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Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Skin­ner

Last week on this page, my theme was French and it con­tin­ued for sev­eral more days after I had writ­ten it. In Sur­rey, south of London, for a cou­ple of days we re­newed ac­quain­tance with a restau­rant we knew even be­fore we set­tled in Cyprus in 1991. Ap­pro­pri­ately called The Ren­dezvous, it started in the small town of Wester­ham, just inside Kent, as a tiny Bistro and ex­panded through buy­ing the prop­er­ties next door.

De­servedly it has sur­vived and pros­pered. As well as the usual touches you ex­pect in a French Bistro, there was al­ways a lit­tle some­thing dif­fer­ent, as if a French Moroc­can or two had had a hand in the kitchen. Once we asked the French waiter about the del­i­cate but def­i­nite spicy flavour­ing in the soup. “We call it (four spices)” – but he wouldn’t say which ones. They were not the cus­tom­ary cumin and cin­na­mon was as much as we could de­tect.

This time, del­i­cate, in­ter­est­ing spice flavours per­me­ated Mary’s chicken and apri­cot served on a bed of cous cous. It was ut­terly de­li­cious, mak­ing a non­sense of the cook­ing of the vast majority of dishes cooked (or warmed up) by Bri­tish chefs. Nor­mally, I would have joined my wife in a dish like this, but I saw that a French cut of beef, served with a Bor­de­laise sauce and was on of­fer. The cut was called “On­glet”, known to Brits as “Hanger Steak” (be­cause it “hangs” from the di­aphragm). It is said butch­ers keep the cut for them­selves be­cause of its flavour.

I can as­sure one and all the flavour was su­perb, though the meat did need the ser­vice of the sharp knife pre­sented by the wait­ress. But the bor­de­laise sauce was out of this world. I have never had a bet­ter one, even in Bordeaux. And the were all the bet­ter for be­ing dunked in it.

Steak and French fries may well be the most served dish in the world. At this mo­ment I would wa­ger thou­sands of restau­rants through­out Cyprus are cook­ing it for lo­cal and for­eign cus­tomers. I would also wa­ger that there are very, very few in­deed that serve it with a sauce as good as the Bor­de­laise at the Ren­dezvous.

Our meal was con­ven­tional through­out. Mary started with the red, white and green of a tomato, Buf­falo Moz­zarella and av­o­cado salad and I with a slice of bliss­fully creamy and no doubt choles­terol-laden chicken liver paté, and to con­clude we shared a huge

A 50 cl carafe of ex­cel­lent Mer­lot, sparkling wa­ter and fil­ter cof­fees com­pleted the repast which cost un­der 100 Euros.

I am not giv­ing a recipe for Bor­de­laise sauce, be­cause it re­quires in­gre­di­ents dif­fi­cult to find in Cyprus and it’s quite dif­fi­cult. It is made us­ing dry red wine ( bone mar­row, but­ter, shal­lots and sauce demi-glace. My ad­vice is find a place that does do it – like Nicosia’s

and in Li­mas­sol, and sup up there.

You don’t need the Moroc­can shaped tagine to make the epony­mous dish. “Oh yes you do”, daugh­ter Su­sanna al­ways says, and per­haps, as a most ac­com­plished Mediter­ranean cook she should know; and I agree that served in one of the at­trac­tively dec­o­rated va­ri­eties of this im­ple­ment it looks good.

Any­way if you can’t cook your Tagine in an earth­en­ware pot over hot coals, the recipes work per­fectly us­ing a heavy pan with lid. This is a recipe adapted from one in an ex­cel­lent Amer­i­can book called “Cook­ing at the Kas­bah”, which is now in its ninth print­ing and you can buy on-line from the au­thor Kitty Morse’s own web­site. It re­joices in the ti­tle “Tagine Bil Kok”, but for safety’s sake you may pre­fer the English “ 2 tbsp olive oil 8 – 10 pit­ted prunes (ac­cord­ing to size – or you may mix some prunes with dried apri­cots and /or figs) 1 tsp ground turmeric 2 tbsp honey 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground cin­na­mon 1 kilo / 2.2 lbs meat from a leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 5 cm / 2-inch chunks 25 cl /8 fl oz chicken stock Black pep­per Two medium onions 1 ta­ble­spoon sesame seeds 1 cup chicken stock 8 threads Span­ish saf­fron, chopped and put into a cup of boil­ing wa­ter for a few min­utes 3 sprigs of co­rian­der or pars­ley, chopped

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