Friday, March 20, 2015

Two Cyprus restaurants in two weeks!

Eating out is quite a rare event for us. I know, in the US, some families eat out two or three times per week, as it's relatively inexpensive there. Even here in Cyprus, there are some of people who eat out regularly. It's never been part of our lifestyle, however. Meals at restaurants are for special occasions, or when visitors want to treat us.

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Alison was visiting. She comes on a working holiday each year to deal with the accounts for Richard's ministry; I cook most evenings, but she usually likes to take us out for a meal at some point.  We've previously been to our default - Alexander's - on the sea-front, but this year Alison decided she'd like a change. She checked an online site for recommended Greek food restaurants in Cyprus, and the top rated one was To Kazani, in Aradippou.

We found the location via Google Maps, and it took perhaps ten or fifteen minutes to drive there. It looked very authentic on the outside:

We were greeted with enthusiasm by the staff, and given a choice of tables. Inside looked equally authentically Cypriot - even if there was a TV at one end, and a wifi router on the wall near where we sat! 

The menu was simple - only about ten items, including the traditional meze. We asked how big the portions were, and the waitress - or, perhaps the owner - said she thought that for four of us, three servings of meze would be right. So that's what we opted for.  

We then ordered drinks - water for two of us, juice for the others.  The juice was certainly Cypriot, but not exactly how we had envisaged it... 

A meze is a series of different dishes, presented a few at a time, and usually starting with a Greek salad. This means that there's very little waiting time, and plenty of opportunity to taste different local foods. Sure enough, the salad arrived quickly, accompanied by some toasted village bread, a bowl of Greek yogurt, some chopped beetroot, and various dips:

I didn't take any other photos of food - the table quickly became crowded as we were given an aubergine dip, halloumi, various meat dishes, a bowl of chips, some mushrooms, an egg and courgette dish (which was my favourite), more that I don't remember... and even (ugh) some snails. Alison and Richard tried them but didn't much like them. Tim and I did not. I don't even like to look at snails. But they were the only thing that none of us liked.  

By the time we were nearing the end, we were feeling very full, so when a large dish with yet more meat arrived - small pieces of chicken, and pork, and Cyprus sausages - we couldn't begin to do justice to it. So Richard asked if we could take it home with us; this isn't an unusual request in Cyprus, so we were given a suitable container and the leftover meat then provided protein for our lunches (for three of us) for the next two days. 

After we thought we had finished, we were brought dessert: some fresh fruit, and some pieces of Greek baklava. Despite having ordered three meze meals between four of us, they made sure that when there were individual portions of anything, there were four, so we each had some baklava - and somehow found room to eat it! 

We enjoyed our meal very much and can certainly understand why it's so highly rated. Other visitors - including a group of people we know - gradually arrived as we were eating. But then, as Brits, we like to start eating around 7.00pm at the latest, whereas many Cypriots don't eat until well past 8.00, sometimes not starting until 9.00 or later. 

I had not expected to visit another restaurant for a while, but last Sunday Tim said he would like to take us out to his favourite Indian restaurant, Masalas, in celebration of the British Mothering Sunday. The only available evening was Monday, just a week after our visit to To Kazani.  

Masalas is in the other direction, along the Dhekelia Road which runs along the sea-front. The only photo I took was on the outside, before we went in:

Again, since we like to eat early, and arrived about 6.30, we were the only people in the restaurant when we went in. It looks quite up-market inside, with tablecloths and wall hangings in shades of peach. The menu is extensive, as is so often the case with Indian restaurants. They have a special offer of any curry with popadoms, rice and naan for weekdays so long as one orders before 7.15pm so we decided to do that rather than making multiple selections from different pages of the menu. 

Tim almost always opts for chicken bhuna which is his tried-and-tested favourite; Richard had a lamb curry, and I decided to be brave and have a chicken madras, marked as 'hot', but - I was assured by the waitress - not 'burning hot'.  The first time we went there, back in June, I tried the chicken balti, which was excellent.

The food was piping hot, served in traditional Indian pots and pans, and very delicious, although mine was perhaps a tad hotter than I would have chosen! However, it was very tasty. 

The one disadvantage of this restaurant is that they don't offer vegetarian options. I do eat some chicken and beef, and occasionally pork, but when I'm out I usually prefer to choose something vegetarian. Indian restaurants normally have a wide selection, but Masalas does not.  I was happy with what I ate - and would happily go there again - but it would be no good for a vegetarian. 

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