Notwithstanding the fact that Cyprus has a constant sunshine, the summer holidays is more of a festive occasion than anything else. The beach and bathing apart, the August period is more of a free spirit behavior. You can move around with shorts, feel relaxed in your behavior and in general, there is a feeling of a festive occasion and psychology, to invite friends for light (is there such a thing in Cyprus?) dinner/lunch and have all sorts of conversation (Cypriot men usually discussing sexual jokes and football and women about fashion and gossip who wore what). In small societies, holidays could be boring at times and what you need is good company (i.e. people with the same attitude and with similar interests). We are not a country of book readers, nor a sporting country, but we are inclined towards food and drink and conversation, as a source of entertainment.
So, how can we make use of our holiday home and make our investment pay in terms of entertainment and events?
- There are events all over Cyprus ranging from little villages to towns, such as Limassol and Pafos, from “shoushoukkos” festivals (Limassol) to “reci” = wedding meal (Paphos) and sougla parties at Larnaca – all runned by local Municipalities and village authorities. Cultural events are just about everywhere, from Ayia Napa to Paralimni, in all towns and the top event with Aphrodite Opera at Pafos. Yes, the last one costs around 80/each, but then operas of a similar standard in Europe cost 4 times more. A Dutch friend of ours says “I never miss the Pafos opera, since for the same money, I can get an opera and 7 days holidays to go with it”.
- Coming back to using one’s home an outside barbecue is “the” favorite entertainment event by locals and during summer fish is the dinner/lunch the main meal to adopt. Fish in Cyprus has all sorts of “odd” delicacies (not necessarily liked by foreign people due to their appearance) such as squid (cuttlefish), octopus (fish with legs) and red mullet (Barbouni in the local language) with the comment why do you eat these baby fish? But then fish if it is cooked in the house, it tends to have a smell, so most housewives/ locals do not adopt this as a preference, opting to eat in restaurants.
- However, summer holidays is all about having a “free spirit” as we said before, so experiment on new ventures and show off to your friends. If fish is what you want to do, do it outside, but make sure that the charcoal has a low fire and place the grill first and once it is hot, then place the fish on top, otherwise the fish will stick on the grill. If octopus is your preference, boil it for approximately 20 minutes and then on the charcoal otherwise it will be tough.
- For those halloumi lovers, buy the more expensive halloumi which is more hard. Slice and grill the halloumi first and then have a pitta bread (cut ¼ pieces), place the halloumi which is already grilled in the pitta and one slice of tomato. Place the pitta with the halloumi and the tomato again on the grill. A never ending success to impress your friends (Phidias recipie).
- For the wine drinkers, make absolutely sure that the white wine is cold. Beer is not the same if not iced cold. Do not depend on your fridge and place the bottles in the deep freeze of your fridge (same with the beer), but care is needed so that they do not ice. Leave the beer tins for 30 minutes and wine bottles for 15 minutes. Very cold wine tastes better and with our temperature a cool beer is not on. For red wine place the bottle in the normal fridge for approximately 15-20 minutes in order to cool it. Much better taste.
- For the more exclusive and while the barbecue is on, put some walnuts on the grill (cut a small slice so that it is cooked better) and for those who have no problem with their teeth, place on the charcoal sweet corn, salt on top when finished. Fantastic hors d’ euvre.
- For those who do not eat meet, but say chicken and are not sure how to barbecue, cover the chicken pieces with yogurt, place it on the grill and wait until the yogurt is slightly browned. The chicken remains juicy and tasty and the meat is not burned.
- For those who want to remember the traditional aperitif, opt for the brandy sour. Use Cyprus brandy, angostura bitter (5 drops), lemon squash (little) and soda, as well as ice, steer it and at the end place on top a slice of lemon. Unique in Cyprus not found everywhere else in the world. For those with a sweet tooth, before placing the ingredients, wet the glass (long glass) and place the glass lips on a plate with sugar. Most inviting appearance, low cost and a unique drink impressing your friends.
- For salad funs use good quality tomatoes and purslane, thin slices of onions and good quality black olives. Olive oil and salt on top. Most refresing.
- For those who want to fry and have your guests participation in the garden, invest in a very large shallow frying pan and a gas bottle with a top base. The local meat balls (kioftes) is a killer in terms of taste (order the mix from your local butcher). Easy to cook – you cannot go wrong. Place lemon before you eat.
- For fried potatoes the secret is that you fry the potatoes for 10 minutes, take them out to cool and then place them again in the pan. The result is that the potatoes will become crispy without oil. Use olive oil instead of the ordinary frying oils.
- In terms of music, use Theodorakis (Zorba the Greek music) and Xarchakos bouzouki style, but much europianized and soft to the ear.
- In terms of discussing subjects, do without the financial crisis and depressing subject. No mention of medical problems and others which we all have, but keep it after the holidays. Tell each other how young they look for their age. We all need an ego boosting.
- If you have non-locals whom you want to impress on your cooking capabilities and have fun with it, give each guest a skewer with souglakia (cebap) on it and have them each cook his own. Make sure that you have grilled pitta bread (the thin type), have lemon and parsley and tomatoes.
- Invest on a good wine for starters and after the first bottle no one will know the difference if the second is not so good!!
As you have realized notwithstanding that this is a property section, we are also on holidays. A friend of ours who dined with the chairman of a Co (perhaps the wealthiest Co in the world) after a very expensive dinner, the chairman, asked his host for a souglakia dinner and a particular brand of local wine insisting on a date of invitation.
We have a policy, not always kept, if you want to make an impression, ask your friends/ clients home. It does not matter if at the end of the day the cooking is not to standard. They will love it.