Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bringing The Funk

Many nights I find Nicosia bereft of funk. Usually, when our busy lives as Ph.D. Do-All and slacker permit, The Wife, Ph.D., and I pay a visit to the same handful of bars, restaurants and coffee shops that at least add a small degree of funkiness to the capital. Whenever we want something new and different and toss ideas around, more often than not, we end up at home watching Love Actually or several Sex in the City episodes for the two thousandth time, The Wife, Ph.D., gladly welcoming shuteye within the first thirty minutes, me desperately hunting down my manhood in a bottle of red wine. One does find decadent Greek and Cypriot taverns in town but beyond that there are very few options for those in search of novelty.

So a few weekends ago, on one of those rare times of productive brainstorming, The Wife, Ph.D, Mike Demo, The Godmother and I headed to Academy 32, a newish wine bar-cum-art gallery just above the Venetian walls that encircle the old city. An inconspicuous sign marks its entrance and a long descent of stairs takes you into an indoor patio crowded with white candlelit tables and wooden chairs designated for smokers. Two small rooms, both sparsely decorated, seat a few more customers, while a third, detached from the rest of the space by a glass door and tall window that opens into the patio, resembles a grandmother's sitting room with its antique sofas and armchairs, browning sheet music as centerpiece to a varnished table, and large porcelain vase brimful of flowers. The jazz booming from the establishment's speakers ranges from lively to soulful to avant-garde, and the walls throughout exhibit local artists' works, in this particular occasion black and white travel photography by Petros Charalambous. The exhibit's highlight was a large piece, stylistically reminiscent of Robert Doisneau's iconic Le baiser de l'hotel de ville, of a couple kissing outside a metro station in either (?) Rome or Barcelona. Overall, Academy 32 reminds you of the offspring of a 19th century Latin American hacienda and a serene tavern on a remote Greek island. And, yes, that's a very good thing.

What drew my attention to Academy 32  in the first place was their Cyprus-only wine list. In a city where Spanish, Greek, Italian, French and Californian are preferred by any wine bar's would-be clientele, such a move takes cojones and, in my humble opinion, deserves to be lauded: it's a fantastic way of promoting The Rock's wines, introducing wine lovers to new wineries and grape varieties, and serving up something unique and cool in Nicosia. The wine list itself includes a selection (red, white, rose and sweet) from the best and most important wineries on the island (Zambartas, Vlassides, Tsiakkas, Argyrides, Kyperounda, etc.) One oversight, however, is the omission of Vlassides' Shiraz, a wine of important stature among local connoisseurs. Our waiter did inform us that their sommelier was reworking the list so I hope to see some changes or improvements on my next visit.

We ordered a cheese and cold-cut platter (only edible option on the menu) and a couple bottles of the 2008 Makkas Shiraz, a very well made full-bodied wine with a lively bouquet of peppers, red fruit and honeydew that pleasantly lingers in your palate. Albeit, my one caveat with the place was the food. The Wife, Ph.D., and I went on an empty stomach and we were hoping to get a well-stocked platter with cheeses, charcuterie, fruit, and bread, enough to tie us down for the evening. Instead, we got a tray in which fruit (pineapples, apples, pear and melon) and cheese predominated. There were maybe four pieces of local prosciutto, two tiny rolls of bread spread with caviar, some carob syrup to accompany the cheese and a small banana charlotte, plenty as dessert but not quite right for a meal. Maybe living on The Rock for so long has shifted my attention away from quality and towards quantity but, alas, shit (and grilled cheese sandwiches at one thirty a.m. chez nous to stave off the hunger) happens. In any case, I see ourselves revisiting Academy 32 to share a bottle of The Rock's finest, tap our feet to the cry of a trumpet or bang of a cymbal and stumble back home, gleeful that night for having given Carrie Bradshaw the middle finger.

Whine On The Rocks Rating: 4 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

1 comment:

Christie said...

koumpare...very entertaining! I love your detailed description of the place (i ve never been btw, so we should organise to go again together), perhaps you can also post it on cyprus.com...and i agree about the lack of funky places to go to in nicosia...nothing like dupont circle, or soho, in london, oh well...however, remember "no-one puts baby in the corner"?....e, no-one gives Carrie the middle finger!!!

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