18/04/2019
Hers is a familiar face to guests passing through the Lobby of Annabelle. Her name is Chrystalla Socratous, and she is the longest-serving member of the hotel’s Guest Services team. Chrystalla has been working with the Thanos Hotels group since 1997, when she was hired as a hostess for sister property Anassa. She was invited to transfer to Annabelle for a similar position and quickly bonded with the clientele—so much so that when the Guest Services team was established in 2003, she was asked to join it. Over the years, she has established strong relations with Annabelle’s hundreds of repeating guests, some of them visiting three or four times a year. ‘You must love to be around people to do this job’, she says, underscoring why she enjoys her work so much. Asked what changes she has seen at the hotel, she remarks that the formality in dress and service that characterised the atmosphere in Annabelle’s early years has relaxed into a more flexible, informal mood that guests find very comfortable. Chrystalla attributes her affinity with the guests to her childhood in Canada, where her family relocated after the 1974 invasion of the island. In Canada, she developed intercultural communication skills and a command of the English language. If you have not met Chrystalla, be sure to stop at the Guest Services desk the next time you traverse the Lobby. She and her colleagues are standing by to help you make the best of your time at Annabelle.
18/04/2019
The most common customs for celebrating Easter in Cyprus are associated with the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church, with which 95% of the population is affiliated. Religious celebrations span the entire weekend. On Good Friday, a representation of Christ’s bier known as the epitafios is decorated with flowers before forming the centre of the sombre Procession of the Epitafios from the square to the chapel. On Holy Saturday, celebrants gather in the chapel around the epitafios for a Midnight Mass; at midnight, the lights are cut and then restored to symbolise the resurrection. At the end of the service, each congregant lights a candle to represent eternal life. Religious symbolism is also conveyed through culinary traditions. On Good Friday, many observers abstain from eating meat in recognition of Christ’s suffering on the cross, so a menu of seafood and vegetarian dishes is offered. After the Midnight Mass, the traditional Midnight Supper features flaounes (pastries stuffed with local cheeses, semolina, sultanas, and mint) and a lemony soup; diners crack the shells of hardboiled eggs (dyed red to represent the blood of Christ) as a symbol of Christ’s departure from the tomb. On Easter Sunday, lamb is roasted on the spit and enjoyed with other meat dishes that had been avoided during Lent. The celebration continues in the villages on Monday and Tuesday with singing, food, and traditional games like sack races. Annabelle offers a full programme of activities and observances during the Orthodox Easter weekend.
18/04/2019
It is an unassuming stump of marble standing amidst a complex archaeological site. Visit the ruins of the early Christian basilica Chrysopolitissa in Pafos and you’ll find it: the adjacent sign identifies the time-worn column as St. Paul’s Pillar. The Apostle Paul visited Pafos during the first of his four journeys within the Roman empire. Pafos was the capital of the island, and Paul set out to convert its leader, proconsul Sergius Paulus, to Christianity. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was summoned for an audience with the proconsul. Accompanying the proconsul, though, was a magician, a man described in the Bible as a Jewish false prophet called Bar-Jesus, or Elymas. When the magician tried to turn the proconsul away from the Christian faith, Paul summoned the will of God and blinded Elymas. The proconsul was so impressed by the miracle that he accepted Christianity—and became the first prominent Roman to do so. Local legend has it that before he met the proconsul, Paul was captured by the people of Pafos, tied to the pillar, and flogged thirty-nine times. There is no historical evidence to support the legend, though Paul mentions in a letter that he was flogged like this on five occasions in his lifetime. Nevertheless, the pillar points to the important role that Pafos played in the early spread of Christianity. The archaeological site, with its complex layering of Christian structures built and destroyed over the centuries, is a good place to contemplate that legacy.
18/04/2019
The village of Lefkara has been renowned for centuries for its tradition of lace-making. Historians believe that the practice began in the era of Venetian rule over the island. The lace-making style known as lefkaritika combines local craft techniques, Greek and Byzantine pattern-making, and embroidery methods learned from aristocratic Venetian women who spent holidays in the village. Legend has it that Leonardo da Vinci visited Lefkara in the fifteenth century and bought a lace altar cloth for the cathedral in Milan (on the 600th anniversary of the cathedral, the village provided a replacement for the frayed cloth). Some even suggest that the tablecloth in Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ is modelled on lefkaritika. During the nineteenth century, the men of the village became merchants of the craft, introducing it to customers throughout the Middle East and Europe. The lace is made in a single-thread method and is typically white or beige. Key techniques include hemstitching, cutwork, satin stitching, and needlepoint edging. The lace is used for table cloths and napkins and is a traditional wedding gift. Lace-making is a communal activity for the women of this cobble-stoned village. They begin as young girls to learn the basics. As they develop their abilities, the women can be quite competitive—they try to outdo their companions with innovative patterns and designs. Take a day trip to the village and you will find workshops as well as the Lefkara Handicraft Centre and the Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmithing.
18/04/2019
In the twelfth century, a monk named Ignatios was walking along the Pafos coastline when he stumbled upon an icon of the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that the icon must have been tossed into the sea from somewhere in Asia Minor during the iconoclastic periods of the Byzantine Empire (in the eighth and ninth centuries), when both the creation and veneration of figural icons were banned. When Ignatios retrieved the icon from the sea, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told him to build a monastery. He did just that in 1152, choosing a plot high in the hills about 40 kilometres northeast of Pafos. You can visit the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery on a day trip. The current building, shaped in a triangular cloister and constructed from rust-hued stone, dates to 1770. Fittingly, the monastery houses a collection of important icons, including a fifteenth-century rendering of the resurrection of Lazaros, a seventeenth-century image of the Virgin May giving alms, and an eighteenth-century work known as the Virgin Chrysorrogiatissa. The icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary adorned with silver and gold is said to have been painted by St. Luke. Other items on display include Bibles, manuscripts, crosses, and religious objects. The monastery also houses a winery. Indeed, you can visit the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery during the Monastery and Winery Tour sponsored by Annabelle on 20 April as part of its Easter programming. Contact Guest Services for details and reservations.
18/03/2019
Culinary innovation is often sparked by applying tried and true cooking techniques to different ingredients. Consider the case of tuna lountza. Lountza is a cured pork filet traditionally prepared in Cypriot villages through a process of brining, marinating, and smoking; local spices and hardwoods play an important role in seasoning the meat. Recently cooks at Amorosa, Annabelle’s fine dining restaurant, adapted the recipe for lountza to cure fresh tuna. First, they marinate the tuna in wine, coriander, paprika, and other spices for forty-eight hours. Next, the fish is dry aged for an additional forty-eight hours. Finally, the tuna is smoked over an apple wood fire for a few hours. The result is tuna like you’ve never tasted it before. But innovation does not stop at the smoker—Amorosa’s cooks found a creative way to present the smoked fish with ingredients associated with Asian cuisine. They layer them on, beginning with pickled shimeji mushrooms. Dollops of pureed avocado and wasabi yoghurt sauce add flavour and colour. Next comes a sprinkling of black herring roe. Slices of yellow beet root are shaped into cones and garnished with a dot of avocado puree before being added to the dish with tweezers. Additional Asia-inspired accents include dried nori seaweed and gold tobiko roe. Watercress and other microgreens are tossed lightly in olive oil with salt before the cooks add them to the plate. The Tuna Lountza Salad is just one of many innovative dishes included on the new à la carte menu at Amorosa.