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.