Andria Efthymiou brought the first calorie cracker to the culinary tour of Larnaka. Typically Cypriot. And that is called ultra cute. Karidaki, she explains, is a pickled walnut snack skewered on a toothpick.
Andria is actually an archaeologist, but as a tour guide she is now uncovering tasty contemporary treasures. Tachinopita, for example, the next sweet bomb, a cake made from a paste made from finely ground sesame seeds. Tour guide Marina Kontou confirms: “It fits any time of the day.”
The place for tasting is “Lazarís Bakery Bar” in the old town, a popular meeting place at the Lazarus Church until late at night. In Larnaka’s visitor magnet, one of the most beautiful examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus, believers venerate a shrine of St. Lazarus – and the tour guides insert an informative course on sacred culture on the way to the next stop.
Larnaka offers beaches, a castle and typical food
In the minds of German vacationers, Larnaka is only the airport of arrival, more of a traffic hub. However, after the facelift of recent years, Cyprus’ third largest city has secretly transformed into a destination with a profile – without any tourist traffic jams.
And what is there to see and do? Beaches, promenades, the marina, the fishing port, the castle, the salt lake with its flamingos, boutique hotels and addresses of a new culture of going out.
The gastronomy gives a cross-section of the island, whereby the traditional form of presentation should not be missing: meze. This means that a wide variety of small portions are put on the table to share. Slow food and tapas culture in Cypriot. Eating as a social experience, as a social togetherness without time pressure.
For this, someone like Nechita Doru goes to great lengths. Originally from Romania, he was once a geologist. At the turn of the millennium, his professional life “took a 180 degree turn,” he reveals. Since then he has worked as a cook and quickly learned to prepare up to 20 different dishes for a meze. In the restaurant “Montecarlo” near the castle he is the master of pots and pans.
The demand for wine from Cyprus is increasing
A good drop should not be missing wherever a lot of food is served. Sergios Katodritis has specialized in tasting Cypriot wines in his “Oak Tree Wine Cellar”: ten samples for twelve euros, plus some water and savory biscuits.
Sergios takes his time and celebrates the serving. He puts the number of wineries across the island at around 100, with one or two added every year. Demand is increasing, including for a fresh white one like the Xynisteri, for which, according to Sergios, the cultivation heights of around 1000 meters guarantee “the best performance”.
Modern blends like a Xynisteri with Chardonnay are equally classy. The red grape variety Maratheftiko, which tastes of violets and sweet cherries and is meanwhile successfully celebrating its comeback, was ancestral but almost forgotten.
What makes the kitchen on the island so special
On the gastro tour, Andria and Marina bring their foodies to the terrace of the Ithaki Garden Restaurant and swirl under bougainvillea tendrils over to salty. Fava, a paste made from yellow lentils, is delicious. The tomatoes and cucumbers in the village salad not only look crisp and fresh, they also taste like that – almost unfamiliar compared to agricultural mass-produced goods in Central Europe.
Among the local cheeses, Marina swears by halloumi, which the Cypriots love to grill. “There is halloumi in every house,” she is sure. She bought it herself from a producer in the country in a five-kilo storage box.
What makes Cyprus’ cuisine so special? “This mixture of east and west,” says Andria. “We are the bridge here.” Take out the sharpness of the Orient and refine, vary. She sees the most important ingredients in olive oil and lemon. “Wherever you have both, miracles happen,” says Andria.
Lemon is often expressed over grilled minced meat sausage, the Sheftalia – whereby the soft consistency is a matter of taste and the eternal mystery of what is in the sausage resonates. Hiromeri and Lountza: smoked pork pieces marinated in red wine are more firm in the bite and lousy.
Im „Mingle Café“ the food tour comes to an end. The Cypriot coffee, Andria explains, always has to have bubbles on top. “Otherwise it won’t be cooked properly.” Also important: “Never stir or drink everything.” Because of the coffee grounds.
Of course, something sweet is served with the mocha: Anarokrema, a cream cheese pot made from Anari cheese, which is comparable to ricotta, but with cinnamon, cream and a touch of carob syrup. The last tidbit of hip gold for today.
Tips and information
Getting there: There are direct flights to Larnaka in Cyprus from various German airports.
Corona rules: Due to the increased number of infections, the Federal Foreign Office now counts Cyprus among the risk areas and warns against traveling there. Entrants must have a “flight pass” (cyprusflightpass.gov.cy) and take it with you on the flight. After arrival, random Covid-19 tests are carried out at the airport. Masks are currently required in public buildings.
Information desk: visitcyprus.com