Gourmet Tour of Turkey
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The Story of Turkish Food
Turkish cuisine ranks among the world’s most famous, rivaling that of France and China. For those who travel in culinary pursuits, the Turkish Cuisine is a very curious one. The variety of dishes that make up the Cuisine, the ways they all come together in feast-like meals, and the evident intricacy of each craft offer enough material for life-long study and enjoyment. It is not easy to descern a basic element or a single dominant feature, like the Italian “pasta” or the French “sauce”. Turkish Cusine has a rich heritage dating back to the 6th century when Turkish nomads from China began to settle in Turkey. Through the centuries other influences came; from Arabia a Middle Eastern touch and from Selcuk Turks entering Anatolia in the 11th centruy a strong Greek influence. Blends of cuisine of over 30 civilizations have produced tantalizing food enjoyed throughout the world.
A survey of type of dishes according to their ingredients, may be helpful to explain the basic sturcture of the Turkish Cusine. All dishes can be conveniently categorized into; grain-based, grilled meats, vegetables, fish and sea-food, desserts and beverages. Each category of dishes contains only one or two types or main ingredients. Turks are purists in their culinary taste; the dishes are supposed to bring out the flavour of the main ingredient rather than hiding it behind sauces or spices. Thus, the aubergine – eggplant – should taste like aubergine, lamb like lamb pumpkin like pumpkin.
For the Turks, the setting is an important as the food itself. Therefore, food related places need to be surveyed, as well as the dishes and the eating – protocol. Among the “great – good places” where you can find the ingredients for the Cuisine, are the weekly neighbourhood markets – “pazar”, and the permanent markets. The most famous one is the Spice Market in Istanbul. This is a truly exotic place, with hundreds of scents rising from stalls located within an ancient domed building, which was terminal of the Spice Road.
Our tour takes us to local markets and spice bazaars and to the kitchens of chefs and family home kitchens to see and participate in the preparation of the food. We enjoy the hospitality and culture as we dine with them in their homes and restaurants. ENJOY YOUR MEAL or in Turkish AFIYET OLSUN!
DAY 01: ISTANBUL
Arrival in Istanbul, transfer to hotel.
DAY 02: BOLU
After breakfast we will drive to Bolu to visit the Ascilar Okulu in Mengen, where the traditional master chefs of Turkey receive their training. The countryside in this part of Turkey is gorgeous. We will pass by appealing Lake Abant, lying in the green mountains. Pumpkins grow fat on the vine here, and wonderful desserts are made from this fruit. A cool, refreshing drink called ayran, made from fresh yougurt, is served.
DAY 03: ANKARA
We will spend the whole morning in the training school observing their training and sharing with them the dishes they prepare. Then we will drive to Ankara; the capital of Turkey. Upon arrival we will have a city tour by bus to see the presidential palace, embassies, the Turkish Parliament Building. Overnight in Ankara.
DAYS 04, 05, 06 , 07: TRABZON AND RIZE
Early flight to Trabzon. This region if Turkey is unique for its climate, geographical location, people, and food. The Laz people in the Eastern Black Sea region are enjoyable to be around because of their friendliness and wonderful sense of humour. The food is rich in variety, echoing its Pontic Greek, Georgian, and Armenian past. Occasionally we can except to be entertained by a kemenÁe, a small violin placed on the knee to be played. Rize is the tea bushes growing on steep hillside close to the sea. We visit the Tea Institute and learn about types and qualities of tea and the preparation of them.
Also, we will visit one of the tea processing factory to see how tea is cured, dried and blended and prepared for shipping throughout the country. Because of the rich soil, generous rainfall, and warm climate, tobacco, delicious vegetables, nuts, and fruits such as corn, black leaf cabbage, cherries, apples, pears, mulberries, plums, apricots, hazel nuts and walnut s are also grown here. Our visit will also include the famous plateau of Rize to see some of the plateau houses. Our tour will also include to visit famous Sumela Monastery and the church of St. Sophia.
DAYS 08, 09, 10: GAZIANTEP
Transfer to Trabzon airport for flight to Gaziantep is the pistachio capital of Turkey, and famous for a variety of baklava-type desserts. Also, partly because of a hot, dry climate a penchant for peppery seasonings developed. A distinct Arabic influence will be noted in our meals in Southwestern Turkey. This city is known for its special yuvarlama (small meat and bulgur balls in spicy tomato sauce), ali kufte (stuffed meatballs), ali nazik kebabi (puree of roasted aubergine, yougurt and lamb), hunkar beyendi (“Sultan’s delight”, roasted aubergine, cheese, lamb, and tomato sauce), or lahmacun (Arabic pizza). Varieties of baklava (syrup baked pastry), kanefe (similar to baklava), or tel kadayif (delicate pastry strands resembling shredded wheat in honey syrup) in this region have such a reputation for perfection that restaurants throughout Turkey boast “Gaziantep sweets” on the menu. We will also visit Gaziantep Museum and the ancient castle.
DAYS 11 & 12: ANTAKYA
Today we drive to Antakya, ancient Antioch. We pass through fertile valleys which grow flavourful vegetables, citrus groves, and hillside flourishing with pistachio trees. The food of this city is a spicy reflection of the whole area. Some of Antakya’s traditional dishes feature bulgur, eksi asi (yogurt based soup with rice, chickpeas, herbs, minced meat), oruk (balls of bulgur stuffed with lamb, walnuts, onions and spices), cevizli biber (a paste of ground walnuts, red pepper, onions, and hot sauce) , and muhammar (an appetiser made of nut paste, pepper, garlic, oil, pomegranate syrup). Our sightseeing tour will also include world’s famous Antakya Museum for magnificent mosaics and St. Peter’s Grotto, located in a peaceful setting.
DAYS 13, 14, 15: ISTANBUL
On day 13 we will drive to Adana for our flight to Istanbul. The next three days, we will be introduced to the regional food of Marmara. We will stop at the famous Spice Bazaar, the vegetable Bazaar in Besiktas and the Fish Market in Sariyer. From the sea of Marmara we will be introduced to a wide variety of fish that we can taste in wonderful and inventive ways. There is mackerel, a favourite of locals, which is stuffed as an appetiser (uskumru dolmasi). It is prepared with rice, pine nuts, and currants, then breaded and deep fried. From Russian Circassia area comes an appetiser called Áerkez tavugu, or chicken. A discernible touch of Balkan influence can be tasted in many of these dishes. Our stay in Istanbul will include visits to some famous sites , such as the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, Hippodrome and Topkapi Palace.
One of our lunches will include the Kanaat Restaurant on the other side of Istanbul/ Asian side in Established in 1933 this family run restaurant h as over 200 different delicious Turkish dishes. We will dine out in Rami Restaurant – an exquisite Ottoman House next door to Blue Mosque – ex owner was a renowned expressionist painter; the whole house is decorated with his paintings, superb setting with Ottoman Cuisine. Our farewell dinner will be in Beyti Restaurant. The internationally renowned Beyti, has been going strong for at least half a century in Istanbul. Decorated in the fashion of an Old Ottoman mansion, Beyti is undoubtedly one of the most famous and eloquent meat restaurants in Turkey. We will try the “Beyti Kebab” and the deliciously prepared Turkish dish zeytinyagli enginar (artichoke cooked in olive oil) and a crispy flaky pastry pie with white cheese.
Transfer to Airport for your flight.
- English speaking guidance & assistance throughout the journey.
- Breakfast?in each hotel.
- All meals throughout the journey; lunches & dinners.
- One farewell dinner in Istanbul.
- Accommodation in 4 star hotel.
- Airconditioned?minibus with a microphone.
- Entrance fees to historical sites and museums as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Parking fees in each historical sites.
- Hotel tips.
- International & Internal flights.
- Visa expenses to enter into the country.
- Optional tours or entrance fees outside the itinerary.
- Hot & Cold drinks during lunches & dinners; except during farewell dinner.
- Personal expenses such as; room service, minibar charges, telephone calls, etc.
- Refreshments, beverages, snacks, etc. en route or during meals.
- Tips to guide, driver and restaurants.
HISTORICAL SIGHTS TO BE VISITED DURING THE TRIP – Sumela Monastry – St. Sophia – Gaziantep Museum – Antakya Museum – St. Pierre Church – Blue Mosque – St. Sophia – Topkapi Palace including treasury section.