Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Culinary Journey in Turkey-Part II

The second city of our trip in Turkey was Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where my parents live. Luckily, Fatima (who happens to be my sister-in-law) and my brother were also visiting my parents at the time, so we had a chance to see them as well. There were no tourism-related activities in this part of our trip, but we surely ate well. Here are a few pictures of the sweet things that came our way in Ankara:

My mother's sour cherry upsidedown cake from hand-picked cherries.

Hazelnut topped pudding we ate at Karadeniz Yavuz Lokantasi in Ankara. They said that this is a specialty of the Blacksea region.

Then there was my visit to one of my favorite patisseries in Turkey. Divan Patisserie first opened its doors in 1956 as part of Hotel Divan in Istanbul. Today it has several branches in Istanbul and Ankara. I make a point of stopping by Divan Patisserie at least once everytime I go to Turkey. Unfortunately, this time they did not seem to have as much variety as they had in the past years. In particular, I could not find the fruity desserts I was looking for, but maybe it was because they were all sold out that day. Instead, they had three different chocolate cakes, and for people like me who have a difficult time deciding which one to take home, there were miniature versions of each.

This was a wonderful concoction of chocolate, coffee and candied nuts.

Then there was this chocolate moussy one. Equally good...

Last but not least, we sampled this miniature with raspberries and chocolate ganache which I will try to make at home.

You can see more Divan creations at this link, and order their production of Turkish Delight here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Culinary Journey in Turkey--Part I

We returned from our beautiful and equally tiring 3-week vacation yesterday. It is the same story for us year after year. We go to Ankara to visit my parents and to Izmir to see Yurdaer's family. Now that we have an apartment in Istanbul, we spend some time there as well. As if this is not enough for a 3-week vacation, we try to squeeze in some tourism and see a few new places every year. We usually rent a car and drive from city to city. Yurdaer thinks that gives us the flexibility to stop wherever we want, and he does not mind driving in Turkey which, believe me, is no easy task. Doing this with 3 kids--the youngest of whom is a mere 2 1/2 years old--makes for a very exhausting trip. (It may sound like I am complaining now, but I am sure that given the chance, we will not hesitate to do the very same next year.)

How to summarize my vacation? There is a Turkish saying which roughly translates as, "Keep what you ate to yourself, tell me what you saw." But this being a food blog, I cannot do that, can I? So I will give you a brief outline of the touristical part of our vacation with culinary highlights wherever applicable. Since this will make for a very long post even in its condensed form, I will have to break it into pieces.

We arrived in Istanbul on July 1st. We spent a few days there before setting out for Ankara. On the way to Ankara from Istanbul, there is a small restaurant in Bolu where we have a routine of stopping by for lunch. It is on the mountains offering a beautiful forest view. The food is simple and delicious. This time we braved a thunderstorm and dangerously foggy weather to be able to eat there. Since it was quite cold and wet, we ate inside the log cabin instead of the balcony outside overlooking the forest. This picture offers a view of the tables in the balcony from the inside.

And this one shows the charming inside.

When it was time for dessert, we all ordered Kaymakli Ekmek Kadayifi (Bread Kadaifi with Clotted Cream. To me, there are two main categories of traditional Turkish desserts: syrupy and dairy. I tend to like dairy ones and steer away from syrupy desserts since I find them too sweet. But there has to be an exception to every rule, right? Ekmek Kadayifi is it for me, provided that it is accompanied by a thick slab of kaymak. The clotted cream offsets the sweetness--but not the calories, unfortunately--of the Kadaifi, and makes it one of the best desserts possible. Since the log cabin was dark, this picture did not come out very good. You will have to take my word when I say that it was to die for. (And die I almost did when I finished Yurdaer's leftovers on top of my own portion while I was pregnant with Rana back in 2002:) I fell into a deep sugar-induced slumber and gained consciousness only after we reached my parents' house in Ankara.)

So that you get a fair idea about what it looks like, I will add a second picture of an inferior implementation of the same dessert we ate elsewhere. The difference, as you can see, is in the kaymak.

Here is the address and contact information for those lucky people who might go there.

Koroglu Mevkii Boludagi BOLU
Tel: 0 347 225 26 49