Sunday, 19 May 2013

May 4th...

May the fourth be with you! Easter Saturday here in Cyprus and another glorious day!

The lovely Elena from Orexi was having some sort of cookery demonstration day today and she had asked me if I would like to go along and be court photographer - I wanted to see her before she goes into hospital - sadly she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and goes in for surgery a week on Monday.  She is being incredibly positive about it all and is keeping calm and carrying on because, like she says, she has a husband, business and three small children all relying on her so what else can she do?

The morning starter at 9.00am with coffee and savouries out in the garden.  Amita, who I had met on the foraging day, had come with her mother and her mother's partner Fred - it was good to see her again as I had enjoyed her company on that foraging day.  One group of three ladies had a dreadful start as they had taken a wrong turn, reversed their hire car into a ditch and were waiting for the rescue service to come and sort them out.  Elena shot off to rescue them and came back with one leaving the other two to go back to Paphos and replace the hire car.

It being Saturday the whole family were involved with the day.  Bassam was in charge of the outside oven - I would call it a Kleftiko oven but Bassam being Lebanese would probably call it something else - anyway today he was using it to make flat breads and then slow cooked lamb and potatoes.

Kleftiko is lamb (sometimes goat) which is wrapped up and cooked long and slow, the longer the better.  One of the ladies attending today was Muslim and the meat had to be Halal so Elena told me that Bassam had prepared it himself and that only a couple of days ago it was running around.  I know that isn't a nice thought if you are a vegetarian but how fresh was that?

The pieces of lamb were very simply prepared and wrapped in foil and placed in the oven first thing and emerged several hours later and were absolutely succulent - I was surprised how tender it was when I know that often it is cooked for a lot longer than the five hours it had been given today.  

Elena did not rush proceedings hoping that the two ladies would get the car sorted and come and join us which they eventually did.

Elena covered how the Kleftiko was prepared and how the Cyprus potatoes were prepared and they were put in the outside oven to cook.  

We then moved indoors so that the attendees could learn how to prepare a really corking Pastichio and stuffed vine leaves and a really really good Greek Salad.

I wont give away any of the trade secrets but everything that was used was as fresh and as organic as it could be and at one point there was a mini foraging trip around the Orexi Garden to pick herbs and other ingredients like fresh vine leaves.

Elena's son found a friend in Fred and kept taking him off to see the garden or feed the chickens or just play footie.  It was good to see because very often it is the two girls, Amora and Lola that get the attention.

All sorts of information was exchanged, notes taken and experiences shared.  Ingredients were touched or tasted or sniffed and those that wanted to get hands-on were encouraged to get hands-on. 

I took photographs, shared my camera and my limited knowledge with Amita who is keen to get into photography and then (don't listen John) picked up a dishcloth and helped to clear up and wash up so that Elena wasn't faced with it all at the end of the day.

At the end of the class we all sat down in the garden to eat the fruits of our labour!  It was absolutely delicious - for me one of the best Pastichio I have ever tasted - probably because it was prepared fresh and eaten straight out of the oven so it was piping hot - all too often you get it lukewarm.

By the time everyone had gone home there was very little left to be washed up or cleared away so Elena could just relax.  I had had a lovely day, had a lovely meal and went home clutching a food parcel for John.  Thanks for asking me Elena xxx

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