Welcome to the beautiful island of Cyprus, a Mediterranean gem located south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. Cyprus has a rich history and culture that is reflected in its cuisine. Cypriot cuisine is a unique blend of Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern flavors, and it’s a true reflection of the island’s rich cultural heritage. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the unique and flavorful cuisine of Cyprus, as well as some of the best places to experience it.
The History of Cypriot Cuisine
Cypriot cuisine has been influenced by the island’s many conquerors throughout history. The Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans, and British have all left their mark on the island’s cuisine, resulting in a unique blend of flavors and ingredients.
One of the most important ingredients in Cypriot cuisine is olive oil, which is used in almost every dish. Other key ingredients include fresh herbs, such as oregano and mint, and locally-grown fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
Another important aspect of Cypriot cuisine is meze, which is a collection of small dishes served as an appetizer or main course. Meze dishes can include everything from hummus and tzatziki to grilled halloumi cheese and stuffed grape leaves.
Must-Try Cypriot Dishes
There are many delicious dishes to try in Cyprus, but here are a few must-try options:
Souvla – Souvla is a traditional Cypriot dish made with large pieces of marinated meat (usually pork or lamb) cooked on a spit over charcoal. The meat is served with pita bread, salad, and a variety of dips.
Halloumi – Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese made from a blend of goat and sheep’s milk. It’s often grilled or fried and served as an appetizer or part of a meze platter.
Moussaka – Moussaka is a baked dish made with layers of eggplant, minced meat, and potatoes, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.
Sheftalia – Sheftalia is a type of sausage made with ground pork or lamb, onions, and herbs. It’s often grilled and served with pita bread and salad.
Loukoumades – Loukoumades are small, fried dough balls soaked in honey syrup and topped with chopped nuts. They’re a popular dessert in Cyprus and are often served at festivals and celebrations.
Where to Eat in Cyprus
Cyprus has a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, ranging from casual beachside eateries to upscale fine dining establishments. Here are a few recommendations for where to eat in Cyprus:
To Steki tou Thanasi – This family-owned restaurant in the village of Omodos is known for its delicious meze dishes, as well as its grilled meats and fresh seafood.
Vraka Tavern – This traditional tavern in Larnaca is known for its authentic Cypriot dishes, including souvla, kleftiko (slow-cooked lamb), and kebab.
The Brewery – This microbrewery in Limassol serves up a variety of craft beers, as well as delicious pub-style food like burgers and fish and chips.
Oniro by the Sea – This upscale seafood restaurant in Limassol has stunning views of the Mediterranean and serves up fresh, locally-caught seafood.
Kyra Giorgena – This charming restaurant in the village of Kato Drys is known for its traditional Cypriot dishes, as well as its warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Exploring Cypriot Wine
Cyprus is not only renowned for its delectable cuisine but also for its wine, which has a long history dating back more than 5,000 years. Today, Cyprus is home to a number of wineries producing high-quality wines from local grape varieties.
One of the most famous Cypriot wines is Commandaria, which is a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes. Commandaria has a long history and is said to be the world’s oldest named wine, dating back to the time of the Crusades.
Other popular Cypriot wines include reds like Maratheftiko and whites like Xinisteri. Many wineries offer tours and tastings, allowing visitors to learn more about the winemaking process and sample some of the island’s best wines.
Exploring the Markets of Cyprus
One of the best ways to experience the flavors of Cyprus is to visit one of its many markets. The markets are full of fresh produce, locally-made cheeses and cured meats, and handmade crafts.
One of the most famous markets in Cyprus is the Nicosia Municipal Market, which is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building in the heart of the city. Here you’ll find a wide variety of fresh produce, as well as vendors selling everything from spices and herbs to handmade soap and jewelry.
Another popular market is the Paphos Municipal Market, which is located near the harbor in Paphos. This market is known for its fresh seafood, as well as its selection of handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Cyprus is a food lover’s paradise, with a rich and flavorful cuisine that reflects the island’s unique cultural heritage. From traditional dishes like souvla and moussaka to local wines like Commandaria, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Cyprus.
Whether you’re exploring the markets, dining at a local taverna, or sipping wine at a local winery, the flavors of Cyprus are sure to delight your taste buds and leave you with lasting memories of this beautiful island.
Also read about our post on How Rakuten Trade Can Help You Make Informed Investment Decisions