Hungry for a foodie escape? Why sunny Cyprus is a tasty prospect

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Holding a big plastic paddle above a vat of soon-to-be halloumi cheese, Loulla Efthymiou explains, in Greek there’s one essential ritual that should be noticed earlier than the following step within the cheesemaking course of.

“She is making the signal of the cross,” says tour information Demetra Argyrou Viguier, as Mrs Loulla (as she’s affectionately identified) slides the slotted paddle deep into the creamy white curds (a mix of goat’s and sheep’s milk), slicing vertically then horizontally, earlier than plunging in and churning the strong mass into chunks, able to be strained.

Loulla Efthymiou produces halloumi and anari cheeses at her farm in (Katie Wright/PA)

Working twelve months a yr, Mrs Loulla has been producing halloumi and anari cheeses at her farm in hilly Choirokoitia since 2004, utilizing strategies she realized as a toddler when she started serving to her father have a tendency the household’s livestock. Individuals come from miles round to replenish on apparently the most effective cheese within the area.

Tucking into thick slices of the deliciously salty completed product, I can see why. Sitting on the eating desk within the adjoining farmhouse – images of Mrs Loulla’s seven youngsters and 15 grandchildren displayed proudly on sideboards in the lounge, wind chimes jangling softly within the breeze that blows by way of the open-plan house – I’m handled to an exquisite unfold of the well-known cheeses, together with chunks of recent cucumber and tomato, tangy inexperienced olives, crusty bread, and selfmade lemonade.

Mrs Loulla serves lunch within the farmhouse (Katie Wright/PA)

Over lunch, Viguier tells me concerning the fascinating historical past of the “little dot within the Mediterranean surrounded by three continents”, as she describes Cyprus Positioned in between Europe, Africa and Asia, the island has been colonised many instances (the nation gained independence from the British in 1960), which is why it’s house to “a mixing of civilisations. Italian, Ottoman, Turkish – all people left some souvenirs”.

Extra not too long ago, Cyprus has needed to cope with the undesirable arrival of coronavirus. Previous to 2020, the nation welcomed some 4 million guests a yr, who had been chargeable for round 20% of the nation’s GDP.

Now, the half-dozen cruise ships seen from the balcony of my seaview room on the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol are a obtrusive signal of the instances. As a substitute of ferrying holidaymakers across the Mediterranean, these huge, empty vessels have been floating idly off the south coast (and profiting from Cyprus’ low cost docking charges, I’m instructed) for greater than 18 months.

The view from Parklane Resort & Spa, Limassol (Matthew Shaw/PA)

However issues are, on the entire, trying up. With the scrapping of the amber listing, absolutely vaccinated UK travellers are actually solely required to do a day two Covid check on return, and from October 24 will be capable of take a less expensive lateral circulate check as an alternative of a PCR, making Cyprus a really enticing prospect should you’re searching for some autumn or winter heat.

The favored Parklane is again as much as 90% occupancy, however the spacious lodge, a part of Marriot’s Luxurious Assortment, by no means feels overly crowded throughout my keep. Opened in 2019, it’s the type of resort you’ll be able to test into and utterly neglect concerning the exterior world. With services together with a 14-treatment room spa (plus hair salon and barbers), a well-equipped gymnasium and yoga studio, tennis and five-a-side soccer courts, 5 eating places, three swimming swimming pools, and a large stretch of black sand seashore, there’s little or no cause to depart.

The adults-only pool (Matthew Shaw/PA)

The most recent addition to the property’s eating line-up, Mathis by the Sea, is my concept of culinary heaven. One in every of world-renowned Swiss chef Reto Mathis’s two signature substances occurs to be my absolute favorite: truffle. (The opposite, should you’re questioning, is caviar.) I begin my sensational meal with a potent truffle-infused vodka cocktail whereas munching a light-weight and crispy pizzette topped with cream cheese and truffle. The primary is a veal truffle burger and a facet order of – you guessed it – truffle fries.

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All truffled out, after dinner I hop in a taxi and head into Limassol previous city for extra cocktails at Gin Backyard (gingardency.com), a cool courtyard bar ignored by the grand façade of a church, the atmospheric house totally lit by candles and fairy lights.

Exploring the historic space on foot the following day, I discover extra proof of Cyprus’s multicultural heritage. Greek Orthodox church buildings and Islamic mosques rub shoulders with ornate neoclassical and baroque buildings. Vivid yellow former Royal Mail submit containers, repainted after Independence, are dotted all through the streets, and there’s eye-popping road artwork round each nook. On well-known Zik Zak road – a slender, pedestrianised alley as winding its identify suggests – fashionable younger Cypriots sip espresso at outside tables and hearken to rock music.

Zik Zak road in Limassol previous city (Katie Wright/PA)

Close by, a newcomer to the Limassol foodie scene has introduced a century-old constructing again to life. Beforehand housing town’s municipal market earlier than it fell into disrepair, bustling Agora (limassolagora.com) reopened in 2020, populated by greater than a dozen meals stalls doling out Chinese language road meals, tacos, sushi, salads, burgers, pasta, pizza, gyros and extra, to hordes of hungry punters.

“Lots of people who wished to open a enterprise [during the pandemic], couldn’t. Now, we’re very comfortable to see it open once more,” says Agora occasion and advertising director Konstantinos Dionysiou.

Agora Limassol (Katie Wright/PA)

The success of the mission is a testomony to how Limassol – and the nation at massive – is lastly on the street to financial restoration.

Sunseekers from throughout Europe are flocking again to their favorite vacation vacation spot – or, like me, discovering it for the primary time – and meals is a giant a part of the draw.

From selfmade halloumi to truffle-tastic nice eating and worldwide eats, Cyprus continues to evolve, providing cutting-edge gastronomic delights whereas nonetheless retaining that melting-pot magic that retains regulars coming again for extra.

Easy methods to plan your journey

Parklane Resort & Spa (marriott.co.uk) room charges begin from €260 (approx. £232) per night time, together with breakfast.

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