I’m back from a week in Turkey and thought I'd share some dishes that blew me away.
In part 58 of my stupidly overstretched 40th celebrations we took off to Kalkan, an old fishing town on the Mediterranean coast. Kalkan is popular with tourists, busy but still charming – lots of white washed houses perched on steep hills overlooking the sea, and bright pink bougainvillea everywhere.
I had an idea about the basics of Turkish food having lived in Stoke Newington, North London, where there are loads of fantastic restaurants. More recently I did a course at the lovely Demuths Cookery School in Bath where the tutor explained about all the neighbouring countries that influence Turkish dishes.
Meals usually started with shared mixed mezze followed (for any superhuman that could still manage it) by a main course. The food reminded me a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes but to the joy of my carnivore husband, there was more emphasis on grilled meat.
Huge warm and puffy pitta covered in black & white sesame seeds. The waiter warned us in the strictest terms not to overeat the mezze. Then he plonked this in front of us.
Haydari & ezme
Haydari is a yoghurt and garlic dip served with lots and lots of dill. Ezme is an amazing tomato and pepper salad that we were served almost everywhere we went. It added zing to meat, fish, salads and veg. These two dips went perfectly together, as the yoghurt offset the ezme that could sometimes get a bit punchy. The Turks really love their hot pepper.
Street snack from the gods
Raw fresh almonds on ice. Seriously, does it get any better when you're hungry and sweltering?
Meat and fish
Whether red meat or seafood, everything to was cooked to perfection and usually barbequed.
Everything we ate was varied and usually great, especially when we ventured a bit further from the main tourist haunts. The whole experience was made even better by the unrelenting kindness of the locals - we encountered nothing but smiles and friendly faces.
Turkey you rock. I will be back.