Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three for Monday #6

It's summer in Cyprus and things tend to run slow. Including my already plodding self.

* Here's a fascinating interactive map of all American wineries courtesy of The New York Times.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Captain Haddock and The Spuds from Mars

Despite my Andean heritage, I am not one to get turned on by spuds. I certainly appreciate hand-cut, crispy and discerningly salted French fries, but more often than not potatoes on my plate are pushed aside like sucked-on olive stones. So when I set out to track down The Rock's premier fish and chips joint—one positive remnant of eighty years of British colonial rule over the island—the chips were the least of my worries.

Lambros' "gazebo" in Dhekelia
Whomever I asked for pointers on lightly battered, perfectly fried fish sent me in the direction of the sovereign British base of Dhekelia in southeastern Cyprus. Figures, no? Overlooking a beautiful bay, home to the Dhekelia Leisure Centre, you will stumble upon Lambros Fish & Chips, arguably The Rock's best eatery of its kind and, if you ask The Wife, Ph.D., one of my many obsessions. On hot summer days, sun-kissed people pack the dark beach below and children waddle through the minute waves that wash ashore. I already envision weekend excursions with The Wife, Ph.D., and Little Miss Despot to stake claim on a few sunbeds and umbrellas and, come lunchtime, take away a few large servings of deep fried haddock and a bottle of Cypriot white to devour by the sea while the daughter swallows sand as if it were Beluga caviar.

Haddock fish and chips
There's nothing fancy about the restaurant. There's a nondescript indoor area and, across the pedestrian walkway, a large rectangular "gazebo" that skirts the seaside and seats most patrons. The furniture is made of durable plastic, and a few annoying feral cats hang out under the tables and pray for a morsel of seafood to fall from the heavens. Even though the menu includes all sorts of goodies (the souvlakia, which I had once, is quite good), their pièce de résistance is rather obvious if you peruse other people's plates. Haddock, cod and plaice are your options and there's plenty of vinegar to douse the fish with. On my last visit, I tasted both the haddock and cod, ultimately preferring the former for its fishier taste and flakier texture. If you like a meatier, less briny meal, definitely go with the cod. What's the money, though, is the batter—light, airy, crunchy, and with hardly any signs of the oil used for the deep fry. The crust is thin so you actually taste the fish and not just greasy, thick dough as in other lesser versions of this English classic. Not sure what's their secret but it makes it worth the momentary arterial shock.

2012 Ayioklima Xynisteri
If you're not a purist and opt to stray from the classic pint of KEO to match your meal, the wine list is basic but good enough to chance upon a decent bottle. The 2012 Ayioklima Xynisteri by Constantinou Winery, for example, had going for it a very subtle fizz and pleasant aromas of citrus and tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango. Otherwise, there's the always reliable Kyperounda Petritis, one of few Cypriot Xynisteris that ages, and a few of the island's vibrant rosés.

With that said, next time you're at Lambros, look out for an overweight Ecuadorian cholo, wife and sand-covered kid in tow. Stop by, say hello and please help yourself to my fries.

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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Three for Monday #5

* Another shining review for Greece's bootylicious variety Assyrtiko. Upon tasting the 2012 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko, certified sommelier and blogger Stevie Stacionis of Serious Eats called the wine "fierce."

* Wine Commanders highlights a new project by Cretan wineries Lyrarakis and Manousakis, who combined forces to create a new line of red and white blends called 2-Mazi ("Together"). Check them out as a portion of the profits will be donated to the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children.

* A good piece on daughters in New Zealand following in their father's footsteps and taking over the family business. Part of the article focuses on Villa Maria Estate, one of the island's most awarded wineries. Just in case, Cypriots, you can find Villa Maria wines at Remuage Wine Boutique in Paphos.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Three for Monday #4

* Aegean Pan, a blog on stories and photos of life in the Aegean Sea, has a wonderful set of photos of Argyros Estate's production of Vinsanto on Santorini. Deserves a good look.

* Andrew Hall's blog on random interesting things has a decent post on The Anama Concept. He claims the 2008 is the best of the bunch. What do you think?

* Did you know Virginia (Go Hoos!) is the United States' fifth largest wine-producing state? The drinks business has an article on how Virginia is trying to become the East Coast's wine capital. Finger Lakes, watch out!