02/11/2018
Maratheftiko is an indigenous grape variety that has only recently been cultivated to produce premium wines. Traditionally, this variety was grown within vineyards of mostly mavro grapes to improve the tint and body of the mavro. In the days when grapes were sold by weight, maratheftiko was out of favour because it produces small, light fruit. Yet many winemakers now consider it the top red variety of Cyprus and are seeking to harness its potential. A maratheftiko wine usually has a shimmering dark red colouring with a hint of blue. Often likened to merlot, the wine exhibits delicate flowery aromas and rich flavourings of cherry and dark chocolate. It is a challenge to produce it. The vine is prone to intense flowering and uneven ripening, yielding bunches of differently sized berries. Unlike most grape varieties, maratheftiko cannot self-pollinate. Consequently, most growers plant maratheftiko with spurtiko, a white variety that flowers at the same time and helps with the pollination of the maratheftiko. Once harvested, the grapes can be used to form an array of wines, from delightful rosés to mature reds. Maratheftiko responds well to aging in oak barrels and in the bottle, too. According to George Kassianos, sommelier for Annabelle, ‘Maratheftiko pairs well with a variety of foods, including lamb kleftiko, roast turkey, mild to medium-hard cheeses, baked pasta dishes like lasagne, and spaghetti and meatballs.’ The wine list of Mediterraneo, recently re-launched to emphasise Cypriot and Greek wines, offers several worthy selections of maratheftiko.
01/11/2018
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple of healthful Mediterranean cuisine. A glance at olive oils in the supermarket reveals a bewildering array of choices. How do we choose the best oil for each use? On a recent afternoon at Annabelle, guests were treated to a seminar by olive oil sommeliers Tassos C. Kyriakides and Jill Myers. 'The variety of olive oils and their complexity can enhance a cook’s culinary curiosity, while its addition to cuisine can have a positive impact on consumer health parameters,’ Kyriakides says. To begin, pour oil into a (preferably dark) glass and warm it with your palms to room temperature; a good olive oil has fruitiness and a balance between spiciness and bitterness. As the group sipped six oils, cleansing the palate with green apple between tastings, a sense of the variety and complexity of the flavours emerged. The cultivar, terroir, and even adjacent foliage can affect an oil’s taste. Mild oils pair well with grilled fish and seafood, while robust oils pair well with red meat, aged cheeses, and stews. To emphasise their health benefits, Myers introduced three additional oils abundant in polyphenols, which have been shown in some small studies and lab experiments to help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Kyriakides, a research scientist at Yale University School of Public Health, recommends a daily dose. Direct sunlight, heat, and oxygen all degrade the quality of olive oil, so the sommeliers recommend storage in a cool, dark space with the cap tightly sealed. As your appreciation of the variety of olive oils increases, you may find yourself adding bottle after bottle to the pantry!
19/10/2018
The Pafos Forest, a vast wooded area along the western slope of the Troodos Mountains, lies about 40 kilometres northeast of the town of Pafos. The area holds a variety of interesting attractions that can be visited on a day trip by car. Pass through Cedar Valley and marvel at the canopy of Cedrus brevifolia, a variety of cedar found only in this region of Cyprus; the branches of these trees spread in broad horizontal layers. Further into the forest, you will find the Stavros tis Psokas forestry station next to a river by the same name. The station sits at the head of hiking trails and hosts a shaded picnic area; the building, a former monastery, shelters a restaurant and other facilities. Nearby is a fenced-in sanctuary for Cyprus mouflons, a diminutive wild sheep unique to Cyprus. The male sheep sport distinctive curved horns. On the perimeter of the forest sit several villages. In Fyti, visit a museum devoted to the region’s weaving tradition: Observe colourful Fythkiotika fabrics being woven on a loom with methods dating to the Middle Ages. In the vicinity of Panagia, stop at the eighteenth-century Chrysorogiatissa Monastery for a tour of its icon collection. Just one kilometre down the road is the Kolios Winery, where you can sample premium wines made from local grape varieties. The roads wend their way through the woods, so be sure to pack a map or navigation aid. On request, guest services can organise a picnic basket for your woodland journey
15/10/2018
The varied microclimates of Cyprus are ideal for cultivating a wide range of grapes for winemaking. Widely known varieties like chardonnay and syrah yield excellent wines under the guidance of professional winemakers. In recent years, oenologists have recovered indigenous Cypriot varieties, using sophisticated techniques to bring out their distinctive flavourings. At Mediterraneo, Annabelle’s seaside taverna, the wine list now focuses on Cypriot wines. Sommelier George Kassianos explains the intention: ‘These wines are unknown to many visitors in Cyprus, so we aim to offer guests (and locals as well) the opportunity to explore and experience something completely different.’ The list offers an ample selection of xynisteri, dry or medium white wines with flavours of green grass, intense tropical fruits, herbs, and minerals. Lesser grown white varieties include the lively and herbaceous spourtiko, aromatic and well-balanced promara, and crisp, light morokanela. Most red wines from Cyprus are blends. The most popular indigenous variety, maratheftiko, produces a full-bodied, deep red wine with dark berry flavours. Another notable local red, yiannoudi, is medium-bodied and gives spicy notes of anise, vanilla, and pepper. Mediterraneo offers a full complement of Cyprus rosés and four kinds of commandaria—the iconic Cypriot sweet wine. The list provides matches with Mediterraneo’s cuisine, so a selection of notable Greek wines is also included. Of course, diners in tavernas have long enjoyed distillations like ouzo and zivania with their food, and we provide expertly matched ouzo meze and zivania meze menus. Review our distinctive wine list and let the server be your guide.
05/10/2018
Ouranos, our new-build rooftop restaurant, is now open for Sunday brunch! Like our lunch and dinner menus, the brunch menu is a fusion of local and international styles. There are three set menus along with an extensive à la carte menu. The Ouranos Classic Brunch is an eight-course set menu featuring a selection of baked goods, seasonal sliced fruits, a prosciutto and feta platter, and eggs cooked to your specifications; special treats include a prawn pickled mango salad and a chilled asparagus gazpacho. The six-course Healthy Epione Brunch tantalises with grilled tofu with fresh ginger and Asian poached eggs. The third set menu is just for kids! The Kids’ Brunch Titanides has pancakes with maple syrup, eggs (scrambled or fried), and hot chocolate. The generous array of items on the à la carte menu lets you plan an ideal meal. Choose from classic egg preparations, salads, sides, and sweets. The Trends section shows diverse influences on the breakfast menu—try our black truffle scrambled eggs with pureed peas and microgreens, for example. Similarly, the selection of egg sandwiches shows far-flung inspirations, as in the Argentinian scrambled egg wrap with pulled pork, beans, bell pepper, coriander, and chimichurri sauce. And for the gourmands among us, we offer the Big Hunger menu, where you’ll find creative preparations of chicken breast, tuna, and ribeye beef. You and your companions can order individually or in the Mediterranean spirit of sharing dishes around the table. Join us on Sundays from 11:00 to 15:00 for an outstanding repast overlooking the sea.
05/10/2018
You’ve seen it on our liqueur menu or listed as an ingredient in a specialty cocktail: It is masthiha, an alcoholic drink popular throughout the Mediterranean world. Mastiha is made from the resin of the mastic tree, a leafy evergreen that thrives in the summer-dry climate of the region—including on the scrubby hills of Cyprus. Cut the branch of a mastic bush and tear-shaped secretions of resin will form. The secretions harden, forming a pliant substance with a variety of medicinal uses (from ancient times it has been used as a chewing gum) and culinary applications (try mastic-flavoured ice cream!). The climate and soil conditions on the north-eastern Aegean island of Chios best support the commercial cultivation of mastic. After harvesting in June and July, Chians clean and sort the hardened resin. Distillers mix the mastic resin with high-quality alcohol and place it in a bronze alembic tank, where it is heated over a wood fire until it yields an aromatic extract. Then the extract is blended with sugar, mineral water, and more alcohol to create a balanced spirit. Chill a bottle and serve it on ice or as shots, before or after dinner. The taste of mastiha is complex, with slightly bitter notes of anise combining with sweet notes of mint; the aroma is reminiscent of a hike through the evergreens of the Akamas forest. This complexity explains why so many mixologists are experimenting with the liqueur today.