Speaking of the local cuisine, it should be mentioned that in Cyprus the food is treated with great respect. Food is a cult and an integral part of the local culture. Here everyone eats a lot and with pleasure, therefore portions in local restaurants are large and generous.
In order to understand the flavour and taste, one should order a bit of everything. The Cyprus "Meze" in a local tavern traditionally does just that.
Meze may include either fish or meat appetizers and can be served either hot or cold.
The content of meze may vary depending on the restaurant, but there is a set of traditional ingredients: olives, village salad, feta with olive oil, and a set of at least four sauces – tahini (ground sesame seeds), taramasalata (creamy sauce made from caviar, whipped with parsley and lemon juice), hummus (pea-sesame paste), tzatziki (cold sauce made from yogurt, cucumber and garlic). The sauces are served with hot pita bread or homemade bread.
If you ordered a meat meze, most likely you will be able to taste lukaniko (smoked sausage), dolma or, as it is called in Cyprus, kupepia (grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice), lundza (ham), sheftalya (pork meatball), stifado (beef with onions and spices), and kleftiko (oven baked lamb).
Fish meze is also quite popular, it includes squids, shrimps, oysters, mussels, crabs, and definitely octopus (stewed in red wine or fried), as well as other dishes out of different kinds of fish.
Usually meze is served for at least two people and its average cost varies from 16 to 22 euros per person.
Cheeses that, for sure, are the specialty of Cyprus, cannot be left out. The combination of a good environment, rich ancient tradition of cheese making and strict rules on factories for the quality of production make the Cyprus cheese incomparable.
Feta is made of sheep milk, sometimes with the addition of goat milk. The more goat milk added the firmer cheese comes out.
Halloumi is the most famous cheese patented in Cyprus. It is made from goat and sheep milk, sometimes from cow milk, with the addition of mint. This cheese has an elastic structure so it is recommended to cut it in layers and eat it with bread and vegetables. Halloumi is also being cooked on grill quite often.
Anari is a very gentle, mild and slightly sweet cheese. Anari is produced of milk whey. Anari is used for making a sweet filling for pies of puff pastry.
In Cyprus for dessert, fresh fruits are usually served, while sweets are considered to be an independent kind of treats.
Lukum cannot be left out – it is a fruit jelly generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Real Cypriot lukum has a fantastic flavour; it is quite dense and very nourishing.
Pastry lovers should try out the loukoumades – a traditional Greek dessert, whose mysterious name conceals delicious donuts from dough fried in oil until golden brown crust. Traditional Cypriot loukoumades are sprinkled with honey syrup with nuts and cinnamon.
One of the most popular desserts is pahlava or baklava, as Cypriots themselves call it.