After 3 relaxing weeks of adventures in Cyprus, topped off with an overnight stay in Amsterdam, it’s bittersweet to be back. Since my husband could only partake in a week’s worth of Cyprus fun, I’ve been so happy being back on the same part of the planet as him. However, leaving my cousins, whom I consider my “second” brothers and sisters, is always such an emotional and tearful experience. On our last night on the island, they usually all come over for a “goodbye dinner” that usually involves souvlakia, and we bond over our pitas with stories of our summer fun before embracing for the last time of the year: another example of how important and how much of a bonding experience food can be in our culture.
Looking back on my amazing times and all of the foodie adventures I went on, I wanted to end my Cyprus vacation chronicles with a meaningful one. I had mentioned in my first post after arriving how I so loved the meze-style eating experience, so I thought, what better way to end my journey than with that fond memory? My all-time favorite fish meze-style restaurant, Zephyros fish Meze, is located right by the water in the Skala neighborhood of Larnaka, right near my grandparents’ old house. Maybe it’s the fond memories of this place and of how excited my Yia Yia used to get to come here and sample all of the fresh seafood with us. She rarely ventured from the house and her own kitchen, but when she did, it was always a treat for us.
The taverna itself is quaint, whitewashed, with large arched windows open and ushering in the salty sea air. The meze experience here is top-notch. You order mezedes for the table, and it begins with fresh baked pita bread, super fresh greek salad, and home made dips like tzatzkiki, tahini, and tarama, which is like a caviar yoghurt sauce. Then, depending on what fresh fish they caught that day, platefuls of red mullet, red snapper, Tsipoura which is my favorite white meat fish, grilled octopus, grilled calamari and more are all brought to your table in waves, just as your appetite begins to awaken again. Everything is either simply grilled with olive oil and lemon, or lightly fried in extra virgin olive oil. There are no fancy sauces the seafood is cooked in, or cooking techniques, the beauty in this food is the freshness and quality of the fish itself. Many a time, you can spot the fishermen docking their boats, and handing off the freshly caught fish to the restaurant while you are eating. Just knowing that the fish was alive and swimming mere hours ago in the very sea that provides those breathtaking views to all the restaurant-goers is so cool, and makes the food taste that much better.
Just thinking about that fresh seafood is making me miss Cyprus already. It’s also opened my eyes to a different approach in cooking I will use more often: Obtaining the best quality, freshest ingredients, and letting the ingredients shine to their fullest potential. I will never be able to stop loving that well-made sauce or interesting cooking technique, but a simplified dish or two made with the highest quality ingredients sounds pretty good right about now. That’s the thing about vacationing in another country… it opens your eyes (and your mouths in my case) to viewing the world in a different light. You realize its good every now and then to press “pause”, and enjoy the moment, which is the heart of not just the Meze dining experience, but the Cypriot way of life.
Zephyros fish tavern is located at 37 Piyale Pasha, Larnaca 6028, Cyprus right next to the Limani, right before McKenzie beach.