Cyprus Food and Drink
Cypriot cuisine is delicious and healthy, and takes its inspiration from Greece and the Turkey. In the south, the cuisine is pure Mediterranean, with fruit, such as olives that can be picked from the trees that characterise the island’s landscape and lemons, combined with aromatic herbs from the Troodos foothills to give intense flavour to chicken, pork, lamb and fish.
In north Cyprus, the cuisine has all the hallmarks of Middle Eastern and central Asian cooking, with extensive use of herbs and spices like saffron and paprika that give strong colours and flavours to meat. Many dishes found in north Cyprus are served with sauces made from tomato and yoghurt, and often served with rice.
All the major holiday resorts have bars and restaurants, although the cuisine tends to be international rather than local dishes. The best way to enjoy authentic Cypriot food is to dine in a taverna and order a mezedhes (also known as a meze or mezze). You will be rewarded by a steady stream of 20 or more small plates topped with local dishes being brought to your table.
Typically, a mezedhes will start with dips, such as tzatziki made with yoghurt, cucumber and garlic, or hummus (pureed chickpeas with lemon), accompanied by bread and salad, followed by various meat, fish and vegetable dishes and culminate in fruit or cake.
Afelia and kleftiko are two of the most popular regional dishes of the south, with imam bayildi and adana found on many menus in the north.
• Afelia (pork slow-cooked in red wine and coriander).
• Kelftiko (slow-cooked lamb with herbs).
• Imam bayildi (aubergines stuffed with tomato and onions).
• Adana (skewered minced lamb and red pepper).
• Dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with meat and/or rice).
• Kebabs (pieces of meat - typically lamb - skewered and roasted over a charcoal).
• Tava (a tasty baked stew of lamb, herbs, onions and potatoes).
• Stifado (a casserole of beef or hare cooked with wine, vinegar, onion and spices).
• Fresh seafood such as tsipoura (seabream), lavraki (seabass) and garides (prawns).
Things to know:
Evening dinner is the most important meal of the day and rarely starts before 2000.
A service charge is added to all bills, and tipping is discretionary.
Strong black coffee and wine, which is produced in abundance, are popular drinks in both the south and north.
• Cyprus produces excellent wines, spirits and beer.
• Zivania (a strong spirit made from grapes).
• Brandy sour (cocktail made from Cyprus brandy, soda, lemon squash and angostura bitters).
• Commandaria (a sweet desert wine dating back to ancient times).