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.
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.
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.
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.
Brandy is a distillation made from fruit, usually grapes. The production process is simple: the liquified fruit is fermented before it is heated at a temperature above the boiling point of alcohol and below that of water; the distillate contains most of the alcohol, some water, and organic compounds that give the brandy its distinctive taste. One of the most celebrated brandies, Calvados, is made from apples in the Normandy region of France. Another kind of brandy made from fruits other than grapes is known as eau-de-vie (water of life); these are clear, aromatic distillations such as framboise (raspberry) and kirsch (cherry). Of the grape-based brandies of the Mediterranean region, perhaps the best known come from Metaxa. Spyros Metaxa of Greece founded his distillery in the nineteenth century; its production maintains a focus on hand-harvested muscat grapes from the Greek island of Samos. Cyprus, too, has a storied tradition of brandy making. Cyprus brandy is made by distilling fermented grapes of the xynisteri variety. Xynisteri is the most widely-grown white grape on the island. Indigenous, it is used to produce white wines and is also a key ingredient of Commandaria dessert wine and zivania—all unique to Cyprus. The Keo distillery uses xynisteri to make Five Kings Brandy, which is aged for at least fifteen years before bottling. It tastes of warmed raisins and can be enjoyed neat or as the basis of a brandy sour, the national cocktail of Cyprus. Try any of these brandies in the cosy confines of Annabelle’s Byz Bar.
The first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox liturgical calendar is known as Green Monday—and this year the public holiday falls on 11 March. It follows the last day of carnival, a period of Dionysian celebration featuring playfully costumed celebrants in elaborate parades. During Lent, observers express penitence through symbolic abstinence (usually from meat, cheese, and dairy products) while also welcoming in the spring season. Green Monday inaugurates the forty-day period of Lent as Cypriots head to parks, fields, and beaches to enjoy outdoor games and activities and light picnic meals following the Lenten diet. At Annabelle, we invite you to a special Green Monday Lunch at Mediterraneo (12:30-15:30). Our seaside taverna offers the perfect setting to enjoy al fresco dining and the lively spirit of the day. The lunch features a traditional, sharing-style meze menu including calamari, octopus, raw vegetables, and dips (€20 per person); the regular à la carte menu is also available. Live guitar and vocal music set the festive mood. Like participants throughout Cyprus, we’ll include a traditional kite-running competition in our celebration: it’s a great way to harness the energy of the balmy spring breezes blowing off the sea. So now that you know what Green Monday is, why not join in the celebration? Contact Guest Services for reservations.