Read of the Week

What’s for Lunch?

Ann Christodoulou

New Media Publishing

Review: Karen Watkins

Afrikaanse meisie Ann Christodoulou and her Cypriot-Greek businessman and winemaker husband, Nick, moved to Hout Bay in 1995 where they created Ambeloui, a Cypriot Greek word for small vineyard.

On my first visit in October 2017 to write about their excellent méthode cap classique (MCC), all thoughts of tasting vanished as the smell of freshly baked goods wafted from the farmstyle kitchen.

Ann was preparing dishes for a photoshoot by Jan Ras to be used in the cookery book based on dishes served for family members over the years.

She said she is from boer stock and has been cooking all her life and can make better Greek food than most Greek women.

In March this year I returned for harvest time and to blend with the Christodoulou family, to taste Greek sweet treats and savouries and to enjoy their latest vintages.

Ann was hoping to launch her book but it had been held up at the printer in Malaysia.

It arrived on my desk this week and was worth the wait.

Fold out pictures illustrate a Greek pantry and an Afrikaanse koskas. Chapters are divided into family lunches, having fun with food with children, and how to make a picnic, including the recycled Ambeloui wine box to carry everything in.

The book is peppered with tips and tricks with diagrams to show you how to use phyllo pastry and to make this flimsy foe your friend. There is even a recipe for MCC, although she does not give away the secret ingredient.

But recipes are not the only topic to savour. There are crafts, including knitting bow ties to stitch together for a family heirloom blanket, making kokedama moss balls and papier mâché men at work figures. She will even show you how to host a birthday party for a friend.

The family go vegan for a week at Easter but do not go hungry as they feast on stuffed vegetables, rice spinach, red eggs and spanakorizo. They break this on Palm Sunday with calamari stew. Ann also uses kintsuji, the Japanese art of repairing pottery, to recycle the plates that Greeks are well-known for breaking.

This growing family is very much at the heart of the book and Ann is the craft glue, sticky grape juice and baklava syrup who keeps it all together.

Most of the recipes use simple, uncomplicated ingredients with straightforward methods. They include camembert baked in vine leaves and vetkoek with halloumi chicken cooked in a hotpot, or with grapes and berries.

What is missing is an index and it would also be nice to know the origin and inspiration for the recipes.

This book is a work of art, a wonderful read and is a useful addition for novice and seasoned cooks and far better than an internet search.

It costs R450 and is available from Ambeloui by email at info@ambeloui.co.za