Food and Drinks of Cyprus

Food and drink is at the very heart of eastern Mediterranean culture, and nowhere is this more in evidence than in Cyprus. While you may think Greek food and Greek Cypriot food are pretty much one and the same, Cypriots will always point out that it’s the subtle changes that make all the difference in their dishes.

So what’s on the menu?

Meat and fish dishes

Halloumi is possibly the most famous Cypriot foodstuff and while this brine-soaked goat’s cheese concoction is rubbery when raw, it’s so good when fried or grilled and has worked its way into a number of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.  If you’re eating in Cyprus, try it in a traditional Cypriot sandwich of pitta bread, red onion and tomato.

Koupepia is another favourite you may recognise and mistake for the Greek dish dolmades. There is a subtle difference though, as any Cypriot will be keen to point out – koupepia is vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice, whereas dolmades is without the rice. If it’s meat-based dishes you’re after, look out for loukanika, a spicy, fatty sausage that is soaked in red wine and smoked to give it a very distinctive taste and smell, and lountza, which is a lean, smoked pork fillet.

Other dishes of note are stifado; a spicy beef and onion stew cooked with wine, sheftalia; spicy grilled meatballs, and kleftiko; lamb seasoned with bay leaves and spices and cooked in a sealed clay oven.
Most restaurants will also serve a selection of freshly-caught fish dishes, with red mullet, sea bass, octopus, calamari and whitebait among the island’s specialties.

And if you’ve any room left, there are enough tasty desserts to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.

Loukoumades. Photo credit: Alpha

If desserts are your thing, you won’t be disappointed – loukoumades are deep fried doughnuts served with honey syrup and are as tooth-meltingly good as they sound, while daktyla are pastry fingers with either walnut or almond and topped with cinnamon and syrup.

If you’re a fan of Turkish delight, check out loukoumia, a rose water flavoured gelatin covered with powdered sugar, while shoushouko are solidified grape juice fingers filled with almonds or walnuts.

What to drink in Cyprus

Cypriot wine, beer and more! 
You may not know this, but Cyprus has one of the world’s oldest winemaking traditions – dating back around 6,000 years, preceding the wineries of Greece, Italy and even France.

If you’re spending afternoons in the hot Cypriot sun, nothing hits the spot quite like a chilled white – the Sauvignon Blanc from Limassol’s Vlassides winery never fails to deliver, or the Chardonnay from the Tsangarides winery in Paphos is perfect if you like your wine a little more fruity.

 Red wine lovers need look no further than the Cabernet Sauvignon offered by the Kyperounda and Vasilikon wineries of Limassol, while the city’s Vasa winery produces a stunning Maratheftiko if you fancy a traditional Cypriot red.

 The island’s best sweet wine also comes from Limassol, in the form of Mosxatos from the Ayia Mavri winery.

The locally brewed Carlsberg and KEO should be enough to keep beer drinkers happy, and if you’re after something a little stronger there’s ouzo or zivania, a stronger tipple of distilled grape juice and wine.

If you need a pick-me-up next morning, Cypriot coffee is just the ticket – served in tiny cups, half full of grounds, ask for it glyco (sweet), metrio (medium) or sketo (unsweetened).

This post was contributed by Olympic Holidays.

Main photo credit: Geoff Peters

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