RECIPES WITH FOODS CURRENTLY IN SEASON:
Oranges: Orange-Bergamot Lemonade Soda
Azarole: Azarole Jelly (“Mosphila” Jelly)
Butternut Squash: Butternut Squash Pastries (“Kolokotes”)
OLIVES: November is an interesting month in the village. On the one hand, I feel like there is “nothing” in season. The summer and autumn fruits and vegetables are coming to an end, and it is still too early for the winter fruits. But that’s just me being silly. Because once you actually look in the farmers’ markets and in the villages you begin to see that there are many fruits in season. So “nothing” is actually “something”. Having said that, November is so varied. The start of November is very different to the middle and end of November. In a couple of weeks we will see a yummy invasion of citrus fruits, so I will most likely have a couple of “what’s in season” posts this months. Anyway, back to right now – the beginning of November. Olives have to be one of my favourites. Last year I went along with my family to the village during olive season and picked some and followed the process through to making olive oil. (Well, I mostly stood around and tried to help while people told me to get out of the way, but I got an “A” for effort). Apparently the trees only produce large quantities of olives every two years, so this year we will not go. But it is still possible to make many different types of cured olives from the reduced quantity of olives. There are many different varieties in Cyprus, including a “Cyprus variety” which is used for both making olive oil and eating. There are different types of cured olives, the most famous I think being the “elies tsakistes” which literally translates to “crushed olives” and are dressed with coriander, garlic and lemon. You can also make olives in vinegar. And this year I am trying to see how olives will do with fennel and lemon. Olives in Cyprus obviously play an important role in the food. Olives are often served as appetizers in big meals, and they are also used in baked goods such as olive bread (“eliopittes“). Last Sunday I wandered around Amargeti and came across an old lady sorting out her olives with assistance. She looked as though she had been doing this for years, … because she had been doing that for years. Her daughter greeted me and we spoke, I told her who my mom and my grandparents were and the old lady smiled and drew me in for a kiss. I am still blown away by the incredible kindness and warmth that you can stumble across in Cyprus.
Spotted At: Most grocery stores – even the smaller ones – in Cyprus will have a box of fresh olives.
LEMONS & ORANGES: I continued to wander down the road where I ran into Thanasis, who owns and operates the “Kalamos Winery” in Amargeti. He had kindly shown me how the winery makes zivania the other week. After asking him some follow up questions I had regarding the article, I wandered back up the road towards our house and took some photographs of the lemons and oranges I saw. We are just on the cusp of orange and mandarin season. You can see them starting to ripen now on the trees and in fact I have already enjoyed some freshly picked mandarins, which were quite tasty despite it still being just the beginning of the season. I have been thinking of what to make with mandarins – last year I attempted a mandarin almond flour tart. It didn’t like me and I didn’t like it, so it was never written up. Perhaps I will revisit it again this year. Lemons are also in season. I have noticed that there are two times per year that you can easily find lemons on most trees. October/November is one of them. While the majority of lemons are green, they are still ready to be enjoyed. This is one thing I love about Cyprus – the fact that I don’t need to buy lemons at the grocery store. They are always growing outside my flat.
Spotted At: Most Grocery Stores have these items.
WALNUTS AND PECANS: Walnuts and pecans are also in season. There is a gigantic tree that overhangs over into our village house and the nuts often fall on the floor. Have you ever tried a walnut or pecan straight from the shell? I think they are so much better. Walnuts are such a useful nut. You can put them in sweet and savoury dishes. Always make sure to roast nuts before using them in your dishes. This brings out their flavour so much more.
Spotted At: Most grocery stores have pre-packaged walnuts. Some stores sell fresh walnuts and pecans in plastic bags. It is not easy to find pre-packaged pecans in Cyprus. Your best bet is Debenhams, or to buy them in their shells which can be found in most big grocery stores.
AZAROLES (“MOSPHILA”): Finally, I went to the farmers’ market in Ypsonas last week. I think it may now be nearing the end of azaroles (“mosphila”) season, but you can probably still find some. I know, “azarole” sounds like a strange name. At best, it sounds like I am getting confused with the spray that they use to kill cockroaches in Cyprus. “Azaroles” are a type of fruit that look like little apples. Azaroles are a species of hawthorn – which is basically a type of shrub. You can make amazing jelly from this fruit. You can also make a jam which is different to the jelly (the jelly only uses the water that the azarole fruits are boiled in). I think theses are a Mediterranean fruit so I am not sure how easy it would be to find these in other countries. But the flavour is delicious – a mixture (in my mouth at least!) of apples and a slight rose flavour.
Spotted At: The Ypsonas Farmer’s Market (every Wednesday & Sunday by the New Hospital) had some last weekend. I also bought some from Hadjantonnas Fruit Store on Kolonakiou (go south from the Germasogeia round about).
BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Everywhere I look at the moment I see butternut squash. Literally. It’s on the sides of the roads. There are many things you can make with butternut squash and we will get to some of these soon. Luckily these are around for the next month or so, so it gives us some time. Having said that we did make a pumpkin pie with butternut squash the other day for a belated Canadian “Thanksgiving Dinner”, though I haven’t posted it yet. In the meantime, I am looking for a good “kolokotes” (butternut squash pastries) recipe!
Spotted At: Everywhere. You won’t have trouble finding these!