Christmas Eve invariably brings back happy memories of my childhood and adolescence. As a child, I remember Dad getting us a tall pine tree - there were hardly any artificial Christmas trees in those days - and all the family together would help to put it up and decorate it. In the evening, mum prepared a special dinner consisting of various snacks, which we all enjoyed by the fireplace while listening to Christmas carols, often singing along. At 10 o'clock, both my brother and I had to go to bed or else Santa wouldn't visit. Terrified at the thought, we both went to bed on time after making sure there was some milk and Mum's delicious Christmas cookies by the tree for Santa.
Then one rainy Christmas Eve, my five-year-old brother had a great idea: " How about waiting for Santa to come? It's raining and he might get wet. We can dry his boots and clothes by the ashes of the fireplace while he's enjoying the milk and cookies! " I was only eight but still believed in Santa... yet I had my doubts. " What if Santa doesn't visit? Mum and Dad said he'd never visit if we are awake!" "Yes, but Mum and Dad would be very proud of us when we explain that we just wanted Santa to leave us in dry clothes!" , my brother replied. That was the end of a dream. We hid behind the curtains only to find out that Santa was ...Mum and Dad! They didn't even drink the milk or eat the cookies!
Me and my brother on Christmas Eve 1961
My most embarrassing Christmas Eve was in 1981. I was still a student in Geneva, Switzerland when I decided to invite a few friends over. I promised them all that I'd cook .... canard à l'orange - a traditional French dish.The duck is roasted and served with an orange sauce as well as with glazed chestnuts . Needless to say, I had no idea how to cook this and there was no Internet at the time. Alkis was just a student at the hotel school , then, but he saved the situation ! He glazed the chestnuts and the carrots beautifully, roasted the duck in my mini Mulinex oven and made me feel I was the queen of French gastronomy! He also made a Christmas log for dessert!
Me and Alkis on Christmas Eve 1976 - Geneva, Switzerland
This Holiday Season , Alkis was at work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and he will be working on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, but I'm glad to spend these days with him at the hotel .
Me and Alkis on Christmas Eve 2015
Christmas at the Golden Bay Beach Hotel has always been a unique experience but it seems to me that this Christmas has been the best ever in more ways than one. Everything was just perfect: the Christmas decorations, the music, the joyful festive atmosphere and the food! My mother and I joined Alkis early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, had a light lunch and then went up to our rooms to take a nap and get ready for the Christmas Eve Gala Dinner while Alkis went back to work. After a hectic week at the school which ended merrily with the Christmas party last Tuesday afternoon, it was the best way for me to start my Christmas break.
Christmas Eve 2015
The Christmas Eve menu was an amazing gourmet experience as the Executive Chef , Panayiotis Papacosta, went out of his way to create works of art. Here's what the six -course festive menu consisted of:
Salmon Roulade on Lobster Potato Cake
Chicken Cream Soup
Duck Confit with Red Onions
Lemon Sherbet with Cointreau.
Baked Salmon with King Prawn, Vegetables, Pear Potato and Champagne Cream Sauce.
Roast Young Turkey with Sage and Onion Stuffing, Winter Vegetables, Pear Potato and Foie Gras Sauce
Slow Cooked Veal Fillet, Winter Vegetables, Fondant Potato and Nama Sauce.
White Chocolate Cheese Cake and Orange Crumble Tart.
Apart from the food, I was particularly impressed by the Home Band who played Christmas Carols throughout this exquisite dinner and later helped us....burn some of the calories on the dance floor!