Food Perfection on the Beach in Oroklini

At almost 9pm, half of the welcoming party left. It was time for dinner.

Dinner at 6 is a laughable concept here. Or rather, it would be laughable if it were even considered at all. Not that we are ever given the opportunity to have even a moment of hunger. Our days have been filled with food…and I am afraid that is only going to be worse now that we have landed in the land of “Yea! Ellie is here!” I afraid we are going to be “hosted” into morbid obesity.

We pulled tables together at the beachside restaurant and looked over the menus. To be honest, I was only interested in trying a KEO, a Cypriot beer. But I ordered the fish and chips anyway. To be honest, I have no idea what the food was like…I was so tired and overstimulated. But the beer was wonderful.

Michaelis is a Greek-Cypriot, a composer, a teacher and choir director—probably in that order. He tells stories with his entire body and his face channels his passion for every detail. The storyteller in me wishes I spoke Greek so that I could hear them in his native tongue, which he insists is the most beautiful of languages.

“If only I could tell you these stories in Greek! So beautiful this language. Every word has its very own meaning.”

I am unaware in this moment that this snack bar of a place on the beach near our house will become such a favorite for me. You will never find it listed in any reviews of Cyprus or on Tripadvisor…though, I’d like to think I will figure out how to do this for this wonderful place. The only name I can discern for it is Kiosk, which is hopelessly generic here. Everything is a kiosk of some sort.

It is pretty unassuming really. A very small kitchen with a large outdoor patio. We end up eating multiple meals here…breakfasts, lunches and dinners. When we leave Larnaka, a week later, it is the place I will miss the most.

It is situated directly on the beach. While we wait for the food, or the check after the meal, the kids run in the surf and try to skip perfectly flat skipping stones into the ocean. There is no hurry to leave. In fact, you could be there for hours and no one will bring you a check unless you specifically ask for it. In the mornings, half of the tables are taken up by older men playing Tavli (a game played on a backgammon board) and drink their coffees. Some of their wives sit together at other tables chatting and laughing. No one appears to have anywhere to go.

On our third trip to the kiosk, we become regulars. We chat with the waitresses and the owner brings us small glasses of Cypriot wine after we have finished our meal. We sit peacefully drinking our metrio or greek wine, while the kids play on the beach. No schedule. No pressure. We are truly outside of time here.

It is here I try what will become my favorite find here in Cyprus…a village salad and a lountza and halloumi sandwich. The village salad is cucumbers, tomatoes, a little cabbage and feta. It seems crazy to describe it that way, however. I don’t think I have tasted vegetables this fresh since my dad grew a garden when I was still in elementary school. And the feta is different too, fresher and richer somehow. I eat it without any dressing at all. There is no need. And it is the best salad I have ever eaten. Period.

The lountza halloumi sandwich surprises me. I am not much of a meat eater…I avoid eating it if I can, which is easier to do in other countries I have found. But this sandwich is perfection. Lountza is a Cypriot meat, pork to be exact. It is a teeny bit like Canadian bacon, but I would not get carried away with that association. The meat and cheese are put into the bread (which is also beyond perfect here) and grilled. Then fresh cucumber and tomato are added. No spices. No condiments. And it is perfection. For the remainder of our time in Larnaka, I will order only this every time we go to the kiosk.

If you ever find yourself in Cyprus, this unassuming kiosk is worth a trip to Oroklini.

And tell them we said hello.



Vegas in a Cow Field

Space Center Drive is one of four streets that border NASA, but it is a very long road. If you drive past NASA and keep going until you are flat in the middle of what, until very recently, was a cow field in the middle of nowhere, you will see something you will not believe. Stranger still if you have seen the promotional ads for this place as they make it out to be a regular steak house…which it decidedly is not. Tina and I went for dinner there two weekends ago, not our first time, and I decided to blog it as my “Off Topic” weekend post.

Cullens is the restaurant and I hope I can do it justice.

The first thing you will note is that it is HUGE. Like Las Vegas over-the-top huge. 38,000 feet, seating for 700 people. Remember, this is in the middle of nowhere. Seriously.

The main dining room has 56 projection screens displaying rotating fine art. There is an impossible room hovering above the main dining room called “Macy’s room” which can be reserved for parties of 12 or less. You must spend at least $1,500 in food and beverages and your choice of china patterns and your own personalized menu comes with the room.

Stunning service, brilliant wine list, billiard room, live music club with concert lighting and an upper deck with a not-quite-finished fire pit and waterfall that will provide the over-the-top theme to the upper patio.

And then they get you with the environmental consciousness. Carpet is recycled tires. Lighting is all LED. I wish I could remember all the guy told us about the environmental features. It is stunning that someone that built this place even cares about that. Gives me hope.

And then there is the food. And this is the real reason I adore this place, despite all the glam. The chef is Paul Lewis and he is incredible. I do not say that lightly. I could not care less how gorgeous a plate is laid out or how innovatively someone uses raspberries. If it is not delicious, I am not impressed. This guy freaks me out he is so good. He does not over fancy up the straightforward dishes (simply the best fish and chips I have ever eaten anywhere. Period.) and things that he does something bizarre with (chamomile infused scallops) are divine. I have been several times now and tried sampled from others at the table and have yet to feel even neutral about anything. OK, maybe Grant’s pizza that one time, but kids food is supposed to be basic.

This is a destination spot. It is worth the drive to a Clear Lake cow field.