Greek-Cypriot delights

Nicosia; Unsurprisingly, holidays for me always revolve around good food, whether that’s discovering new eateries or returning to old haunts, and perhaps the odd home-cooked meal thrown in. Incase you’re looking to escape the U.A.E for a long weekend, Cyprus is only a  3.5 hour direct flight away and as it’s FooDiva’s home island, why not share its ever-expanding culinary scene?…

First things first, I guess you’ll need somewhere to stay. Note, all recommendations in this post have been FooDiva tested this weekend, so very hot of the press.

Since Cyprus’ EU entry a number of years ago, agrotourism has grown in leaps and bounds, and one such beneficiary is Ayii Anargiri, a converted 17th century monastery, now a boutique spa resort set in the hills of Miliou village on the island’s west coast (and a 1.5 hr drive from Larnaca airport). With 56 rooms, some inside the main building and others as stone chalets scattered amongst the orange groves, Ayii Anargiri’s USP is its spa that has been pouring healing sulphur spring water for four centuries. But for those after a different kind of pampering, opt to dine in the wine cellar ‘Cava’, where you can still order from ‘Amaroula’, the fine dining restaurant’s main a la carte menu. You’ll then need to confess all those sins in the original and very quaint Greek Orthodox church on site.

Ayia Anargiri wine cellarAyia Anargiri's Cypriot lamb shankAyia Anargiri's on site orange trees

There’s plenty of traditional tavernas serving Cypriot food in the neighbouring villages if you fancy a change of scene. Fresh fish in LatchiAnd if you want to head to the coast, Latchi, a twenty minute drive, has an abundance of fish restaurants. Ooh and don’t forget to try some lokoumades from one of the street stalls; steaming, deep fried doughnuts dipped in syrup – heavenly.

Back to the capital Nicosia, here’s a FooDiva round-up of where to eat;

To Tavernaki tou Pampou – To Tavernaki tou Pampoua hugely authentic ‘mezzedopolio’; basically a taverna that specialises in mezze, a myriad of starter and main course dishes. If in season like now, order the wild asparagus with egg. To tavernaki tou Pampou - Pork sheftaliaThe grilled Cypriot loukanika and sheftalia (different versions of pork sausage) are also a must try. Open for both lunch and dinner. No website, tel; +357 22 781083.

Pantopolio, Kali Orexi – Pantopoliou - Kali orexia white-washed Greek taverna (believe me, there are differences between Greek and Cypriot cuisine). FooDiva’s fave starters; graviera se filo (gruyere cheese pie drizzled with honey), melinzanokeftedes (deep fried minced aubergine balls) and tirokafteri (spicy fetta). And mains; bifteki (beef mince burger), boring you may say but slice into it and out oozes melted kefalotiri cheese, and lamb sheftalia, a Greek version of a Cypriot sausage topped with tomatoes and grated halloumi on pitta. Open for both lunch and dinner. No website, tel; +357 22 675151.

Pantopoliou's cheese piePantopoliou's melinzanokeftedesPantopoliou's lamb sheftalia

Seven – a casual café perfect for lunch, with both indoor and outdoor seating. Try the chicken or pork souvlaki (kebab).

Il Paesano – Il Paesanoan Italian delicatessen-come-restaurant with its very own wine cellar and cheese room. Il Paesano's quiche lorraine (single portion!)Share one of its huge fluffy quiches for two.

Pralina – another lunchtime venue, but a tad more upmarket…dress to impress the ‘Lefkosiatises’, or the capital’s chicks with their designer clutches. Extensive menu offering a mix of international and Cypriot dishes.

Little Buddha – yes Cyprus has one too. A more intimate version of the original Buddha Bar. Great cocktails and tunes; it does serve food, but I say line your stomach beforehand. Food’s not what you go there for.

As we say in Greek, ‘afta gia tora’ (that’s all for now).

Kali orexi (bon appétit)!

FooDiva. x

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    Cafes, Culinary Travel, Cypriot, Cyprus, Greek, Hotels, International, Restaurants, Spa
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14 Responses to “Greek-Cypriot delights”

  1. John Podaras February 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Dear FooDiva, thank you for using your awsome talents to tantalise those of us who are incurably homesick for this little piece of paradise. Although I must say it has advanced by leaps and bounds from the days when I was there. I seem to remember that restaurants tended to be rated based on quantity back then.

    • FooDiva February 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      I will admit Cyprus’ restaurant scene has surprised me too. It has certainly developed, but the test is whether the new restaurants can sustain themselves with good management and food, rather than reinvent themseleves with new owners and concepts a few years down the line.

  2. Clare Woodcraft February 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Wonderful to hear that Cyprus’ food scene is progressing! I too love the island but was always disappointed about the lack of range and the aversion to dipping into Cyprus’s rich culinary past. And for a beautiful place to stay, you can rent my 100 year old house in Pachna (see website) and enjoy the old Linos tavern at the top of the hill! Polla filakia! Clare

    • FooDiva February 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      You can’t take the PR out of a PR girl, so great to hear from you. The Mulberry villa is a beauty – if my mum kicks me out, I know where to go! The taverna goes on my list for next time. Filakia. x

      • Clare Woodcraft February 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm

        to spiti mou einai to spiti sou 🙂

        • FooDiva February 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

          Efharisto! x

  3. Nausheen February 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for writing this fantastic “insider” guide. This would be a fantastic long weekend destination from here. Now I know who to contact if I need some more tips.

    • FooDiva February 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Please do, will help pull together an itinerary.

  4. Admirer March 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    You make me want to go to Cyprus straightaway and enjoy the relaxing Spa

  5. KELLY September 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Further to the review on the culinary scene of Cyprus, this is one of our latest discoveries:
    In a small village in Kornos, a 15 minute drive from Nicosia is the Archontiko Papadopoulou, a renovated old building-mansion dating back to 1897, now housing a centre for cypriot gastronomy/wine, promoting the cypriot way of cooking with local products, herbs and extra virgin oil.

    As we wanted to discover the originality of this concept, we arrived early and were welcomed by friendly waiters.

    The tables in the open-air courtyard were beautifully laid-out. An old tree in the middle gives the place a ‘village square’ atmoshere.
    One of the features is the wine cellar which has only the best of cypriot wines on display; it can accommodate upto 12 guests for dinner – the ideal dining spot for intimate gatherings.

    Shortly after our arrival, Mrs Vronti, the owner, came to welcome us in the traditional cypriot way by offering us drops of rosewater in a ‘hanapi’- a special silver bottle. A kind and unusual gesture nowadays!

    We ordered a bottle of Zambartas Rose 2010 – a bright deep pomegranate colour wine with a very distinctive taste of red fruit.
    As an amuse-bouche we were presented with a watermelon halloumi granite – very refreshing on a hot evening.

    Our choice for starters were snails in Commandaria rosemary sauce with caramelised onions and stuffed mushrooms with the same most favourite sauce.
    Our main dishes were the sweet and savoury homemade ravioli stuffed with local anari and haloumi cheese served with caramelised red cabbage and mint sauce and the baby chicken stuffed with dates and tossed in orange juice, served with gratin potatoes and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we shared a cypriot version of mille feuille with anari soft local cheese, walnuts and honey – so light and delicious, the best part of our meal!

    Other appetising dishes on the menu included as starters: tyrokataifi, tyrokoupepia…and as main dishes a selection of local meat and fish and the very traditional specialities Kleftiko – lamb cooked for hours in an earthenware oven and Tavas – not to be missed!

    Another nice gesture at the end of the meal was a glass of Commandaria wine on the house.
    We will surely go back in order to taste the many other delicacies of the menu.
    The bill of the whole meal including a bottle of wine – one of the best in Cyprus – amounted to just euros 81.

    • FooDiva September 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing this with me and FooDiva’s readers. Great to see a restaurant in Cyprus staying true to tradition. Almost worth flying over for dinner 🙂 Will surely review on my next visit.

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