By Nan Mackenzie
Lunch at the Vouni Panayia winery offers visitors a rather special package of delights, and for those with a love of wine it’s literally a meal awash with the fruit of grape as the cost of the lunch includes a bottle of wine for each two diners.
You can for an incredibly modest €20 per head sit down to eat good, wholesome, fresh food while simultaneously trying to drink the winery dry. A feat indeed, as seven different varieties of wines are available to sample with thousands of litres of wine nestling quietly in the cellars beneath the restaurant area. So no how matter how large or enthusiastic your group of quaffers, they would be hard pushed to cause owner Andreas Kyriakides any serious worries considering he is currently storing the liquid reserves gleaned from his 25 hectares of vines.
In essence having lunch here is to relish honest, traditional-style dishes cooked by Andreas’ wife Themoula, while experiencing a true sense of place, for you could be nowhere else in the world other than Cyprus; the wine, the food, the utter lack of pomposity or preciousness when being given a tour of the winery. And this not forgetting the fantastic setting as you sit glass in hand and look out over a panoramic view from the dining area that, as you are now 1,000m above sea level, delivers all the way to the rugged mountains of the Akamas and the Polis coastline.
One gentleman seated at the table next to us did say that on a clear day it was possible to also view the coastline of Turkey. Considering he was on his second bottle of full bodied Barba Yiannis, I have take that statement with a wee bit of sea salt.
The cooking is straight out of the Cypriot housewive’s hymn book so no surprises in being offered perfect grilled halloumi made locally in the village, or a plate of fresh grass green leaves that had been handpicked that morning from the vegetable garden. A platter of equally perfect pilaf (porgouri) followed which partnered the deep fried chicken with wild mushrooms, local made sausage, soup, pork chops, and a plate of roasties, loads of bread and lashings of salad. Finally, a Moorish bread pudding that would make any classic sticky toffee version pale into insignificance. These all (mercifully) managed to soak up the contents of our ever full glasses which seemed to just slip down a treat.
The menu however does change as it’s seasonal, so expect different vegetables and main dishes throughout the year, and you don’t have to always stick to a set meze meal. If you only desire one dish, then you can select from the short but again very traditional menu. However the restaurant is only open when advance reservations are made – you have been warned!
This is a genuinely super place to take friends and family if you wish to introduce them to a real taste of Cyprus cooking and quality wine, with the added bonus being it’s a lovely drive all the way up to the winery. How to get there: from Paphos take the Polis road and travel on through Mesogi until you reach the outskirts of Stroumbi, turn right just after the garage which is on your left, onwards and upwards through the villages of Polemi, and Kannaviou, pass the Kannaviou dam then Asprogia, on the next bend there is the winery sitting on the corner of a sharp bend. You can also take the alternative route which is turning off at Achelia, onto Ayia Varvara, Amargetti, Pentalia, Statos Fotios, past the Chrysoroyatissa Monastery on your left then through Panayia down the hill and the winery is then on your left.
SPECIALTY Traditional Cypriot
WHERE Vouni Panayia winery, Paphos
PRICE meze lunch with one bottle of wine for two €20
WHEN Lunch served from 12-4pm (winery is open from 8am-6pm) seven days a week. Advance reservations necessary
CONTACT 26 722770, 99 453138, www.vounipanayiawinery.com