Thoughts for sum­mer wine and food...

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - FOOD, DRINK and OTHER MAT­TERS with Pa­trick Skin­ner

My first en­counter with Cypriot food was at the old Le­dra Palace Ho­tel, Nicosia, in 1965. Sev­eral years af­ter that, I moved my of­fices in Lon­don W1 to a build­ing just off Great Port­land Street, where just around the cor­ner, was a Cypriot res­tau­rant. At her lit­tle 20-seater place on a cor­ner, Eleni Ttokou did much of the cook­ing for many years (un­til she trained a man from Bangladesh to repli­cate, ex­actly, all her dishes), whilst her hus­band, Gabriel, chat­ted with his cronies and looked af­ter his ac­counts, at least one of which was with the lo­cal book­maker. The food was su­perb – the finest Cyprus grub I have ever had. The rea­son was that Eleni al­ways used the very best and most ten­der English or New Zealand lamb for her ke­babs, her “Kofta”, keft­edes and shef­talia.

I courted my dear wife at Ttokos and to­day our minds boggle at the meals we used to get down us. We started with a gen­er­ous glass of KEO

sherry, fol­lowed it with a bot­tle of ei­ther red, or white, con­clud­ing, with a hand­some slug of VSOP Anglias brandy. The food kicked off with dishes of olives and pick­les, the best tara­masalata we ever had, ho­mous and cu­cum­ber-with-yogurt, or soup (chicken with egg and le­mon sauce). The house spe­cial was Eleni’s “Mix­ture” – a plate of two sticks of lamb ke­babs, a cou­ple of keft­edes and a sub­stan­tial ex­am­ple of shef­talia, ac­com­pa­nied by a chopped salad and roast pota­toes to die for. Over the course of nu­mer­ous sum­mer lunches, we formed a great lik­ing for the white

And so it was, prompted by the Cyprus food at Ttokos, that we be­gan to hol­i­day on this pleas­ant is­land, where we con­tin­ued the cus­tom. Per­haps, sadly, we never, ever, got a “Mix­ture” as good as Eleni’s. One day we stum­bled upon a bot­tle of Chryso­ri­oyi­atissa Monastery white, which we learned was made from the in­dige­nous white grape of Cyprus. We thought then, and still do, that in a good year, a good bot­tle of this is the best white in Cyprus. It has had prob­lems of con­sis­tency, though. Nev­er­the­less, among my hand­ful of good Cyprus Xynis­teris, I num­ber it along with and

Once upon a time, I took a cou­ple of bot­tles back to the UK and one night one of them went with us to a Cypriot res­tau­rant in south-east Lon­don which had no drinks li­cence. The pro­pri­etor, upon tast­ing it, re­fused to be­lieve it was Cyprus wine. This was no doubt due to the fact that when it went mod­ern, the peo­ple at Monte Roya ac­quired wine­mak­ing equip­ment and ad­vice from Ger­many.

And to think it isn’t so long since a lot of us tut-tut­ted and said

won’t shame by nam­ing them! In­stead, I shall raise my glass to those intrepid chaps, many I am proud to call my friends, who have suc­ceeded with this lo­cal grape. As I do I of­fer a recipe or two for some sum­mer sal­ads with a dif­fer­ence…

I 1 small green or red pep­per 2 Cyprus cu­cum­bers, peeled. 1 tbsp mint, 1 tbsp pars­ley, finely chopped 4 tbsp salad oil Juice of 1 large le­mon 1 crushed gar­lic clove Salt and pep­per 1 slice of grid­dled Hal­loumi per per­son (op­tional)

1. Toast, oven-bake or fry the bread un­til it is quite crisp. Cut or break into small pieces or strips.

2. Shred the let­tuce into very fine strips. 3. De-seed and slice pep­per very, very thinly. 4. Trim and finely slice spring onions. 6. Re­move skins and chop toma­toes and cu­cum­bers. 7. Put all in­gre­di­ents ex­cept the bread into a salad bowl, mix and sea­son with salt and pep­per to taste.

8. Just be­fore serv­ing, add the bread.

It is said that this is pop­u­lar with the smarter cit­i­zens of Rome for lunch on hot sum­mer days. It adapts ideally to Cypriot in­gre­di­ents and is sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive to make. 1. Put all the in­gre­di­ents, ex­cept the spaghetti, into a large bowl and mix to­gether well. 2. In a large saucepan, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling wa­ter, ac­cord­ing to in­struc­tions on the packet.

3. When ready, drain and mix into the salad mix­ture and serve at once.

If the day is hot, I would serve this dish with sliced cu­cum­bers tossed in oil, le­mon and finely chopped mint and a chopped green salad of let­tuce, lachana, green pep­per and some pars­ley. Then merely add some crusty fresh bread and a cool glass of your cho­sen white wine.

Go to www.east­ward-ho for more recipes, food and wine news and notes.

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