As a Canadian born Cypriot, our summer trips to Cyprus were very special growing up. We would come for two months and it was literally some of the funnest, happiest times I have experienced. Of course, I remember a large part of this fun was the food we enjoyed. We had two months to cram in our favourite “Cypriot” foods. One of these foods clearly is not “Cypriot” – (cough, ahem, Coco Pops). But for us kids, Cyprus was the only place we could find “Coco Pops” so I have come to think of it as a must-have Cypriot food. (I don’t apologise for this. It’s true. Cyprus + Coco Pops = Happiness.) Anyway, the foods below are what defined the Cypriot eating experience during my childhood. Now that I live in Cyprus, my tastes have sort of changed (actually I just re-read the list. They haven’t.), but in any event whenever I return to Cyprus after having been away for awhile, I find myself returning to this list. I thought I would share with you some of my favourite Cypriot foods and would love to hear yours. This isn’t all encompassing, nor is it a “best-of” what Cyprus has to offer list, nor is it “must-have” Cypriot foods to try. Instead, this list includes my must-eat summertime Cypriot foods (including Coco Pops). They are the foods that as a tourist-with-inside-knowledge based mostly in Limassol, it was hard to find abroad and we would eat as much as possible when we visited. It’s my personal must-eat-when-in-Cyprus checklist. And, of course, as I put the finishing touches on this post, I can think of so many more that are list-worthy. … But that’s for another day!
10. Mitsides Cyprus Village Ravioli with a Chicken Maggi Cube and Grated Homemade Anari: When we spent the day at the beach and came home, this was a welcome easy and delicious dinner. It is always the same: Mitsides Cyprus Village Ravioli (there is plain ravioli, like in the picture above), but we always chose Village Ravioli (like in the cover photo and also the very below). These little pockets of halloumi and minty goodness were boiled in stock made with a chicken Maggi cube – it had to be Maggi. And then topped with heaps of grated salted “anari” cheese. This dish is a delicious lifesaver when you are too busy to cook but still want something good to eat.
9. Watermelon & “Halloumi” on A Patio with Cyprus Coffee: Have you tried this? It’s one of the ultimate sweet & salty combinations. I am sure it’s on a Buzzfeed list somewhere. No magic. No fuss. Just chopped watermelon and big slices of salty halloumi. It’s great as an afternoon snack or a light summer meal when you aren’t that hungry. It’s refreshing and tasty. And filling. Other summer fruits which are incredible on the patio include cherries, pomegranates and cactus pear. And don’t forget the Cyprus coffee.
8. Fried “Calamari” with “Tahini” at Baths of Aphrodite Restaurant in Latsi: Ok, so the “calamari” here is good, but it isn’t the best I have ever had. But the view while you eat the “calamari” makes this combination unbeatable as a summer foodie-must-have in my opinion. The combination of it all makes this a must-have meal whenever I visit Cyprus in the summer. In the winter, I’d probably head to Psaralimano in Larnaca. It’s a reliable fish institution, so to speak in Cyprus. A lot of people from Larnaca go there. A lot of people from Nicosia go there too. And it’s also one of my favourite fish restaurants. Contact: Baths of Aphrodite Restaurant phone number is: + 357 26 321 457. Where: Drive to the Baths of Aphrodite. When you can’t drive any further, you will see a parking lot and the restaurant on your right. You can’t miss it. Contact: For Psaralimano details, click on the link. It’s near McKenzie Beach.
7. Grilled Halloumi & Lounzta & Tomato Pita for Lunch at Curium Beach, Limassol: When we were little we would go to the beach all day. Or maybe it was only a couple hours, but it sure felt like all day. Actually I think it was all day. Because we would always eat lunch on the beach. And again, it would be the same thing every day. “Grilled Halloumi, Lountza & Tomato in a Pita Bread”. I am pretty sure we always went to the third restaurant at the end of the beach. It’s either the second or the third restaurant. Whichever restaurant you go to though, make sure it’s served in a pita bread, not sliced bread, otherwise it sort of loses its charm … (though it’s still tasty). Also, you clearly don’t have to visit Curium Beach for this experience – any beach-side taverna will do! Where: Drive to Curium Beach. Each restaurant should serve this option, but note that the restaurants have been updated since I was a kid, so I don’t know if the pita sandwiches are still as good, but this pita sandwich makes for a great beach-wich anywhere.
6. Mixed Pork “Souvlaki” Take Away from Myras Souvlaki in Ypsonas, Limassol: “1 Mixed Souvlaki please” is one of my favourite things to say in the summer. My favourite all-time “souvlaki” is from “Myras Souvlaki” in Ypsonas, Limassol. It’s not by the beach, and it’s not touristy. I don’t think it is very well known as it is a serious local joint, but it’s my favourite. Whenever I introduce new Cypriots to this “souvlaki” they also rave about it, so I am pretty sure that it’s an excellent “souvlaki” place. Their “sheftalia” are just the right level of moist and cooked, full of flavour. The pork is always coked to perfection and it’s topped with a generous helping of fresh Cypriot salad. It’s always fresh. It’s always tasty. And it’s always busy. It’s a take away restaurant with a couple chairs, so I always order ahead of time and I would recommend that too. Contact: Here is their phone number: + 357 25 399 692. They are closed on Mondays. Where: If driving towards Paphos from Limassol on the highway, take the second exit that says “Ayias Silas” (you will pass a large church on your right). At the T-junction, turn right. At the next T-junction, turn left. Follow the road – it naturally curves to the left. At the T-junction, turn left. 10 meters down the road, you will see it on your right.
5. Real Cyprus Honey on Toast with Flora Margarine (Not Butter!): There is nothing like a snack with a piece of Cypriot village bread, toasted or not, smothered with Flora and drizzled with Cyprus honey. I am not sure why we never used butter. It was always Flora. Also, the honey was the type of Cyprus honey that you used to get from your grandma’s bees, or that you can still buy now from a man that goes house to house selling his honey. As for types of honey, I have a few favourites at the moment. In fact, I think I am a bit of a honey hoarder. I have about 5 bottles in my cupboard, all of which I love. Cyprus honey, is of course, is also famous on the international scene too. In short: if there is one place good to be a honey hoarder, it’s in Cyprus. I plan to write an article on Cyprus honeys at some stage in the future and will feature some of my favourites then. What To Try: This is one honey I buy from a man who goes door to door in my aunt’s village still selling his honey. It tastes like I remember Cypriot honey tasting when I was a kid. It’s called “Cyprus Honey”, it’s made bees that visit citrus flowers, and I am not actually sure where you can buy it except for from the man who makes it: George Kallenos. This is his phone number: + 25 386 731.
4. Frappe: It doesn’t matter what little kitchenware-spinner gadget I buy, whenever I try to make “frappes” outside of Cyprus, they just don’t taste as good. “Frappes” are particularly incredible when on the beach. For no reason really other than the fact that you are on the beach. Some of my favourite frappes have been enjoyed at the restaurants at Ladies Mile, sitting on the picnic benches, with the sun setting behind me and looking at the Limassol city lights come up from across the water.
3. Barbecued Corn From a Road Stand: There are a few vendors in the summertime down by the walk at Enareios, Limassol, which is where I often go for this meal. (But it’s good anywhere! Protaras, Ayia Napa, Paphos, etc.) They are all good, and I can’t say that I have a particular favourite – though I would recommend looking out for a vendor that prepares the corn on “charcoal”. You can tell by looking at the setup if it’s done on charcoal or over gas. I always take my corn with butter and salt. And don’t forget the toothpick – you will need it! Once you try one of these goodies, I am sure you won’t want to stop. In fact, I like it so much, that two years ago I decided to start the “corn project”, where I would attempt to visit every barbecued corn vendor on the island. I guess I still sort of want to complete this project, but I got a bit busy. Anyway, one thing I always do in the summer, is eat one of these goodies.
1. Fresh “Loukomathes” from a Road Stand: I couldn’t wait to enjoy “loukoumathes”. I would eat until I felt full. And then I would eat a few more. I think this is a must-try on any visit to Cyprus – they are basically little honey doughnuts and I have yet to meet a person who didn’t like them. My personal favourite are Arestis’ Loukoumades, located just above the Ayia Fyla roundabout in Limassol on the left. Contact: This is their phone number: + 358 99 150 012 Where: Agias Phylaxeos Road, (next to “Vilanos Properties” Estate Agency at 275 Agias Phylaxeos).
BIG HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“Kleftico”, “Bougouri” at Militzis in Larnaca: One of the best “kleftico”, “bougouri” and homemade Cypriot yogurt meals I have tried has been at this place. Yup, really. It still is to this day. It also has a gorgeous veranda overlooking the sea so it’s hard not to feel like you are on holiday eating here, even when you are a local. Contact: This is their phone number: + 357 24 655 867. Where: They are located near McKenzie Beach.
Coco Pops for breakfast: This isn’t Cypriot. But it’s such a significant comfort food that I associate with Cyprus. We would always have Coco Pops for breakfast here. And still, to this day, I still buy Coco Pops when I buy morning cereal. I like to watch what I eat, and I am sure Coco Pops are filled with … well, they can’t be all natural … but I still eat them. And look for the toy.
more honorable mentions: Gigantic “tahinopittes” from Sigma bakery. “Arkateno” Bread from Omodos. “Loukoumi” from Geriskipou. “Pasteli”. Carob Syrup. Pomegranates.
AΦRODITE’S KITCHEN WOULD LOVE TO KNOW
What are YOUR favourite summer foods?