Apologies for the short hiatus but we've been busy these last two-weeks running and teaching a yoga-holiday on the Kabak coast of Southern Turkey. To make up for the gap in your general media-enjoyment here are a selection of the best photos we took. As usual, most of the subjects were food-dishes but this one slipped in of our group enjoying dinner one-night at the retreat.
Food at the retreat was fresh and simple village-style cooking. Breakfast was one of the highlight as a traditional Turkish breakfast is composed of bountiful plates of fruit (the figs in the foreground just dripped from every tree you came across there) tomatoes, olives, a fresh-cheese, nuts, tahini, and various jams, spreads and honey with breads. The tahini was made fresh up the road and they mix it here with Pekmez which is like a syrup made of grapes or mulberries. Just fantastic. Funnily enough though, tahini is just limited to breakfast; where it almost always features, but doesn't get a look in the rest of their cuisine as it does in the Middle-East. Not even in their hummus!
This was a typical stew served at lunch. A kind of Turkish Ratatouille, but a little more spicy, all the ingredients used were always grown locally, so it didn't take much to create really spectacular meals. I particularly liked the kind of rustic 'cauldron' this was served up in so took the photo, but there were many variations on this theme and all very tasty. When cooked well I will never get sick of aubergines.
To accompany lunches the cook would make large flatbreads from a locally milled wholemeal flour. She didn't speak great English so I never got to quiz her so much, but I observed her rolling and baking the breads in the way they have always done, over a wood fire. They were so incredibly thin and light, perfect for wrapping around mouthfuls of aubergine stew and yogurt...
Simits. What more needs to be said if you've ever visited Turkey. If you haven't, they're a little like a bagel but with a crispier outside coated in sesame seeds. Inside they;re chewy and often eaten alone with the never ending Turkish teas for breakfast or with a soft cheese or tahini/jam combination. They are still sold on the street by hawkers or in little carts. This was one stipulation for Turkey to join the EU that they had to get the selling of Simits off the streets. I hope they stay out. It's so real and evocative seeing life go on in the streets in this way and something we really lack now back in the UK.
You generally get Ayran in a plastic container now, but some places still make it fresh out of homemade yoghurt whipped with a little salt and water. One of my absolute favourite drinks, it's like a grown-up milkshake, tart, tangy and refreshing.
Before we left we were lucky enough to be informed by the waiter of our favourite Turkish restaurant at home that their's was a "Lokantashi", a more informal dining experience of simple Mezes', breads and Kebabs. Fortunate for us we took note of this and then spied the signs for "Lokantashi" on the streets of Fetiye. We stumbled upon a couple of great ones where we ate a serious amount of food for about 6 pound in total. We would go there for a large brunch at about 11am. Only locals eat there and they must of thought us pretty weird eating rice and lentil soups in this quantity at this time.
This was the kind of view that we looked out on at Kabak where we held our 2 weeks yoga-retreat. The mountains are quite sheer down to the sea and often the beaches can only be reached by boat unless you want quite a serious hike down the mountain.
This was actually the view from the terrace of one restaurant we went to or lunch. We actually started with coffee (and an Ayran - the taking of the two together caused some raised eyebrows). The coffee usually comes with Lokum or "Turkish Delight", usually mint.
That day we ordered a range of Meze, but the most interesting, non-standard choice on the menu was this red-pepper/tomato dip. As far as I could see it was red pepper, tomato, cucumber, olive oil, chill-flakes and parsley. I think I will add it to our Meze-meal repertoire as it's so light and fresh-tasting it's the perfect balance to the more rich hummus and aubergine-dip kind of dishes.
This one just had to be included. Theresa with a traditional head-scarf drinking the Turkish tea or "Cay'. Unlike Indian "Chai" it's always taken black, usually with sugar, though we take it without, and it's expected you will have a few glasses at least. The glasses are very small and tulip-shaped which lends some greater ritual somehow to the experience taking you back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. Apparently the Turks are the biggest tea-drinkers in the world.
This was Theresa's favourite cafe as people came to buy stake bread and feed it to the fish here. She always professes to hate fish, but for some reason really liked to see them coming up to gobble down the bread thrown to them.