Staring at me across the dinner table, a lonely sausage sheftalia sitting unfinished.
It’s the sole survivor of another huge, but awesome mezze.
Sheet after plate of Cypriot delights was launched from all directions.
But we beat them all. The loukaniko (sausage) is polished in seconds.
Chicken souvlakia? Hulk. Halloumi didn’t get a chance.
Leftovers from other dishes littered the table in our little fight over the bulge.
However, this Sheftalia – a big, fat Greek sausage the size of my fist – survived, motivating me.
But I couldn’t take another bite. . . I was defeated.Read:I ‘married’ a double killer after meeting him just once – now I’ve had his name tattooed on my FACE
It’s hard not to fall in love with the food in Cyprus.
Just as it was hard for me not to fall in love with my Greek Cypriot friend, who foolishly said “I do” at our wedding ten years ago.
So we were here in Paphos, after a decade to celebrate. And they’ve tasked us with finding the top ten bars for ten years together.
Our base camp for this culinary challenge was the sprawling 4* Constantinou Athena Beach Hotel.
The resort is huge, endless – just like mezze. There are five great restaurants along with a beach bar that serves delicious snacks.
Our six-year-old (who we brought to help with food) spent most of his vacation mastering cannonballs in one of the three ponds or miniaturizing sewers.
It’s the perfect resort for a family vacation, with mini golf, table tennis, games room and tennis to enjoy while enjoying the sun (which is still a comfortable 30°C in the fall months).
Our spacious room has a balcony to enjoy the wonderful views as well as delicious red wine.
Below us, an army of sunbeds stretches from pools to exclusive beach patios.Read:Nearly 500 whales die in ‘heartbreaking’ New Zealand strandings | World News
A float arrived in the ocean – an ideal runway for launching more artillery shells.
Each morning we were spoiled for choice at breakfast – many buffets filled with fresh fruit, yoghurt, olive pita and freshly grilled halloumi. Here we are laying out our battle plan:
Nawaf from Heaven
What pub are we going to deal with today?
Our first stop was a 30 minute walk on the beach to Hondros, which is a Greek word for “fat”.
Which is exactly how we felt after dinner.
We planned a picnic but the sky jets from the spinning souvla made the choice easy.
Pieces of pork and chicken were devoured, followed by slices of carbozi (watermelon).
Fettas pub was another great place in the middle of the old town square.
Its pleasant surroundings provide a nice setting for a great meze, where the baked eggplant is a standout.
Our next jerk adventure, sorry, took us off the beaten path to the village of Letymbou, about a 25 minute drive from Athens.
There Ledinpou pub prides itself on a friendly welcome with a friendlier spread.
Our diamond in the rough had a wonderful feast in the Homodous Hills. The cobbled roads turned into small alleys where Stou Kir Yianni was far away.
Its modern twist on mezze is the best halloumi cheese in Cyprus – lightly cooked, wrapped in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds – amazing.
So were the homemade comantaria sauce and the cleverly presented roast pork.
All this was washed down with an excellent bottle of local rosé (the adjoining wine cellar is a must).
Back in Athens, we enjoyed dinner at the hotel’s Leda.
Offered wonderful swordfish, lovely salads and even spaghetti bull (with shredded halloumi, of course) for boy.
Pool food was enjoyed along with live entertainment (there was something different every night, from playing Greek bozuki to Kroner classics).
There is also the Zephyr Restaurant, which is located meters from the beach and offers an amazing choice of à la carte.
If you like to spend some time on your own, the kids club is great while catching up on a book.
Or, in my case, sneak into the adults-only pool bar to sip on a bit of que – without fear of screams of “cannonbaaaaaall!”.
The Elixir spa is great too, with a range of massages, a sauna, a steam room, and a gym.
gallery on wallet
Back on the pub trail, Mandra, in Kato (lower) Paphos is the choice of restaurants near the plaza. Highlights included the delicious stifado (beef stew) while the smoky launza (pork) blew my mind (as did the local spirit zivania).
North Paphos sits Viclary. The views are stunning and well worth the dirt, mountain-like path you negotiate to get there.
It just does souvla, so once you’ve used up the amazing preparation, you can consume huge portions of the meat.
It’s incredibly fair on the wallet (15€ per person), even if it’s not so cute on the waistband.
Nearby, trendy Oniro By The Sea has great feasts, such as seafood kritharoto – a rice dish made with orzo pasta – with the stunning backdrop of the Edro III shipwreck jutting through the waves.
Another favorite wanted to drive across the island to Larnaca.
Perched on the harbor next to Mackenzie Beach, bustling seafood restaurant Zephyros serves an appetizing fish meze of fried calamari, bream, baby squid and whitefish with giant salads.
Next, we took a traditional late night walk on the road for the best ice cream in Cyprus at Pahit Ice.
Back in Paphos, we kept the best until the end. At 7 St George’s Tavern we were greeted warmly and seated on the idyllic patio. There are no menus, only mezzes.
The bread is fresh and although the plates look small, they fill you up quickly.
“Just tell me when you want to stop,” Ben George’s son says. It’s like a challenge. war cry. Let the battle begin.
“With the kleftiko sent, I finished, at last with victory, until I heard…
“Ah, I see you are ready for Sheftalya.”