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2020

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I often find myself around meeting tables with decision makers whether to form a collaboration and an association with certain new companies and/or products and quite often I am asked for an opinion, hence I’m called a consultant. It was this scenario when more salesmen came to introduce new bottles of wines, yet from another winery, with new labels, new ideas, …words like ‘but our wines are better because… and our labels and our grapes and our….’ Same salesmen jargon! However, as I switched off and I was ready to leave the room for my next meeting, I have listened to a voice explaining a question on Xinisteri or perhaps Mavron grapes and I stopped! I turned around and saw the hands moving in an explanatory manner and talking about it in such an intense and absolute manner declaring a definite passion! I was drawn to his passion. I sat down and met Christos Vasiliades, the young and dynamic entrepreneur behind Ekfraseis winery! He was full of intensity, proud, knowledgeable and there’s was a romantic dream and a vision to express elegance and take the Cyprus wines at a higher level.

 

Christos has been helping out in all stages of wine production while visiting his grandfather, who played a huge role in shaping his love and passion for wine.The vineyards in Chandria Village at the Limassol wine region, are 1200 meters above sea level with a unique ‘terroir’ of rocky soil. It is believed that Troodos mountain area was formed after an earthquake where the mountains were formed pushed out from the bottom of the sea. Perhaps the highest vineyards in Europe and Christos is aware of the various factors of slope gradients, elevation and aspect and what each vineyard enjoys due to its location in terms of sun, rainfall, humidity and frost. Sauvignon Blanc vineyard sits at a breathtaking 14-hundred meters above sea level. His Pinot Noir vines, at 13-hundred meters above sea level,… woah!

 

We met Christos and talked about wine experiences and got enthusiastic and passionate with him! If you don’t declare passion on wines you will not be his friend!Here are some  answers we got from the wine maker himself.

 

Why did you name the Winery’s label EKFRASEIS ?

 

Wine is undoubtedly an expression—an artistic and scientific interpretation of the personality of the vigneron. Wine is also an expression of the land where the plants are rooted.

 

 

Which wine or wines you are mostly proud of and why?

 

 

I am committed to every label we produce at the winery. Each of our wine and vintage has its story and its distinctiveness. Its a bit tricky for me to try to distinguish any of our labels. We produce premium wine, with high standards and a desire to evolve continuously.

 

Pinot Noir in Cyprus? 

 

Pinot Noir is a difficult grape that loves cold weather and is very "terroir" connected. It was a challenge from the beginning. Our altitude, the composition of our soils there at Madari mountain, and the yearly weather conditions with the cool summers and the cold winters help as to decide to plant and cultivate this grape. It was a successful step, we had already planted a second vineyard, and every year we try hard to develop a better understanding of the variety. We look forward to work on several styles of wine. 

 

Here is from a recent post of yours on facebook which I love and stole! (excuse the Greek!)

‘Αγαπώ το Pinot Noir. Ατίθασο φυτό, βιαστικό κάποτε... Δαμάζεται όμως. Με το που το φέρεις στα μέτρα σου, γίνεται ένα με τη Γή που του χαρίζει ζωή.

 

Στιγμιότυπο από 2 ετών αμπέλι Pinot Noir. Υψόμετρο 4200 πόδια, δυτικά των Χανδριών’.

 

How do you see the future of wine production in Cyprus?

 

The agriculture factor in Cyprus declines year after year. Amateur growers abandon vineyards, and new plantings are rare. Fortunately, a lot of wineries keep the flag up, and they try to keep the viticulture on the island alive. They plant new vineyards, try new varieties, try to understand better, and evolve the indigenous varieties, and they put a lot of knowledge behind all these actions. Most of the wineries employ oenologists, young persons who are ambitious and educated. This fact, in combination with the development of modern viticulture, is a good sign that Cypriot wine can reaches higher levels of recognition. A drawback is an elevated average temperature due to global warming. It is something that will cause problems in the future, especially for low altitude vineyards.

 

How would you describe the taste and any insides to the Sauvignon Blanc? REVIEW 

 

The excellent adaptation of the variety to the low temperatures of the Madari region and its unproductive, dry soil leads to the high-quality production of the plant and the expression of the varietal character. We have adopted international cultivation practices to the particularities of the ecosystem, in order to showcase a combination of varietal dynamic and the potential of the microclimate. The fruit reaches perfect maturity while maintaining all varietal parameters which lead to its successful vinification. Harvesting is split into two phases of technological maturing: an early and a late stage, which are completed toward the beginning of September. We aim to add a larger complexity and intense aroma to the wine while maintaining the distinctive, varietal acidity. We take the varietal characteristics into consideration and combine them with a light, limited duration maturity of part of the wine in oak barrels.

 

 

Rich, balanced profile, with a special concentration and depth. Tropical fruit aromas, botanical notes, and a fresh acidity framed by a mineral aftertaste.

 

How would you describe the taste and would you give us some insides on ONAR?  

 

For us, Onar is an intense expression of a rich red wine made of fruit from high altitude vineyards. The Cabernet Franc variety, adjusted greatly to the mesoclimate and in combination with diligent vinification processes, brings wines with depth, aromatic intensity, and maturity potentials in the bottle. Maturity is prolonged to late autumn when harvest takes place. Following careful extractions and slow fermentation processes, the wine is moved to French oak barrels to mature for 12 months. Bottling takes place, and the wine stays in our cellars for some months for it to develop the characteristic varietal bouquet. The variety’s needs are in sync with the ecosystem which makes viniculture fascinating. The herbaceous character of the variety declines through the appropriate practices, while the phenolic index potential matures sufficiently and the acidity remains at high levels, taking advantage of the cool autumnal evenings. The poor, dry soils secure the necessary concentration, and the vineyard’s exposure contributes to the maximum in creating wines with the right ABV, aromatic intensity, and body.

 

 

Herbaceous aromas framed by black fruit. Vanilla, tobacco, and peppery notes. Rich, deep, and decadent. Delicate acidity, rich texture, and long finish.

 

And what about this very special wine ΗΩ?

 

The island is ideal for the production of sweet wines. Increased sunlight, high temperatures, dry climate and the overall effects of the Mediterranean climate contribute to the cultivation of grapes for this purpose. Io is a special innovation of the winery which is the result of the wide range of possibilities offered by the position of the vines of the Xynisteri variety where the grapes come from, on the Madari mountain. Grapes are left for an extended period on the plant (until the beginning of December) in order to become over-mature slowly under mild circumstances while developing a noble rot which offers the characteristic bouquet and aromatic distinctiveness to Io. Harvest follows when we select the grapes which have developed some traits (over-mature, noble rot). The vinification processes take place during the winter months when a remarkably slow fermentation leads to a rich, sweet wine, of beautiful complexity and aromatic intension with a unique texture. The uniqueness of Io is a result of the extremely rare conditions found at a single vineyard where the grapes come from. This vineyard is situated at an altitude of 1500 m, facing south, with an unusually small production which is the result of the granular soil and its structure which is mainly rocky, as well as of the old age of the vines. The above, combined with the vineyard’s capacity to develop and spread a noble rot to the biggest part of the grapes during the latest part of its maturity, provide the opportunity to direct the annual production of the vineyard toward harvesting grapes with the traits demanded the production of overly mature, noble rot grapes. We aim to secure the already sensitive character of the grape through careful practices, providing aid especially during the final stages, so that it develops according to our demands and gets the necessary uniformity. The extremely limited production of grapes doesn’t allow for mistakes and oversights.

 

 

Seductive nose, make, and complexity. Apricot, honey, orange notes, tastes of delicious, spicy peach and bergamot jams. An aftertaste which together with the wine’s special acidity, is unforgettable.

 

Thank you Christos for the experience of knowing you, speakeasyhacker will be watching your winery and look forward to your passionate wine productions definitely upgrading the Cyprus wines to another level! Best!

 

 

More reading on EKFRASEIS WINERY

https://winescribble.com/vassiliades-ekfraseis-winery-cyprus/

https://cyprusinstyle.com/2020/02/19/ekfraseis-winery-wine-column-by-george-kassianos-for-cyprus-in-style-magazine/

 

Published in Booze
Saturday, 11 April 2020 17:15

A spirit for the conservation of Amazonia

 

Inspired by the Amazon and mystical vast rainforest, Canaima is the National Park located in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar in the Amazonian. Home to breath taking cliffs and waterfalls, including the Angels falls, the highest in the world, this mysterious land contains many legends and myths and is of an unlike beauty in the whole world. Looking at the bottle sitting in front of me with the wooden top of the cork, I traveled to all that breathtaking scene of plunged greenery and the falling waters along the sounds of the birds and animals crossing from one end to the other. Life at its original form as it was meant to be from the beginning!

 

 

 

 

 

Canaima Gin is distilled in Venezuela at Dusa’s distillery alongside with the Diplomatico rum range. The master distillers in collaborations with the locals they have studied and hand picked up the best of fruit and herbs avoiding impurities and assuring the best quality. The outcome of Cainama gin comes from 10 exotic ingredients and traditional gin botanicals with one local fruit. There are 3,000 fruit in the rainforest but only 200 are known. Here the master distillers chose 10 different ones. Some are Merey (cashew), Acai berry, Uva de palma, Tupiro, Seje, Topoazu, etc. In the traditional botanical list they also used Juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, coriander, angelica root and fennel. Botanicals used in the gin are treated, macerated and distilled individually, producing small batches of 500 liters.

 

 

 

 

 

Canaïma Gin has partnered with two local foundations, including Tierra Viva, which developed the brand’s visibility material. The design and materials used for the brand were made by indigenous women, which created sustainable jobs for the different communities in the region.

 

The distilleries approach to sustainability and the preservation of the environment is already declared with their presentation of the Diplomatico range of rums. In this case of this Venezuelan Canaima gin a 10% from the sales will be donated to foundations working for the conservation of the Amazon.

 

Additionally, Canaïma is working with Saving the Amazon, which uses technology, mobile applications and the “human potential of indigenous communities” to tackle the destruction of the Amazon, and plant trees.

 

 

Experience Canaima gin

 

Nose: Citrus, fresh and fruit aromas. A hint of juniper and spice.

 

Palate and aftertaste: It starts with a spicy freshness, and a soft juniperesque burn follows. It has an opulent feel in the richness of taste. Fruit and depth of character is felt with references of a classic gin with a power. The aftertaste is sweet, round and leaves a spicy note as a reference to pepper and chilies. Definitely exotic and mysterious.

 

 

CANAÏMA PERFECT TONIC 

 

 

1 PART CANAÏMA

1 PART PREMIUM TONIC WATER

1 PART GRAPEFRUIT SODA

1 SLICE OF GRAPEFRUIT

5 PINK PEPPERCORN

CUBED ICE

MIX IN A SHORT GLASS

 

 

LAST WORD

 

 

20 ML CANAIMA

20 ML GREEN CHARTREUSE

20 ML FRESH LIME JUICE

MARASQUINO LIQUER

SHAKE AND STRAIN, SERVE STRAIGHT UP

IN A COCKTAIL GLASS

 

Published in Booze
Saturday, 11 April 2020 16:59

Burgers and Burgers all sorts!

Here is a recipe to make vegan burgers with lentils as there are so many ways!

 

Ingredients

1 cup green or brown cooked lentils

½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, finely grated, divided

Kosher salt

6 oz. mushrooms

2 Tbsp. white miso

1  tbsp. chopped red onion

1 tbsp. fresh coriander

¼ tsp. smoked paprika, ¼ tbs. cumin

4 Tbsp. (or more) extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup (or more) easy oats

 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mashed consistency. If the mashed mixture seems too soft add a few more oats and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. With wet hands make the mixture into burgers and either pan fry with a little oil or better bake on baking paper until golden brown.

 

 

From there on the options are never ending! Build in a burger bun with any sauce you like, and have sweet potato fries and salad on the side. Or serve with a cold potato and onion salad or serve with bulgur and tahini sauce….I could write a book on the options.

 

Today we served them for lunch. Lentil burgers with avocado and orange type guacamole topped with pink peppercorns, mixed salad dressed in balsamic to give that acidic kick and tahini sauce.

 

 

Enjoy them and write back for your versions!

 

P.S. Pic taken with mobile phone during isolation covid-109

 

Published in Eats
Sunday, 05 April 2020 18:26

2020’s Vegan Food Trends

Speakeasyhacker believes that after the Covid-19 crisis there will be many changes in our contacts, thinking etc. enough for sociologists to have a full meal on these, yet alone the financial tsunami that will penetrate all aspects of our lives. However, the prediction here is that there will be an explosion of Veganism with a large increase of the world population dedicating their nutrition on the wellbeing spectrum and mostly on plant based diets. Therefore menus will become more diverse and there will be more exploitation of what the world produces naturally. It will become a huge creativity bundle for all the chefs and all creating in the kitchen kingdom!

 

Here are some prediction on new trends emerging.

(Source Peta/org)

 

ICE CREAM INNOVATIONS

 

Plant based milks and various other editions will prove to be creamier that dairy milks as a base for yoghurt and definitely ice creams.  

 

ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING

 

Some giant companies already set the standard for eco-friendly packaging, and we predict that other vegan food companies will follow. Going vegan is already the best thing that you can do for the environment as an individual, so it’s even better that companies are considering the kind of impact that their packaging has as well. Yogurt companies offer dairy-free i.e. coconut yogurt in reusable glass jars, or in compostable packaging made with plant-based inks and adhesives, while others will continue to sell yogurt in terra-cotta clay pots, so you can reuse or repurpose them to hold plants or organize your office supplies etc.

 

 

THE VEGAN FAST-FOOD WAVE

 

Vegan options will have a huge impact on the fast food industry. Many beyond Meat/chicken options, ice cream flavors and other vegan sensations.

 

PLANT-BASED JERKY

 

Vegan jerky is already all the rage, and more companies are coming out with new products all the time. How about kelp jerky? Shiitake mushroom?

 

UNUSUAL SEED AND NUT BUTTERS

 

Peanut and almond butters are already vegan pantry staples, but watermelon, hemp, and pumpkin seed butters are starting to gain traction, too. Seeds are allergy-friendly and full of essential nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

 

BANANA BLOSSOM

 

A common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, the flaky texture of the banana blossom makes it perfect for vegan fish recipes. Banana blossom fish and chips can already be found at a number of vegan establishments, but the versatile flower is sure to make its way into other dishes, such as curries and salads.

 

JACK FRUIT

 

The use of this versatile fruit to become burger or Bolognese meat, substitute pulled pork etc. will increase as it is quite a good alternative in texture too.

 

JAPANESE SOUFFLÉ PANCAKES

 

Fluffy Japanese pancakes appear into the vegan world with several rotating vegan flavors which have included Oreo Lovers, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Pineapple Coconut Brule. It will add more diversity in the vegan dessert menus.

 

CONVENIENCE MEALS

 

Companies are meeting the demand for more on-the-go options for those of us with busy lifestyles. Whether you need a quick lunch option or you just don’t feel like cooking dinner, there will be more options for quick plant based meal options.

 

SHRUBS (DRINKING VINEGARS)

 

Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, are refreshing syrups made from fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar. The sweet and tangy concoctions are great for gut health and delicious when mixed with sparkling water or added to a cocktail. It’s super-easy to make your own, but you will also find store-bought versions.

 

RUBY LATTES

 

Ruby lattes get their tint from powdered or juiced beets, which are packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beets are even thought to help lower blood pressure and increase exercise endurance. Their natural sweetness pairs well with warmed oat milk for an earthy, warming drink.

 

ACAI AND MORE COMBINATIONS

 

Acai remains a smoothie or a thicker substance to feature fruits and nuts etc. in all its versatile nature but more combinations with other fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals, syrups and juices will become the vegan’s cocktail revolution!

 

 

Published in Eats
Saturday, 04 April 2020 13:00

Spinach With Ginger and Lemon Orzotto

An alternative to risotto and I recon lighter as we use orzo and less effort to make it tasty!

 

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat orzo

1 lemon

½ cup white wine

½ ltr vegetable stock

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp. of finely chopped onion

2 tbsp. of finely chopped leek a thumb of ginger, grated

1 tbsp. of grated fresh ginger

1 bunch of spinach roughly cut

Salt and pepper, 2 bay leaves

3 tbsp. olive oil

Grated parmesan (optional)

Roasted pine nuts, finely chopped basil or coriander leaves (optional)

 

Method

In a pan heat the olive oil and fry till soft for 2-3 minutes, the onion, garlic, ginger and bay leaves. Add the chopped spinach and stir to become soft. Then add the orzo give it a stir and then the wine, vegetable stock and lemon, salt and pepper, and cook stirring on low heat. It will be good to make sure there is enough liquid or add some water to bring the orzo to a cooked consistency but maintaining the liquidity of the dish as if you are cooking a risotto. When cooked and with enough thick sauce, cover it for a moment and set aside to absorb. I would serve it while creamy having in mind that in 4-5 minutes it would absorb all the liquids. In that case stir in more water and bring it back to its creamier consistency.

 

Serve in bowls and grate on top parmesan cheese, sprinkle pine nuts and freshly cut basil or coriander leaves or both! Enjoy!

 

Note: Pic taken at home with mobile phone during restrictions ‘ home isolation’!

 

Published in Eats

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