Looking to Take Home a Taste of Cyprus?

Brandy Sour recipe

You will find plenty of souvenirs offering a taste of Cyprus, whether it’s a treat for yourself, or a gift for someone at home. If you have a sweet tooth, or a penchant for an alcoholic tipple, here are our top tips about what to pack for the homeward journey…

Brandy Sour
For Brandy Sour: Cyprus Brandy and Lemon Cordial

Produced by double-distilling the local Xynisteri white wine in oak barrels, Cypriot brandy is the alcoholic element of the traditional Cyprus cocktail known as Brandy Sour. For an authentic recipe, you also need to take home local lemon cordial as it’s just not the same made with other brands.

Devised in the 1930s heyday of the Forest Park Hotel in Platres, Troodos, this tall golden cocktail allowed the Muslim King of Egypt to indulge in a tipple whilst entertaining local dignitaries. By creating a drink resembling iced tea, Stelios, head barman, enabled King Farouk to enjoy his reception without anyone uncovering his secret!

As time passed, the recipe spread to drinking establishments and restaurants throughout the island, becoming a firm favourite with both locals and visitors. Today it is regarded as THE Cyprus cocktail.

Filfar orange liqueur
Filfar | Orange Liquer

The recipe for Filfar was developed by Takis Philippou as he worked for the British Army in Famagusta during the 1940s. His cookhouse role involved preserving local fruit in jams and marmalades. Having seen his grandmother make an orange liqueur using an ancient recipe from the monks at Kantara, he started experimenting with quantities and ingredients, using his army friends as tasters. Demand quickly grew, and before long he was making the drink commercially.

After losing everything in the Turkish invasion in 1974, Takis gave up his business. Fortunately Filfar production was revived in 1991 when Demos Aristidou, another Cypriot drinks maker, persuaded an Takis to sell his precious recipe. Still a closely guarded secret, up to 20 oranges of two varieties and three different herbs are used to make each bottle. Production is seasonal – beginning in early December with the orange harvest in Fasouri near Limassol – and continuing for four months – with much of the process still completed by hand.

Count yourself an honoured guest if a hospitable taverna owner serves a freebie at the end of dinner.

Zivania Cypriot firewater
Zivania

This 45% proof firewater is also produced from Xynisteri dry white wine. The high alcohol content, and ready availability has led to a variety of medicinal uses, including treating wounds, massage, a cold and toothache remedy, or as a winter warmer.

Dating back to Venetian rule of the 14th century, this fiery concoction is still made in the traditional way. Grape pomace (remains such as pulp, peel, stalks and seeds) is mixed with high-quality dry wines, which are then distilled and matured. Usually drunk as an aperitif, Zivania is best served ice-cold straight from the freezer.

για μας ! | gia mas ! | cheers !

Spoon sweets
Glyka | Spoon Sweets

Fruit such as apricots, oranges, lemons and cherries, but also vegetables or nuts in syrup traditionally served on a spoon at the end of a typical Cypriot blow-out meal. Perfect for when you haven’t got room for a full dessert, but you just fancy a little sweet with your post-dinner drink. Our fav is walnuts which are picked green and soft and preserved whole.

Visitors are welcome at the Katerina Cyprus Sweets factory in Doros village – a 15-minute drive inland towards Troodos from Limassol.

Loukoumia Cyprus Delight
Loukoumia | Cyprus Delight

Soft, jelly-like sweets made with sugar, cornstarch and flavouring, plus sometimes nuts, finished with a dusting of icing sugar. The main traditional flavours are rose, lemon, mastic and bergamot, with chocolate as a more modern addition.

The island’s main factory is Aphrodite Delights at Geroskipou in Paphos where visitors can taste samples before buying, and watch the production process. For more information, check out these Trip Advisor reviews.

Soutzoukos
Soutzoukos | Grape Roll

A chewy sweet made from boiled grape juice in the wine villages of Troodos and Paphos. Almonds are threaded onto long strings, dipped into the hot juice and flour paste mixture, then hung to dry. The dipping process is repeated several times until the desired thickness is reached, then the soutzouko is dried over the period of a week and stored. Cut into slices, it is a treat served at traditional festivals and celebrations such as Christmas and New Year.

Pastelaki nut brittle
Pastelaki | Nut Brittle

Making use of locally grown nuts such as almonds and peanuts, along with a topping of sesame seeds, this is an early Cypriot version of a cereal bar. The traditional recipe uses another native ingredient – carob honey – to bind the nuts together.

καλή όρεξη ! | kalí órexi ! | bon appetit !

Some Insider Tips on Cyprus Food and Drink

Cyprus food and drink

Choosing Restaurants: Old Favs vs New?

Maybe it’s because we’ll be travelling to Cyprus soon, but thoughts have turned to some of our favourite Cypriot dishes and tipples. Mouth-watering prospect! This led to thinking about the restaurants and tavernas we prefer, and why. It’s always a dilemma when you’re only on a short visit about whether to go for tried and trusted, or to brave somewhere new. Guest recommendations are not only useful for fellow guests, but they keep us up-to-speed too. Summaries of this feedback appear in the website guestbook, with printed versions in the villa.

Muse Cafe Kitchen, Paphos

Muse Café Kitchen, Paphos

It’s no secret that we are big fans of Muse in Paphos. So many things combine to make a good (or bad) experience, including expectation, that it’s tricky to recommend places. Having said that we’ve thoroughly enjoyed every meal we’ve had at Muse (and there have been quite a few!) But our enthusiasm for Muse is not just about the food… we love the decor, the terrace, the lighting, the amazing views, the prices, and the service – phew! As it is a little tricky to find, we supply a map route and directions for our guests.

Pissouri Bay dining

Dining in Pissouri Bay

Not that you need to venture to Paphos for a great dining experience. In Pissouri Bay we are incredibly lucky to have so much choice close by… something regularly mentioned by new visitors. At the last count there were 15 places to dine in the bay itself, not including the hotel’s restaurants. You can see a complete list of the resort amenities on our maps page. Plus there are more restaurants up the hill in Pissouri village too. How many other places this size have so many dining options?

 

Brandy Sour recipe

Cypriot Specialities

There’s plenty of interest in Cypriot cuisine. Our Cyprus Food and Drink G+ board is by far our most popular, having amassed a staggering 41,000 followers. And learning the stories behind Cypriot favourites such as Kleftiko and the Brandy Sour cocktail is fascinating.

Wine Tours

With 51 wineries, if you’re interested in doing a behind-the-scenes tour, along with a tasting, there are lots of options. This newly launched winery website has lots of useful information about what each winery offers.

The CTO has also published a series of seven wine-routes taking you on scenic country drives around Cyprus’ wine-producing regions.

Our Top Ten Suggestions

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This article was originally posted on our old website blog by Nikki 13/3/2017