Holidays in Cyprus are notoriously relaxed, sunkissed, and sublime. But anyone who has enjoyed time out in this pocket of Mediterranean paradise will no doubt agree that it’s not just the sun, sea, and carefree spirit that makes holidays in this part of the world so special. Because on this idyllic island, precious moments with loved ones under blue skies are always accompanied by authentic culinary experiences. Occasions to treasure, filled with infectious laughter around the dinner table and the distinct clink of wine glasses. Blissful time out savouring the freshest tastes, relishing moments in time, and indulging in flavours that awaken the senses. A celebration of thousands of years of colourful history and culture where Cyprus food is always the ultimate protagonist!
Irresistibly tangy and delightfully tasty, halloumi is undoubtedly the absolute star of the Cyprus culinary show. A delicious cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk that has garnered worldwide fame made from sheep and goat’s milk. Notorious across Europe and in all far-flung corners of the globe, it’s hardly surprising that the heavenly halloumi is a firm favourite on almost every menu in Cyprus.
Due to its exceptionally high melting point, prime-quality halloumi cheese is often served sliced and grilled. Halloumi is also added to soup or fried with eggs and lounza (cured pork). It’s even grated over pasta or served with juicy watermelon on a hot summer’s day. During your stay, be sure to also try the Cyprus anari, a wonderfully soft ricotta-style whey cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk.
Not every salad is particularly exciting. But the Cyprus village salad is in a league of its own. An explosion of flavours you’ll love on a hot summer’s day, you can expect a big bowl of crispy local greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, black olives, plenty of feta cheese, and lashings of lemon (or sometimes vinegar), and olive oil. Simply divine!
Cyprus is famed as one of the most ancient areas in the world linked to olive cultivation. And you certainly don’t need to travel far on the island to spot a sprawling olive grove with beautiful silver foliage shimmering under sunny skies. And it is here that some of the island’s best olives are harvested (typically during October and November), with the oil then extracted and bottled.
Cyprus extra virgin olive oil is used abundantly in local cooking. And you’ll find it on the table of almost every restaurant, ready to pour on your salad, dips, or pulses. Of course, Cyprus olives are also an island staple, so do as the locals and ask for some local black olives (often dry-cured in salt) as a starter. Or try the tasty ‘elies tsakistes’, crushed and marinated with coriander seeds, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
There are few places on earth where bread is such an integral part of every meal. And once you’ve tasted ‘Paphitiki’ (Paphian) pitta bread, you’ll understand why. Just like regular pitta bread, it puffs up during baking to form a hollow pocket. But what makes Paphian pitta bread extra special is its fluffy texture and delightful thickness. Enjoy the ultimate treat with dips like tahini or melitzanosalata (aubergine salad).
Meat lovers take note – no Cyprus food extravaganza is complete without tucking into juicy and traditional Cyprus sausages. Once a food staple in traditional Cypriot families, you’ll find sausages on the menu of most taverns and traditional eateries today. Filled with pork meat, these traditional treats are usually a little spicy and made with red village wine, plenty of pepper, salt, garlic, and coriander.
Chances are you’ve spotted the mighty Cyprus potatoes on supermarket shelves far and wide. Certainly one of Cyprus’ most famous exports, the red soil potato is famed for its rich buttery flavour, produced from the fertile souls of the island’s red soil villages (Kokkinohoria). Cyprus potatoes are often served fried, sauteed, ‘antinahtes’ (smashed with coriander and cumin), or roasted with plenty of olive oil.
Soup may be the first dish that comes to mind in Cyprus. But the tangy trahanas is an intrinsic part of local tradition. Made from sour sheep or goat’s milk and wheat, this hearty treat is usually cooked in chicken broth with chunks of halloumi. Interestingly, the sour milk wheat ‘trahanas’ soup is one of the oldest foods in the Mediterranean.
Yet another dish set to delight the palate of every carnivore, ttavas is a melt-in-your-mouth Cyprus-style stew originating from the picturesque village of Lefkara. Usually made from lamb or goat meat, it’s accompanied with rice, onions, potatoes, and a dash of cumin. Notably, all ingredients are baked and served in a traditional clay pot. Be sure to enjoy the dish straight out of the oven for a satiating Cyprus food experience.
Got a sweet tooth? The Cyprus loukoumi (also known as the Cyprus delight) is bound to hit the spot. Like the famous Turkish delights, Cyprus loukoumi is made from a jelly-like substance of starch and sugar with different flavours and nuts added to the mix and then sprinkled with icing sugar. The most famous loukoumia on the island are made in the Paphos village of Geroskipou and have been produced in the area for centuries.
Shamishi (sometimes spelled siamisi) is bound to go down a treat at the end of any meal. The deep-fried semolina cream-filled delicacy, usually dusted with icing sugar, is often served at village events and celebrations. Different variations are available, as with most traditional recipes and food in Cyprus. Mastic and orange blossom water is usually added to the semolina cream for the most divine taste.
Ready to indulge in the ultimate Cyprus food holiday? The MadeForTwo Amanti hotel provides a unique and authentic taste of the island by the glistening eastern coast of the island.
Countless local treats await gastronomes as part of the Half Board Premium dining experience, starting with a hearty morning buffet breakfast in the breezy Ezaria. Themed Cyprus buffet evenings enhance the authentic local experience. The hotel’s Fortolana restaurant also takes pride in serving Cyprus food with an innovative approach to the traditional local meze.
Specialties include a modern twist on trahanas with halloumi, baked sausages, ttavas Lefkaritikos, anari cheesecake, baked siamisi, and many more delights. Find out more about the top local dishes you must try at the Amanti here and prepare for a holiday your taste buds will thank you for. Kali orexi!
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