slowly, laboriously made from proper roasted/ boiled bones and fresh vegetables and they were made every day. Grilling was timed to the second. Dishes had to go to the table at their peak. A few years in a large kitchen determined Augostos’ style but not where he wanted to be. In 1986 he headed for the hills to set up on his own place in Foini village. He prospered, deservedly. The 1980s and early 90’s were a hey-day for him because there were several hundred cyprusgourmet.com 35
Augostos in 1990
The Pioneering Winemaker
British service families at Troodos/ Platres and they were a valuable base on which to build a clientele. But alas, they have long since gone. Today, weekend Mezze keeps the business going, whilst dedicated lovers of his meat and seafood help him to keep his pioneering flame alight on week nights. To join this select group, telephone Augostos to fix the day, time and menu and you won’t be disappointed. Augostos’ classic formula of perfectly cooked, well sauced steaks, or fresh salmon or Dover sole, preceded by King Prawns in various guises, garlic mushrooms, corn-on-the-cob or prawn cocktail, all as good as ever was. You may dine indoors in rustic style, or outside under an utterly delightful pergola, pillared above the surrounding countryside Yes, ambience is super, but the food is the thing. This is old-fashioned comfort food – cooked from ingredients you have probably discussed with him and served by the chef himself. A dear friend, who is a great admirer, once wrote “This is the best restaurant in the hills.” Go weeknights and enjoy! PHINI TAVERNA, Foini Village. Tel: 2542 1828. Open Tuesday to Sunday. Booking recommended. Meal for two with wine from €70.00 Bespoke cooking from the owner. 36 cyprusgourmet.com
Chris Lambouris’ grandfather used to make wine – he sold it around Platres and “exported” it over the Troodos down the northern slopes to Morphou. He transported it in goat skins slung over donkey back. When he first made this journey and offered the wine for sale it was declared “too strong”. He went away and thinned it down with water, when it was pronounced excellent. When I first met Chris in 1990, his winemaking and distribution were somewhat more modern – but he was still fermenting wine in drums, stirring with the traditional pronged stick. This was done in a chilled fruit store. 21 years on, Chris is the winemaker at a state-of-the-art modern winery which is adjacent to a mini château, bearing his name at Kato Platres. The winery draws upon many varieties of grapes – local and international – from its own vineyards
Chris Lambouris, “Super Swizzle Stick” in hand making wine in 1990
(many organic) and contracted growers. They are among the highest altitude vineyards in Cyprus, which ensure slower grape ripening and more rounded juice when pressed. Chris presides over one of the largest ranges of wines of any Cyprus winery and his awards span the whole gamut. Pride of place might go to his Commandaria, his oak-fermented Chardonnay or his Rosé, according to your personal tastes. There are five organic and several Kosher wines produced, too. There are varietals and blends. Dry, medium and sweet. Prices range from €4.00 to €30.00+ After going it alone for some years, Chris sold the business to a Russian group which has substantially increased marketing programmes and sales, particularly exports. A substantial proportion of production is also sold at the winery. Chris has stayed on as consultant and winemaker. He is a kind, friendly family man and a true gentleman of the industry, the growth of which delights him. He is especially happy at the progress of the new wave of
A lion of Cyprus wine â€“ Chris Lambouris today.
Cyprus Gourmet Traveller
Lebanon Just say the word and a myriad of images come to mind – good and bad. Of glorious scenery and friendly people. Of quality of food, wine and service that couples the traditions of Arab hospitality with residual flavours and style of France. Of marvellous hotels, restaurants, markets, shops and things to see and do. These are the Lebanon we love. The sadnesses are the images of murder and mayhem. Of war and internecine strife. Of the bombed, maimed and homeless. I have known and loved Lebanon for decades, in peace and war. I have watched with amazement as the multi-religion, multi-ethnic people can knock down – or have knocked down by outsiders – almost their whole country and, miraculously, rebuild it all again in a few years. Visiting there was always with its difficulties. Travellers in the 1900s, like the intrepid Englishwoman Lady Hester Stanshope took their lives in their hands. In the early 20th Century a visit still wasn’t easy, although by then there were good hotels, by the sea and in the skiing areas in the hills. Then as now, there was virtual unanimity among visitors – Lebanon was a great place, or, as the Lebanese themselves say “God made Lebanon in five days, on the sixth he made the rest of the world…” Smart hotels in the hills of Lebanon were built more than 100 years ago as this artist’s impression from the “GRAPHIC” Magazine of 1905 shows. Old style travel and accommodation still thrived, as the writer notes: “As a general rule one may take it that the conventionalities of European life rather bother the Syrian. His idea of comfort is a ‘Gombaz’ (a kind of night-shirt), a pair of slippers and a white umbrella. The dress of the women seems to consist of a dressing gown and slippers. There is, however an exemption to this rule. At Ain Sofar, 4,000 feet above Beirut, on the Beirut to Damascus railway, an hotel has been erected which is quite Parisian. Here, throughout the summer, the young Syrians. who ape France and prefer French to Arabic, swarm. Paris gowns, and immaculate youths in panama hats grace the doorstep, and make a striking contrast to their countrymen, the Bedouins, in the camp nearby” 38 cyprusgourmet.com
Words: Patrick Skinner and Elena Savvides-Doghman. Photography: Elena Savvides-Doghman and Robert Skinner. Drawings: Zoe
Elena Savvides-Doghman, herself of a colourful international background is married to Bassem, Lebanese, by birth and outlook. Resident here, they founded and run a catering service called “OREXI” which cooks-for-you at your home splendid Lebanese food. They also run a Members-only Supper Club and as if all this isn’t enough Elena and her great friend Zoe “do” super cookery classes. Early this year Elena took a group to Lebanon. Of it she writes… The idea of taking a group of food and wine lovers on a gourmet tour of Lebanon
A Gastronome’s tour of Lebanon germinated at one of our cookery workshops in the autumn of last year, when one participant remarked ‘We’ve heard so much about the markets and spice shops in Lebanon; how fantastic the food is and what a great cook your sister-in-law is… why don’t you organise a trip there so we can experience it for ourselves?’ So I began researching the possibilities; Online, via telephone, and lots of personal contacts and soon the first “Orexi” Catering trip to savour the food and wine of Lebanon was born. Despite it being a cold and rainy January week-
end, 21 enthusiasts took off for Beirut. Arrival at the Mayflower Hotel in Beirut at 11.00 p.m. meant that most of the group were ready to hit the sack, but several fancied a midnight stroll around Hamra (the vibrant street of shops, cafés and lots more) and a nibble. The first thing we noticed is that Beirut is truly a 24-hour city. We late-nighters stopped off at a ‘Fourno’ where a whole swathe of energetic young men were whipping dough into shape to make Mana’eesh –“Lebanese Pizzas”. The Classic toppings are cheese or za’atar (spice mix of thyme and sumac) or lamb mince with tomato. Fast food but tasty, served with genuine enthusiasm and at about €2.00 a fine piece, a real bargain. The next morning after an excellent breakfast at the hotel, we headed off for the organic food market “Souk-El-Tayeb”, based every Saturday in a large open carpark in down-town Beirut. The founder, Kamal, was there to meet us with Mira, the Souk manager. They explained how it began – through the realization that the food traditions of Lebanon were dying because of Starbucks, MacDonald’s and their ilk. To assemble his producers, Kamal trawled the villages, locating people from various religious groups but who have in common their active involvement in preserving recipes of their grandmothers, utilizing ingredients they have grown organically. Our group watched and tasted fresh bread made on a Sajj (the domed bread-maker used for flat bread, pomegranate juice, cedar honey and of course the great Lebanese dish Kibbe Nayeh, which is delicious spiced minced lamb, served uncooked. After walking through the downtown area, stopping off for a quick peek inside the Omari Mosque – stunning in its elegant but simple grandeur, we reached ‘Tawlet’ the associated restaurant of the Souk-el-Tayeb. Lunch is cooked daily by one of the market’s producers – all locally sourced and organic – but on Saturday, they bring a number of chefs in drawn from all the producers at the Souk, and a wonderful buffet is presented, of both Lebanese classics and innovative dishes. It reminded me Neal’s Yard or Borough Market in London – high ceilings, wooden benches and a buzzy atmosphere. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious that afternoon, so rather than the planned trip to Byblos we drove up the cyprusgourmet.com 39
mountains to Harissa where some of our brave explorers battled the wind to climb to the top of the statue of ‘The Virgin of Lebanon” and admire the stunning panoramic views of Beirut and Jounieh. Our evening was spent in the mountain village of Roum at a restaurant popular with Lebanese locals. “Des Caves” is in a 240 year old family home – the stone and wood stables being converted first into a wine cellar and more recently into a restaurant serving a sumptuous Lebanese mezze with as much wine, Arak and whisky as you wish. Our meal was accompanied by a live singer and band – some of the party retired to the quiet room to sup their wine but quite a few of us got up to dance to the excellent music, complete with strolling drummer. As ever, the service was impeccable – the staff attentive without being obsequious and the food fresh and incredibly tasty. It’s amazing – and sad - to think that the Lebanese have spent most of the last 40 years either at war or under occupation, yet they still manage to continue to offer such excellence - from the hotels to the street food vendors. Our Sunday was spent in the Southern town of Saida where the Hariri Foundation (set up by the late President Rafik Hariri) is hard at work investing time and money into restoring some of the fantastic palaces and khans of this small seaside
town which was apparently first inhabited in 6800 BC. Just strolling through the ancient Souk , there is so much to see, from the small tunnels that house the Souk-ofWood, in which you can watch the carpenters at work producing chairs, kitchen implements even sandals, to the tiny shopfronts that house a myriad of spices, teas and pulses. As I anticipated, our foodies were assaulted by smells and tastes throughout the day! A hot flat bread filled with freshly fried falafel, veggies, pickles, chillis and tahini was our simple but very filling lunch at a harbour-side café overlooking the Chateau-de-Mer of Saida. We had to squeeze in some deep-fried pastries filled with semolina and drizzled with a delicately scented syrup (kellege). And simply had to try the completely preservative-free home-made ice-cream, in the oldest ice-cream parlour in town – still made in the traditional way by the original proprietor’s grandson. And the whole lot washed down with a sharp cardamom coffee from one of the “clink clink” men who walk the streets throughout Lebanon clinking two tiny china cups together, which tells everyone they can top up their caffeine levels instantly for a few hundred Lebanese lire. The gourmet pleasures continued in the Chouf mountain home of Bassem’s family, the Doghmans. As it was around the birthdays of three of the young Doghmans,
we organised a combined family birthday party including the usual grilled favourites, along with other more unusual dishes that are not found on restaurant menus: molokhiyeh, moghrabia, loubiyeh bil zeit among others. The party rolled along merrily with the help of some fabulous Syrah from the Karram winery in Jezzine. An evening enjoyed by all as a real insight into the social life of an average Lebanese family – something not on the itinerary of other organized group tours to the Lebanon. The final day was spent travelling to the Bekaa valley, the most fertile region in the country, famous for fruit and vegetables and its wineries, We toured the caves of Ksara, which was making wine 150 years ago (but is ultra-modern today) After a fine tasting, our members were pretty hungry. We took our lunch in a Lebanese fast
food grill-house in Zahle. We noted that although the small mezze was served in stainless steel trays, it was every bit as fresh and tasty as the food we’d had in the classier eateries and Ksara red oiled the wheels, too! And so to Beirut airport at the end of our tour. Our intrepid epicures had survived and enjoyed the first ‘Orexi’ Gastronomic tour of Lebanon! In three days we managed to cover quite a bit of the country but there is still so much more to see. The only thing that hampers Lebanon’s growth as a valid tourist destination for the West is its unstable political situation. But my advice is, when it seems quiet for a spell, go and enjoy! And Orexi will try to organize another tour, too! For further information about Orexi’s Catering Services, Supper Club and Cookery Classes, call Elena on 99 887293 or email email@example.com
CYPRUS WINES COME OF AGE By Patrick Skinner
Friday, May 13th, was one of the happiest days – if not THE happiest – I have spent since Mary and I came to live here in 1991. To see the good humour, friendship and pride of our winemakers as they assembled to receive their awards, I felt a great and wonderful feeling of pride too. The wines that won medals were good – by ANY standards. These winemakers have worked untiringly for years for this moment – with very little help from anyone – least of all from a government that joined the EU without seeking any grace period for transition for 44 cyprusgourmet.com
our wineries. It was at a crucial stage in their development and they were suddenly faced with a flood of cheap imported wines. That they have survived and are reaping the
rewards for their success is a miracle that they have themselves achieved. Through these years they have also had to contend with attitudes within the business and among
consumers that “foreign is better”. I am proud to have been one of the few who said “We can make good table wines in Cyprus” and to work alongside these dedicated people, encouraging and promoting them whenever and wherever I could. So, that was the day that for me Cyprus wines came of age. A day when the producers could hold up their heads and say “We’re here – we’ve arrived. We can go on to international sales and acclaim”. It was a day, also, that I could say that the time has come for me to retire from weekly journalism, in the comfortable knowledge that I
have been just a tiny part of a wonderful story. Cyprus Gourmet will go forward as a part of our food and wine heritage, and continue to report what is a good in quality and value, with a growing team of talented writers
and contributors, under the direction of Masis der Parthogh. It will continue to innovate, with wine and dine evenings, tastings, events and a club for the consumer to enjoy many practical and economic privileges.
Masis der Parthogh presents a replica of an ancient “oenochos” wine jug to Michel Picard at the Cyprus Gourmet Wine Awards cyprusgourmet.com 45
et m r ou
Th r e
yp ru s
ou rm et
Friday 13th May, at the Londa Hotel, Limassol, saw the announcement of Cyprus Gourmet Magazine’s Top 50 Cyprus Wines for 2011. A large and good humoured crowd of winemakers and wine lovers watched the presentation of 14 Gold, 18 Silver and 18 Bronze Awards for Cyprus Table Wines and five Gold and four Silver for Sweet Wines. The world famous Burgundian wine producer and negociant Michel Picard presented the awards, with our very own wine man George Kassianos at his side. This is the second year of the Cyprus Gourmet awards and even in just twelve months several trends have been in evidence. Last year, there were no Gold Awards, although a number of wines got very close. This year quite a lot of Gold is in evidence. The reason, I think, is that in the past year due to improving work in the vineyards and the wineries, different vintages and in some cases better care, have combined to push these wines upwards to the Gold standard. The largest harvester of Gold was Michalis Constantinides who does everything at Ezousa winery, who won three Gold Seals and one Silver. He was Cyprus Gourmet Magazine’s Paphos Winemaker of the year in 2009, when his brilliant use of Maratheftiko in making an outstanding rosé was remarked upon. Now he has extended his command of this grape with a Gold
ou t r m et
ou r m et
yp r us
et rm rm u ou o G s G et et ru s r m rm T yp ru Gou s GoTu he C C e s ru h y yp p u Th yp e r C C r us yp The Th yp G e
et m CC r yp G ou ru s G ss G u s r Go ru ouu yp C rrm yp me he C ett T e
ru o e us u s G C yp G r ru ou o m s ur G ou m e rm rm et t et e
he e Th
T T h e
o G u o rm u rm et
e TTh Th h e
r yp C
C C Cyp yp ru y ru s G s o G ur ou rm
e h T
e t t
r p y C
r u o
u r m
C yp ru
ou r m et
yp h ru e C yp s r us G G ou o r m G
ou r m et
t t t et rme e me m Gou m ur
r Go ur m e et e ourus ur m m G yp s e C Go rmur ur Th s o o ru u G G yp o s C G ru us pr et yp
t winning red Maratheftiko. In his comments to the assembled company at the Cyprus Gourmet Dinner following the awards presentation, where it was served with the meat course, Michel Picard commented that it reminded him of a good Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The full dining room applauded enthusiastically. During the evening I was made aware that our work to ensure better quality and value for the consumer is understood and appreciated. Our publisher, Masis der Parthogh and I created the Cyprus Gourmet awards, the weekly features, website and magazine three years ago to help the consumer, who buys many of his or her wines from the local supermarket or other retail outlets. And it is consumers who play the first and vital role in these Wine Awards, by voting for the wines they prefer, through Email, correspondence, by phone and personally. In parallel with this a number of professional soundings are made. Following the public votes, a list of nominated wines was prepared, which were then evaluated blind by tasting groups. In the final stages public and professional opinion and value are taken into account. From these judgments the Top 50 wines are selected. I think that there is agreement that they are fifty wines you can buy with confidence â€“ NOWâ€™. cyprusgourmet.com 47
Monsieur et Madame Picard In the late 1990s, when Michel Picard received a telex from Alexis Nicolaides, a young Cypriot just starting a wine distribution business, asking if he could be his agent in Cyprus, he liked the form of the approach and agreed. At this point, his wife Liliane suggested she should have a holiday in our island. She came, she saw, she found the people, the place and the ambience sympathique. Soon Michel came over, too and his wines were launched here in2000. Like his wife he liked Cyprus and has come here many times since, for a holiday and to talk and taste wine. During his visit earlier this year week, Michel and Liliane, as usual, enjoyed relaxing at their hotel, seeing the island and being guests of honour at two highly successful wine events. The first was at the Columbia Steak House, organised by “Mr. Oenoforos”, Alexis Nicolaides and attended by 140 guests including the Mayor of Limassol. The second was the presentation of the awards for our Top 50 Cyprus wines of 2011, at the Londa Hotel, at which our leading wine makers gathered in an exceptionally congenial atmosphere to hear of their fate and collect their bronze, silver and gold certificates. This was followed by
the first Cyprus Gourmet Dinner, a meal created by the Londa’s second-in-command, chef Vassos Michael and composed entirely of ingredients produced in Cyprus or its waters. In introducing M et Mme Picard, I said I felt there was more affinity between them and Cyprus than just their liking it here – in fact, the Picard story reflected the experience of many of the Cyprus winemakers present, namely the parlaying of a small piece of family land and an old-fashioned winery into a larger, successful modern wine business. I also told a little of their story… “In 1951 in a small town of just a few thousand people in the heart of Burgundy called Chagny, Louis Felix Picard established a modest wine business. He had two hectares of vines to cultivate and also bought grapes from growers. It was hard work and not at that time very profitable and he needed help. So, he asked his 15 year old son to leave school and to come and help in the vineyards and with the winemaking. That boy was Michel Picard. Today he has expanded those two hectares into ownership of 136. He is master of one of Burgundy’s finest chateaux, the producer of around a million bottles a year of highly praised and awarded premier cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as many splendid everyday wines. He has 30 people working in his vineyards, three full time in the cellars, one winemaker, five persons dealing with wine tourism aspects, and two accountants… total around 40. He exports to the major wine consuming countries, he travels the world, and he is Mayor – now for the second term – of Chagny. Awards and honours come his way regularly. His daughter told me ‘He has a memory like an elephant’, so he will vividly recall his
early years when he travelled throughout Burgundy on a Peugeot motor cycle, meeting the growers and getting to know the whole region intimately. In the early 1970s, Michel took over the family operation, with the help of his wife Liliane. In the late nineties, Michel’s children Francine and Gabriel joined the family business. The rest, as we say, is history. How does he relax? I asked. I was told, “This word is not in his vocabulary, but on the other hand he is not a stressed person… however he never relaxes, working is his passion, but when he has time it’s mountain walking, bike riding and helicopter flying. If you go for a bike tour with him, you will end carrying your bike most of the time… ” What about favourite foods? I know from my own experience of Michel that he loves his food and wine and possesses eclectic tastes. At home in Chagny it is said he enjoys going to the restaurant of the town’s best hotel, the Lameloise. We may think ‘OK – small town, 2,000 people, a a little family place, maybe’. Well, there’s just one thing I have to tell you about this … it has three Michelin Stars and is reckoned to be one of the best in France. He’s not a wine snob… at home often it is a Beaujolais from his cellar… Family life? ‘Is this a joke ?’, was his daughter’s reply to my question. ‘family business more like’. Firstly, his wife, Liliane is an enormous factor in his life… supporting his work and a 24/7 companion. And – as if to prove what a nice man this is, his children chose to go into the family firm - son Gabriel is the general manager of the family group. Daughter Francine is the general manager of the Michel Picard domains and wine house. In many ways Michel Picard is an example to us all. Local boy who makes good. A happy family man – with, clearly,
“the gold winning red Maratheftiko reminded me of a good Chateauneuf du Pape” Michel Picard
a happy family. A man at home anywhere, everywhere and with everybody. A man of achievement and pride, but also of friendship and humility. An ideal man to meet with us tonight and share our 2011Cyprus Wine Awards.”
Michel Picard with the Mayor of Limassol, Andreas Christou, at the Columbia Steak House event
The dust has settled on the three month kerfuffle that went in to organising the second annual CG Magazine Top 50 Cyprus Wine Awards. Now we can sit back and reflect. And, ask questions! Like: why were there no Gold Awards last year, but 14 in 2011? Are our wines getting better? If they are, why? And the one we get asked most of all: how do the Cyprus Gourmet Magazine Awards differ from the national competition organised by the Wine Products Council? Patrick Skinner talked to those who contributed through all the stages of the competition, concluding with the chairman of the professional panels and blind tastings’ organiser, George Kassianos.
WPC Annual Wine Competition v CG “Top 50” The two competitions are totally different in concept and organisation. In the Wine Products Council Competition, the wineries submit wines they wish to be judged, regardless of quantity produced or, sometimes, of availability to the consumer. The wines are judged by panels of expert oenologists/wine commentators, most of whom are from countries other than Cyprus. The wines are tasted “blind” and evaluated regardless of price. The re50 cyprusgourmet.com
sults represent what the judges considered the best made wines. In the CG Top Fifty Competition, wines to be judged are nominated by the public. The sole criterion is that the wines nominated must be available for purchase by the public at the closing date (31st January). At the same time, we collect and take note of professional opinions. From the nominations received, a ranking is made and informal tastings of the wines held. Finally, professional panels, comprising either Cypriots or people resident in Cyprus, taste blind and mark each wine. From these markings, the Top 50 are assembled. Before we go public careful checks ensure that ALL wines are available to the consumer.
Golds in 2011 There were 14 this year, against none last year. Why? The first point to realise is that markings are out of 100 points. To get Gold the score for a wine must be 90 or more. In 2010 we had a lot of wines with 86, 87, 88 and some with 89. This year, 14 tipped over the 90 mark – testifying to an overall improvement of 2% – 3%. Also, there were some absolute crackers this time!
The Whites Less than 10 points covered the top 12 white wines (4 Gold and 8 Silver) and the majority of these were made from our own Xynisteri. 2010 was, in fact, a better vintage than 2009, from which some were slightly dull. This year’s Xynisteris are the best yet with some beautiful, bright, fruity, aromatic wines.
The Wineries Some of our young winemakers’ enterprises are already becoming “Boutique” wineries, and one or two, like Ezousa are achieving almost cult status. There are individual cult wines about, too, like Zambartas Rosè and a Kyperounda or two. The realisation that you can sell a lot of wine “from the gate” (i.e. to the public from the winery) has taken a long, long time to sink in. It shouldn’t have! Vouni-Panayia realised years ago that cash in hand from bottles or cases sold on the premises is better than waiting months for a supermarket to pay for wines purchased. A model for all is Lambouri winery in Kato Platres – open every day. Costas Constantinou at Pera Pedi wouldn’t have a winery if it wasn’t for his from-the-gate sales, which are such he
doesn’t have to have an expensive distribution network.
The Thoughts of Chairman George After it was all over, George Kassianos confided to me some of the thoughts that occurred during the event. “Ezousa’s Ayios Chrysostomos Xynisteri, also Ayioklima and Ktima KEO Rosé were delightful surprises for me, along with KEO Thisbe, which came into the reckoning through the popular vote”. Of this year’s CG Top 50 Cyprus Competition George had this to say: “Today, I believe we had a better mix of wineries, with more emphasis on indigenous grapes. The price range is widening, too, because we had nominations from price ranges from €3.50 to €20,00 per bottle”. “Overall quality was better, especially the whites. Vintage wise we had better wines in 2010 than 2009. The 2007 and 2008 reds seem to be maturing and developing well. More acidity and roundness in whites, mellower and fruitier reds, dry rosés”. “And then, rightly I think, we judged the sweet wines separately. Finally, in 2011 we had the assistance
of several of Cyprus’s leading wine professionals and thoroughly professional environments in which we carried out our tastings. So, at the end of the day, I feel we made substantial progress over the first year and we have laid down a foundation for the Top 50 Cyprus Wine competitions in future years”.
The Future 20 years ago a US or UK wine consumer didn’t know much about Greek wines. Now he or she has access to a grand array from producers large and small. Boutique wineries are the fashion. Indigenous grapes, like Agiorgitiko and Assyrtiko were important ingredients in Greek success. So we feel it will be with Cyprus wines. Small, specialist importers, some restaurants and hotels abroad will add selected Cyprus wines to their lists and the chances are that the reds will be varietals or blends led by the red Maratheftiko and the white Xynisteri. It will not be long before one of the names below will feature in wine magazines and newspapers abroad.
THE 2011 TOP FIFTY CYPRUS WINES… HOW MUCH THEY COST…AND WHERE YOU CAN BUY THEM
All wines awarded are available to the consumer. Prices quoted are approximate retail, which may vary from place to place, including VAT. Key: WD = widely distributed to supermarkets and other retail shops LD = selected wine stores and retailers and from the winery AbV = Alcohol by Volume VFM = Outstanding Value for Money
14 GOLD SEALS White Wines Ezousa Winery 2010 Ayios Chrysostomos Xynisteri €6.50 13% AbV WD Kyperounda Winery 2009 Oaked Chardonnay €9.90 13.5% AbV WD Constantinou Winery for 2010 Ayioklima Xynisteri €5.50 12.5% AbV LD VFM KEO Winery for “Thisbe” Sultana €4.20 13% AbV WD VFM
Rosé Wines Ezousa Winery for 2010 Eros Rosé €8.25 2% AbV WD Zambartas Winery for 2010 Zambartas Rosé €12.00 13.5% AbV LD cyprusgourmet.com 51
Constantinou Winery for 2010 Levanda Rosé €5.50 13.5% AbV WD VFM Ktima KEO for 2010 Rosé €7.50 14% AbV WD
Red Wines Ezousa Winery for 2007 Metharme Maratheftiko €8.25 12% AbV WD Ktima Argyrides for 2008 Maratheftiko €12.00 14% AbV LD Ktima Kolios for 2005 Shiraz €17.00 14% AbV LD Ktima Vlassides for 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon €10.50 14% AbV LD Kyperounta Winery for 2008 Shiraz €9.90 14.5% AbV LD K & K Vasilikon Winery for 2009 Ayios Onoufrios €5.5013% AbVWD VFM
18 Silver Seals Whites:
Kyperounda Winery for 2010 Petritis €6.50 13% AbV WD Tsalapatis Winery for 2010 Melapsopodi Ezousa Winery 2010 Ayios Erimoudes “Athina” Xynisteri 2010 Chrysostomos Xynisteri €6.50 13% AbV €4.65 12% AbV WD WD Fikardos Winery for 2010 “Alkisti” Constantinou Winery for 2010 Chardonnay €6.90 13% AbV WD Ayioklima Xynisteri €5.50 12.5% AbV KEO Winery for 2009 Xynisteri LD VFM €5.80 12.5% AbV WD VFM Zambartas Winery for 2010 ZamKolios Winery for 2010 “Persefoni” bartas Rosé €12.00 13.5% AbV LD €5.00 12% AbV WD VFM Ktima Argyrides for 2008 MarathKtima KEO for 2009 Xynisteri/Chareftiko €12.00 14% AbV LD donnay €7.30 12.5% AbV WD Ktima Kolios for 2005 Shiraz
Ktima Vlassides for 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon €10.50 14% AbV LD Erimoudes “Athina” Xynisteri 2010 €4.65 12% AbV WD Tsalapatis Winery for 2010 Melapsopodi Sauvignon Blanc €7.80 13% AbV LD Zambartas Winery for 2010 Zambartas Xynisteri €9.50 12% AbV LD
Rose ETKO Olympus Winery for 2010 Rosé €6.80 14% AbV WD Tsiakkas Winery for 2010 Rodinos Rosé €5.30 12.5% AbV WD VFM
Reds AES Ambelis Winery for 2008 “Omiros” Maratheftiko €11.50 13% AbV LD Domaine Hadjiantonas for 2008
Shiraz €17.00 13.5% AbV LD Ezousa Winery for 2008 “Ainos” €13.50 14% AbV LD Makkas Winery for 2007 Shiraz €14.00 14% AbV LD K & K VasilikonWiery for 2005 “Methy” Cabernet Sauvignon €13.50 13% AbV LD Ktima Argyrides for 2008 Mourvèdre €10.00 14% AbV LD Yiaskouris Winery for 2007 Oakaged Shiraz €9.50 13.5% AbV WD Zambartas Winery for 2007 Shiraz/Lefkada €18.00 14.5% AbV LD
Gaia Oinotechniki for 2010 “Ambelidha” Xynisteri €5.75 11% AbV WD Ktima. Argyrides for 2010 Chardonnay €10.00 12.5% AbV LD ETKO Olympus for Non Vintage Semi-Sweet €3.95 11% AbV WD VFM K & K Vasilikon Winery for 2010 Vasilikon €6.00 12% AbV WD SODAP for 2010 Kamanterena Rhine Riesling €4.75 11.5% AbV WD VFM Tsiakkas Winery for 2009 Xynisteri €5.30 12.5% AbV WD
BRONZE SEALS White Wines
Aes Ambelis for 2010 Chardonnay €8.50 12.5% AbV LD Chrysoroyiatissa Winery for 2010 Ayios Andronicos €5.65 12% AbV WD Domaine Hadjiantonas for 2010 Xyinisteri €9.00 12.5% AbV LD
Aes Ambelis for 2010 Rosé €7.50 12.5% AbV LD Domaine Hadjiantonas for 2010 Rosé €13.00 13.5% AbV LD Kyperounda Winery for 2009 Rosé €6.00 14% AbV WD SODAP for 2010 Kamanterena Lefkada Rosé €4.75 13% AbV WD
Red Wines Constantinou Winery for 2009 “Velvet” €5.50 13.5% AbV LD Tsangarides Winery for 2008 Mataro €9.00 14% AbV LD Kyperounda Winery for 2008 “Andesitis” €6.70 14.5% AbV WD SODAP for 2007 “Mountain Vines” €6.80 13% AbV WD Tsiakkas Winery for 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon €10.75 13.5% AbV WD
Dessert (Sweet) Wines 5 Gold Awards Ayia Mavri Winery for 2006 Moschato €20.00 14% AbV LD ETKO for Centurion 1991 €46.00 15% AbV LD ETKO for Centurion 16% AbV WD KEO for 1984 St. John €70.00 15% AbV LD KEO for St. John €9.80 15% AbV WD
Silver Awards 3 SILVER Awards Ayia Mavri for 2008 Moschato €20.00 14% AbV Ld LOEL for Alasia15% AbV WD SODAP for St. Barnabas €17.0015% AbV LD
Wine notes 2010 Vlassides: fresh, rich, viva54 cyprusgourmet.com
cious white wine with bright grapefruit, lime, melon and hay aromas and concentrated kiwi, citrus and green apple flavours. A mouth-watering aperitif wine as well as a fine accompaniment to a wide range of seafood, poultry, vegetarian and salad dishes. Limited availability €6 2010 Eros Ezousa Winery: Crisp, fragrant, this Maratheftiko grape based rosé features fresh strawberry, rose and hibiscus aromas that are mirrored on the palate. With its dry finish and balanced acidity, this Rosé is perfectly suited for al fresco dining, pasta with tomato sauce and lighter fare, stuffed vegetables and even some grilled pork chops. Widely available €8 2009 Ayios Onoufrios, Regional Wine of Pafos, abv 13.5%, Mavro and Lefkada, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Raspberry and spice characters,
with earthy, chocolaty and raspberry conserve characters followed by fig and fresh liquorices. Long, fine grained tannin, solid, medium bodied palate, raspberry and other red fruit notes intertwine, cinnamon, demi-glace pan juice and aniseed. Enjoyed, slightly cooler, with Greek meze and/or slow cooked lamb shoulder. Widely available €5.50 2010 Ayioklima, Constantinou Distillery, Pera Pedi, Lemesos, abv 12.5% Bright, clean aromas of fresh citrus, lemon, lime and a hint of something green, such as herbal or grass. It is equally clean and bright, expressive on the palate with delicious ripe green and citrus fruit. Finishes with pleasant flavor and some tart apple notes, excellent with fried fish and seafood. Limited Availability €5.50 2010 Zambartas Wineries Rosé, Lemesos Regional, abv 13.5%, Fresh and lively, and smelling like ripe strawberries, red cherries, cranberries and racy raspberries fruit taking centre stage with some spice and grenadine syrup sweetness in the background. Good fresh acidity and subtle tannin structure the fruit character is strawberry and cranberry than anything else with a bit of red cherry and rustic earthy and spicy edge. Limited availability €11
2009 Ktima Argyrides Maratheftiko, Vasa, Regional Wine of Lemesos, abv 14.50% Very varietal lifted nose with hints of eucalypt, mint, cassis and dark fruit. Rigid acid spine holds the soft tannin together, implying age ability. Tight structure now, but will open up like a spring rose, given a touch more cellar time. Limited availability €12.50 My food and wine lovers from abroad I would have chosen the following menu.
Wine as aperitif 2010 Rodinos Tsiakkas Salad with rocket, baby squash and Kefalotyri cheese Aubergine and feta cheese with tahini, Tzatziki, and pita bread 2010 Petritis Ky-
perounda Winery Baked lamb with New potatoes with 2007 Ezousa Metharme Maratheftiko Ekme Kateifi with honey and walnuts with 2008 Ayia Mavri Moschato
The wine description: 2010 Rodinos, Tsiakkas Winery, Geographical Indication Lemesos, abv 12.5% This wine Grenache based rose has a fragrant bouquet of fresh rose petals, confectionary, strawberry and guava notes that dominate the nose with a slightly sharper, spicier taste. An intensely flavoured palate with lovely richness, finishing balanced and polished. Widely available €5.50
2010 Petritis, Kyperounda Winery, G. I. Lemesos, abv 13% Powerful aromas of citrus, passionfruit, some herb notes, grass and with hints of grapefruit. The palate is pleasingly rich and concentrated, with depth and with a well balanced acidity that leads to a lingering finish. Widely available €7 2007 Metharme, Ezousa Winery G.I. Pafos, abv 14.5% Mature nose, preserved and dried berries, hint of prunes, spicy nuts and roasted notes. Noticeably mature again on the palate, light-bodied fruit, but quite persistent, dried dark berries and some prunes, light spice and delicate herbaceous notes, integrated moderate tannins, hint of acidity, attractive to good finish. Limited availability €14 2008 Ayia Mavri Moschatos, G.I. Lemesos, abv 14% A fragrant wine with floral, lime, orange blossom and ripe apricot and musky aromas. Soft and bright with a sweet, clean textural wine, flavours of lime curd tart, apricot and peaches with candied orange, a lingering palate and a crisp delicate finish. Limited availability €20
wine BUSINESS NOTES
Moët & Chandon celebrates heritage in China with “Tribute to the Spirit of 1743”
oët & Chandon held a “Tribute to the Spirit of 1743” gala dinner in China. Hosted by Moët’s celebrity muse Scarlett Johansson, the exclusive event welcomed guests on the Peninsula Shanghai Roof Top Terrace overlooking the Bund, followed by an after-party at Bar Rouge, one of the city’s trendiest clubs. The Peninsula’s rooftop was specially crafted out of 15,000 sparkling champagne glasses, lining the terrace walls for the occasion. The “Tribute to the Spirit of 1743” celebrated Moët’s longtime heritage in China having first arrived in the country in 1843, a century after the Maison was founded. To salute the 100-year landmark, Moët featured a rare 100-year old wine, Grand Vintage 1911, to an array of international VIPs. “Moët’s 168-year history in China, a country with an exceptional heritage, is based on our shared values: firmly rooted in tradition yet innovatively forward thinking,” said Daniel Lalonde, President and CEO of Moët & Chandon. In Hong Kong, prior to the Shanghai dîner du siècle, Moët & Chandon auctioned off a luxurious coffret filled with bottles of the prestigious Grand Vintage 1911. Auctioned at US$100,000, the proceeds benefitted the Nature Conservancy, a local environmental initiative helping to protect nature and preserve wildlife. Moët’s champagne cork-shaped hot air balloon, the Spirit of 1743, also took part in the event as part of its world tour when it visited Beijing and the Great Wall of China in early September.
Moët Ambassador Scarlett Johansson brings glamorous touch to Shanghai gala dinner
Cyprus to host “La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rotisseurs” at the Four Seasons in November Cyprus will host the international membership induction ceremony, also known as “Chapitre”, of the “La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rotisseurs” the oldest Gastronomic Society in the world, founded in 1248 by King Louis le Saint of France. The black-tie event will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel on November 5 and members from around the world can also join. The host will be Victor Papadopoulos, owner of “La Maison du Vin” and President of the Society’s Cyprus Chapter. The International President of the Society is based in Paris and there are
National Presidents in each member country. There are two categories of members: the Professional Members comprising of leading hotels, restaurants and Michelin Star chefs; and, Amateur Members who take the title of the Chevalier (for men); and Dame de la Châine (for women). Members include royalty (Prince Albert of Monaco, Prince Hedrick of Denmark), ambassadors, and connoisseurs who appreciate good food and wine. The Cyprus Chapter was established
ten years ago and is based at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol with an international membership – Cypriots, French, British, Russians, Germans, Lebanese, Belarussians, Danish and Austrians. Gastronomic Events are held eight to ten times a year, where members can enjoy fine menus and drink great wines at competitive prices.
wine BUSINESS NOTES Rémy Cointreau has sold off its underperforming Champagne business — including the Piper and Charles Heidsieck brands — to the family owned French firm EPI for €412 mln. This is said to be a little above the €300-€400 mln at which the business was generally valued. (LVMH was reportedly turned away with a €300 mln bid last December). Rémy’s P&C Heidsieck Champagne unit, while increasing turnover 7% to €104 mln in the year to March, showed unexciting profitability for Rémy, which is keenly focused on developing its flagship Rémy Martin Cognac label, among others. “The sale is entirely consistent with the acceleration of our value strategy, which focuses on our international Liqueurs & Spirits brands and businesses,” said Jean-Marie Laborde, Rémy’s CEO. At EPI, the Champagne business joins a brand range which includes luxury goods like JM Weston, Alain Figaret and Bonpoint, as well as Luberon’s Chateau La Verrerie.
the major consumers
As with Grand Slam Tennis and global power play, so wine consumption is substantially increasing in the Far East. Figures just released show that year on year growth in China was the highest of all countries, although the USA remains the largest overall consumer. The 2010 figure of 307 mln bottles is expected to climb to over 372 mln in two years. This table shows total consumption in the years 2005 – 2010 by million bottles of countries in which wine consumption is rising.
Country United States China United Kingdom Australia Canada South Africa Czech Republic Denmark
278.9 144.4 146.1 50.3 35.1 38.3 17.3 19.7
303.9 155.8 145.2 57.8 40.4 38.0 22.3 21.0
307.1 164.5 147.8 59.2 41.0 38.5 22.6 21.4
Five Year Change 2005-2010
1.9% 2.6% 0.2% 3.3% 3.2% 0.1% 5.5% 1.7%
Change 2009-2010 1.0% 5.6% 1.8% 2.4% 1.5% 1.4% 1.4% 2.1%
Wine Consumption per head of population Topping the toppers’ charts is, would you believe, the Vatican City State, where the 1000 citizens manage to get through an average of 70 litres each, and it’s rising. Another small state, Luxembourg, with 491,000 citizens has an average per person tally of 54 litres. The league leader in overall consumption, the USA, is way down in 57th place in the per head list, at almost nine litres a head per year. Of major countries, France is still a big wine drinking nation, despite its President’s predations on the wine industry – 45 litres a head (but declining). The UK is a rising wine drinking country, consuming annually 20 litres a head. Consumption in Cyprus is around 13 litres a year per head and seems not to be rising very much. 58 cyprusgourmet.com
Spectusoffersfreecellaring forcustomers’wines Wine lovers who are either collectors, or simply the possessors of wine they wish to mature or keep for some time, will be interested in the new offer by Spectus to store wines purchased from the company free of charge for three years. This makes good sense, because storage of wine is arguably the biggest problem for wine drinkers in Cyprus. The long hot summers and the very considerable changes of temperature both seasonal and daily militate against keeping wine in anything other than temperature controlled conditions. Spectus’s George Hadjikyriacos tells me: “We recently acquired a large warehouse with ideal storage conditions for cellaring wine, in Limassol. It is eight meters below
ground, offering ideal cellaring conditions for our wines. We have also purchased the biggest mechanical ‘Wine Cellaring Unit’ in Cyprus. Visits are welcome by appointment”.
Wines will be cellared in complete cases of 6 or 12 bottles. Those interested in this service should contact George Hadjikyriacos. And where can an enthusiastic with deep pockets and plenty of years ahead begin to use such a service? Perhaps by looking into Spectus’s opening shots in their programme to sell 2010 Bordeaux en primeur. After 2009, the most spectacular vintage for many years – and rapidly sold – it was not expected there would be another fantastic year for some time, but in the opinions of those who know and can judge the quality and potential for the future, last year’s is as good and maybe better
Taking a Tapas or Two Our Nicosia Nose, Andres Mateo Cuvi takes his taste buds to Vinocultura
During the past couple of years, Cyprus’ fondness for wine has blossomed like my waistline after Easter Sunday. Appreciation courses offered by the many wine shops that have sprung up throughout the capital are in high demand. Tastings to promote local and foreign wines occur on a weekly basis and attract a multitudinous crowd hungry for knowledge and an easy buzz. Each passing year, Cypriot winemakers release improved vintages and welcome more visitors to their vineyards in the mountains. To cater to this growing interest, entrepreneurs and connoisseurs have set up wine-themed establishments that range from bohemian hangouts to sleek restaurants. Vinocultura opened its doors as a wine and tapas bar this May and immediately made itself felt among Nicosia’s wine-guzzling crowd. The space, which also houses the wine shop and delicatessen, is modern yet warm thanks to its dim lighting, dark walls, long bar made of amber wood, and covered outdoor patio with stools and tall tables decorated with candle lanterns. Its design suits managing director Mr. Andreas Kyprianou’s vision of offering wine aficionados an eatery and bar that is bereft of pretensions and where a pleasant light meal can be enjoyed at an affordable price. Overall, the service started off slow but picked up to a good standard as the night progressed. Our attentive Bulgarian waiter, who made us chuckle with his story on how he picked up his American accent thanks to Hollywood, routinely changed our glasses as we switched wines and served the edibles at a brisk pace. The food menu is highlighted by a good selection of bruschetta—the strawberry, 60 cyprusgourmet.com
fig, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar is a must—and compelling salads like mixed greens, chorizo, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and spring onions tossed in a paprika-infused oil. The cooked dishes include halloumi drizzled with honey and pomegranate, fried calamari and a grilled chicken breast marinated in harissa, a North African chilli pepper paste that lent a distinct smokiness to the tender meat. While well executed, these cooked tapas gave me the impression that the restaurant is playing it safe by slightly tweaking traditional Cypriot fare. However, I was happy to hear from Andreas that they’re in the process of adding cheese, cured meats, seafood and vegetable antipasto and rotating the tapas menu on a seasonal basis, a practice I believe will make them stand out from the rest. Albeit, what truly shines is the wine. Vinocultura is the only bar in Nicosia that has a proper wine dispenser and offers 11 white, 7 rosé, 9 red, and 3 sweet sparkling wines by the glass. Guests can order these in three different sizes—from a tasting (5cl) to a full glass (18.75cl) depending on one’s finicky mood, indecisiveness or ability to hold down liqueur. At only a reasonable markup from the retail price, customers can also choose any of the more than 350 wines available by the bottle at the cava. Our party of seven, imbibers par excellence, took on a few glasses as aperitifs and then moved on to bottles of the 2009 Henry Fessy Moulin-à-Vent and 2009 Pascual Toso Reserva Malbec. Of course, both wines spoke highly of the quality to be found at the bar and gave us more than enough reasons to return on other occasions to merrily work our way down the exhaustive list.
Vinocultura Wine & Tapas Bar – Wine Cellar – Delicatessen, 20 Kyriacou Matsi, Ayioi Omologites, 1082 Nicosia. Tel: 2267 6707 or 9932 3960. www.vinocultura.net. The bar is open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight. Reservations are advised. €25 per person with a glass of wine. cyprusgourmet.com 61
Wine and Dine at home, with our Recipes, Menus and Food/Wine Matches By Patrick Skinner and George Kassianos
Re-create the Londa Hotel’s Cyprus Gourmet Menu at Home! Londa Chef Vassos Michael created this three course menu for the Cyprus Gourmet 2011 Top 50 Cyprus Wine Awards dinner in May. We made two requests to him: firstly, all the ingredients should be sourced from Cyprus; secondly, that the dishes should be easy to cook at home. He succeeded admirably!
First Course – Mediterranean Salad
Ingredients for 4 servings
2 – 3 Bunches of watercress (according to size) and/or other greens to form base of salad. 2 large or 4 small fillets of red mullet 4 medium sized radishes 2 medium sized spring onions 8 cherry tomatoes 62 cyprusgourmet.com
4 slices of hiromeri baked in oven 100 g halloumi cheese 1 egg yolk Fresh mint Salt and pepper to taste
Method * Heat the oven to 100°C * Place the slices of hiromeri on a
wire tray and bake in the oven until each piece is dry.
3 tablespoons carob syrup 1 slice of preserved Cyprus citrus fruit (Glyki) 100 g walnuts
* Grate the halloumi and put in a
bowl. Add the fresh mint and an egg yolk and mix well adding some ground black pepper.
* Take a generous teaspoonful of the halloumi mixture and make a ball of it. Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Cut the baklava pastry in four squares and butter them Place them in round or square moulds to get the required shape of nest Bake in the oven at 150°C for 20 minutes
* Fry the halloumi balls in hot oil turning several times. This will take about three minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. * Now shallow fry the fillets of red mullet.
* Slice the watercress/greens coarsely. * Slice the radishes and spring onions
in thin slices.
*Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. * Arrange the greens, spring onions,
tomatoes and radishes on each of four plates. Sprinkle over your salad dressing of choice.
* Arrange the fillet of red mullet on
top, put the baked hiromeri on one side of the plates and several halloumi balls on the other and serve. Vassos makes a special dressing for this salad from several tbps lemon juice, a squeeze or two of grapefruit juice and lime juice, 6 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest all mixed in blender. You may vary these according to your own taste.
Wine: one of the excellent 2010 Cyprus Xynisteri whites.
Roast Pork Fillet with Commandaria Sauce Ingredients for Four Servings
4 pork fillets (200-250 g each) 1 kg kolokassi, peeled Some bunches of sorrel (radikia) 75 ml of Commandaria 75 ml dry red wine 30gr of Shinos bush leaves (pistacia lentiscus) Juice of half lemon Olive oil Thyme, rosemary, parsley, dill (aromatic herbs) Salt and ground black pepper
Method * Trim the pork fillets of any fat or
* Chop the aromatic herbs ( thyme, rosemary, parsley, dill) and mix them with the crushed Shinos leaves Roll the pork fillets in the herb mix and ensure they are covered all over. Keep the herbs remaining. * Coverthe base of a large frying pan with oil and gently lower the fillets into it and shallow fry them until browned on both sides.
* Place them in a roasting pan and bake
in the oven at 170° for 15 minutes.
* Blanche the bunches of sorrel for three minutes, drain and then add a tablespoonful of olive oil, salt and pepper, stir on the heat for a minute or two and then set aside. * Cut the kolokassi in cubes and shallow fry in olive oil, then add lemon juice, salt and pepper.
* Now make the sauce. In the pan used for frying the pork fillets add the Commandaria, the red wine, a good knob of fresh butter and the remaining aromatic herbs and reduce until the sauce becomes thin.
* Place equal portions of the sorrel on the plate and on top put a pork fillet the pork, as shown in the photograph. * Then garnish with the kolokassi and the sauce. Wine:
Cyprus Maratheftiko (2006,
Fresh Anari in Phyllo Pastry Nest with Cinnamon and Honey
In your food processor blend the fresh Anari, the cinnamon powder and the honey. Fill the baked pastry nests with this mixture Garnish with the citrus thinly sliced fruit and the walnuts Serve in a plate drizzled with carob syrup
LUNCH BY THE SEA If you have a Barbecue specialist in the family, perhaps Souvla will be insisted upon, but, frankly it is a heavy dish for this time of year. If you want to cook poolside, then we suggest a chicken Shish Kebab: skewered alternate pieces of chicken fillet, bacon, mushroom, green pepper, tomato and onion. Basted with a hot and spicy marinade. If you don’t want to slave over a hot BBQ, pre-prep is the thing. This is a meal that can be got ready early in the morning, or in the case of the tart, the previous afternoon. It’s all served cold, too, so everyone can enjoy the food at their leisure.
Ingredients for Four Servings
4 sheets of Phyllo pastry 500 g fresh Anari cheese 4 tablespoons honey Half teaspoon cinnamon powder
2010 Eros Ezousa Winery:
The First Course Tandoori Chicken
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes in a puff pastry nest with a little pot of sautéed button mushrooms.
A crisp local dry white. 2010 Vlassides: fresh, rich, vivacious white wine with bright grapefruit, lime, melon and hay aromas and concentrated kiwi, citrus and green apple flavours. A mouth-watering aperitif wine as well as a fine accompaniment to a wide range of seafood, poultry, vegetarian and salad dishes. From winery and selected retailers €6.00 VFM
Crisp, fragrant, this Maratheftiko based rosé features fresh strawberry, rose and hibiscus aromas that are mirrored on the palate. With its dry finish and balanced acidity, it is perfectly suited for al fresco dining, pasta with tomato sauce and lighter fare, stuffed vegetables and even some grilled pork chops. From the winery and many retailers. €8.00 2009 Ayios Onoufrios, Regional Wine of Pafos, abv 13.5%, Mavro and Lefkada, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Raspberry and spice characters, with
DINNER FOR A WARM EVENING Here you may have three or, if you are more ambitious, four courses. If you choose three then drop the mushroom quiche. Also, if you are a medium to large group, then it would be a good idea to keep the white and the rosé in circulation throughout the meal.
A sliver of Mushroom Quiche – a lovely rich little appetite opener.
The Main Course
Cold sliced “Tandoori” chicken, served with a potato salad and green leaves. Marinate a small-medium chicken fillet for each person in yogurt mixed with a generous couple of tablespoons of “Rajah” Tandoori Mix, or a blend of Garam Masala and Mild Curry Powder, for several hours. Put on a non stick tray and put under a very hot grill until browned on both sides and cooked through. Cool, and then slice. Offer Mango or other Chutney.
Wine: either a well-chilled dry rosé or a lightly chilled blended red.
earthy, chocolaty and hint of raspberry jam. Good tannins, hints of spice and excellent balance. To enjoy with Mezze, kebabs, grills and roasts. Drink now until 2014. Widely available €5.50 VFM
Apricot tart: a short-crust pastry base, with a layer of Crême Patissière, covered with blanched sliced dried apricots and an apricot jam glaze.
St. Barnabas Commandaria, from SODAP. AbV 15% Lovely baked raisins, some tannins, sweetness with a dry finish, this perfectly accompanies the apricot tart with its own mix of sweet and slightly sour. €17.00 Selected retailers. 64 cyprusgourmet.com
2010 Ayioklima, Constantinou Distillery, Pera Pedi, Lemesos, abv 12.5% Bright, clean aromas of fresh citrus, lemon, lime and a hint of something green, such as herbal or grass. It is equally clean and bright, expressive on the palate with delicious ripe green and citrus fruit. Finishes with pleasant flavor and some tart apple notes, excellent with fried fish and seafood. Limited Availability €5.50 VFM
A dramatically large shallow bowl of the classic Salade Niçoise. The sad thing is you have to disturb the presentation and mix well to serve. Serving it this way allows those with large appetites to have a large first, or a second helping. 2010 Zambartas Wineries Rosé, Lemesos Regional, abv 13.5%, Fresh and lively, with aromas of red, ripe summer berries, hints of spice and grenadine syrup in the background. Good fresh acidity and subtle tannin structure. A class act from Zambartas Père et Fils. From winery and selected retailers. €11.00
Rolled and Stuffed Turkey Fillet. Your stuffing may be made from breadcrumbs, egg and herbs, spiced with cinnamon and cumin (or your choice) or you may add a little minced bacon or pork to the mix. Make it pungent, but no so as to overpower the turkey.
2009 Ktima Argyrides Maratheftiko, Vasa, Regional Wine of Lemesos, abv 14.50% No doubt about the grape! Hints of eucalypus, mint, cassis and dark fruit. Rigid acid spine holds the soft tannin together, implying ageability. Tight structure now, but will open up like a spring rose, given a touch more cellar time. To drink now, open and decant at least an hour before the meal. Winery and selected retailers. €12.50
Chocolate Pots– or if you want to impress, use the French “Petits Pots de Chocolat” made with Lindt 70% dark chocolate. This very easy-to-make dessert always has the punters in paroxysms of delight.
chocolate is difficult to match with wine, and as we are using 70% chocolate here we are not going to recommend a real “sweetie” – just a simple every day Cyprus Muscat from SODAP.
The Main Course
WINES FOR ENTERTAINING A VISITOR TO DINNER First – the Apéritif
2010 Rodinos, from Tsiakkas Winery Limassol Regional Wine. AbV 12.5% Grenache rosé with a fragrant bouquet of fresh rose petals, confectionary, strawberry and guava notes on the nose with a slightly sharper, spicier taste. An intensely flavoured palate with lovely richness, finishing balanced and polished. Winery and many supermarkets and retailers. €5.50 VFM
The First Course
Mezedes: salad of rocket, baby squash and Kefalotyri cheese, Aubergine and feta cheese, plus tahini, tzatziki, and pita bread. 2010 Petritis, from Kyperounda Winery. Limassol Regional Wine AbV 13% Powerful aromas of citrus, passion fruit, some herb notes, grass and with hints of grapefruit. The palate is pleasingly rich and concentrated, with depth and with a well balanced acidity that leads to a lingering finish. Widely available €7.00
Roast leg of lamb, with new potatoes gently boiled with fresh mint and served tossed in butter and a little chopped mint. With a powerful red, you may, if you like garlic, insert slivers of the noble Alum under the skin of the Gigot before roasting it. And it’s all the better for lying on a sprig of rosemary in the roasting pan.
2007 Metharme, Ezousa Winery Paphos Regional Wine AbV 14.5% Mature nose, dried berries, hint of prunes, spicy nuts and roasted notes. Noticeably mature again on the palate, light-bodied fruit, but quite persistent, dark dried fruit again, light spice and delicate herbaceous notes, integrated moderate tannins, hint of acidity and a finish. A big and powerful red. From the winery €14.00
Ekme Kateifi with honey and walnuts 2008 Moschatos, from Ayia Mavri Winery Limasol Region. AbV 14% A fragrant wine with floral, lime, orange blossom and ripe apricot and musky aromas. Soft and bright with a sweet, clean textural wine, flavours of lime curd tart, apricot and peaches with candied orange, a lingering palate and a crisp delicate finish. From the Winery. €20.00. cyprusgourmet.com 65
Last Word High Prices – Low Service? Despite closures of some noted eating places and cries of woe from others still as they say “surviving”, we don’t notice much effort on the part of the average hotel management and restaurant owner to attract new customers or get further business from existing ones. Marketing is still a mystery to most, and media people are, well, not worth bothering with, no matter how many readers and how much influence they have. CG’s Serena, who loves this island came back from Greece and noted the great reception she had there. Everywhere she went everyone she encountered wanted her Euros, BUT, in return she got: “good service”, “friendly attention”, “good food and wine” and above all “good value”. She compared all this with her experiences here. “Cyprus has laid back on its laurels for so many years now, since the beginning of the tourism boom, that you are hard-pushed to find any establishments that offer good quality food, professional and friendly service or even the feeling that you’re welcome while you’re emptying out your wallet to pay for mediocrity. The one hope that I hold in these recession-stricken times is that perhaps the restaurateurs and hoteliers will begin to make an effort to woo the public and start to take pride in what they do”. These comments and others we receive like them make our job all that more necessary. Someone has to sound the Wake-up call to our industry…. And bring the bad to book and the good to the notice of the wider public. And that, again, is where you, dear reader come in. Please let us have your feedback. Put this Email in your address book and mail us when you enjoy something and rate it worth spending the money it cost. firstname.lastname@example.org