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

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