QUITE A JOUR­NEY Le­dra Palace, 1968 to Ezousa Wines 2014

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

It’s as­ton­ish­ing re­ally, pottering around in our quiet cor­ner of east­ern Eng­land, how many peo­ple I meet who have been to, or lived in, Cyprus: with the Bri­tish forces, as business peo­ple, res­i­dents or hol­i­day-mak­ers. A few days ago, at a drinks party I got into con­ver­sa­tion with another el­derly chap who was a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive in Bar­clays Bank in Cyprus be­fore and dur­ing the 1974 in­va­sion, who told me some in­ter­est­ing sto­ries which I shall re­count another time. He hap­pened to men­tion the Le­dra Palace Ho­tel, which was one of the bet­ter wa­ter­ing holes in the east­ern Mediter­ranean for many years and my mem­ory cells danced about.

It was in the later 1960s I stayed at the Le­dra on my first proper visit to the is­land. One glo­ri­ous May day I lunched on the de­light­ful gar­den ter­race. The food was sim­ple, good and what I came to know as es­sen­tially Cypriot. One of the things I re­mem­ber about that meal was my first, de­li­cious en­counter with fresh white beans and vegetables in tomato sauce (see the recipe be­low) and the soft and laid-back “lo­cal” red wine.

Sadly, my first visit to the Le­dra Palace was almost cer­tainly my last, be­cause it is prob­a­bly un­likely there will be a set­tle­ment of the Cyprus prob­lem and con­se­quent restora­tion of the ho­tel in what re­mains of my lifetime.

On that oc­ca­sion, I flew in to Nicosia from Beirut in a Mid­dle East Air­lines Vis­count, but on later vis­its we of­ten came by Cyprus Air­ways Tri­dent, as pic­tured here. What re­mains of this air­craft, or one like it, may still be seen on what is left of a run­way.

I hired a car and spent a cou­ple of days driv­ing around the coun­try. There was lit­tle traf­fic and I was lit­tle trou­bled by tourists. The south­ern coastal road me­an­dered nar­rowly from Lar­naca to Li­mas­sol and thence to Paphos (which took four hours). I lodged in a small ho­tel in Paphos town and next day, Sun­day, drove on­wards to­wards Latsi. I didn’t know about Cypriot “hunters” then, and as I drove up into the hills gun-shots rang out all around me and it seemed like a war had started – I stopped to in­ves­ti­gate and a vil­lager put a trou­bled vis­i­tor’s mind at rest! I lit­tle knew that 25 years later I would drive up there again to visit young men mak­ing in­ter­na­tional qual­ity wines. One of those young men is

who de­servedly has come to the fore­front of Cyprus wines in a very few years. Cyprus Gourmet’s “Cyprus Wine Man of the Year” in 2009, he has won a

Con­stan­tinides,

Michalis

num­ber of awards since. His wines are now more widely avail­able than ever, be­cause Gha­lanos are now dis­tribut­ing them. Elena Gha­lanos tells me: “All seven of the Ezousa wines can be found at the five re­gional sales branches of Gha­lanos Dis­trib­u­tors in Nicosia, Li­mas­sol, Lar­naca, Fa­m­a­gusta and Paphos. Se­lected ho­tels, restau­rants and cava/wine shops usu­ally have a se­lec­tion, if not the whole Ezousa range. At the ma­jor hy­per­mar­ket chains and most smaller su­per­mar­kets you can find the Xin­is­teri ( the Maratheftiko Rosé ( and the three red grape blend of Maratheftiko-Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon-Mourve­dre (

Fa­so­lia is not dif­fi­cult to make. Sea­son­ally, you can find the “fresh” hari­cot beans in the shop­s­long pods look­ing rather dry. Un­for­tu­nately, they’re ex­pen­sive, too, but worth it for a treat. Re­move the beans and cook un­til almost ten­der, not only for “Fa­so­lia”, but sal­ads and many other dishes. You may also use dry white beans, soaked for 24 hours, then rinsed and put back into a pan of wa­ter. Bring to the boil, skim, change the wa­ter and bring back to the boil, cover and cook slowly for 2-3 hours, un­til ten­der. Re­serve liq­uid.

Or, you can use two 400g cans of Can­nellini beans, re­serv­ing the juice, for the fol­low­ing recipe. You may vary the fresh vegetables as much as you wish, ac­cord­ing to sea­son and per­sonal taste. 500g of cooked white beans 3-4 stalks of cel­ery 3-4 car­rots 4 medium onions 2 large cloves of garlic 4 medium-large toma­toes, skins re­moved. 4-5 tbsp olive oil Salt, or one veg­etable stock cube and pep­per 1. In a large stew-pan heat the olive oil. When hot, tip in the cel­ery, car­rots and onion and stir round. 2. Keep on medium to high heat, stir­ring reg­u­larly, for five min­utes. 3. Turn heat to low and cover the pan. Stir ev­ery few min­utes and sim­mer gen­tly for about 15 min­utes. 4. When the vegetables are ten­der, add the toma­toes and the beans, with the juice and carry on cook­ing slowly. Add salt or crum­bled stock cubes, and pep­per to taste and stir in. 5. Add a lit­tle wa­ter if nec­es­sary. After 15 min­utes this sta­ple Cyprus dish is ready to serve, but you can gen­tly sim­mer it for longer if you like. Its flavour de­vel­ops over a day and it keeps for sev­eral days in the fridge.

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