Eating Drinking Cyprus. As many of you might know by now (Emily Luxton Interview) I have lived in Cyprus for 7 years and consider it My Home Away From Home. In fact, I have a lot of friends there and can say that all these hints and tips have come from the locals!
For us Italians, food & wine are two very important aspects of everyday life. In fact, we revolve a lot of our socialising around food, whether it be the Sunday lunch with the grandparents to the ‘aperitivo’ Wednesday night with friends. Whatever the reason, many Italians do not just go out for a drink – food needs to be in the picture.
We discovered that Cyprus was no different to the Italian mentality (we are Mediterranean after all!). Food is important to daily life and is also seen as an important part of socializing with both friends and family. Here I provide a glance into the meals that stood out the most during our one week in Cyprus.
As they say in Greek, καλή όρεξη! (pronounced – Cali O-re-xy).
Eating Drinking Cyprus
The day in Cyprus does not start without a Frappe! While for us Italians it’s a cappuccino in the morning or an ‘espresso’, in Cyprus work does not start until you have had a Frappe.
To be a ‘real Cypriot’, the frappe is to be consumed nice and slowly, in fact, it should last a good couple of hours as you slowly drink through it in the office or chilling with friends at a cafe. When I was in Cyprus, adopting to the local way of life (as I do), I did not start the day without a Frappe!
There is also ‘Cypriot Coffee’. Definitely not my favourite but an absolute favourite amongst my friends. Cyprus coffee is brewed in small, long handled pots, wide at the base and tapering at the top called “mbrikia” which were traditionally made of copper. Cyprus coffee is served in small cups and is customarily accompanied with a glass of cold water. The coffee is strong (very strong!) and it is sipped slowly. Do not drink the thick layer at the bottom of the cup but you can use it to have your fortune read to you. Or try yourself, just ‘interpret’ the dried patterns left behind (Good luck!).
There are three (3) sweetness variations of coffee in Cyprus:
- γλυκό (gly/kós) meaning “sweet” = 2 teaspoons of nescafe classic coffee and 4 teaspoons of sugar;
- μέτριο (mé/tri/os) meaning “medium” = 2 teaspoons of nescafe classic coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar;
- σκέτο (ské/tos) meaning “plain” = only 2 teaspoons of nescafe classic coffee of coffee and no sugar.
*All varieties of frappe may be served with φρέσκο γάλα (fresco gala) meaning ‘Fresh milk’. Please note that in Greece it is different, as they used ‘condensed milk’ if you do not specify that you want fresh milk.
I thought I would show you how to make a frappe at home – Sketo me lio gala (plain with a bit of milk). Check it out and if you try it at home, let me know how it went!
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Eating Drinking Cyprus – Mεζέ
The one thing that you could never go wrong in ordering at a restaurant, whether you are two people or ten, is a cypriot meze. For those that do not know what a meze is, take a number of small ‘apetizer’ plates of all, and I mean all, the dishes offered in a typical taverna. Now do not think that this is an ‘antipasto’ because it is not – its a full on meal of 10-15 dishes, if not more. Do not expect to finish your meze because you will not (I’m just trying to pretend I’m a normal eater) but it is a good chance to try all the traditional local dishes.
*There are TWO types of meze: ψαρομεζέδες (fish meze) and μεζέ (traditional meat meze)*
In most places, both mezedes will start with taramosalata, tahini, hoummous, taramousalata, tzatziki, grilled holloumi (sometimes not served with the fish meze), snails in tomato sauce, moungra, crushed green olives, pickled vegetables, zalatina, tambouli, kolokouthkia (egg based dishes), village salad (really a Greek salad without the all the onions). Do not forget that these meals will be Ζυμωτό Ψωμί (Zymoto Psomi) which is the traditional, oven baked bread or Pita bread. So I normally go light on the ‘antipasto’ to leave room for the rest.
Then the ψαρομεζέδες (xaro/me/sedes) will consist of calamari, fried crabs, grilled prawns, friend prawns/shrimps, cuttlefish, grilled octopus, fried red mullet, fried white bait and sometimes oysters and mussels. But the one thing I loved the most, was the final serving – the grilled τσιπούρα (tsi-poo-ra) which in english is Sea Bream and in Italian is ‘Orata’.
While the mesede (or traditional meze) is all based on meat. This type of meze will be very popular in the villages and those cities away from the coast. However, I found a great little village, only 15 minute drive from Protaras where I really got to enjoy a traditional meat meze. Here you will enjoy, sheftalia (pork rissoles), lountza (smoked pork), keftedes (meatballs), loukaniko (sausages), souvlaki (chicken, lamb and pork), lamb chops and the unmissable kleftiko.
Kleftiko is a real traditional Cypriot meat dish that all must try. It is slow cooked lamb, oven baked lamb in a traditional cypriot clay oven. It is tender full of flavor and most importantly – delicious!
Eating Drinking Cyprus – Sweets
When on holiday, you cannot finish a meal without dessert! The ‘traditional’ dessert is usually fresh fruit or ‘γλυκων κουταλιου’ – traditional sugar-preserved fruits and nuts and can sometimes you can be served loukoumades. I only include the ‘traditional’ desserts because there are a number of dishes that derive from surrounding Greece and Lebanon.
Eating Drinking Cyprus – Wine, Beer & Spirits
The local beer in Cyprus is KEO. Carlsberg is also produced (not imported) in Cyprus but I stick to promoting local products. Of course you will find all types of beer in bars.
My favourite wines in Cyprus, are from Tsiakkas winery. The local grape variety is Xynisteri (also my favourite white wine). Expect a light and refreshing wine. The terroir, made up of mostly limestone, is the ideal home for Xynisteri vines and at higher altitudes, like at Tsiakkas winery, the quality of the grapes are enhanced due to the cooler temperatures. At the nose, expect aromas of fruit and nuts and on the palate, expect flavors of lemon, peach, and white plum.
Once thing you cannot leave Cyprus without tasting, is Zivania! Zivania is a distillate produced from a mixture of grape pomace and local dry wines created from Cyprus grape varieties of Xynisteri and Mavro. You could say it is a similar version to Italian Grappa. Tsiakkas winery produces a barrique version of Zivania, which is outstanding!
The above photos were kindly provided by Tsiakkas himself!
What did you think of Eating Drinking Cyprus? Was there a particular wine or dish that you enjoyed in Cyprus? Let me know by using the comments feature below or sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, do not forget to share the post on social media or start following me, simply clicking one (or all) the icons to the right of your screen.