It’s taken me some time to get this post up, largely due to laziness but truthfully I’ve been putting it off because by posting this I’ll have conceded that my holiday is well and truly over. SAD FACE.
I was in Cyprus (on what I consider my annual pilgrimage) sun-seeking, road-tripping and visiting friends and family. But most importantly I make this trip each year to visit my bapou, pictured below. He’s 93 going on 94 and as of today he is one of two left of his generation, which must be incredibly difficult for him. He’s the definition of a pessimist and longs for the good old days, specifically 1945 Nicosia when he was a 25 year old rum-drinking, cigarette-smoking vagabond. His nickname was ‘Nick the killer’, the reason behind this he avoids disclosing when I probe him for an explanation.
However these days he’s more concerned with when and not if I’ll be getting married.
During my stay I took a trip to visit friends near the North West peninsula, around 2.5 hours from the capital. When I got there I was greeted with the familiar smell of pine trees and sea air – something that makes this part of the island particularly special for me. We spent every summer here growing up, and going back there makes me fantastically nostalgic. I remember all of the old roads, the beaches with the made up names we’d use to identify them, the waves, the clarity of the water. That deep blue.
As a self-confessed lover/obsessor of food it’s no surprise that I get most excited about the amazing food and produce that I’ll eat during my stay. The sweetest, juiciest watermelon, fresh octopus grilled to perfection, fluffy pitta stuffed with succulent souvlaki, a simple village salad – it’s all incredible. But what I find is my first taste stop each time I arrive on the island is my beloved halloumi. And not the stuff you buy in the supermarkets here; real Cyprus halloumi made with sheep and goat’s milk. Try it once and you’ll never forget how incredible it is.
I landed late and just about caught the supermarket thanks in part to their extended opening hours (finally, they stay open later than 7pm!!!) and grabbed some local plums, garlic chives, tahini, lemons and halloumi. I didn’t really know what I was planning, but I went ahead and threw this salad together and found myself extremely pleased with the result. The saltiness and creaminess of halloumi teamed with the subtle sweetness of plums are good enough on their own, but add the nuttiness of sesame seeds and tahini into the mix and a kick of garlic and you’ve got yourself one plate of satisfaction.
I hope you enjoy this weird and wonderful flavour combination as much as I do!
Sesame Halloumi + Plum Salad with Garlic Chives
1 block of halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 ripe plums, cut into wedges
A few garlic chives, roughly chopped
For the tahini dressing:
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Coat the halloumi as best as you can with the sesame seeds. Heat some oil in a frying pan and grill the cheese on each side until golden.
Meanwhile mix together the ingredients for the tahini dressing, adding a little warm water to loosen the consistency. Season with salt to taste.
Plate the grilled halloumi with the plum slices and season with salt and a little pepper. Sprinkle over the garlic chives and drizzle over the tahini dressing.