We have been hearing a lot of praise for a fish restaurant in southern Cyprus, between Limassol and Larnaca. The restaurant is called Mama's and it's right on the seashore and specialises in fish. The thing to have is their fish meze apparently so we decided we would give it at try.
So, we planned out a route that would give us some sightseeing along the way. First we drove west from the villa towards Guzelyurt on the North west coast. The drive is a lovely one, first hugging the coast, then in the hills above the amazing new reservoir and then through endless orange groves. Once in Guzelyurt we headed towards the border crossing a couple of miles away at Astromeritis. The crossing itself was painless and quick and we were soon heading up towards the mountains and Troodos. The road steadily climbs through green forested hills and the houses change to a wooden chalet style. Appropriate for the winter weather. It is odd to see adverts for skiing and ice skating. The other thing we noticed was that once in the mountains, autumn was definitely in Cyprus. Trees were turning colour, yellows and oranges. Very different from the coastal regions. We have spent quite a few days up in the Troodos. It's a beautiful area to visit.
We arrived at Mama's just before 1. To find it take the A1 either from Limassol to Larnaca or if you are coming south from Nicosia to Limassol. Take exit 14 or 15 and head towards Zyggi although it is in a hamlet called Ayios Theodoros. Its near Zyggi which has a lovely little harbour and lots of fish restaurants too. Mama's is on its own though.You just continue along the coast road towards Larnaca from Zyggi and it's on the seaward side. Tripadvisor have made a complete mash of Mama's. There are apparently three restaurants in the Limassol area that have some variant of Mama in the name and they've all got mixed up. Bizarrely, the website link takes you to a restaurant in Blackpool!!! So just trust me that this place is great.
It was heaving. Heaving with locals. A very good sign. we hadn't made a reservation because... well..... it's a Wednesday! We were lucky. We got the last table. And it's quite a big place.
So, there is an a la carte menu but the poplar choice is the fish meze which is 22e per person. Quite expensive by the standards of the north but cheap compared to the UK. And the food was sublime. And so much of it. The food is simply cooked but perfectly cooked and with the flavours that only utterly fresh, fine produce can have.
We started off with a load of meze small plates: taramasalata; tahini; beetroot; olives; a large Greek salad with fresh feta; village bread; then the fish plates started to arrive: huge garlic king prawns, mussels in herbs and wine; deep fried bream (utterly delicious), baby octopus marinated in red wine and herbs (melt in the mouth soft and delicious), crab claws, deep fried baby calamari, wonderful home made chips. The main dishes were a large grilled seabass and grilled cuttlefish. Fantastic. We were struggling by now..... but.... we found room for some fresh figs and tangerines and Cyprus coffee. Everything was cooked perfectly, no mean trick in such a busy place. The surroundings are buzzy. Lots of families, all eating, talking, laughing, enjoying food by the sea. Family friendly. Absolutely loved the place and would definitely go back again.
Drove up to Nicosia and called into a large hypermarket owned by Tesco. Picked up some Greek supplies to supplement our normal diet. Ok. I mean we picked up tubs of taramasalata. We love it! Also a bottle of Filfur Orange, the best orange liqueur in the world bar none. Only available in the south.
Got home about 6. A brilliant day out. Another day route to add to our stock.
The weather here continues very hot and dry. It's been a long dry summer and you can see it in the parched look of the countryside. Cyprus has long suffered from water shortages which leads to rationing over the summer months and large areas of the island being made unsuitable for agriculture. In particular the Mesaoria Plain, the huge area of land which lies between the Troodos and the Besparmak Mountains is a dry, arid flatland currently. The water rationing does not affect our house because we have an enormous (20 tonne) holding tank fed by the mains which protects our supply during the 3 days off/1 day on summer period. However, in a small way, compared to the benefits to farmers, having water for irrigation would make a massive difference to the garden. We have installed a grey water irrigation system but this is often not enough during the long dry months of summer.
That is hopefully all about to change!
On Saturday an amazing engineering feat came to fruition with the opening of the water pipeline linking northern Cyprus to Turkey. The huge pipeline runs 50 miles under the sea at a depth of 250m and delivers 75 million cubic metres of water a year to the reservoirs here on the north east coast. There is enough to maintain this supply for the next 50 years. The water which has already started to flow will be divided roughly 50/50 between domestic users and for farmers' irrigation. In particular, Mesaoria will be irrigated giving thousands of acres of new agricultural land. Named the Pipeline of Peace, the water will also be available to the south of the island on any re-unification, that has always been part of the promise.
We can in any case look forward to a far better supply both of domestic water and range of vegetables and fruit - already fantastic. The irrigation of previously unusable farming land will create a possible surplus for export.
Of course there are some political quibbles. The management procedures had been agreed in 2011 when the work began but very recently a group of Cypriot mayors who traditionally control water allocation here decided they would like to manage the pipeline as well. Understandably, the Turkish consortium who built it are very much less than enthused by this idea. Frankly most of us who experience the "expertise" of the Cypriot local government system would also rather the Turkish consortium ran the pipeline LOL! No doubt a feelings-saving compromise has been agreed. In any case, the water is flowing. And of course, there have been howls of protest from politicians in the Greek south who view the entire project as a further Turkish incursion. No matter that the water will benefit the island and has been promised - publically promised - to all areas after re-unification. But then, we must remember that a couple of years ago, in the summer, when the Republic blew up its only power station by allowing a ship carrying illegal arms to be moored next to it for some years, the Archbishop refused all air conditioning to be allowed because it would mean buying electricity - on offer - from the "Occupied". This is akin to condemning people, say in Siberia, to live without heating: the old and vulnerable die. Sigh......
So, let the water flow on..... the Green Island is going to get greener.
The Boler family love travel, food and drink. Not necessarily in that order! The villa is our home from home which we love to share with our friends, old and new.