For one young baker, recreating a sweet taste of home has seen her open her own outlet in the heart of Nicosia. ZOE CHRISTODOULIDES has a taste   Most people at the age of 24 are just getting to grips with the adult world, perhaps in the midst of their studies or attempting to find their first proper job. But Gabriella Ignatencu is slightly different. Having moved to Cyprus with her husband from Romania three years ago, she began studying at the age of 14, was working as a chef by the age of 19, and was keen to open her own pastry business when the very first chance arose. “Things were not good in Romania so we came here,” she tries to explain in her broken English. “It was better for us.” We sit in a brightly-lit, whitewashed room complete with some stencilled flowers sprawled across the wall and a couple of tables and chairs. To the right sits her sister-in-law tucking into a hot apple pie; ahead of us stands her trusted colleague, 20-year-old Iouliana. Three years after first stepping foot on the island, it seems Gabriella has been able to make her dreams materialise; she is now the proud owner of a little down town bakery just off Ledra Street. Blink and you’ll miss the place but if you pay attention you’ll notice a few rows of fresh produce gracing the shop front, from traditional Romanian cheese pies to poppy seed pretzels pronounced ‘bredzel’ in Gabriella’s home country. “I can’t make too much each day because then it will be thrown away. I see how many customers I have in the morning and then might make more at lunchtime,” she explains. In a somewhat hesitant manner – slightly embarrassed by her basic English – she emphasises how important it is for her that the products are “fresh fresh, really fresh.” She proceeds to hand over an apple pie that resembles a strudel and sure enough, the pastry is so soft it melts in your mouth with a distinct buttery aftertaste. Her day begins in the shop bright and early as she starts making pastries around 7am, with everything ready to serve by 9.30am. With the surge of big bakery chains that have taken over the capital in recent years, it comes as a nice surprise that there are people dedicated to making things the good old fashioned way. Gabriella always baked at home and sees this new place as her extended kitchen. “I worked in the kitchens of Pizza Hut before this but I’ve been baking pies and cakes a long time,” she says moving her hands around wildly in moments where she finds it hard to express herself with words. “I was saving for a family house but I decided to open here four months ago with the small money I made.” And what did her husband say to that? “He likes very much,” she says with a laugh pointing to the produce he obviously enjoys to consume. But surely it must be hard for a young foreign girl to set up shop in a place far away from home. “Yes, yes,” she replies firmly. “Very hard.” Turns out that renting a space is awfully tricky when you’re treated as someone not to be trusted who might not pay the rent. But after consulting a Cypriot lawyer and finding local guarantors, Gabriella managed to set things into motion. “Also it was difficult in the beginning for Cypriot customers to trust us. Many of them don’t know anything about these Romanian foods.” “You can’t find the things I make here in Cyprus and I wanted to share with other Romanian people what we do,” she says with a slight pause for thought. “But you know, we have some doctors who studied in Romania who know about apple pie and come here.” So how did these doctors find out about the place I wonder? “First the neighbours here came. Then more people found out. Slowly slowly they know us.” Other produce that has proved popular are her cheese pies, donuts and brownies. “It’s hard because each month I have to make enough money to get by. But I do what I love you know? It’s been difficult, but everyone tells me it will be ok. Slowly slowly,” she says again with a broad smile. I wonder if she would want to continue this business back home or if she is happy to make things work here in Cyprus. “When I go back home for holidays I don’t want to stay there. Life has changed and we got used to it here. I don’t want to start from beginning again.” Old Nicosia is certainly home to all sorts of quirky little places and it looks like some people wouldn’t even dream of setting up base anywhere else, no matter how patient they have to be in their new little world.   Gabriella Bakeries Orders and take away. Open 7.30am-7pm. 9 Pasikratous Str, next to Centrum Hotel, Nicosia. Tel: 99-393439
Read the article on Cyprus Mail

A taste of Romania

For one young baker, recreating a sweet taste of home has seen her open her own outlet in the heart of Nicosia. ZOE CHRISTODOULIDES has a taste   Most people at the age of 24 are just getting to grips with the adult world, perhaps in the midst of their studies or attempting to find their first proper job. But Gabriella Ignatencu is slightly different. Having moved to Cyprus with her husband from Romania three years ago, she began studying at the age of 14, was working as a chef by the age of 19, and was keen to open her own pastry business when the very first chance arose. “Things were not good in Romania so we came here,” she tries to explain in her broken English. “It was better for us.” We sit in a brightly-lit, whitewashed room complete with some stencilled flowers sprawled across the wall and a couple of tables and chairs. To the right sits her sister-in-law tucking into a hot apple pie; ahead of us stands her trusted colleague, 20-year-old Iouliana. Three years after first stepping foot on the island, it seems Gabriella has been able to make her dreams materialise; she is now the proud owner of a little down town bakery just off Ledra Street. Blink and you’ll miss the place but if you pay attention you’ll notice a few rows of fresh produce gracing the shop front, from traditional Romanian cheese pies to poppy seed pretzels pronounced ‘bredzel’ in Gabriella’s home country. “I can’t make too much each day because then it will be thrown away. I see how many customers I have in the morning and then might make more at lunchtime,” she explains. In a somewhat hesitant manner – slightly embarrassed by her basic English – she emphasises how important it is for her that the products are “fresh fresh, really fresh.” She proceeds to hand over an apple pie that resembles a strudel and sure enough, the pastry is so soft it melts in your mouth with a distinct buttery aftertaste. Her day begins in the shop bright and early as she starts making pastries around 7am, with everything ready to serve by 9.30am. With the surge of big bakery chains that have taken over the capital in recent years, it comes as a nice surprise that there are people dedicated to making things the good old fashioned way. Gabriella always baked at home and sees this new place as her extended kitchen. “I worked in the kitchens of Pizza Hut before this but I’ve been baking pies and cakes a long time,” she says moving her hands around wildly in moments where she finds it hard to express herself with words. “I was saving for a family house but I decided to open here four months ago with the small money I made.” And what did her husband say to that? “He likes very much,” she says with a laugh pointing to the produce he obviously enjoys to consume. But surely it must be hard for a young foreign girl to set up shop in a place far away from home. “Yes, yes,” she replies firmly. “Very hard.” Turns out that renting a space is awfully tricky when you’re treated as someone not to be trusted who might not pay the rent. But after consulting a Cypriot lawyer and finding local guarantors, Gabriella managed to set things into motion. “Also it was difficult in the beginning for Cypriot customers to trust us. Many of them don’t know anything about these Romanian foods.” “You can’t find the things I make here in Cyprus and I wanted to share with other Romanian people what we do,” she says with a slight pause for thought. “But you know, we have some doctors who studied in Romania who know about apple pie and come here.” So how did these doctors find out about the place I wonder? “First the neighbours here came. Then more people found out. Slowly slowly they know us.” Other produce that has proved popular are her cheese pies, donuts and brownies. “It’s hard because each month I have to make enough money to get by. But I do what I love you know? It’s been difficult, but everyone tells me it will be ok. Slowly slowly,” she says again with a broad smile. I wonder if she would want to continue this business back home or if she is happy to make things work here in Cyprus. “When I go back home for holidays I don’t want to stay there. Life has changed and we got used to it here. I don’t want to start from beginning again.” Old Nicosia is certainly home to all sorts of quirky little places and it looks like some people wouldn’t even dream of setting up base anywhere else, no matter how patient they have to be in their new little world.   Gabriella Bakeries Orders and take away. Open 7.30am-7pm. 9 Pasikratous Str, next to Centrum Hotel, Nicosia. Tel: 99-393439
Read the article on Cyprus Mail

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