FOOD ( and drink) FOR THE GODS – AND MERE MOR­TALS

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

An Email from friends in Cyprus ar­rived in the morn­ing as I sat look­ing out of the win­dow where I write. It de­scribed an evening at a lo­cal res­tau­rant I re­mem­ber so well, hav­ing spent many happy din­ner hours there: my wife and me on our own; with two or four or more friends or as part of a larger gath­er­ing. In two decades we never had a bad meal there. The food, the mes­sage said, is as good as ever. I would not ex­pect any­thing else from the lady chef-pro­pri­etor, Ari­adne. Mary and I have fond mem­o­ries of our 25 year friend­ship with this charm­ing lady, and our peren­nial en­joy­ment of her cook­ing.

I haven’t tasted Ari­adne’s food for two years but it is clearly as good as ever. Mostly, it is a high qual­ity con­ven­tional Mezze, but sea­son­ally she may add some­thing special. One of my favourites of these was, is, her stuffed Cour­gette Flow­ers (An­t­hous), which she used to do for us on re­quest, when the flow­ers were avail­able. It is not easy to do be­cause it is es­sen­tial to bring them to the ta­ble im­me­di­ately they are done. This said, they can be made at home. herbs and some salt and pep­per.

2. Care­fully scoop the fill­ing into the cour­gette flow­ers: you should get be­tween two and four tea­spoons in each one, de­pend­ing on size. Twist the petals gen­tly to en­close the mix­ture.

3. Just be­fore you’re ready to cook, pre­pare the bat­ter. Sift the flour, corn-flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt into a bowl. Be­gin whisk­ing in the water, un­til you have a bat­ter the thick­ness of sin­gle cream. Be care­ful not to over-mix and don’t worry if there are a few lumps.

4. Mean­while, heat about a 6cm depth of oil in a deep-fat fryer or deep, heavy saucepan (to come no more than a third of the way up the pan), till a cube of bread dropped in turns golden brown in about one minute.

5. Dip one stuffed cour­gette flower into the bat­ter and im­me­di­ately lower into the hot oil. Re­peat with a cou­ple more. 6. Do not have more than 3 or 4 in the pan at the same time. 7. Cook for 1–2 min­utes, un­til puffed up, crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen pa­per. 8. Set aside and keep warm, while you cook all the flow­ers. 9. Serve as soon as pos­si­ble, sprin­kled with a lit­tle flaky sea salt. If I have just four or six peo­ple to serve I bring them to the ta­ble in re­lays. As we al­ways eat near the cooker this en­sures fresh, hot flow­ers for all.

The Amer­i­can mag­a­zine, “Wine Spec­ta­tor”, ar­guably the most in­flu­en­tial wine pub­li­ca­tion in the world, de­scribed the Gui­gal fam­ily as “the best wine­mak­ers on the planet”. In­deed, I think their rich, fruity Rhone val­ley wines are truly splen­did.

Most as­tutely, when he was build­ing his wine im­port­ing and re­tail­ing en­ter­prise (La Mai­son du Vin) Vic­tor Pa­padopou­los flew to France and signed a con­tract to pur­vey their wines in Cyprus. Not long af­ter­wards, Gui­gal père, mère et fils (fa­ther, mother and son) came for a hol­i­day-cum-business visit to Cyprus. As part of a Cyprus food and wine itin­er­ary, Vic­tor ar­ranged lunch at Ari­adne’s.

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