Turkish delights

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.

Some highlights:

Lavash bread

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.

Lavash bread, about to be devoured by hubby and sis.

Lavash bread, about to be devoured by hubby and sis.

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.

Turkish mezze: always fresh and always fabulous

Turkish mezze: always fresh and always fabulous

Hot pepper sauce. Really very hot, and especially good in a Bloody Mary

Hot pepper sauce. Really very hot, and especially good in a Bloody Mary

Street snack from the gods

Raw fresh almonds on ice. Seriously, does it get any better when you're hungry and sweltering?

Fresh chilled almonds

Fresh chilled almonds

Meat and fish

Whether red meat or seafood, everything to was cooked to perfection and usually barbequed.

Lamb rolls with tomatoes, charred chillies, yoghurt and pistachios

Lamb rolls with tomatoes, charred chillies, yoghurt and pistachios

Smiley chef at the fabulous grill house Hunkar Ocakbasi

Smiley chef at the fabulous grill house Hunkar Ocakbasi

Best EVER grilled octopus at Turkuaz Meyhane, Kas, marinated in teriyaki and oyster sauce.

Best EVER grilled octopus at Turkuaz Meyhane, Kas, marinated in teriyaki and oyster sauce.

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.