Three cheers for Cypriot cuisine

One of the nicest things about visiting another country is undoubtedly having the opportunity to sample some of the local delicacies. We all love lying back in the sunshine with a cold drink and a good book, but when the evening comes around there’s something wonderfully decadent about visiting the restaurants and tasting the delicious fare that’s on offer.

First-time visitors to Cyprus are often surprised by the wide variety of dishes that are found on the menus of most restaurants. Cypriot chefs in the main tourist areas are keen to offer diners a broad spectrum of meals, including those you’d usually associate with British, Italian and French cuisine, but it’s those with a more local flavour which are always worth a try.

As you might expect, traditional Cypriot meals have a number of influences, including North African, Greek and Turkish, and they tend to have a few things in common. They are generally served with a generously-sized basket of bread (usually white), plenty of water and with a sizable portion of freshly-prepared salad.

Every island in the Mediterranean is well-known for its fish dishes, and many Cyprus restaurants offer freshly-caught delicacies in a variety of delicious sauces. Among the favourites are sea bass, red mullet, bream and calamari. The latter is cooked in a thin batter and is a particularly tasty option as a starter.

Something a little more substantial?

If you’re in the mood for something substantial, it’s a good idea to consider ordering a stiffado, or stew. There are several types, including a range of meat and fish varieties, and the beef stiffado is especially recommended. It’s traditionally cooked with red wine, tomatoes and onions, and can provide a hearty meal, especially when accompanied by bread.

In many cases the menu is so comprehensive, and diners will find it hard to settle on one specific dish. When this happens, ordering meze is the best option. This features several small dishes of many of the menu items, served up slowly in order to accentuate the various flavours. In large groups, ordering a meze for the whole table is a wonderful idea.

Cypriots love their desserts, so it’s a good idea to always leave a little room for something sweet. Baklava will be familiar to those who have been to Greece or Turkey over the years; it’s a puff pastry speciality that’s soaked in honey and filled with delicious nuts. It’s rich to the taste, so be sure to give it a try. Another favourite are loukomades, choux pastry balls that are served with a wonderful syrup topping. Bon appétit!

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