Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lyhnos is for Lovers

You know how much I love agrotourism. All those old (sometimes renovated, sometimes ageing) cottages up in the mountains provide me with a great respite from my discombobulated life in The Rock's capital, The Big Fig. Seemingly, the silence, the emptiness, the fresh air, the close proximity to the island's wineries are rejuvenating.

Weekend Escape Anyone? Part I
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a new bed and breakfast in Askas, a minute and unbeknownst-to-me village entrenched in the steep hills between Palaichori and Alona. Run by My Zolpidem Supplier's good friend, Elena Christou, "Lyhnos" consists of a few small houses belonging to her family that have been transformed into four spacious and sophisticated bedrooms and a contemporary tavern serving traditional Cypriot food with a twist. Each bedroom has its own stylish decor as Elena handpicked unique furniture and decorative items to lend each its own distinct and cozy personality. The "Suite," for instance, is decadent with its plush lime green seating area,  fireplace, flat-screen television, canopied bed frame and modern bathroom with a privacy glass wall that offers its guests a bird's eye view of the village centre while lathering (each other) up. Taking a cue from my favourite state in the Union, Lyhnos is definitely for lovers. Still, many of the sofas convert into beds if you want to spend extra quality time with your nagging children.

The Tavern
The main reason for our visit was to test drive the tavern. Despite this cracker of a blog, my web of contacts does not stretch very far so I'm never invited to soft openings. Given the opportunity, though, we took to our duties like beavers damming the Amazon. Aesthetically speaking, the space combines the clean, light lines of the parquet floors and contemporary furniture with the heavy stone walls and wooden beams that surround it. The two long dining rooms are rather sparse and might benefit from some pops of color on the walls, both to provide added contrast and a bit of sound proofing. A patio lined with potted flowers is available towards the back of the second room for al fresco dining during the summer.

Weekend Escape Anyone? Part II
For the most part, the food consists of meze, but a few a la carte options will be available for overnight guests. Elena explained that the menu will change frequently and focus on seasonal produce and recipes from the Pitsilia region in Cyprus. On our visit, some of the meze's highlights were the cheese and smoked pork tenderloin (lountza) dip; a revelatory halloumi grilled and then cooked with chopped tomatoes, sliced onions and fresh mint; courgette and feta fritters; wine-soaked sausages; grilled pork cutlets; lamb baked in parchment paper, and; an anari and phyllo pastry parfait with a rich Commandaria syrup. A couple of other dishes were not as successful, and we all let Elena know for future reference so I'm certain we'll see improvements on our next visit. Overall, considering Lyhnos was trying things out, the service was of a good standard and the food was tasty and plentiful.

The Cava
Elena is a budding oenologist—she's dying to make wines with Giannoudi, a local and rare red grape variety—and designed the eatery's wine cellar. With its wall-to-wall oak-toned racks, dim lighting and a small table for private tastings, the cava sits to the side of the first dining room and provides guests with a nook where to sample The Rock's finest. Lyhnos's Cyprus-only wine offering is strong. Elena selected a range of bottles from the usual suspects (Zambartas, Aes Ambelis, Makkas, Vlassides, Tsiakkas, Argyrides, Kyperounda and Vouni Panagia) that cover most grape varieties available on The Rock (Xynisteri, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourverdre, Maratheftiko, Merlot, Lefkada, Promara, Spourtiko, etc.) On our visit, we sampled the 2011 Makkas Maratheftiko, a smooth, easy-to-drink red that burst with red fruit and some lingering spice. I was also happy to see the Aes Ambelis Commandaria as the go-to sticky along with Agia Mavri's always enjoyable Mosxatos.

Weekend Escape Anyone? Part III
From our short visit, I believe only a handful of local agrotourism options combine sophistication, comfort, privacy, romance and decent pricing in the way Lyhnos does. A night at Lyhnos (double occupancy and breakfast included) will only set you back 80 to 125 Euros depending on the room/suite selected, while a meal at the tavern runs between 20 and 25 Euros per person, again depending on the wine selected. If you pick Kyperounda's EPOS or the Zambartas Shiraz Lefkada, expect your bill to run closer to 35 Euros. For more information, check out their Facebook page, email them at or call (+357) 99-210688. Lovers, rejoice.

Whine On The Rocks' Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ZZ Top of Cypriot Wines ( Part II)

Here's Part Two of the fun Google Hangout with Marcos Zambartas and Marleen Zambartas Brouwer of Zambartas Wineries and the bloke behind Vino Vademecum, an online wine shop based out of Austria. They touch upon a whole range of (other) subjects in this forty minute video: Alain Ducasse recipes, the history and main characteristics of Lefkada, ageing potential of the Zambartas Shiraz-Lefkada, oak barrels and forests, more on Sauvignon Blanc, and the winery's future wines. Enjoy.

In case you missed it, here's Part One.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Case of Questions with Rob Shipman, Former Executive Chef at Almyra and Annabelle Hotels, Paphos

I'm always late to the party. For many months, I had been telling The Wife, Ph.D., to go check out Chef Rob Shipman's omakase menu at Almyra Hotel in Paphos. Life, however, kept getting in the way. So a few weeks ago I wrote Rob to see whether he'd be interested in partaking in the blog's "Case of Questions" only to find out that he'd moved to Morocco to head a new Asian-Mediterranean restaurant called Kasai. Rob has a brilliant trajectory in the world of Asian cuisine; he's worked for Hilton International in Japan, headed the kitchen at London's acclaimed Michelin-starred Nobu, and cooked for celebrities like Bobby De Niro, Leo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell, Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver. Cyprus was lucky to have him around and I hope I get to catch him in action on his next sojourn to the island.

Why wine?

CRS: Firstly, why not wine? And, secondly, the world would not be the same without it!

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you?

CRS: It was a vintage Montrachet [that I sampled] when I was working at Nobu. Three thousand pounds a bottle. I was thirty-five years old, I think.

All-time favourite bottle of wine?

Favourite wine-producing region? Why?

CRS: Burgundy. World-class red and white wines and they rock!

Your favourite food-and-wine pairing?

CRS: Montrachet and white truffle.

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine?

CRS: It's missing pedigree. But now there are many winemakers who really care. I think Cyprus is experiencing a wine renaissance.

What do you foresee for Cyprus’s wine industry?

CRS: I think we will see more fine wines. However, I think it will be difficult to compete with the international market due to the quantities produced and other economic reasons.

What do you enjoy most about your work in the food & wine world?

CRS: Passion!

What is your “Five Year Plan” for your business?

CRS: Growth!

Who is your favourite wine personality? Why?

CRS: George Kassianos, Chief Sommelier at Thanos Hotels, Paphos.

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behaviour?

CRS: I drank fifteen bottles of wine with a guest that had my omakase menu. We left the restaurant at 4:30 am. I woke up floating in the swimming pool!

Of course, your all-time favourite island  wine?

CRS: Kyperounda Petritis.

You can find Chef Rob, who goes by The Food Guy, on Facebook and on Twitter. He works his culinary magic at Kasai in Casablanca, Morocco.

Monday, October 6, 2014

ZZ Top of Cypriot Wines (Part I)

Here's a fun Google Hangout with Marcos Zambartas and Marleen Zambartas Brouwer of Zambartas Wineries and the bloke behind Vino Vademecum, an online wine shop based out of Austria. They touch upon a whole range of subjects in this lengthy forty-five minute video: the winery's history, the roots of the name Zambartas, local varieties like Xynisteri, the style of wines produced by Marcos and his team, etc. Skip to minute four to get started.


Thursday, September 25, 2014


A year ago, I posted a couple of videos on Gaia Winery's project to find out how their Thalassitis Santorini P.D.O. Assyrtiko will age underwater. Each season, about 350 bottles are locked in a steel cage and dropped in an undisclosed location off the coast of the island to be unveiled exactly five years later. This fall, the plan was to extract the 2009 Thalassitis and sample it to gauge how it fared in the depths of the Mediterranean. A few days ago, the Gaia team went to fetch the bottles and only found three of them intact. A storm had rolled through the area in 2010 and dragged the cage more than 200 meters. Of course, a tumbling cage leads to broken bottles and spilled wine. In any case, the rescued bottles drank quite well; Yiannis Paraskevopoulos was surprised by the smoky characteristics of the wine, even saying that it felt like a Santorini Assyrtiko that had spent time in oak barrels. Here's your video proof.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Late To The Show

My mind is failing me. Just realised I forgot to post on the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards. As usual, The Rock's wineries partook in the soiree and many of them (again, not as many as in previous years) were awarded medals. Cyprus' best performing wine was Aes Ambelis' Commandaria, a wonderful version of the Cypriot classic that received a Gold Medal and that I had sampled earlier at Barrique Wine & Deli. Below is a comprehensive list.

Gold Medals

Aes Ambelis Commandaria

Silver Medals

2013 Aes Ambelis White (Xynisteri/Semillon)
2013 Ktima Gerolemo Xynisteri
2012 Makkas Winery Red (Maratheftiko/Shiraz/Lefkada)
2013 Sodap Kamantarena Rose (Shiraz/Lefkada)
2005 Sodap Saint Barnabas Commandaria
2011 Zambartas Wineries Maratheftiko
2012 Zambartas Wineries Maratheftiko

Bronze Medals

2013 Ktima Gerolemo Off-Dry Rose (Maratheftiko)
2012 Ktima Gerolemo Maratheftiko
2013 Vasilikon Winery Xynisteri
2013 Vasilikon Einalia Rose (Shiraz/Maratheftiko)
2013 Ktima Gerolemo Riesling
2013 Sodap Kamantarena Xynisteri
2012 Zambartas Wineries Shiraz-Lefkada
2013 Zambartas Wineries Xynisteri

Commended Medals

2011 Aes Ambelis Omiros Maratheftiko
2013 Aes Ambelis Rose (Marathefitko/Lefkada)
2013 Ktima Gerolemo Xynisteri
2013 Makkas Winery Rodostafylo Rose (Maratheftiko/Lefkada)
2013 Makkas Winery Xynisteri
2011 Makkas Winery Maratheftiko
2011 Makkas Winery Merlot
2009 Sodap Stroumbeli Maratheftiko
2013 Sodap Kamantarena White (Xynisteri-Semillon)
2010 Sodap Lefkada

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Case of Questions with John Kouphou, Executive Chef at Elea Estate, Paphos

Twitter has been very kind to me. I've "met" loads of interesting people and made several wine-related contacts. One of those is John Kouphou, Executive Chef at Elea Estate in Paphos since 2010, fellow wine aficionado, passionate Arsenal F.C. fan and Twitterati. He's worked in Dubai at The Atlantis and The Palm and has cooked up storms for a slew of celebrities including Bobby De Niro, Michael Jordan and Charlize Theron (lucky dog!). I haven't yet paid him a visit to sample his innovative Club House cuisine but it's on my never-ending bucket list. In any case, he was kind enough to set aside his sparkling spatulas and take a crack at the blog's short-but-sweet case of questions. Let's see how he fares.

Why wine?

CJK: Wine fits with any mood, social gathering (i.e., friends, family), time of day or [even] time of year.

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you?

CJK: I was around seven years old during the 70s and my parents used to drink Mateus rose. I remember the shape of the bottle.

All-time favourite bottle of wine?

CJK: Chablis Premier Cru.

Favourite wine-producing region? Why?

CJK: Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. [Its] oaky, acidic, crisp smokiness.

Your favourite food-and-wine pairing?

CJK: Any [involving] seafood.

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine?

CJK: The big wineries [Editor's note: I assume Chef John refers to KEO, LOEL, ETKO & Sodap] need to take a leaf out of the small bespoke wineries.

What do you foresee for Cyprus’s wine industry?

CJK: If the big wineries invest time and money in small wineries, we will be on the right road.

What do you enjoy most about your work in the food & wine world?

CJK: The endless possibilities of food and wine pairing.

What is your “Five Year Plan” for your business?

CJK: To continue to be innovative.

Who is your favourite wine personality? Why?

CJK: Kate Goodman [Host of a revamped Food and Drink on BBC Two.] She is a straightforward wine talker.

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behaviour?

CJK: I worked with a 4-foot Portuguese sommelier in the past. He was always drunk! [Smiley face] 

Of course, your all-time favourite island  wine?

CJK: I love the Zambartas Cabernet Franc/Lefkada Rose. You can taste the raspberries and pomegranate. Beautiful.

You can find Chef John on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@chefjohn_). He works his culinary magic in Paphos at Elea Estate.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Kid In Town

On The Rock, many business people (I use that term rather loosely) love to jump onto the latest fad like pigs to a sty. Last summer, it was Frozen Yoghurt. Everywhere you went, Fro Yo stores spread like homegrown mint, the Old City home to about two hundred of them. This year, cheap yet somewhat stylish souvlaki eateries have taken over, I believe as a result of our bank accounts' bouts with undernutrition and the populace's infatuation with grill marks.

For the past several years, wine bars have too surged in popularity thanks to the success of establishments like Vinocultura and Silver Star, both of which originally launched as cavas. Some of these new additions are quite faithful to their trade and deserve to be known as proper wine bars, while others, in my opinion, are just jumping on the wine-wagon to reap its rewards. For instance, I recently went to one of these so-called new wine bars and, to my consternation, was served a chilled-to-the-bone glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. I couldn't care less how you spin it, that's not acceptable if you want to specialise in wine.

Bar, Cava and Deli from Outside
On the same road as Nicosia's powerhouse restaurant Pixida, you will find Barrique Wine & Deli, the city's latest wine-related addition and one that definitely merits its nomenclature. Open from 9:30 am to 2:00 am, the multipurpose establishment works as wine retailer, delicatessen and wine bar. The space is quite open and modern with sleek lines, dimmed lighting, a long bar with stools and contemporary furniture. There is a large sparsely decorated outdoor patio, again a bit too dark for my taste, and plenty of parking in an empty lot behind the establishment.

What first caught my attention though was the cava that sits in the middle of the room, a pair of short backlit shelves stocked with a great selection of wines, many of them only available at Barrique. Here you will find Zuccardi from Argentina, Douloufakis from Crete, and Apaltagua from Chile, to name a few. These can be consumed at the bar for a small surcharge, a practice impossible for me not to commend. Additionally, there are thirty-two wines by the glass that are properly dispensed by Napa Technology's Wine Station, a service first provided in Nicosia by Vinocultura and now mirrored by the new kid in town. The delicatessen, which sits to a side of the cava, is also impressive and offers customers charcuterie, cheeses and other deli items for consumption in situ or to take home. On one occasion, My Zolpidem Supplier brought us as party favours an unctuous goat cheese, chunks of Mimolette and Parmigiano-Regiano, Napoli salami and prosciutto, all of excellent quality except for the latter which was sliced thick like bacon. Personally, I was thrilled to see Laguiole cheese knives, along with other wine-related accessories, for sale by the deli; these make excellent house-warming or wedding gifts.

Logo & New Zealand Pinot Noir
The bar itself specialises in wine (duh!) and cold foods. You will not find any cooked/hot dishes at Barrique. Charcuterie and cheese platters, bruschetta, fresh salads, bread baskets and other similar offerings compose a well-thought-out menu. On our only visit there, a weeknight in late July, we had a small cheese platter (included both a soft and hard selection), a serving of (properly sliced) prosciutto, another of dressed-up bresaola and bruschetta with olive paste and tomatoes. Given the high quality of the ingredients used by Barrique, it's difficult to get wrong. However, one thing I believe will bother many locals are the smallish portions, something that is not taken lightly on The Rock by the patrons of meze. As for the wine, we stuck to glasses of Prosecco, South African Chenin Blanc, New Zealand Pinot Noir and Aes Ambelis Commandaria, the latter, in my opinion, the star of the evening. Overall, the service was of a high standard (maybe a touch too eager to please at points) and the prices were reasonable for several servings of wine and a few platters.

Kudos to Barrique on a great start, and Zuccardi Bonarda, see you soon.

Whine On The Rocks' Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Squashing It

Entrance, Fikardos Winery
At first glance, there's not much to Fikardos Winery. Located in an industrial area off the main road to Tsada from Paphos, the converted warehouse does not have the awe-inspiring views of other Cypriot wineries nor is it surrounded by vineyards. A small, simple lobby with a long table for tastings and white walls showcasing multiple awards at local and international competitions lead to a large open area where owner and winemaker Theodoros Fikardos, Cypriot wine's mad scientist, plies his trade. Fikardos Fikardos, Theodoros' dashing, well-spoken oldest son, greeted The Wife, Ph.D., and me by the entrance and immediately engaged us in conversation while we awaited the arrival of Elena Sophocleous Toth of and her charming entourage of husband + kids.

Father & Son
Per Fikardos' account, the winery was established more than twenty years ago with the fall of the Soviet Union. A significant decrease in Cypriot exports of sherry and raisins meant vineyards were readily available and wine production became a viable option for small business owners. Technical consultants were brought from abroad to study the island's terroir and determine which varieties best suited Cyprus. This push, said Fikardos, introduced noble varieties like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and partly displaced indigenous varieties, a move that is now being rectified as winemakers are more eager to work with Maratheftiko ("The diva of the Cypriot vineyard!" said Elena), Xynisteri and lesser known grapes like Promara, Spourtiko and Giannoudi. Theodoros, who owned a restaurant and had a tingling for wine, took the plunge and set up his operation at its current location, a space so massive Fikardos has considered building a squash court for those slow days at the office. Fikardos also told us they had plans to build a new winery in Pano Arodes, next to their three-year old vineyards, but the financial crisis struck and put a halt to that.

With a glass of free-run Semillon juice as thirst quencher and a few bunches of chilled Cabernet Sauvignon grapes as snacks, our visit was less tour and more lively conversation about all-things Cyprus wine followed by an extensive tasting of Fikardos' portfolio.

Squash Anyone?
On Wine Competitions: Fikardos made it clear that it is too expensive to send all of their wines, or at least many of them, to compete for accolades. Some contests charge up to 500 Euros per allotment, he explained. What they do is randomly select a few to ship off and hope for the best. I asked about the lauded 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Gold Medal winner in Thessaloniki, and he chuckled. His father wasn't planning on attending the event until he got a call from an excited friend urging him to show up for the announcement of the results. Upon receiving the award, the Cab sold out within days, except for a few bottles that are available at the winery for 25 Euros a pop. I've had this wine on two occasions and it's remarkably good even though I thought it needed to age for a few years. The inky deep violet wine has a bouquet marked by cassis, dark berries, coffee, leather and dark chocolate, and a palate dominated by smooth, chewy tannins, an excellent full-bodied structure and hints of black berries and cinnamon with a long sour finish.

On Fikardos' Wine Portfolio: It's widely known throughout The Rock that Theodoros Fikardos loves to experiment when making wine. At one point in time, the winery had more than twenty different labels out in the market. His son, who recently completed his studies in Food Marketing and Economics, has been trying to curtail his father's penchant for experimentation. The winery now produces 14 wines (6 whites, 2 roses and 6 reds if I am not mistaken), and Theodoros is only allowed to add one if he removes another. Talk about pressure. For instance, after many years, their Lefkada has been discontinued. There is a fifteenth wine, Sunnama, a limited edition dessert wine made Commandaria-style but with the Malaga variety that is available only at the winery for about 20 Euros. I asked whether they had ever experimented with bubblies, and Fikardos told us they hadn't as the costs to produce a good sparkling wine (via proper methods) are rather prohibitive.

Tasting Room
Their Most Popular Wine: Without a doubt, said Fikardos, it's Valentina, a semi-sweet rose that screams spicy food and remains the preferred choice of many visitors. If I recall correctly, Fikardos mentioned that sales of Valentina amount to more than half of the winery's total sales. The Wife, Ph.D., and I had it following our afternoon at the winery with pollo saltado, a piquant Peruvian chicken stir fry, and it matched nicely. This Cabernet Sauvignon-Mataro rose has a vibrant bouquet of candied strawberries, cranberries and pomegranate with similar candied flavours on the palate without being cloyingly sweet.

On Spourtiko: Fikardos Winery is one of two local wineries currently working with Spourtiko, an indigenous Cypriot variety that has taken a backseat to better-known Xynisteri. The grape is very thin skinned and therefore fragile, and the bunches are loosely packed. One positive of this variety, he said, is that it helps Maratheftiko (what a diva!) pollinate. This grape makes a very delicate, fresh and easy drinking white (we sampled the 2013) with aromas of lemon zest, white flowers and a touch of passion fruit. It is light bodied with decent acidity yet relatively short with hints of tangerine, lime and sour fruits dominating throughout.

Baptising Their Wines: Theodoros Fikardos names most of his wines after either family/friends or Greek goddesses. Valentina, for instance, is his daughter, and Leonardo, a higher-end red that varies in makeup from year to year (2012 is a single-estate Shiraz), is his youngest son. An amused Fikardos told us he cannot complain as his name is on every single bottle released.

Fikardos & Our Line-Up
Family Pride: Fikardos is very proud of the winery as the ultimate family-run business. Decision-making on all fronts is done in a democratic manner involving the winery's six team members. Outside help is brought in occasionally, yet Fikardos foresees their team multiplying once their grapes in Pano Arodes reach proper maturity and require more meticulous care throughout the season.

Long gone are the days when Cypriots matched their meals with whiskey, says a pensive Fikardos. The younger generations are learning more and more about wine, attending lectures, participating in tastings, visiting wineries. Of course, I concur. We bid adieu, until next time. Our cars are heavier from the bottles sideways in our trunks, our taste buds tingle from the line-up. Fikardos Winery is in good hands, we tell ourselves. Yes, it definitely is.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Forking Good!

Fork Food Market Logo
I love food markets and I think they love me back in their own special way. There was that one time in Tepoztlan, State of Morelos, Mexico. The Tepozteco loomed at a distance and I sat on a rickety wooden bench before an indigenous woman who seared corn tortillas on a comal and stuffed them with fresh cheese, zucchini blossoms and huitlacoche, a fungus known as corn smut and a delicacy south of the Rio Grande. Even though the skies opened up and a plastic tarp served as a makeshift awning, little could deter us from enjoying our earthy homemade quesadillas amidst our humid and humble surroundings. A week later, though, the market showered me with all kinds of love: a furious gastrointestinal ailment, the feverish consumption of toilet paper and a self-imposed saltine-crackers-and-serum diet that lasted for what seemed like years.

Early On
Here on The Rock, weekly food markets are non-existent so many of us rejoiced when Fork Food Market set up shop in Aglantzia every Friday from 6 p.m. to late throughout the month of July. With an itinerant location, the market aimed to provide revellers with international street food (no souvlakia here, people) including burritos, pulled-pork sandwiches, Jamaican jerk chicken, cheeseburgers, Taiwanese steamed buns (gua bao), churros, lasagna, vegetarian fare and more.

Gua Bao & Pulled Pork
On our visit last Friday, we sampled a gamut of dishes, voting the burgers and Taiwanese steamed buns as the best-in-show. The burger (my guess is a quarter pounder) was cooked a perfect medium (some might argue medium-rare) and came dressed with bacon, sautéed onions, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a soft bun topped with loads of sesame seeds. For a street burger, it was worth the six Euros and tops, say, Goodburger on Larnakos Avenue. The steamed buns, soft and airy, were filled with either teriyaki-glazed pork belly or salmon, some lettuce and a sliver of cucumber. The pork version was tender and not too cloying, albeit served a bit too lukewarm for my palate.

Churros With Caramel Sauce
Other dishes, while still commendable, were not as successful. The pulled-pork sandwich was not the traditional version we expected. In our world, it's slow-roasted hand-pulled pork doused with a runny Carolina-style barbecue sauce and a creamy coleslaw. The Urban Soul Kitchen's version felt more like a Sloppy Joe: the meat was very finely pulled and seemed to have been cooked in a thick and quite spicy (thumbs up!) barbecue sauce. Also, the bun was too big for the amount of meat included and felt a tad stale. Dessert-wise, Kalopessas' churros were light and flavourful, courtesy of a rich caramel sauce, but lacked the soft crunch I associate with biting into this Spanish dessert. My guess is our portion had been sitting out for a while and wilted like a flower in the Nicosia heat. Furthermore, the beer and wine selection (KEO and Heineken on draft and small bottles of Greek Moschofilero) was somewhat of a letdown. Fork Food Market would have been an ideal place where to showcase Cypriot wines and/or invite Prime Microbrewery or Aphrodite's Rock Brewing Company to supply the beer.

The Masses
Overall, the event was jovial and kid-friendly and brought out the masses by eight-thirty p.m. or so. According to our drunken headcount, at some point there must have been at least 1,500 people crowding Spyros Kyprianou Municipal Park in search of quality street food. There is one issue, though, that deserves to be addressed vis-a-vis the ambiance. A radio station blared music from several speakers and every so often a pair of emcees grabbed the microphones to narrate what was going on around them. Stop that. It's not necessary or enjoyable. We don't need people giving us a play-by-play of what's on offer, specially if it's loud and not comedic. If all this hullabaloo is for your radio listeners, then a simple and succinct message promoting the market every thirty minutes is more than enough. I know brevity is not part of the Greek DNA but many of us don't want a side of yapper with our food.

Fork Food Market's Season Finale will be tomorrow (July 25th) from 6 p.m. to late at Skali Aglantzias. See you there, acoustic earmuffs not included.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A New Day for Cyprus Wine?

As part of the financial haircut imposed on The Rock by Troika, the Cypriot government abolished the Cyprus Wine Products Council, thereby marking an end to the island's annual wine competition. I always looked forward to this event, maybe because it gave me an excuse to taste wines and write about them, maybe because deep down I longed for an invite to the shindig as a guest comedian blogger. Albeit, that invitation was never mailed, and I can only imagine what went down while everyone got it on with Mademoiselle Maratheftiko et al.

Fortunately enough, a week ago (June 4th to the 7th) the Municipality of Limassol took on the responsibility and hosted a new rendition of the Cyprus Wine Competition at the Panos Solomonides Cultural Center. The event was open to the public and awarded Grand Gold, Gold and Silver medals to dozens of Cypriot wines. Unable to attend given the longish drive and Little Miss Despot's need for Papa, I scoured the web in search of the results. A few wineries posted their awarded wines on Facebook but nowhere could I find an event website listing its procedures, participants, winners, etc. In this day and age, it makes very little sense to have a negligible online presence so I hope that by next year a website is up and running. Heck, if the powers that be need a blogger/writer to set it up, I'm all yours. However, if my rudimentary research skills failed me and there is in fact some sort of web presence for the competition, feel free to pelt me with ripe grapes and guide me in the right direction.

In any case, my blogging/Twitter friends at Evoinos Cyprus Wine (whom I assume were in attendance) posted and shared the results with me. Here's a snazzy table listing the victors.

Grand Gold
Kyperounda Chardonnay 2013
Etko St. Nicholas Commandaria 2009
K&K Vasilikon Winery Methi 2009
Loel Alasia Commandaria 2007
Ayia Mavri Mosxatos 2012
Keo Cabernet Sauvignon/Blanc Rosé 2013

Keo St. John Commandaria
Vouni Panayia Barba Yiannis 2012

Vlassides Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Makkas Syrah 2011

Ayia Mavri Mosxatos 2011
Vlassides Shiraz 2012

Kyperounda Shiraz 2012
Kyperounda Petritis Xynisteri 2013

Dafermou White 2013
Erimoudes Athina 2013

Kyperounda Epos Red 2011
Yiaskouris White 2013

Makkas Chardonnay 2013
Constantinou Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Constantinou Shiraz 2011
Tsiakkas Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Makkas Maratheftiko 2011
Kyperounda Rosé 2013

Keo Xynisteri 2013
K&K Vasilikon Winery Vasilikon 2013

Kyperounda Epos White 2013

Vlassides White 2013

Constantinou Ayioklima Xynisteri 2013

Tsiakkas Xynisteri 2013

Let's just say I'm really looking forward to trying the 2013 Kyperounda Winery Chardonnay. Happy drinking, people, and #VamosEcuador #SiSePuede #LittleMissDespotLovesAV25.