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11 Days Turkish Flavours Culinary Vacations in Turkey

11 Days Turkish Flavours Culinary Vacations in Turkey

  • Istanbul - Cappadocia - Izmir - Urla - Alaçatı - Ephesus - Bodrum

Culinary Holidays in Turkey

Variety is the spice of life, spice up your holidays with Turkish Flavours! Experience Turkey through the eyes, lives and tastes of its people. Sample its diverse food and culture. Meet local people and share their stories, cuisine and passion for living - like you have never done before. Visit local markets and ethnic restaurants and delight in the sounds and sights at the meeting of two continents.

Highlights

  • 4 cooking classes, 3 market visits
  • Restaurant visits, food manufacturer tour
  • Visit spice bazaar, open-air street market, farmers market
  • Wine tasting in Cappadocia, cooking classes in a Turkish home
  • Visit Unesco historic sites, museums, parks
  • 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 8 dinners
  • 10 nights luxury accommodation
  • 6 days with instruction
  • English
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10 Karaky Hotel, Istanbul - 4 nights

One of the most vibrant districts in the heart of Istanbul, 10 Karaky, is a luxury boutique hotel where history meets modernity. The hotel is a historic property built in neo-classical style and has been reimagined and designed in collaboration with award-winning architect Sinan Kafadar to bring a fresh, modern vibe to the dynamic energy of Karaky. A perfect location for special events, dining and entertaining.

Esbelli Evi Cave Hotel and Suites, Cappadocia - 2 nights

A fine small inn of comfortable cave rooms hewn from the golden stone, with beautiful views of the Cappadocian landscape. Today Esbelli Evi has 10 spacious suites and four standard guest rooms, as well as several pleasant stone terraces with sweeping views. Self-serve café-bar is open 24 hours a day, living room with a piano, scanning and printing services, concierge service, free Wi-Fi, free parking.

Beyevi Alaat Hotel, Alaat - 2 nights

Beyevi has a unique atmosphere, as it has been able to combine the features of the past with the comfort of today. We have a nice café on the most popular street of Alaat and social liveliness is available. No matter which room you prefer, you will have the same standard at Beyevi. Our hotel is designed by making sure that comfort and richness is integrated to the historical values of the city.

Lugga Boutique Hotel and Beach, Bodrum - 2 nights

Located in Ortakent shores of Bodrum, Lugga has an outdoor pool and private beach area. It offers air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen TV, minibar and sea views. All rooms come with a balcony or a terrace. A safe is standard. Daily breakfast is served. There are also many eateries on the seafront, where you can taste Aegean dishes and fresh seafood. The hotel is ideal for relaxation and fun.

Day 1: Arrival

  • Arrive at Istanbul, Atatrk International Airport, where you will be met by our representative and taken to your hotel.
  • Welcome dinner at one of Istanbul's renowned restaurants.
  • Overnight Istanbul.
  • Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2: Istanbul

  • Today you will visit the Blue Mosque.
  • You will visit The Palace Kitchens, Helvahane and Quarters, and learn about our culinary culture of 400 years.
  • For lunch you will taste delicious kofte -meatballs- at a specialized restaurant operating since 1920.
  • After lunch, we will visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque.
  • Then we will drive to the pier for our cruise on the Bosphorus.
  • Upon disembarkation you will proceed to Selins home to enjoy a hands- on cooking class learning to cook home-style, family recipes and taste what you have cooked. A truly unique opportunity to experience Turkish hospitality and Istanbul home life.
  • Overnight in Istanbul.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Istanbul

  • Today we will take you on a tour of Istanbul's Byzantine iconic monuments.
  • After lunch, you will visit the St. Savior in Chora Museum, known for its magnificent mosaics and frescoes dating from the 11th to the 14th centuries.
  • Last, you will continue to explore ninety-two streets of the famous Grand Bazaar.
  • Dinner will be at one of Istanbul's popular restaurants.
  • Overnight in Istanbul.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Istanbul - Cappadocia

  • Today you with a walk through the Spice Bazaar, explore the famous open-air street market of Kadko, and explore the many pastry shops, Turkish delight and deli stores and the aromatic spice stands.
  • Lunch will be at reknown Ciya Restaurant where you will taste best samples of Anatolian Cuisine.
  • After lunch we will head to the airport for our flight to Cappadocia.
  • You will be transferred to our cave hotel upon arrival.
  • A light dinner will be served at Ziggy's Restaurant.
  • Overnight at Esbelli Evi.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Cappadocia

  • In Cappadocia we will focus on the very particular culture and foods of Anatolia.
  • Today we will be cooking lunch in a village home with a local family.
  • After lunch, we will introduce you to the lunar landscape of Cappadocia at Dervent Valley, and then head to the Zelve Open Air Museum.
  • Seeing the best examples of the fairy chimneys at Pasabag Fairy Chimneys Valley, we drive further to Avanos.
  • At Avanos, you will see a demonstration of pottery making in a traditional workshop. Then we will try our hands at it under the supervision of a master potter.
  • This is also a great spot to shop for pottery.
  • Before dinner we will stop at a winery.
  • Dinner will be at Muti Restaurant.
  • Overnight at Esbelli Evi.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Cappadocia - Izmir

  • After breakfast you will continue your day with a hike in the picturesque Red Valley.
  • Then make your way back to the famous Goreme Open Air Museum.
  • After lunch, in a local restaurant, you will then explore the underground city of Kaymakli, one of the largest and deepest of Cappadocia's many such settlements.
  • Then while sipping your wine you will enjoy a demonstration and explanation of Turkish carpet making techniques, symbols and different types of carpets, and get the chance to buy some of these works of art.
  • Today we will take a late afternoon flight to Izmir and drive to Alacati.
  • Overnight Alacati Beyevi Hotel or similar.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch

Day 7: Alcati - Urla - Alcati

  • In the morning, you will visit a fruit and vegetable farmers market where all produce is freshly picked in the early morning. Here we will choose our seasonal produce.
  • Next you will stop at a local producer for olive oil and fresh goat cheese tasting and continue to our culinary experts Urla style home.
  • After cooking a dish from the menu, we will sit down and enjoy a family style lunch including the dish we prepared, accompanied by a selection of award winning local wines while enjoying the wonderful views of the region.
  • After lunch walking through the Arts Street featuring ceramic, mosaic, woodworking and painting studios, you will enjoy the artwork along with 150 year old stone buildings and the narrow streets of central Urla.
  • We will drive you to your hotel after the Urla culinary experience.
  • You will have the rest of the day to relax or explore the cobblestoned streets of this quaint seaside resort, winding between the stone buildings, and settle down in one of the village squares coffeehouses to chill out.
  • For dinner we will enjoy an Aegean style dinner prepared with the freshest ingredients and seasonal edible greens.
  • Overnight in Alacati Beyevi Hotel or similar.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Alcati - Ephesus Bordum

  • After an early breakfast we will proceed to visit the ancient archaeological ruins of Ephesus, featuring the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of ancient world.
  • We will then proceed for lunch in an ecological farm that houses the best restaurant in the area and visit the Oleatrium, an Olive and Olive Oil Museum where we will be travelling 2500 years in time.
  • After having a delectable feast, we will take you around the farm so you will see how they dry their vegetables under the sun, how they make tomato, pepper paste, pomegranate molasses and the making of many different organic jams.
  • The farm tour will end at the museum where you will see how mankind first discovered that olives were edible and how olive oil was used from the beginning of time until today.
  • Overnight in Lugga Hotel or similar.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch

Day 9: Bordum

  • Today, after a delicious homemade breakfast with freshly baked bread, olives, honey, kaymak (rich clotted cream) jams, cheeses (cow and goat),eggs and sausage in a village nearby, we will go around the bays of Bodrum on a typical Turkish wooden yacht.
  • A delicious lunch will be prepared for you on board our boat.
  • After the cruise we will return to the hotel.
  • Dinner at one of Bodrum's popular restaurants.
  • Overnight in Lugga Hotel or similar.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Bordum

  • In the morning, we will stop at a Turkish Delight manufacturer to watch a demo on Satsuma Orange and Tangerine Turkish Delight production.
  • Then we will proceed to our cooking class at Erenler Sofrasi where you will be guided through the delicious secrets of regional Aegean cookery with its accent on olive oil and fresh herbs.
  • You will then taste what you have prepared at a sumptuous lunch.
  • The rest of the afternoon will be free for discovering the center of Bodrum.
  • We will take a late flight to Istanbul.
  • Overnight Istanbul.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11: Departure

  • You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
  • Meal plan: Breakfast

Culture tour, Istanbul (day 2)

The Blue Mosque, a famous 17th century mosque that dominates the Istanbul skyline,Topkap Palacethe residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. It is located on the promontory jutting out between the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. This setting provides a magnificent view.

Topkap Palace, completed between 1465 and 1478. Being the imperial residence of the sultan, his court and harem, the palace was also the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire. In the Treasury section, you will see the 7th biggest diamond in the world, the Spoonmakers Diamond and the Harem is a vast labyrinth of rooms and corridors once occupied by the black eunuchs, concubines, the Sultans mother and the Sultan himself. The Palace Kitchens comprised of buildings arranged along a 170 meter-long courtyard / street in the 2nd courtyard of the Palace facing the Sea of Marmara appear as a separate neighbourhood with their attachments.

Rustem Pasha Mosque, another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, the Rustem Pasha Mosque was built in 1561 on the orders of Rustem Pasha, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and superbly proportioned interior.

Byzantine iconic monuments, Istanbul (day 3)

Hagia Sophia, the church of the Divine Wisdom, which was a church (circa 548 AD), then a mosque and now a museum.

The Underground Cistern built by Emperor Justinian to provide water for the city of Constantinople. It is difficult to describe the beauty and uniqueness of this experience.

Foodie tour, market visits, Istanbul (day 4)

Today you with a walk through the Spice Bazaar, an extensive market which was built in the 17th century to finance the upkeep of the nearby mosque - Yeni Cami. The bazaar is often referred to as the "Egyptian Market" due to the fact that spices used to come to the market from India and Southeast Asia via Egypt.

Take a ferry ride to the other side of the river that separates the European and Asian parts of Istanbul to explore the famous open-air street market of Kadkoy. Notice the big difference in atmosphere between the Spice Market and the Kadkoy which is more in tune with the way most people in Istanbul cook and eat.

Indulge yourself in the huge variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, with plenty to discover for the "foodie." Feel the real bazaar shopping experience with the fishmongers, bakers, butchers and grocers singing out to attract you to their stall. Take your time and explore the many pastry shops, Turkish delight and deli stores and the aromatic spice stands. There is plenty to see and buy, with information and recommendations available.

Anatolian food and wine tour, Cappadocia (day 5)

A local family will show us how to make lentil patties stuffed vine leaves and manti, a traditional dish whose heritage stretches back in to the Central Asian origins of modern Turkey. Taste what you have cooked in thins local village home for lunch.

Before dinner, we will visit a winery. This is the biggest and oldest winery (since 1943) in Cappadocia. We will tour the winery while tasting their local wines. The Okuzgozu- Bogazkere combinations (grapes native to Turkey) are quite promising. The family-operated winery is located underground, carved in natural rock. This natural cellar also provides excellent storage conditions for the wine.

Museum visit, arts and crafts tour, Cappadocia (day 5)

Zelve Open Air Museum, which is one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements of Cappadocia. Situated in Nevsehir province, Zelve houses the most number of the world-famous Fairy Chimneys. Zelve is an important Christian center since it is the place where the first religious seminars for priests were held. Built on the hillsides, Zelve spans three valleys. The first settlements were carved into rocks and Direkli Church is one of the first monasteries around.

Avanos Pottery, the most famous historical feature of Avanos, is still relevant and very visible today; it is also the most economic activity in the town. The ceramic trade in this district and its countless pottery factories date right back to the Hittites, and the ceramic clay from the red silt of the Kzlrmak has always been used. It is a popular destination because of its attractive old town with cobbled streets, and views over the river.

Unesco trip, Goreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia (day 6)

In a spectacular landscape, entirely sculpted by erosion, the Greme valley and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries with frescoes and paintings that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground towns - the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century - can also be seen there.

Archeological tour, Ephesus and temple of Artemis, Izmir (day 8)

Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometers southwest of present-day Seluk in zmir Province, Turkey.

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Food lecture, Oleatrium olive oil museum, Kusadasi (day 8)

This exhibition gallery is formed to reflect the connection of olive and olive oil culture of the land we live with the olives Anatolian and Mediterranean history; to leave as heritage sharing and making sense to the future.

Oleatrium means the great hall where olives are exhibited. We are travelling through a 2500 years time. We are entering a time tunnel formed of totally 11 parts.

Alaat

Alaat is an Aegean town on the western coast of zmir Province in Turkey, which has been famous for its architecture, vineyards and windmills for over 150 years. It has now made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water, consistent and steady wind and well acclaimed hospitality. Alacati is one of the most authentic towns in Turkey with stone houses, narrow streets, boutique hotels and restaurants with tables on the streets.

Bodrum

Bodrum is a district and a port city in Mula Province, in the southwestern Aegean Region of Turkey. It is located on the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula, at a point that checks the entry into the Gulf of Gkova, and is also the center of the eponymous district.

Cappadocia

Derived from the ancient Hittite word Katpatuka, Cappadocia is commonly believed to mean Land of the Beautiful Horses, and it is a fitting tribute. These days Cappadocia is more celebrated for its lava-sculpted topography and dawn skyline dappled with hot air balloons than horses, but historically the region was renowned for its deep equine connections.

Ephesus

Ephesus is the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region, and one of Turkey's top sights along Istanbul and Cappadocia. The ancient city of Ephesus, located near the Aegean Sea in modern day Turkey, was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor and home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, especially for travelers on Mediterranean cruises.

Istanbul

Istanbul, the only city in the world built on two continents, provides a unique link between East and West. The guardian of the treasures of three great empires, Napoleon once said that if the world were a single state then its capital would be Constantinople. Even today, amid the traffic-choked streets of modern Istanbul, among the high-rises, the steep alleys and the glowing ancient churches and mosques, you can still feel exactly what he meant.

Izmir

The pearl of the west, is Turkey's third largest city and one of the most important port cities. It has a great nature and a rich historical and cultural heritage. Also known as Old Izmir, Smyrna, built on an islet of hundred acres flourished into a great center oF civilization over time. Established about 8500 years ago, the city is now home to a variety of world heritages. Ephesus with its architectural and cultural landmarks is one of the most visited regions near to Selcuk in Izmir province.

Everywhere you turn in Turkey there is something delicious to eat, including street food, such as bread rings covered in sesame seeds, deep fried mussels with a garlic rich sauce, warm roasted almonds and pistachio nuts, pastries bathed in syrup, divine milky desserts, and chewy ice creams. In addition, Every town and city has a market where you will find a wealth of fresh seasonal produce, such as plump olives and crunchy pickles, fresh figs, ruby red pomegranates, juicy ripe peaches, pungent spices, and fresh leafy herbs, which are sold like bunches of flowers.

While the food and cooking of Turkey is, inevitably, shaped by its diverse geography and climate, it could be said that the country's turbulent history has also played a key role in shaping the cuisine. Constantly in flux, the culinary traditions embody the many cultures that have had an impact on Turkish life over the centuries. These include ancient Persian and Arab practices that have been handed down from generation to generation; the influences of Islam and the Ottoman Empire and today, the growth of urbanization and tourism.

Istanbul, the culinary center

To get a taste of Turkey, Istanbul is the place to be. All roads lead to this majestic city and many Turks migrate here from all over the country, taking with them their own culinary traditions and local flavours. As a result the city is unique, never failing to surprise and tantalize, as it brings together ingredients, techniques and dishes from even the most far flung corners of the country. Day and night, Istanbul is intoxicatingly alive, with the endless street and water traffic, the honking of horns, the resonant call to prayer, and the alluring smell of food cooking in every street.

Here it is possible to taste red peppers from Gaziantep, tart green olives from Bodrum, dried apricots from Cappadocia, anchovy pilaf from Trabzon, spicy kebabs from Adana, the mildly hallucinogenic honey from Kars (from bees that feed on opium poppies), and a tempting array of soothing, creamy milk desserts and succulent, syrupy pastries, which originated in the Ottoman Palace kitchens and remain popular today. You can dine in style in the many restaurants and street cafés. Food, people, and Istanbul is a superb combination!

Culinary history of Turkey

Early origins: the early ancestors of modern day Turks originated in the Altay mountains in Central Asia. When the nomads arrived in Anatolia, the region already had its own rich culinary heritage, influenced by the Hittites, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols and the Crusaders who had passed through the region. The legacy of these influences was a cuisine that survived until today and can still be found among the Kazan and Tartar communities in central Anatolia. Some of the early dishes that have survived include mant - a noodle dough, yufka - thin sheets of flat bread, and tarhana - fermented dried curds that are used for making a traditional soup.

Impact of Islam: During this era there was a cultural awakening throughout the Middle East, as the seafaring Arabs brought back silk and porcelain from China, ivory and gold from East Africa, and spices from the East Indies. With the arrival of spices came a great deal of culinary creativity and the advent of instructive literature on recipes, etiquette and the health properties of certain foods. All of which had an impact on the cuisine of Turkey. Around the same time, Mahmud al Kashgari wrote the first important document, a Turkish Arabic dictionary, which detailed and recorded aspects of the cuisine and their cooking methods for recipes such as yufka and mant.

Seljuk period: By the 11th century, the nomadic Turks had formed a warrior aristocracy, which resulted in the establishment of the Seljuk Empire. The culinary culture at this time was influenced by the sophisticated cuisine of Persia. Many important aspects of this food culture were recorded by the poet and mystic, Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. Among the recipes listed in his works are dishes consisting of meat cooked with a variety of vegetables. His writings also reveal the abundance of produce that was available at the time, such as marrows (large zucchini), celeriac, onions, garlic, chickpeas, lentils, apples, quince, melons and watermelons, dates, walnuts, almonds, yogurt, and cheese.

Melevi order: Following the death of Mevlana in 1273 the Mevlevi Order (of whirling dervish fame) was founded. They established strict rules of kitchen conduct and table manners, most of which are still adhered to in modern Turkish society. In their teachings, the kitchen was regarded as a sacred hearth and it was there that new apprentices matured and learned under the Master Cook, the Sheikh Cook, and the Sheikh Stoker. Mevlanas personal cook Ate Baz- Veli was buried in an impressive Mausoleum, a privilege usually reserved for royalty. Now a shrine for gastronomic pilgrims, it is said that if you remove a pinch of the salt from around the mausoleum, your cooking will be blessed.

Ottoman period: The most significant change in Turkish Cuisine came about during the Ottoman Empire. Once Constantinople (now Istanbul) was conquered by Mehmet II in 1453, the Topkap Palace became the center of the Empire and all culinary activity. By this time the Turks had developed a sophisticated cuisine, which merged traditional nomadic traditions with new techniques and ingredients from Persia. Mehmet II was a gourmet of the highest order with a penchant for indulging in lavish feasts. As the Ottoman Empire expanded its territories, it also increased its culinary repertoire by adopting the recipes it encountered in the Balkans, the Mediterranean region, North Africa and much of the Arab world.

Spices, herbs, and flavourings in the Turkish cuisine

During the Golden Age of Islam, with Mecca as the religious centre and Baghdad the capital, the cooking of the Middle East flourished. Arab ships sailed to China for silk and porcelaine and to the East Indies for spices. The cooking of the region as a whole soon altered as these spices and flavourings arrived at the markets of Egypt, Constantinople and Venice. Empires traded with one another, or imposed their tastes on the lands they conquered. As the ancient ying and yang theories of China filtered through to the Seljuk Empire, a belief balancing the warming and cooling properties of certain foods developed in the traditional Turkish Kitchen and set the course for many dishes.

Warming spices such as cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and Turkish red pepper are believed to induce appetite and aid digestion; generous quantities of fresh herbs, particularly mint, dill and flat leave parsley, are often mixed together as a warming triad to balance the cooling properties of some vegetable dishes and salads. Pungent garlic, which is used liberally in Eastern and Southern Anatolia but is added in subtle amounts to Ottoman Palace dishes,is believed to be beneficial for the healthy circulation of the blood.

Turkish spices

All spice (Yeni Bahar): Dried reddish-brown allspice berries originally came to Constantinople from the New World during the Ottoman Spanish alliance and are therefore known as Yeni bahar ,New Spice.Its principal role is to flavour the aromatic rice that is used to stuff vegetables, fruit, mussels and small poultry.

Aniseed (Anason): The most important role of aniseed is in the flavouring of Rak.

Cinnamon (Tarn): Brought to the region from the Spice Islands by Arab traders, cinnamon quickly became absorbed in to the Turkish culinary culture. The Turks use ground cinnamon in a number of minced ground lamb dishes such as kfte and musakka, and vegetable stews. It is used to flavour rice dishes such as i pilav and is also sprinkled over milk puddings and the hot orchid - root drink, salep.

Cloves (Karanfil): Crushed or whole,cloves are mainly used in meat casseroles, sweets, breads and pastries. Whole cloves are chewed to freshen the breath.

Cumin (Kimyon): Believed to aid digestion cumin is used in number of dishes that might cause a degree of indegistion or flatulence, such as pulse dishes and some vegetable stews. Cumin is also one of the principal flavourings of sucuk, the cured sausage, and its combined with fenugreek and krmz biber in emen, the paste that coats the cured beef fillet, pastrma.

Dill (Dereotu): With long feathery fronds, fresh dill is used both as a garnish and a traditional flavouring in many Turkish dishes. Chopped it is added to a number of meze and vegetable dishes, Such as the Palace Zeytinyagl (olive oil) dishes. Dill is often combined with mint and flat leaf parsley in the cheese filling for savoury pastries.

Flat leaf parsley (Maydanoz): Coarsely chopped, it is added to numerous meze dishes and salads, such as the popular shepherds salad and it is often served in its own with fish or meat kebabs. Parsley is also married with dill and mint for the cheese filling of savoury pastries. When it is used as a garnish,flat leaf parsley is intended to be eaten to heighten the appetite or temper the flavours, and small bunches of parsley always accompany fiery dishes with the idea that you chew on the leaves to cut the spice.

Kfte spice (Meat ball spice): Ground sweet red pepper, ground hot red pepper, ground black red pepper, ground cumin, dried oregano, dried mint

Mastic (Mastika): This is the aromatic gum from a tree that grows wild in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. The blobs of sticky gum are collected from the tree and used for the delicious resinious flavour and chewy tang they impart to dishes. It is mainly used in milk desserts and in the famous snowy white, chewy ice cream from Istanbul.

Mint (Nane): Both fresh and dried leaves of mint are used in meze dishes. The dried leaves are used in tea, in the traditional soup, yayla orbas, and in several thick meze dips such as haydari, a popular yogurt,mint and garlic dip.

Nigella (reotu): In Turkey, nigella is most commonly associated with rek a sweet bun. It is sometimes inaccurately referred to as black cumin.The little black seeds give a lift to many breads and buns such as pide.They are occasionally tossed in salads and sprinkled over cheese.

Oregano (Kekik) and thyme (Da Kekii): Fresh oregano leaves are sometimes scattered over white cheese or tossed in salads but, generally, the herb is sun dried and crumbled or finely chopped. It is the favourite herb to scatter over roasted or grilled (broiled) lamb. Both dried oregano and thyme are popular herbs for flavoring the marinades prepared for olives as they retain their flavor and texture in the olive oil,and they are scattered over savory breads.

Red pepper (Pul Biber): In essence krmz biber is a red pepper,a type of horn chilli that came originally from the New World, but has grown in Turkey for several centuries and is regarded with pride.In fact you could say that it is the national spice. Roughly chopped, crushed and flaked,or groundin to a powder, it ranges from vermilion colour to a deep,blood red,and its almost black when roasted. At its hottest it is known as pul biber, which is very finely ground and used sparingly. The best quality form is sold rady oiled, so that impacts its flavour immediately, even in uncooked dishes. Nothing tastes quite like the real thing but in recipes can be replaced by paprika or fresh red chilli.

Saffron (Safran): Cultivated in Turkey and neighbouring Iran, saffron is the dye contained in the dried stigmas of the purple crocus, which flowers for only two weeks in October. It requires a staggering number of flowers (roughly 10,000) to yield a mere 50 g(2oz) of saffron- hence the high price. Used mainly in milk desserts and ice cream, saffron is occasionaly used in savoury dishes in Turkey, but its key role is in Zerde, a special jelly like rice dessert that is often prepared for wedding feasts. Turkish Saffron is an imitation saffron made from wild flowers in the southeast of Turkey. It looks similar but doesnt have a great deal of flavour. It is mainly used for its color in a few rice dishes and in hot yogurt soup.

Sesame seeds (Susam): Sesame seeds are pounded into a thick oily paste, tahin, which is used in sauces and fillings and is spread on bread when sweetened and lubricated with pekmez (grape molasses). The seeds are also sprinkled on simit-bread rings.

Sumac (Sumak): A deep red condiment, sumac is made by crushing and grinding the dried berries of a wild bush that grows in Anatolia and parts of the Middle East. The ground spice has a fruity, sour taste and is used sprinkled liberally over grilled meats ,fish and salads. Long before the arrival of lemons in Turkey and the Middle East, sumac was used as one of the principal souring agents, along with juice of sour pomegranates, to season, flavor and preserve a variety of foods. When eating in Turkey today, particularly in a kebab house or a specialist lokanta (small restaurant) for grilled chicken, fish, pastries and lahmacun (Anatolian pizza), small bowls of ground sumac, are often placed on the table as a principal condiment, with dried oregano and krmz biber.

Traditional Turkish drinks

Boza: In the winter, one of the traditional drinks is Boza a thick mixture made from fermented bulgurwheat and sprinkled cinnamon.

Raki: The favourite alcoholic drink in Turkey is the aniseed - flavoured drink rak, which turns cloudy when water is added and is often referred to as lions milk. It is traditionally a mans drink although many women enjoy it too and it is the preferred drink to go with meze and fish.

Rak can be drunk in three ways: neat as a shot; served in a tall glass with ice to which water is added, or served in two glasses, one containing a measure of rak, the other filled with water; both glasses are drunk alternately with ice.

Salep: A popular drink in the cold months of the winter is Salep made from ground orchid root. Thick, milky and sweet,dusted with a little cinnamon, it is warming and nourishing.

Turkish cuisine classifications

Breads, and boreks; Mostly with wheat, in rual areas with other grains.Pita, tandir (clay oven) bread, flat bread (unleavened) baked on sac (griddle) are some kinds.Olives, walnuts, tahini, cheese, meat are often added to bread for flavor and texture. Boreks are prepared by Rolling out the dough with the Rolling pin into desired size circle and filled with either by cheese parsley mix, or ground meat onion mix, or spinach, and shaped into thin packets of pastry, and fried. Or as in lasagna, rolled out thin dough is layered with different fillings mentioned abve, and baked in the oven.

Desserts; can be dough /flour based, milk based, fruit based, rice based. These desserts can be enriched-flavored by the addition of one ofthem; pistachio nuts, walnuts, rose water, saffron , cinnamon, cloves cheese or clotted cream.

Dolma, stuffed vegetables; Zucchinis, eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, are stuffed with rice or with bulgur; one may add ground meat to the stuffing if she likes vine leaves, Swiss chard or cabbage leaves are wrapped up with the same stuffing.

Drinks; ayran diluted yogurt drink, licorice tea, fruit based drinks/ sherbets such as rose, lemon, orange, sour cherry; tea, coffee and herbal teas such as linden tea, mint tea, boza; a fermented (of ground wheat, barley or millet) soup like beverage, salep; a drink prepared by milk, sugar and a starchy powder made by drying and pulverizing the root tubers of certain plants of the orchid family, orchis latifolia.

Fish and Seafood; Turkey is surrounded by the seas on three sides. All kinds of fishes from these three seas are consumed; by either grilling, frying, baking, or steaming depending on its variety.

Meat; is either consumed in grilled form alone or grilled with some vegetables/ fruits such as eggplants, quinces, onions, garlic, loquats, apples depending on the season and called kebabs; or it can be cooked with vegetables/ fruits in pan called stews/ yahni..

Mezes, appetizers; this list is endless; it can be a slice of melon with white cheese; beans cooked with olive oil, garlic and parsley; stewed mussels;black olives; boiled potato salad; tomato salad with roasted egglants; bulgur salad; phyllo cheese rolls etc.

Noodles and Pasta dishes; Home made vermicelli and noodles are stil prepared in Anatolian provinces. Manti a kind of dumpling or ravioli is prepared by Rolling out dough thin enough, cutting the rolled pastry into 1 inch quares, filling in the center by ground meat / chickpea size, pinching to seal, boiling, then serving with yogurt-garlic sauce with butter paprika topping.

Pilavs; mostly rice is used, but in folk cuisine bulgur is used due to availability.Either rice or bulgur is used;the pilav is always enriched by the addition of one or two of following ingredients.onions, tomato, currants, pine nuts, chestnuts, zucchini, enggplants, meat, liver etc.

Poultry; Nowadays cooks try to substitute chicken with red meat since scientists say white meat is healthier.But in olden times tasty free-range chickens were boiled; the chicken broth was to make deicious pilav/ rice, and the pieces of chicken was served with it. Or boiled chicken garnished with wlnut sauce; or chicken is stuffed with rice, liver, currants and pine nuts.

Soups; wheat and derivatives, rice legumes, seasonal vegatables, yourt are used.

Vegetables; any seasonal fresh one or two kinds vegetable is cooked with the addition of olive oil.

Essentials of Turkish cuisine: Aubergines

If one vegetable could sum up Turkey, it would be the aubergine. Originally from India, aubergines are sometimes referred to as the poor mans meat. They pop up everywhere, prepared and cooked in infinite ways. During the Ottoman period, The Topkap Palace alone was known to produce aubergines in forty different ways. Available all year round they range from bulbous and gourd-like to the long, slender variety which sometimes stretch to the length of a forearm. The rounder ones are good for grilling over charcoal, while the longer present a perfect shape for stuffing.

Many meze dishes require the softened flesh of grilled aubergines, which has a strong, smoky taste. To grill the aubergines are placed directly in the centre of a high gas flame.Before being fried, the aubergine is peeled lengthways in strips, like the stripes of a zebra,sliced or left whole and soaked in salted water for an hour to soften the flesh and remove the bitter juices. Strings of dried aubergines hang in the markets like chunky necklaces and once reconstituted in water, are stuffed with rice and cooked in olive oil or stuffed with minced meat. And from Antalya comes an usual speciality of aubergine jam which surprisingly tastes of.

Essentials of Turkish cuisine: Bulgur

"Bulgur" is probably the most authentic of all the food products of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is produced by grinding wheat after boiling and drying it. It has an almost 4.000 years old history and has reached its present form after having somehow found a place at the tables of almost all important civilizations of the area such as the Hittites, the Babylonians and the Romans. It has blended into the many different cultures belonging to different civilizations that have existed on a geography reaching from Syria and North Africa to the Balkans and living under the rule of the Ottomans for hundreds of years.

Regardless of where it has gone and how it has changed during the course of its long travels through historic time and place, one fact remains unchanged; just like wheat from whose line it descends, "bulgur" is a true Mediterranean possessing all the typical characteristics of the area. "Bulgur", which is the main ingredient of numerous delicious dishes, including the "kftes" (meat balls), the pilafs and the "sarmas (leaf rolls) in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, has basically two different types; the roughly ground one, called the "pilaf bulgur" and the finely ground one, called the "kfte bulgur".

The many different bulgur dishes which taste so different from one another are made of either one of these two. Some of these dishes happen to be the most easily prepared dishes of the Eastern Mediterranean, while some are among the most time consuming and painstaking recipes of the whole area. This fact is a result of a very striking feature of bulgur: Bulgur is actually a readymade product, Although it is possible to ornate and enrich its taste with various other ingredients, soaking it in hot water for a while is basically sufficient to make it edible. Bulgur also happens to be one of the most ritual-creating products on earth.

Essentials of Turkish cuisine: Tarhana

With high nutritional value, even used to feed armies, tarhana is one of the rare millennia-old foodstuffs that are still consumed today. Perhaps the worlds first dessicated soup, tarhana was invented by Central Asian Turks, inspired by the climate of the geography in which they lived. Its preparation is extremely easy. Just mix the dried (or doughy) mixture with water, add a little oil and tomato sauce, and boil. But of course the process of making tarhana before it reaches our kitchens is another story. Salt, mint and yoghurt are added to wheat flour, which is then cooked in a large cauldron.

When it has cooled slightly, a little more wheat flour and some yeast are added and the resulting mixture is kneaded. The mixture is then left to ferment, and largish portions of it are spread out on sheets to dry; later it is strained through a sieve, dried once more, and stored by hanging in gauze bags. All that remains for us is to boil up this tasty tarhana, made by hand by our aunties and grandmothers in the Anatolian towns of Kastamonu, Kahramanmara and Uak especially, and then to consume it with gusto. One thing we do know is that tarhana entered Balkan cuisine as well during the Ottoman period.

Legends are rife in Turkey concerning the meaning of the word tarhana. One of the most popular is that it derives from dar hane (literally, narrow house, in other words, house of little means). Legend has it that one day while on a military campaign the Sultan was a guest in the home of a poor peasant. Having little to offer, the resourceful peasant housewife quickly boiled up a soup. Embarrassed at having to make such a meager offering, she said, Dar hane soup is all I have to offer you, my liege. May you eat it with appetite!

In time this dar hane soup became known as tarhana. Because it is so easy to make and store, tarhana soon came to head the list of staple nourishments of both settled and nomadic peoples. A product of the summer sun and an abundant harvest, tarhana is served at every meal from breakfast to supper during the remainder of the year. Tarhana also was also a key component of the food rations supplied to the Seljuk and Ottoman imperial armies, and during the Gallipoli campaign in particular it provided the soldiers with the strength they needed.

Early morning optional balloon ride (day 6)

  • Transfer to the balloon launching site to meet the balloon crew.
  • The gentle and stable wind conditions are ideal during the first few hours of the day in Cappadocia. It is also the ideal time for photography, with splendid colours and contrasts. The deep canyons and gentle winds carry you over places that could never be reached except by balloon.
  • After flying over Cappadocia for about one hour, you will land to a champagne celebration!

Galata and Environs tour (pre or post tour)

  • After breakfast we will depart to visit the Galata Tower and its environs. We will have our morning tea at a typical café.
  • Towards the end of the 19th Century, the district of Beyolu-Pera was an elegant residential district mainly populated by the minorities and foreign diplomats. The very first stone and brick houses were built there.
  • This tour will also give you a chance to taste delicious Black Sea cuisine.
  • Half day tour with lunch.

Sailing to the Princes Island tour (pre or post tour)

  • Today we take you on a unique cruise in the Sea of Marmara to the Princes Islands aboard our sailboat as you enjoy the expansive view of Istanbuls shoreline.
  • After a one and a half hour sailing tour, we will dock at Burgaz, one of the prettiest of the Princes islands. The Princes islands are where Istanbullus go to escape hectic city life for a day. These islands are an oasis of peace and quiet where the only sounds you will hear are bicycle bells and the sounds of horse hoofs. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the main transportation on the islands.
  • We will have lunch at a dockside restaurant where the menu will include an assortment of mezes and fresh fish in season.
  • You can even have a swim at one of the creeks around the Princes Islands depending on the weather.
  • You will be transferred back to your hotel upon disembarking at the marina.
  • Full day tour with lunch.