Many years have elapsed before Cyprus wines have become properly represented on the Internet. It doesn’t seem long – a few months, perhaps – since I searched the Web and there was not a definitive source of information about the vines, wines and winemakers of Cyprus. Looking recently I found one. It is called Cyprus Wine Pages and it is the work of Yiannis Constantinou, who has written very well about Cyprus wines for some years. The site contains both Greek and English pages and the information about 28 of the leading wineries is comprehensive. The site needs a bit of tidying up, enabling the viewer, especially foreigners, to traverse it more easily, but it is an excellent start. I congratulate Yiannis. And shame on the government organisations concerned with vines and wines that this job has had to be done by a private enthusiast.
East is East…and West is West (and ne’er the twain shall meet)
In the “West” (I define this as Western Europe and the Americas) a meal not eaten “on the hoof”, which is to say not a snack, generally comprises two or three separate and distinct “courses”: a starter, a main course and a dessert or savoury. Whereas, as soon as you get to the eastern Mediterranean and travel onwards to the Far East, most meals comprise a selection of dishes brought to the table at about the same time. I can find no explanation for this. Perhaps it is because the eastern countries were more populous and the demand for prepared food in cafés and restaurants greater. Maybe it was because, it being colder in Europe, food items were kept hot and served separately. It was a custom happily adopted by commercial caterers, as a means of keeping customers seated and consuming for a longer time.
The demand from an increasingly well-off populace for a choice of food prepared by someone else was met by the creation of restaurants, noticeably in France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As the 1800s opened, the catering trade was well established in Paris and other cities. They became objects of interest for writers – and their readers, as this extract from Balzac’s “Lost Illusions” shows. A young man, in Paris for the first time, steels himself to dining at “Véry”, one of the city’s finest, where he ordered….
“….A Bottle of Bordeaux, oysters from Ostend, a dish of fish, a partridge, a dish of macaroni and dessert…. He enjoyed this little debauch…. The total of the bill drew him down from these dreams, and left him the poorer by fifty Francs which were to have gone a long way in Paris…. Wherefore he closed the door of the palace with awe thinking as he did so that he should never set foot in it again”.
“The bill, monsieur” The young man’s stomach is as replete as his wallet will be empty after settling it. His modest monthly stipend has been consumed by the delights of one evening at “Véry”.
It would be wrong to think of all French cooking as complex, rich and expensive. Varied and innovative, yes it is. And not difficult either, as this little book amply demonstrates…
The book….. the author….. and just one page from it….
I can provide no words better to describe de Pomiane’s works than those of Elizabeth David: “I love Dr. Pomiane’s work… to me his brief explanations, his methodically organized recipes, unburdened with excess detail but invariably embodying the vital touch of the artist, are worth volumes of weighty expertise. I know of no cookery writer who has a greater mastery of the captivating phrase”.
“French Cooking in Ten Minutes” by Edouard de Pomiane, published in the USA by North Point Press, at US$12.00. Available on-line. A splendid little book of mighty fine food. This publisher’s catalogue is worth a look – it has gems of culinary related items.
Poussins in a Pot
An oven-ready poussin is between four and six weeks old and weighs not more than half a kilo.
4 Poussins (baby chickens)
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp of brandy
1 litre of fruity, dry red wine
Salt and Pepper
1. Heat the butter in a deep, flame-proof casserole and then add poussins.
2. Turn them round in the butter for a couple of minutes to give them a nice colour.
3. Add the sliced onion then flame with the brandy.
4. Sprinkle in the flour and mix well, to make a nice smooth sauce.
5. Pause for about a minute and then pour the wine over. It should cover the chickens.
6. Cook on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the little birds are tender.
7. Serve with a selection of fresh vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and leeks. Instead of potatoes, noodles make as good accompaniment.
Wine to accompany?
In keeping with our French accent, the word “Beaujolais” Comes to mind – like a lightly chilled Fleurie or St. Amour. For a Cyprus wine, I look no further than Ayios Onoufrios.
Detail of Dionysus and Ariadne seated in a vineyard. From a vase depicting the god and his retinue in the Museum of Modern Art, Toledo, Spain An Email from friends in Cyprus arrived this 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; … [Read More...]
A few thoughts of Old England Last weekend was quietly celebratory, because it covered my birthday and that of my daughter, who, along with her brother, spent a couple of days with us. I will not tell you my age, because you may remark that I am well past my Sell By date. My daughter will not, either, because she is female. This said, we all had a good time. Apart from one meal “out”, we … [Read More...]
Regular readers will know that I love my food. I enjoy very many kinds of it. This is not to say I am a glutton. I am fortunate in that my disposition is to eat in moderation. As for preferences, I lean very much eastwards – to the Levant to start with, and then to Arabia, Iran and on to India and the Far East. So a large tome that I bought the other day, from an on-line bookstore “The Food of … [Read More...]
These two books have been around for some years (both can be found in both new and good used condition on the Internet – but I bought mine from Moufflon Bookshop in Nicosia in the 1990s) They combine recipes, anecdote and commentary to an excellent degree. I love them both, browse them regularly and have cooked many of the recipes. … [Read More...]
Review – “Sax Stories” by Belinda Moore This slim, well presented book offers profiles of forty citizens of Saxmundham, many of them with photographs. They are a good cross-section of the populace and a helpful and enjoyable introduction for the shorter term residents of the town, like myself and my wife (a mere three and a half years). It is almost Ronald Blytheian in style and feeling for … [Read More...]
Encouraged by the favourable entry in the 2014 Good Food Guide, we went to dinner at the Dennington Queen on Easter Monday. An ample car park, in front of an attractive well painted, attractively illuminated period building, led in to a clean, spacious, pretty and comfortable bar and dining area. Just two other tables were occupied, but the staff were in good form, welcoming, friendly and … [Read More...]
By “SuffolkEater” We are always somewhat suspicious of places that advertise quite widely and extol their own virtues on websites. So we approached dinner at the Sibton White Horse with a little caution. We needn’t have done. Basically what their Promos say you will get is what you do. And that is good, genuine English cooking. With the exception of one or two items, like … [Read More...]
BOOK REVIEW – The Undelivered Mardle, by John Rogers. “A Memoir of Belief, Doubt and Delight”. 158 pages, hard back, published by Darton, Longman & Todd at £12.99, with a foreword by Ronald Blythe..
A “Mardle” is a talk of local interest. The people of Letheringham had asked Rendham resident John Rogers to deliver such a talk to them at their ancient priory church. Early on the day he was to drive to Letheringham to give his Mardle, Monday March 26th 2007, John was struck by a severe heart attack that took him to Ipswich hospital and quickly on to … [Read More...]
Once upon a time… Cyprus wine was a joke. The “leading” white wines, made in factories in Limassol, were largely stale, flat and well on the way to oxidisation. The reds, mostly made from Mavro were dull and lifeless. The reason, of course, was that grapes were grown as a cash crop by village people who only made wine in Pithari, but who sold most of their grapes to wineries 40 … [Read More...]
In Britain, sherry may be a minority tipple, but it is a large enough one for a good range to be stocked in wine stores and supermarkets, whereas in Cyprus it is not easy to find and the range available is quite limited. The demise of what used to be called Cyprus sherry also diminished the market. I find it a drink well worth exploring. Perhaps it is because it was the only alcoholic drink … [Read More...]