Cypriot cuisine

I must go back to Cyprus, if only to taste its wine once again. -- Richard I

Cypriot cuisine is a blend of Greek, Turkish and Middle East cuisine. The local beer is Keo lager, the local drink brandy sour.

Like all Mediterranean cultures, food plays a central part in Cypriot life. Dishes are based on meat, salad and fruit.

Agriculture is important, especially the rich red soils around Paralimni.

Local watermelons are delicious, especially on a hot day.

The key wine growing areas are in the west of the island, small villages above Pathos and Limassol and on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains. The best wine comes from small family vineyards.

The Mediterranean climate means grapes can grow up to 1000 metres, citrus fruits to 450 metres.

During the first ten days of September a wine festival is held in Limassol.

Archaeological evidence indicates that wine making in the ancient world first took place in Cyprus. The ancient Greeks may have introduced wine to the masses, the Romans to the then known world, but it was Cyprus that led the way.

The superior wines come from the small family vineyards and wineries, not from the larger businesses.

The better quality Cypriot brandy is very good brandy, the cheap rough stuff fit for cleaning tables nothing more. Commandaria, a fortified wine similar to Madeira, dates back to the Crusades.

stifado beef stew with tomatoes and red wine

moussaka layers of aubergines, potato and mince topped with creamy sauce

meze large number of small dishes

kleftico lamb cooked very very slowly for several hours in a wood-fired clay oven, served in an earthenware dish with vegetables

souvlakia kebabs of pork, lamb or chicken

koupepia stuffed vine leaves

keftedes deep-fried meatballs of minced meat (pork, lamb and beef)

tavas lamb stew

halloumi goat's cheese

ouzo aniseed strong alcoholic drink

zivania local firewater, made from the last of the grape pressings

Cypriot coffee strong, black and disgusting, Turkish coffee in all but name

Sweets, apart from fresh fruit of the season, tend to be sweet and sticky.

Local fast food eateries, are not McD's, or tacky junk food, but high quality fresh food.

Fresh fruit and vegetables can be found in local shops and and at stalls by the roadside away from the main tourist resorts.

Vegetarians do not fare well in Cyprus. If at a loss, try a vegetarian meze in traditional Greek-Cypriot taverna.

A walk through the main street in Protaras gives an idea of the vast choice in restaurants. At one end a McDonald's for English tourists who have no concept of good food. A little further down the road Delicious The Inn Fast Food, quality fast food, very popular at 2am when there is always an excellent atmosphere. In the centre No 1, a very popular restaurant. At the far end, Nicolas Tavern, a very popular Greek-Cypriot taverna, serving traditional Greek-Cypriot cuisine. In between, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, bars serving food and an ice-cream parlour serving excellent ice cream. [see Eating out in Protaras]

(c) Keith Parkins 2006 -- September 2006 rev 0