Travel tips


minus A TASTE OF CYPRUS

CAROB SYRUP – THE ISLAND’S ‘BLACK GOLD’
Carob pods contain nature’s healthy sugar and have been referred to as the island’s ‘black gold’ as they were once a main source of income. Cyprus produces some of the sweetest carobs in the world, thanks to the limestone soil. The edible seed pods of the carob tree are used to make a number of products, including the syrup which can be stirred into natural yogurt, drizzled over ‘anari’ cheese and generally used to replace honey or sugar. As carobs are low in calories, high in calcium, rich in vitamins A, B and C and contain iron and other minerals, they are the healthy (and guilt-free) alternative to other sweeteners.

COMMANDARIA – THE WORLD’S OLDEST EXISTING WINE
Commandaria is a sweet, amber-coloured dessert wine and is the oldest known wine still in production. Thought to date back to 800 BC, it was referred to as ‘Cypriot Nama’ before it was given its current name by Richard the Lionheart and the Crusaders in the 12th century. Produced in the wine-making villages of the Troodos mountains, it is made from the indigenous Xynisteri and Mavro grapes which are picked late, dried in the sun to enhance their sugar content and then pressed. The run-off is collected and fermented in tanks or in earthenware jars. It has an alcohol content of around 15%.

HALLOUMI – LOCAL CHEESE WITH A UNIQUE TEXTURE
Made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk (and sometimes cow’s milk), Halloumi is a white, semi-soft cheese that is registered as a protected Cypriot product. It doesn’t melt when cooked, which gives it a unique texture that squeaks when eaten! It is delicious when grilled and is often one of the dishes served in a ‘meze’ (a meal made up of lots of small dishes). It is also served cubed in the traditional ‘trahana’ soup (made from buckwheat) and is a popular toasted sandwich filling with the cured pork, ‘lounza’. Halloumi is equally enjoyable when eaten cold and traditionally complements watermelon for a refreshing and unique dish.

KLEFTIKO – THE MELT- IN- THE – MOUTH LAMB DISH
Kleftiko is lamb on the bone, slow – cooked in a clay pot (although parchment paper or foil can be used instead). In bygone times, the meat would be placed in a hole in the ground with red hot stones and sealed with mud so that the steam could not escape. Left to cook for hours, the meat would present itself as a delicious hot meal at the and of the day.
Today, a traditional clay oven has replaced the hole in the ground (some people still use mud to seal the oven), but the essence of slow – cooking for hours remains the key to exceptionally tender and full – flavoured meat.

OLIVE OIL – THE VERSATILE LIQUID GOLD
Cyprus produces some of the best olive oil in the world and this ‘liquid gold’ forms part of the staple diet of the island with many people producing their own for personal consumption. The history of the olive tree in Cyprus dates back to the Neolithic period, and today its versatile oil is used in everyday cooking, whether as an ingredient in traditional dips or to drizzle over salads and black-eyed beans. As well as being delicious, olive oil is cholesterol free and contains properties that guard against cancer, cardio-vascular and other diseases. It is also used in beauty and health products and for medicinal purposes.

OLIVES ‘’TSAKISTES’’ – GREEN OLIVES A LA CHYPRE
While olives are common throughout the Mediterranean region and beyond, olives ‘tsakistes’ can safety claim to be the ‘first among equals’, thanks to an unrivalled, typically Cypriot seasoning.
After being ‘cracked’, green olives are flavoured with crushed coriander seeds, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil, creating a flavour combination unlike any other. They are commonly eaten with bread and tomato as a meal, particularly during fasting periods when meat and animal products are not consumed.

SOUJOUKO – AN EYE-CATCHING DELICACY
Soujouko is a traditional, chewy sweet with a nutty centre coated with thickened grape juice. It is served, chopped into slices, as an accompaniment to wine and Zivania, and is commonly sold at the traditional ‘panayiri’ (traditional churchyard festivals). Made from the surplus of white grapes after the harvest, it has an unusual appearance much like that of candles!
To make soujouko, almonds are threaded onto string then dipped into a hot mixture of grape juice mixed with flour. This process is repeated three to five times with the soujouko hung to dry between each dipping.

SOURDOUGH KOULOURI – AROMATIC TRADITIONAL BREAD
Koulouri bread is an aromatic white bread that is covered in sesame seeds and aniseed. Made into rings, or a long, segmented loaf, it is eaten with halloumi or olives and a must have on holidays including the Green Monday picnic (marking the first day of Lent). In the past it was given as a wedding invitation in a traditional ‘tsestos’ basket. You will always find fresh koulouri bread in any local bakery to enjoy as a snack, and on your buffet at breakfast as well as on Cyprus Nights.

SOUVLA – BBQ, THE CYPRIOT WAY
The famous Cypriot souvla is a traditional barbecue of large chunks of skewered meat cooked over charcoal. On public holidays and special occasions (Easter, Christmas, birthdays, Sunday lunch) the delicious aroma of the popular souvla fills the air across the island. The typical accompaniments to the barbecued pork, chicken or lamb chunks include pita bread (toasted on the barbecue), a fresh village salad and dips including ‘tahini’ and ‘tzantziki’. During periods of fasting, octopus, squid and white fish are also cooked ‘souvla style’ – definitely a social affair!

ZIVANIA – THE POTENT ‘FIRE WATER’
Zivania is a very strong white spirit made from grape pomace and is registered as a product of Cyprus. Due to its high alcohol content (typically around 45%), it is often described as ‘fire water’ – so drink with caution! Locals keep Zivania in the freezer to keep it chilled, as it doesn’t freeze, and serve it as an accompaniment to ‘soujouko’, dried fruit and nuts or with the traditional ‘meze’. Aside from being a stiff drink, Zivania has a number of medicinal purposes: it is used to soothe toothache, sterilise wounds, massage sore body parts and to alleviate a cold.