Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nicosia - Start off your sunny morning with a filling pide topped with melted halloumi cheese nestled with bits of egg or beef sausage.
Order a glass of çay (tea), and soon it's delivered by a local man riding a bicycle and balancing the tray of delicate tea glasses at the same time. (I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of this moment.)

That's how we started our weekend with our Turkish and Cypriot friends in North Cyprus (also known in Turkish as Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti) last Saturday.

We have wanted to visit Cyprus for awhile and jumped at the opportunity to travel with our Turkish friends - Ceren and Huseyin. We had a blast exploring this much-bigger-than-envisioned island with our friends - checking out the local haunts and eating until our bellies burst! 

Our Cypriot friend, Umut, first took us to Bereket Asmaaltı – a small bakery located near the Büyük Han (Grand Inn) in Nicosia. He ordered a round of pide for our group; soon we were diving in and soaking up the sun – a much-needed respite from all the snow in Istanbul.
The pide was delicious - a bit of a twist on the traditional Turkish pide, usually smothered in kaşar peynir (Turkish cheddar cheese), we've sampled on our travels. We started chatting with the owner, Ilker Bey, who has been running the business for nearly 50 years. His grandfather started the bakery about 90 years ago, and now Ilker Bey is training his children to take it over someday.
In addition to the pide, you must try the tahini-flavored pastry and the local olive bread.
After our satisfying brunch, we headed over to the nearby Büyük Han, a restored stone structure originally built in 1572 shortly after the Ottomans took over the island. The han once served as a major trading point for merchants from the Orient, Anatolia and Europe and as a place to stay/sleep. It also served as the Lefkosha Central Prison from 1878-1895 during the English rule of the island. 
Today, the han is frequented by locals and tourists alike. There are a few cafes and many shops selling local handicrafts and handmade souvenirs such as shawls, paintings, pottery and jewelry.
Many beautiful handmade scarves and vests like these were available here.
Being a foodie, Umut told me I must try the island's famous candied green walnuts so we stopped at Shiffa Home on the top floor. The shop's owner, Ayperi Gurdur, cans, candies and dries just about anything edible so you will find tons of edible delights like jams, marmalades and dried teas.
I plan to do some baking with the carob syrup and candied walnuts that I bought  in North Cyprus.
I found another interesting shop, Koza, that specializes in creating framed wall decorations, bookmarks, jewelry and hair accessories from silkworm cocoons. I had no clue Cyprus once was well-known for its silkworms and mulberry trees. People all over the island "raised" the silkworms at home to produce silk, and the women used the cocoons to create antique picture frames.
I bought one of these cute headbands decorated with silkworm cocoons to wear this spring and summer.
We enjoyed a splendid afternoon walking around Nicosia thanks to our friends and the sunny weather. Imagine our surprise when our photo ended up on page 4 of the local newspaper the next day.
We kept a copy of the local newspaper. It's not the best photo, but it does show us enjoying the sunshine and the fresh Cypriot pide.
Apparently, we're already "famous" in N. Cyprus. I just hope we don't have to ward off the paparazzi upon our return visit. Ha ha!
On the left, Umut and Jason standing in the center of the Büyük Han.

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16 comments:

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Have you literally just been? I really enjoy N Cyprus but haven't been for ages. What fun to appear in the paper!

Julia said...

Lucky you Joy, going over there. We've wanted to go for so long and were supposed to be going this year - but Italy won the day, instead. Great that you got to visit there with friends to be shown around - and fantastic you appeared in the newspaper too!! :)

Joy said...

@Claudia, yes, I had a flight later on Friday after I saw you, and we returned late Sunday night. We loved it!

@Julia, Well, Italy is going to be fabulous! I can't wait to hear all about it! =) And yes, making the local paper was a nice treat.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what was in the cyprian pide? wonderful place!

Joy said...

@jaz, the pide pictured was basically a "pizza crust" baked with egg and topped with cheese and herbs. The other version also had sausage added to it. THE best "Mcbreakfast" meal! =)

Kerry said...

N Cyprus is on my list of places to visit thank you for writing about your trip it. I hope to get there some day :)

Joy said...

@Kerry, highly recommended! From what I understand, the Turkish side is less developed and has more natural beauty than the Greek side. Enjoy! flypgs.com has some deals on Kibris right now too.

Becca Ramspott said...

I love this post! I think my favorite pic is the one of the old ladies knitting in the sun. But all your pictures are lovely. Great writing too. Nicely done, lovely lady! So glad you are continuing to have amazing experiences.

Joy said...

@Becca thanks dear! The photo of the ladies in the sun is one of my favorites too. I wish I had a better lens so I could get close-up photos without being so intrusive. =)

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Ilya said...

I can just imagine the tea man on the bicycle.

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The food looks delicious

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