Zucchini flowers for sale at Paphos fruit and vegetable market
These edible Zucchini flowers now in season and for sale at the weekly Paphos market catch my eye a couple of weeks before I decide to experiment with stuffed Zucchini flowers.
I enjoy these delicacies in restaurants. When you buy the flowers you realize how fragile they are. The flowers need to be prepared and cooked quickly before they spoil.
Bunch of Zucchini flowers from the market
Here is the approach I take, based on looking at various preparation references and combining different recipe ideas..
First, it’s important to remove the stamen or pistil from within the flowers. I also gently rinse each flower to check there are no insects hiding there!
Second, I make up a recipe from the fridge with bacon and mushrooms, chopped and sautéed. Add this to a soft French goat cheese with lots of chopped mint.
Third, I carefully stuff the flowers with the mixture and cook on a cookie sheet in a hot oven for about 15 minutes.
Fourth, the great tasting!
Success! The stuffed zucchini flowers taste good. The cooked flowers add a subtle sweetness to the dish and the mint is delicious and typical of Cypriot food. Only eat the flower petals not the stems or the green leaves.
Cooked Zucchini flowers with stuffing
For a wine pairing, I suggest a Tsangarides organic Chardonnay, which complements the creaminess of the stuffing well or perhaps a Viognier.
Tsangarides Organic Chardonnay
What would I do differently next time? From the recommendation of a Cypriot friend who knows about local dishes, instead of using a French goat cream cheese, (which is what I had in the fridge when I decided to make this dish!j or perhaps an Italian Ricotta as an alternative, I would use fresh Anari, which is a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus and made from goat or sheep milk. The authentic recipe!
A beautiful, peaceful garden awaits you: the sun is shining yet there is shade from the heat, bees are buzzing, birds are singing, the oleanders are blooming and the sky is dazzlingly blue.
The gardens at Oleander and Lantana Stone Houses, Lemona
Village views, hillside walks, old stone houses surround us and a winery to taste and buy wines is close by. What more could anyone want who may be seeking a time and place of true calm to restore the spirit?
A half day painting in the idyllic garden of Marcelina Costa in Lemona, in the foothills of the Troodos mountains about 1/2 hour from Paphos Airport, introduced us to this wonderful space where complete rest and rejuvenation would be possible.
Painting in Lemona
En plein air painting!
Filling the canvas en plein air!
Two independent stone houses, Lantana and Oleander, set within this meandering garden are available to rent through both Booking.com and Airbnb.
Ever a gracious host, Marcelina is multilingual in Greek, English, German and Polish and delights in explaining the history of the village, highlights local walks, and offers her homemade jams, lemonade, and baked goodies.
What makes Marcelina’s stone houses even more appealing to the wine lover is the proximity of Tsangarides Winery, literally around the corner in Lemona village, making white, red and rosé wines from indigenous grapes, Xinisteri, Mataro and Maratheftiko as well as the noble grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay, Tsangarides is always a favourite winery of mine for their consistency and high quality.
I have met with Angelos Tsangarides, who with his sister are fourth generation proprietors of the winery and I have previously written about their wines in 2016 and 2018. Since then, in addition to its traditional vineyards, the winery has cultivated organic vineyards and produce a series of organic wines as part of its overall portfolio of wines.
Map to Lemona and Tsangarides Winery – courtesy Tsangarides Winery
This painting excursion to Lemona reminds me to visit the Tsangarides winery again, and soon!
Creative endeavours have helped many people get through the challenges of the past pandemic year and I am grateful to Marcelina for the opportunity to paint in her hillside garden and to be reminded of the beauty of Lemona, including Tsangarides Winery and the surrounding countryside.
Chelsea Flower Show! This show in London is an annual and powerful magnet that attracts gardeners, garden designers and all the associated businesses and artisans.
Hydrangea Fireworks Blue – Great Pavilion
Great excitement for me as I manage to buy an evening ticket to ‘Chelsea’, having almost given up on the possibility of going this year. Tickets are like gold dust! My preferred time slot is 5.30 pm to 8.00 pm, when it is cooler and less crowded around the popular gardens and exhibits.
Once in through the gates, I decide to focus on three gardens as well as the Great Pavilion and to treat myself to a glass of champagne!
First up is the Harmonious Garden of Life designed by French designer, Laurélie de la Salle. This garden appeals to me for two reasons. Laurélie uses her knowledge and experience to create environmentally friendly gardens. Secondly, the gardens she designs are primarily in hot and dry areas where water conservation is important, which in turn influences her choice of plants and garden materials. One small example is that instead of a traditional lawn, a clove meadow is featured which provides blooms for pollinators and enriches the soil as clover is rich in nitrogen.
The Harmonious Garden of Life
Next on my list is the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED)’s garden: Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow designed by Jilayne Rickards. Created on a restricted budget, the garden demonstrates some techniques for gardening sustainability such as inexpensively constructed growing beds. It particularly highlights the CAMFED focus on helping girls in rural Africa stay in education and teaching them sustainable agricultural techniques to help them and their families thrive. All the plants grown provide food. Apart from appreciating the goals of this garden, I really like the energy and vibrancy of the design and colours.
The Camfed Garden: giving girls in Africa a space to grow.
The Camfed garden: giving girls in Africa a space to grow.
To mix it up a bit I then visit the Great Pavilion to get my Chelsea ‘fix’ of roses, hydrangeas and clematis. I look at many of the exhibits and am always drawn to these dramatic, mood enhancing displays. Who can resist walking among the roses: it feels like walking into a parallel world of different fragrances, colours and textures.
Roses in the Great Pavilion
Coming towards the end of my tour of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea this year, I head to the champagne bar!
Fortnum and Mason of Piccadilly are the official supplier of champagne to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I select a glass of their Brut Reserve, made by Louis Roederer, which is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Also on offer is the Fortnum and Mason Rosé NV, made by Billecart Salmon, which is again the blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier but this time rosé. Fortnum and Mason also offer a Blanc de Blancs which is 100% Chardonnay and made by Laurent Hostomme.
Fortnum and Mason Champagnes
Happy with my champagne choice of Brut Reserve, I wander off to join the queue for my last but not least garden choice.
This is the RHS Back to Nature Garden, co-designed by The Duchess of Cambridge and landscape architects Davies White. The brochure and accompanying plant list states that the objective of this garden is: “to highlight the benefits of the great outdoors on our physical and mental wellbeing and inspire children, families and communities to connect with and enjoy nature – which is core to the charitable work of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society).”
The RHS Back to Nature Garden – co-designed by the Duchess of Cambridge
The RHS Back to Nature Garden
The RHS Back to Nature Garden – recognize the swing?
I enjoy the stroll through this compact, choreographed garden. The use of a winding path through the predominantly green landscape featuring fun places, like the wooden tent, the tree house and the great ball of string swing, provides that magical mix of adventure and calm that would interest the child in us all.
There are so many wonderful exhibits at ‘Chelsea’ and I appreciate all the hard work, time and effort put in by the many exhibitors. Thousands of people come each day to the show, which is spread over 11 acres (4.45 ha). I am writing about a very small percentage of what can be seen and enjoyed there.
Experience has taught me that less is more when visiting such a magnificent flower show as ‘Chelsea’ and my feet thank me for this approach. The experience is always enhanced by a glass of champagne!
Chelsea Flower Show 2019
References: The Harmonious Garden of Life Laulérie de la Salle
I am inspired by the magnificent displays of flowers and plants at the Chelsea Flower Show this year in London and sustained by a memorable glass of Louis Roederer Brut champagne.
David Austin roses
David Austin roses at Chelsea
Not just roses catch my eye but hostas, dahlias, alliums and succulent plants all attract attention. Thoughts turn to where I can squeeze in another plant in my garden; what about that Restless Sea hosta?
Restless Sea hosta
Foxgloves and Alliums
Iris in striking colour combinations
We spend three plus hours at Chelsea, looking at the model gardens, enquiring about various plants in the Pavillion and admiring the garden sculptures in stone and wood. Such creativity and talent on display.
Wooden garden sculptures
We are impressed by the Royal Bank of Canada model garden, inspired by the Boreal forests of northern Canada. RBC wins a gold again this year.
Royal Bank of Canada wins gold
Royal Bank of Canada model garden
On a hot afternoon, a visit of several hours is the best way to enjoy Chelsea Flower Show in my view. In previous years, I have attended for the whole day and my feet have not appreciated my efforts.
In the last half hour before closing, we find our way to the champagne tents where both Louis Roederer and Billecart Salmon champagne are on offer. I enjoy both and have visited each of these champagne houses in France. In 2014, I wrote a series about champagne and associated visits, which are listed in my archives. Here are a couple of photos from the 2014 elizabethsvines archives:
Tasting Room at Roederer
Door Sign at Champagne Billecart-Salmon
Today, we choose the Louis Roederer Brut. The classic, dry, biscuity, refreshing flavour with subtle bubbles is just what we need to celebrate another Chelsea visit. I even forgot to take a photo…
Enjoying a morning coffee at our regular coffee bar in the Port area of Paphos is one of our favourite Sunday morning pastimes when in Cyprus.
Coffee at the Port, Paphos
Needless to say, this is after a good walk along the roughly paved sea walk that surrounds the Paphos Archeological Park.
Buying fruit and vegetables from the friendly stall holders at the Saturday morning Paphos market is another pleasure.
Umbrellas protect the fruit and vegetable stands from the spring sun, Paphos
Paphos fruit and. Vegetable market
Fresh from the Market, Paphos
My painting of fruits from the Paphos market
We have been shopping here for years now and there is always a sense of mutual satisfaction when we return: the same warm, comforting smiles and gestures reciprocated as we recognize each other. “Ah, you are back/ Ah, you are still here”, we collectively murmur from the heart.
This year during our visit I pay more attention to the wild flowers increasingly in bloom from February on. The tall, spikey Asphodels that I see everywhere. The anemone, a loner elegant in lilac blue. The mandrake, purple blue amid shiny leaves, reminiscent of spooky stories. The stately giant orchid. Perhaps above all I am drawn to the pink or white almond blossom buzzing with all manner of pollinators. For me, the sweetly scented flowers are the harbinger of spring.
Almond blossom near Paphos
Common Asphodel – Asphodelus aestivus
Mandrake – Mandragora officinarum
Giant Orchid – Barlia robertiana
Anemone coronaria – Crown Anemone
But what about wine?
Next time, I will write about a Cyprus wine we enjoy that I haven’t mentioned before.
Now back in Vancouver, with a rain-filled charcoal grey sky overhead, its good to bring these memories of Cyprus back to life.