To Edesma, Larnaca 05-2018

The grilled meats of Cyprus (that I remember from Greece) are a primary food group. There's so many places to pick from and I did want to go to but laziness kept me closer to the flat. Luckily there's lots around and all at reasonable prices.

To Edesma looked good when I walked past during the day, and fate would mean I had it starred on my Google maps before even entering the country. Even more fate would mean I would see the chargrilled meat and a rotating lamb outside that evening. Sadly those were reserved for a pre-order Russian table. But inside there is plenty of charcoal meat still going around.

The outdoor area was nice and when rain started, some automated roofs opened up. Impressive.

- Mixed grill €9.5 - my first taste of Cypriot meat grill was a great one. This was a large serving with lots of variety - some minimally squeaky local halloumi, soft gyro chicken, a tasty tender pork skewer with just a little fat in the pieces, an even more tender and delicious chicken skewer, a decent sheftalia (local Cypriot lamb & pork sausage wrapped in fat), keftedes (fried meatball) which was a bit average, some average fries, a good basic salad with parsley and some bread to wrap things with;
- Snails €5 for 1 serve - these tiny little snails were complete with little faces, antenna and mouths agape. It's far from the French escargot covered in butter and oblivion. A little disturbing in the end but very tasty;
- Grilled vegetables €5 - simple and good. The green padron peppers were my favourite and not spicy.

They have no fresh juice. And noone will serve tap water. So in the end it became a packet juice (a prima in Australian-speak) for €1.

It was a very satisfying meal overall with quality tender charcoal meats, snails and vegetables. It didn't seem much to order but it was plenty (and more) for 2.

Davinci Gelato Cafe, Coral Bay 05-2018

Interestingly for a warm Mediterranean country, Cyprus doesn't seem to have a lot of gelato. I saw a few of the fluorescent ones near the beachside but those have never interested me. And there was a few vans in places but didn't look at those. I had trouble finding any artisanal ones in Larnaca, although apparently there's some around Limassol (where we didn't stop).

On the last beach day with some unexpectedly warm weather in Paphos, we ended up at Coral Bay beach for some sun and water. During the rest I found Davinci on my phone. Oddly Google maps had it located more inland but so be it. After a short drive amongst fields, a dead-end road leading to the side of a bridge overpass, I gave up and turned back. But as fate would have it I saw it along the main street of restaurants leaving Coral Bay. It was a joy to park and cross the road and see the flavours in front of me.

Sicily pistachio had a deep green flavour with an even darker mix on top (unsure what that was and didn't get any in my serve). It wasn't the strongest pistachio flavour but still reasonable. The dark chocolate was intense and mildly sweet - a really good one. There are lots of other flavours too but the 2 flavour cone for €3 was suffice and the cone had essentially been stuffed with the dark chocolate.

A good experience with a twist of adventure.

Maqam Al-Sultan, Larnaca 05-2018

I had read that Maqam Al-Sultan was a mix of Cypriot and Lebanese mezze and very good. In fact that is wrong, since it is all Lebanese. Nonetheless after the 15min burst of rain that swept through the town we ended up there.

The menu was actually more expensive than I expected. I suppose reputation, location along the waterfront and something different to the rest of town made it so.

After deliberation of how much we could eat, we opted for the Grand Mezze €39 for 2 people.

First Courses
- Tabbouleh - excellent and full of parsley;
- Fattoush - a simple fresh salad with bread;
- Hummus - strong flavours with whole chickpeas too. A very good version;
- Moutabal baba ghanouj - also a pretty good one;
- Shankleesh - sheep milk cheese in little crumbles I haven't had before. Not bad. Served with tomato;
- Muhammara - a spicy hot pepper dip I haven't had before. I did really like this especially smeared onto the Lebanese bread;
- Moussaka batinjan - a really good medley of aubergine, chickpeas and tomatoes. Apparently this is Lebanese moussaka and I like it.

There was also a couple of dolmades, some mild garlic crisps with yoghurt and chickpeas, and some other kind of cheese dip with cucumber that I wasn't so fond of.

Second Courses
- Falafel - simple and without any green herbs inside. Standard. I prefer the ones at Pilpel;
- Kibbeh makliyeh - deepfried oval pastry with minced lamb. Couldn't detect any pinenuts. I preferred the ones I used to have at Yalla Yalla;
- Sambousek lahme - another fried pastry with minced meat. Average;
- Sambousek jibne - lighter fried pastry with cheese. Average;
- Fatayer spinach - triangle pastry with spinach. Average;

Third Course
- Mixed grill - kafta (long minced earthy lamb pulled from skewers), shish taouk (very tender cubes of chicken), chicken wings (marinated and grilled), ouzi (lamb rice with pistachios) was deliciously earthy and spiced.

It was a good meal overall and plenty enough to take home to finish for dinner.

It's not an essential place to eat in Larnaca/Cyprus but for a change it's nice.

Omikron Brunch, Paphos 05-2018

There aren't many brunch specific places to eat. Well none of what I associate as classically brunch - which is fine, because you don't travel somewhere expecting or hoping to find the meals of where you left from. But it seemed a good idea to try a nearby and well reviewed (by local Cyprus blogs and sites at least) of how a foreign place is developing their scene.

Enter Omikron, a brunch place with healthy breakfast, hot brunches and drinks.

On this glorious sunny Saturday lunch, the balcony was full of people (locals and a few tourists) enjoying themselves of the warm shade. Cigarettes sadly filled the air and the mix was people in suits, young females with LV and a few families too. Strangely everyone was drinking a blended coffee drink but out of a takeaway container - what's the point of that? Less washing?

The coffee/vanilla blend with choconut wasn't available and so a normal latte (which wasn't overly bitter) was ordered. I spotted the deep berry coloured Dragon Drink smoothie (blackberries, morello cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, red currants) €4.8 across the room and had to get one myself. It was simple, tangy and very berry.

Pancakes seem to be a specialty of the place. Sweet & Savory Balance €6.7 had a stack of pretty good pancakes with a bit of (not-very as advertised) crispy bacon in between and maple syrup and a melting butter knob on top. Fine but too sweet for me generally.

I ordered The Ultimate €8.5 which is essentially a full English. Two fried eggs (I wanted poached but forgot to ask) were a bit overcooked and so the bottom yolk had boiled, the crispy bacon wasn't crispy and had way too much fat ratio, the sausages were actually very nice and flavoursome (as expected for meats in Cyprus), and the beans, tomato and mushrooms were all standard. I'm not entirely sure what the breakfast sauce was but some kind of tomato with mayo I think. It was quite a disappointing meal overall.

I wouldn't go back. But if I was there again, I'd order a drink and maybe the croissant sandwich (Crescent Shape).

Ta Perix, Paphos 05-2018

One of the great culinary delights in Cyprus is the meze procession. It's well known that for around €15pp, all the Cypriot taverns will serve around 15-20 dishes with all the local highlights and delights. Classically it is heavily meat based, but vegetarian and fish versions exist also. It starts with bread and dips, salads, then moves onto meats and grills and fillers, before ending with dessert.

The big problem is that for the large part even though it is great value, it is too much and a waste of food. We discovered this by simply ordering normal meals and so never were game to try Cypriot meze (although we did a Lebanese one).

Ta Perix is the only place I've seen that balances this by having a meze menu where you select what you like. It's similar to yum cha - just Cypriot and without the carts (to be fair many yum cha places are menu only). It meant I could happily avoid the dips and salads (nothing wrong with them, just I wanted to try other things) and focus. Unfortunately there's no seafood, which is a big glaring omission to me. But after you park, upon exiting the car you can smell the charcoal meat fumes in the air. It's great.

- Pickled quail eggs €1 for 2 - tiny little boiled eggs in a slightly chilli vinegared oil. Tasty;
- Salted sardines €1.5 - extremely salty/potent and great with the warm Cyprus bread. Reminded me of a very strong anchovy but also with the added texture of the bones and rest of the fish. Really enjoyed this;
- Charcoal wild mushrooms €3 - they didn't have wild mushrooms so served us normal ones instead. Simple unseasoned flavour;
- Zucchini flowers stuffed with feta €2.5 - a simple classic in thicker than usual batter. It was ok;
- Stuffed aubergines €2.5 - really liked this circles of aubergine deep fried;
- Charcoal pork chop €8.5 - I was craving to try a pork chop with reputations that taverns serve them bigger than the plate. This was a more modest sized one with the most basic flavour simply of pork. It was quite soft too without much graininess and no stringiness. The lemon went well with this;
- Charcoal baby pigeon €6.5 - really flavoursome with some marinade spices and grilled until charred. Similar to the Chinese quails except bigger;
- Boiled Cyprus traditional pasta €3 for 2 (they said it would be a half serve but charged us for a full one. I'm sure the size was a full one too...) - a thoroughly cooked (not al dente but also not mushy) pasta probably with butter and salt;
- Pourgouri €2 for 2 (they said it would be a half serve but charged us for a full one. I'm sure the size was a full one too...) - a type of wheat boiled and lightly seasoned with some tomato.

To finish off a hot slightly sweet cheese puff was served. A nice touch to end on.

Everything was served with some olive oil and a bit of chopped parsley. And there was a bit of lemon to squeeze too.

Unfortunately big snails and Jerusalem artichokes were not in season.

Overall it was a decent meal. Certainly not the best flavours we ate during our trip, but it allowed us the most variety which is important. It's a local tavern in a residential area and warrants support!

Nissiotis Restaurant, Protaras 05-2018

Interestingly reading online suggests the Ayia Napa/Protaras coast has plenty of seafood places but not necessarily good ones. Kalamies seems to be a decent one with the reputation possibly outmatched by the prices maybe due to the seafront view. As interested as I was, the fact was it required driving further up the coast from Fig Tree Bay and that proved too much effort.

I thought Nissiotis was a seafood restaurant given the online reviews, but in fact they serve a bit of everything. This was a little disappointing the seafood lived up to its online reputation and so I was happy to walk back along the promenade with a full stomach.

- King prawns grilled €8.65 - although frozen and not local, they were quite cheap per piece. They were charred nicely and so the shells were edible. Although the meat was reasonably sweet, the head/brains were remarkably sweet and delicious;
- Octopus grilled €14.5 - very tender and tasted perfectly as it should. They weren't sure if it was local (Cyprus does have it but seems less abundant) or imported;
- Fresh seabream grilled €13.9 - after seeing bream when scuba diving in Larnaca, I wanted to eat one (even though I classically am not a bream person). The waiter said it had been caught in the seas right outside the restaurant and that wasn't difficult to believe. It was simply grilled and butterflied. The meat was soft and not dry at all. It was quite lovely.

I also considered the local specialty red mullet, but it was fried. I have since read flouring and frying is the standard way to cook this (by fry I envisaged deepfrying with batter) and so maybe next time.

Interestingly there was no bread or anything else complemented. There was enough potatoes but it seemed like a standard elsewhere? The service was good and friendly so I can't complain.

However irritatingly smokers are allowed to do so in the covered area. It's quite repulsive when trying to eat. Luckily they weren't right next to us.

Platanos Tavern, Lania 05-2018

To break up the drive between Ayia Napa and Paphos, there's the relatively (from what I read) unexciting Limassol and the more wild Troodos mountains. Certainly the drive inland was met with lots of mountainous scenery and greenery.

Lania (or Laneia?) is a little village reputed for the old charm of cobblestones and printed pictures on outdoor walls. Every street seems to be lined with plants and homeless cats too.

There's only about 3-4 places to eat in Lania, and Platanos seems to have the best reputation/reviews online.

Certainly on a quiet Friday afternoon, there were only 2 other groups of diners feasting on the meze. It's a good thing the area is pleasant because our grilled dishes took a good 45mins to come. But when they did, it was worth the wait.

Chicken €9.5 was a grilled, marinated a well charred crisp skinned leg quarter, divine in charcoal flavour and tender beyond belief. Lamb chop €13.5 included 1 thick chop, 2 small cutlets and an added rectangular piece I'm unsure where from. Similar to the chicken, it was flavoursome, charred and the fat kept the meat moist. It had been cooked through rather medium/medium-rare but this certainly had no effect on the tenderness.

The meats are all sourced locally and come with decent fries (could have been crispier on the outside) and standard salad. 4 warm pitas also came too. Ice coffee €1.5 was large and refreshing too.

This was the tastiest meal in Cyprus. I was envious of the mezedes and would have really liked to sample more of the meats, particularly the pork chop. Next time...

Kafkaros Tavern, Ayia Napa 05-2018

The lovely flat near Cape Greco was convenient enough to have a local tavern nearby. It wasn't a busy area like the streets of Protaras, and so we thought we should give the local place our business. The staff was remarkably friendly and our Nigerian waiter living in London and moonlighting for a few months in Cyprus had excellent manner and charisma.

It was the chance to try some Cypriot dishes that I had not yet the opportunity, and it was fate that some of these came together in a set meal.

Set meal 1
- Grilled halloumi
- Kleftiko (young lamb cooked for long hours in traditional clay oven)

Set meal 2
- Soup of the day (vegetable)
- Grilled local swordfish with a prawn and mushroom sauce

Peroutsios Souvlakia, Larnaca 05-2018

The guy here has had this souvlakia since 1948. I can't fathom that. A few locals and a taxi driver are the other guests here but I'm only for takeaway.

It's the night to eat in and the closest local souvlakia is a good one.

The regular chicken €5.5 comprised 2 skewers and was simple, tender and tasty. The large pork mix €6 includes 2 skewers and 1 skewer (of 2 pieces) of sheftalia. They all merge together with the salad and raw onions. Interestingly there was no sauce added - no tzatziki or mustard or anything. I'm unsure if that is standard, but I would have appreciated that little bit of extra moisture and flavour contrast.

Nonetheless the large is huge and a real force to be reckoned with. But I reckoned with it (to be honest regular may probably have been enough...)

Ocean Basket, Larnaca 05-2018

I was looking to take advantage of the Mediterranean's seafood. Despite its prevalence, good seafood still isn't very cheap and so it was nice to find a conveniently located (along the beachfront road, albeit still well separated from the ocean by the road, some tents and beach) that was also well reputed. In fact without a booking there was only a handful of available tables to pick from at 2pm on a Saturday.

- Med rice balls (crispy rice & halloumi balls with herbed mayo) €3 - pretty standard and the halloumi wasn't overly noticeable or salty;
- Seafood soup (fish soup with herbs) small €3 - this was really excellent reminiscent of good bouillabaisse and even a little of the mackerel in assam laksa;
- Platter for 1 €15.5 - 4 mussels with a creamy sauce, 6 prince prawns which had very soft meat (a bit too soft) and probably could have used a longer grill time, fish fillets panfried and tasty, decent calamari, and even more decent grilled calamari heads. It was served with a buttery rice and some standard not-very-crispy fries.

Overall it was alright and I'd go back again. It would be for the seafood soup and to upgrade a platter with king prawns rather than prince ones.