Haloumi & Frappés: A Foodie Tour of Cyprus
Julie Gregson writes on travel and lifestyle for several websites but has a special interest in reviewing local food and restaurants in the Mediterranean. IMAGE CREDIT: The-Luxelife.com
For a country as small as Cyprus (it’s about 1/26th the size of the UK), it certainly has a lot of delicious local flavour. When you think of this gorgeous Mediterranean island, endless white beaches may be the first images that come to mind – but the best way to get a taste of the ‘real’ Cyprus is to enjoy traditional Cypriot cuisine.
From large and lengthy family dinners (that start at around 9pm) to delicious takeaway and a constant supply of fresh pastries, there’s plenty to keep your tastebuds interested in this land of forever sun. So, even if you’re just visiting the island nation for the beach resorts on your annual holiday, be sure to grab a taste of everything on offer! Here are just a few delicious items to look out for:
This rubbery, salty goat’s cheese, native to Cyprus, is perhaps the island’s most famous export. Haloumi is cooked (avoid eating it in the ‘raw’ – not nearly as good) by frying on a hot skillet. You can eat haloumi on salad, in a pita sandwich or in a wrap like a falafel. It’s on the menu of every small takeaway/kebab shop, so you won’t miss it.
The rich, succulent cheese is nice and crispy at first, then wonderfully chewy and surprisingly filling. Whilst Cypriot cuisine is typically meat-heavy, vegetarians can rest assured that they always have a friend in haloumi.
Fresh fruit and veg
It’s not quite fair to call ‘fresh produce’ a local delicacy, considering oranges, lemons, artichokes and bright purple aubergines (Vazania) weren’t ‘invented’ in Cyprus. However, the fruit and vegetables that form colourful mosaics on the market stands are all locally grown and as fresh as it gets.
Every sunny country has its own barbeque tradition, and Cyprus is no exception. For Cypriots, barbeque means cooking ‘souvla’, large cuts of meat (often lamb) roasted slowly on a spit over charcoals. This local tradition is the perfect way to enjoy a sunny Cyprus afternoon.
For a relatively laid-back country, where shops are closed Wednesday afternoons and Sundays remain a work-free family day, it’s amazing that the 24-hour bakery industry is thriving. When in Cyprus, if you feel peckish late at night, simply head to the nearest ‘Zorbas’ – a local chain of bakeries open 24 hours a day.
Ouzo & Frappés
If you could sum up Cyprus with just two beverages, you’d have to pick ouzo and frappés. Ouzo is the local spirit: an aniseed apéritif that you either love or love to hate. In the daytime, however, you’ll find Cypriots sipping ‘frappés’ at pavement cafes. This blended, iced coffee drink, made with instant coffee, isn’t to everyone’s taste – but a visit to Cyprus isn’t complete without giving it a go.
Cyprus is a nation that loves to eat, and it would be impossible to fit everything into just one blog post. From fresh calamari to moussaka, sheftalia (Cypriot sausage) and koupepia (stuffed grape leaves), the list could go on and on. Tavernas in rural villages and by the coast are the best places to head for authentic cuisine, with seaside settlements of Larnaca and Paphos providing some top-class fish eateries.