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Cyprus meets North Africa in food August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Food Recipes.
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Halloumi is a cheese indigenous to Cyprus, traditionally made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, it’s similar in texture to mozzarella and has a beautifully salty flavour. The real secret of halloumi however, is it’s high melting point, which makes it an excellent cheese for grilling or frying.

My usual foray onto the food world yielded a delicious recipe for Halloumi and couscous salad.

Couscous consists of grains of semolina wheat and is the primary staple food of much of North Africa, in fact in much of Algeris, eastern Morocco, Tunisia and Libya it is simply known as “ta’aam” which just means food.

Ingredients >
1 large onion
1 courgette sliced
1 red pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
handful of raisins
1 pint vegetable stock
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 block halloumi cheese
500g couscous

Method >
Roast your sliced courgette and red pepper. Peel the pepper when roasted and chop.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the couscous and raisins in a deep bowl, add 1 pint of warm vegetable stock and stir vigorously so that the water is absorbed evenly. After 10 minutes, when the couscous has become plump and tender, add the three tablespoons of olive oil and rub the couscous between your hands to air it and break up any lums.

Fry the onion in a pan, when the onion, courgette and pepper are ready, add them and the coriander to the couscous and mix through thoroughly.

While preparing the couscous you should also slice the halloumi into nice large flat pieces and place under a medium grill, turning when nicely browned.

To serve simply place the couscous on a large serving platter and lay the slices of grilled halloumi on top.


Wines from Linos Winery at Omodos, Cyprus August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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Rodis Herodotou comes from Lapithos and served for years in the police force. Since 1974 he has lived in Limassol, buying a storehouse in the middle of Omodos village. The name given was Linos, which in Greek translates as big store house for making wine. His first wine was made in the late 70s. After 1991 he bought land outside the village, to the south, and built new premises, a new winery with all the latest technology and a house he now lives in.

N/V Anely’s, Linos Winery, Geographical Indication Limassol, Alcohol Volume 11% has been certified by Lacon to be made from grapes that have not been treated with fertilizers or pesticides. Slightly pale and yellow green in colour, the nose is grassy, herbal with sweet geranium and lemony citric aromas. Light to medium bodied, crisp and slightly acidic but with a good mouth feel with a faint hint of minerals, grapefruit citric fruit and a pleasant, not too lingering, tart finish. Served at 8-10 degrC, this wine will match spaghetti in creamy mushroom sauce.

The Grenache based N/V Linos Ros? Dry, Geographical Indication Limassol, Alcohol Volume 12% is intense, clear, strawberry in colour with a fruity nose of strawberry and cherry followed by delicious mocha herbs and spices. Moderate, light-medium palate, dry with good acidity, earthy, orange peel and racy watermelon aromas. It will enhance summer outdoor meals, pork chops and spare ribs in particular, equally appealing to have a glass on its own at 9 degrC.

2003 Linos Cabernet Sauvignon, Geographical Indicaton Limassol, Alcohol Volume 13%. We applaud the effort on this single red varietal, intense, deep red typical of Cabernet with concentrated blackberry and blackcurrant, dark chocolate, a hint of sage and black olive. The tannin is soft but substantial on this medium to full bodied wine. Not terribly complex, balanced with medium blackcurrant fruit and a touch peppery. Enjoy now with roast beef or slightly chilled at 16 degrC with lasagna.

Laser acquires Burger King franchise in Cyprus August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Cyprus.
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Laser Investments Public Ltd announced the acquisition of 100% of King Franchises Ltd., the Cyprus franchise holders of Burger King Restaurants in a deal valued at 3.6 million euro or CyPounds 2 million through a share issue.

Laser Investments will issue 9,147,246 new shares of nominal value CyPounds 0.035 and current price of 0.40 euro per share to acquire the total capital of King Franchises Ltd. amounting to 1,785,981 shares of nominal value CyPounds 1,00 (1,71 euro) each.
King Franchises Ltd operates five Burger King Restaurants in Cyprus and is planning to open two more by the end of 2008. The agreement is subject to certain approvals that must be secured before its finalization on October 15, 2007 and the EGM approval for the issue of shares.

The acquisition of King Franchises Ltd (Burger King Restaurants) is in line with the Laser’s strategy for a further development in the sector of leisure and food since the company already represents Coffee Beanery of US in Cyprus and Europe. The Board of Directors believes that the acquisition will contribute significantly to the Company’s future profitability due to the business synergies with its existing activities.

Cypriot wines perfect for the summer July 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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N/V Tihikos Moschato, Mesana Krelan Winery, Pafos Regional, Alcohol Volume 12% > A medium sweet wine form the Krelan Winery based on the Malaga varietal, which, up until in the mid nineties, was planted in abundance especially in Pafos. Basically Malaga is better known as Muscat of Alexandria and there are about 280 hectares of it. Medium intensity yellow in colour, clear, with brilliant yellow hue. Grapey and herbal on the nose, mint, ripe pear, melon and honeysuckle are the predominant aromas along with roses. Light to medium body, more raisin concentration on the palate, intense fruit of melon and peach, the taste lasts long enough in the mouth. Served at 9 degrC, this wine was excellent with pan-fried chicken and blue cheese sauce, and it will do well with Spanish tapas or baked fish in tomato and spicy sauce.

N/V Tihikos Maratheftiko, Mesana Krelan Winery, Paphos Regional, Alcohol Volume 13% > The Maratheftiko is kept for 12 months in oak barrels, which is evident on the nose. Deep red in colour, limpid and clear, the nose is also supported by intense red fruit, plums and blackcurrant, a touch of leather and sweet spice, vanilla and dark chocolate. Medium body, red fruit in abundance, firm tannins and medium aftertaste with the fruit lost. At 16 to 18 degrC, this Maratheftiko was perfectly married with roast leg of lamb infused with mixed herbs. Rest assured that this wine is ideal with your barbecue outings. Silver medal at Concours International du Vin 2005 and Silver also at the 1st Cyprus Wine Competition.

Coffee Beanery opens in Cyprus July 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Cyprus.
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New franchise operator looks to Europe > 3 more by end-2007

With commercial property prices rising steadily in tandem with the spending power of Cypriot consumers, the ‘franchise wars’ has now moved to the beverages sector with coffee companies popping up all over the island.

The latest newcomer is the U.S. family-owned Coffee Beanery that has opened its first franchise outlet in Nicosia and plans to open three more, challenging the dominance of Starbucks that already counts seven cafes and Costa Coffee that presently has four.

Following the successful opening of the first franchise unit in the capital’s trendy Engomi neighbourhood, the operators of the Coffee Beanery have ambitious plans to expand islandwide and later on in certain European markets.

Coffee Beanery franchise operator, Lambros Christophi, said that plans are underway to open three more outlets in Cyprus within the next couple of months. “We plan to open two new units in Limassol, on July 17 and August 20, followed by the a new unit in Nicosia’s fashionable Stasikratous Avenue by the end of August,” he said.

The Coffee Beanery opened its first stores in the United States in 1976, before the American public knew the term “specialty coffee.” In the 30 years that have followed, the Coffee Beanery continues to build its brand and franchise organization on the principles of time-tested and honoured traditions and values. Today, the Coffee Beanery has over 135 locations throughout the U.S., 25 locations internationally, and is recognized as an industry leader for its unique family business approach, corporate culture and commitment to quality. Its franchise outlets are operating or under development in Puerto Rico, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Kuwait.

Starbucks opens first store in Romania > Meanwhile, Starbucks Coffee Company and its European joint venture partner, Greek company Marinopoulos Holding SARL, opened the first Starbucks store in Romania in April. The coffee shop is located in Plaza Romania one of Bucharest’s premiere shopping malls, on Timisoara Boulevard.

“Bucharest is an ideal location for Starbucks entry into Central and Eastern Europe,” said Martin Coles, President of Starbucks Coffee International. Starbucks has extended its relationship with its Greek joint venture partner, Marinopoulos Holding, to create Marinopoulos Coffee Company III SRL, which will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business in Romania.

Since 2002 Marinopoulos has partnered with Starbucks in several other markets. It operates 52 retail locations in Greece, 26 in Switzerland, 11 in Austria and 7 in Cyprus, with intensive expansion plans for the region. Starbucks is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 9.260 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim.

The Marinopoulos Group operates world-class brands like Carrefour, Marks & Spencer, The Beauty Shop/Sephora, FNAC and Dia in Greece and recently refurbished all the Chris Cash and Carry stores in Cyprus purchased two years ago. Two new Carrefour stores are being planned for Nicosia.

Newcomers catch up > Coffee franchise newcomers Costa Coffee and Gloria Jean’s have also set their sights on further expansion on the island.

Myria Symeonidou of the Costa franchise operators said that since the family-owned retail company opened the first coffee outlet in April 2005, “business has been doing well.” There are presently four Costa Coffee outlets and two more are expected to open by the end of the year, a second one in Limassol and another in Nicosia.

Cyprus Halloumi > a hit in Finland June 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Food Recipes.
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The famous Greek feta cheese has a less known Cypriot cousin called halloumi. Originally halloumi is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, or a mixture of the two. However, the industrially produced halloumi also contains cow’s milk.

cyprus_halloumi.jpg  Cypriots have been making halloumi for centuries. Propably the oldest historical reference to halloumi is from 1643, when monk Agapios described the methods of preparing this white semi-hard cheese. The ethymology of the word halloumi is somewhat obscure. Most probably it derives from arabic “khllum” which means cheese.

Although stored in brine, halloumi is less salty than feta. If needed, it can be soaked in lukewarm water or milk. Usually it is flavoured with mint, which gives it a unique taste. Some say, however, that the original purpose of the mint was to preserve the cheese longer due to its anti-bacterial properties.

Halloumi is one of the cornerstones of the famous Cypriot meze menu, a selection of small dishes. It is often eaten with fresh tomatoes, watermelon, salads and sandwiches. Halloumi is a good choice for a barbecue since it can be easily grilled or fried. It has a higher melting point than most other cheeses, so it doesn’t melt, but gets crispy and beautifully brown outside and softer inside. A few slices of plain halloumi on top of a basil-tomato sandwich is also delicious!

Fried halloumi (serves one)
1 package of halloumi (250 g)
2 tblsp. of butter
½ tblsp. of olive oil
wheat flour
lemon juice

Cover the whole halloumi with wheat flour. Fry both sides in the pan with melted butter and olive oil until golden brown. For a finishing touch, flame it with ouzo (optional) and squeeze lemon juice on top.

Halloumi is widely available in the bigger supermarkets. A 250g package costs about €3-4.

Enjoy the traditional food of Cyprus June 19, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus.
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The traditional meze or appetizers, is usually some of everything that is available that day in the restaurant, as many as 30 dishes, starting with soup and salad; then such traditional hot dishes as halloumi cheese, moussaka, afelia, stifado, souvlaki, sheftalia and calamari; ending with sweets.

Good but inexpensive wines accompany this lingering repast, and as a finale, try a local brandy with a cup of Cypriot coffee.

Welcome to Cyprus, the sunshine island of exotic fragrances and Eastern Mediterranean flavour. Relax and let yourself slip into the Cypriot pace of life. Why not take a seat by the sea, under a vine pergola or mimosa tree and sip your first brandy sour, or an ouzo. Nibble on a nut or even better, pass the time with a handful of sunflower seeds or passatempo as the Cypriots call them.

Just sniff Cyprus and you could become intoxicated by, the tang of fresh lemons and the delicate citrus blossom, the wholesome smell of freshly baked bread or the fermenting grapes from the wine harvest.

Cypriots, as you will soon discover, are a naturally hospitable people and generous to the extreme, in a way that is so much part of the Mediterranean. Cyprus lies at the crossroads of the Levant, as this eastern end of the Mediterranean is known. Just take a glance at its history and you will see how various empires, invasions, foreign settlers and traders over the past: 3,000 years have brought their influence to Cyprus. They have also brought their recipes and many any of these have been introduced into Cypriot cooking, the main ones coming from Greece. These foreign flavours have combined with the food produced on the island to give Cyprus its own traditional cuisine.

Its turbulent past has made Cyprus self-sufficient and in rural areas Cypriot families still produce almost everything they need, from pourgouri, cracked wheat, to cheese, home baked bread and smoked cured pork. Not so long ago the grain, oil and wine were stored in pitharia, those enormous onion shaped terracotta pots that adorn the countryside. The island has always produced a huge variety of food due to its fine climate. In fact everyday foods such as figs, beans, chickpeas, bitter herbs, olives, dates, almonds and nuts date back to the Bible.

The Cypriots cook with less oil than their Mediterranean neighbours and their diet is a healthy one, apart from their love of syrup soaked pastries! Everything is cooked fresh, daily, and the quality of the produce is superb, due no doubt to the motto of the Cypriot housewife… ‘If it isn’t fresh we don’t want it.’

If you are in a hurry, then you can find fast food in the shape of a pitta bread envelop, filled with souvlakia and salad, but slow food is more the order of the day in Cyprus. After all, why rush when there is time to enjoy your meal.