Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 44: Cyprus(Nicosia)(AS) and/or (EU)- Lamb Souvla and Cyprus Village Salad - Up Next, Czech Republic

After tonight's meal in Cyprus, I will have one more "C" country left to go: the Czech Republic! It feels so 
invigorating to have nearly completed all 18 countries in this category! Next, I'll be cruising along into the "D" countries, of which there are only 4. YAY!

Cyprus (Nicosia)(AS)and/or(EU):  This country has a fascinating history and culture. It is a divided island with the northern portion under Turkish control. This is referred to as "The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", but is only recognized as legitimate by Turkey itself. The Southern portion is an independent republic called, The Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Cypress is in the process of becoming a part of the European Union, although this will not apply to the northern portion of the island under Turkish control. The capital, Nicosia, is divided by "The Green Line" in two parts, similar to the way Berlin was once divided. Access between the two parts of Cyprus has been restricted.

The cuisine on the island of Cyprus is shaped by the island's Mediterranean climate, geography, and history. Reflecting the two dominant populations, Cypriot cuisine has evolved as a fusion of Greek  and Turkish cuisines, with local twists on well-known dishes. Further influences are evident from the neighboring Levant countries, with similarity to Lebanese Cusisine There are remnants too of French, Italian, and Anglo-Saxon influences stemming from the island's occupation by the French Lusignans, the Venetians, and the British. Modern western cuisine (especially fast food) has an increasing influence on the day-to-day diet on the island. The names given to the foods of the Cypriot cuisine are different amongst the two dominant populations.

For tonight's meal, I chose to make souvla - skewered meat cooked on coal fire.  The preparation and cooking of souvla is usually a man's job, women just prepare the salad and the baked potatoes, but in my house, that's not how it goes down. Cooking on a coal fire grill / rotisserie, called foukou, is the most common way to prepare souvla. Luckily, I just HAPPEN to have a beautiful foukou right in my back yard.
Butterflied leg of lamb, which I cut up into cubes, and basted with fresh lemon juice and really good olive oil

Brush the olive oil before putting on the grill so the meat has time to absorb the fruity flavor

My rockin' fire pit. Note the great kindling wood scraps supplied by our awesome friend, Paul! Absolutely NO lighter fluid is needed: old newspaper, wood scraps and
Cowboy hardwood charcoal -  THE way to go:

Beautiful cherry tomatoes, ready to pick - they went into the salad still warm from the sun

A perfect cucumber for the Cyprus Village Salad - ignore the weeds, please

I ate about 20 cherry tomatoes right off the vines :)

My guard dog, BuddyBoy, had to check to make sure they were safe - A-Okay

Summer's bounty

Paul Cook - our friend, carpenter, bicycle fixer, and kindling supplier - Thanks for everything, Paul!

I barely use this dinosaur anymore

Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about - the smell of the meat roasting was sublime

DO NOT over cook your lamb!! 

Lamb Souvla and Cyprus Village Salad - a perfect summer dinner


2 lbs meats lamb and / or pork and chicken
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil mixed with the juice of 1 fresh lemon
finely ground coriander seeds (optional)
1. Cut the meat into big chunks and season to taste.
2. Pass meat evenly through thick metal skewers so that it won't slip down while on the coal fire grill (foukou). Place the skewers over high fire on the foukou.

Cyprus Village Salad
One of the most common dishes found throughout Cyprus and Greece as well,,this salad is a great way of using your garden tomatoes, especially in late August when they are so plentiful.  To make a truly great salad you really should invest in a good quality olive oil.  Sprinkle this wonderful salad with feta cheese and oregano and you’ll experience a truly authentic Mediterranean experience!
4 tomatoes cut in wedges
½ cucumber sliced
½ red onion thinly sliced
A large slice of feta cheese
A handful of kalamata olives
About 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Season with dried oregano, salt and pepper (to taste)
Cut the vegetables and place in medium bowl.  Add the thinly sliced feta cheese and olives.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt and pepper.  Mix well.
Final Assessment:  I love Mediteranean cooking. It's clean, packed with the wonderful flavors of lemon, olive oil, garlic and olives - and Feta cheese? Get yourself barrel aged Feta if you can - your life will be forever changed for the better. A delicious and tasty summer meal!

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