If you know the food of Turkey, then you know Cyprus food, but there are one or two things that you won't find in Turkey. Probably the most famous of Cypriot culinary specialities is hellim cheese. This full-fat soft cheese is made from whole goats milk, salt, mint and is typically served with salads.
Another speciality is molohiya, a green leafy vegetable, which grows only in Cyprus and on the banks of the Nile. It is usually cooked with chicken or meat and is deliciously wholesome.
Another interesting vegetable unknown outside Cyprus is kolokas, a root vegetable which when cooked (again with lamb or chicken) has the texture of potato, but has a much sweeter taste.
In addition to the usual Turkish kebabs, there are two, which are only to be found in Cyprus. One is kup kebab. This involves wrapping lamb or goat, potatoes and herbs in foil. The wrap is then cooked for hours in a clay oven. The other is sheftali kebabs which are small, spicy, sausage-like lumps of meat that are skewered and cooked over hot charcoal.
Restaurants and Cafes in Kyrenia
In places frequented by tourists, an example being the old harbour, one or two good standard restaurants can be found. However, most are little more than cafes and are in Cypriot terms, fairly expensive. Their saving grace is that you can dine by the sea under a star-lit sky.
If you move away from the tourist areas and explore the back streets you will find cafes that offer real Cypriot cuisine at astonishingly low prices. Generally, in these cafes, there is no menu, or if there is, you may have difficulty understanding it.
What you do in these places is to examine the contents of the hot and cold cabinets and order a little of this and a little of that, making a meal to your own liking. There are for example three of these types of cafe located in the town square.
In your travels you may find the Girne Restaurant, which is tucked away on a square close to the harbour. This café is open 24 hours a day, serves real Turkish food, and the most delicious freshly cooked naan bread. If you are looking for real Cypriot food, then you need to search a little harder.
Find the street where the two stores 1001 and Ordu Pazari (Army Stores) are situated, walk (away from the harbour) until you come to a small parade of shops set back from the pavement on your left, and take the first left. This brings you into a street of various shops and a selection of cafes. These cafes, which are exceptionally inexpensive, cater almost exclusively for Cypriots and provide extremely good food.
Because there are many English and Germans living in Cyprus (particularly in Kyrenia), you will also find restaurants - mainly out of town - offering all types of cuisine : English/French, Indian, and Italian, sometimes all three plus Turkish! There are also one or two Chinese restaurants. Some of the fish restaurants, which abound, are of a very high standard.