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.
There’s plenty of traditional tavernas serving Cypriot food in the neighbouring villages if you fancy a change of scene. And 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 – a 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. The 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 – a 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.
Seven – a casual café perfect for lunch, with both indoor and outdoor seating. Try the chicken or pork souvlaki (kebab).
Il Paesano – an Italian delicatessen-come-restaurant with its very own wine cellar and cheese room. 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)!