Feedfeed Travels: Turkey

A week of Food & Wine in the Mediterranean


A week of food & wine in the Mediterranean

After nearly two years spent cooped up at home, I took off on a culinary trip to Turkey through Oldways, a non-profit that helps people live happy & healthy lives through programs that ecourage people to embrace the "old ways" of cooking.

I researched a few different culinary trips before stumbling upon Oldways. Each of the culinary trips they offer include thoughtfully-crafted itineraries with incredible chefs.
I had always wanted to travel to Turkey, but was sold on the trip when I saw that Chef Ana Sortun would be on the trip. Ana is one of the "most creative fusion practitioners" in the US and has received numerous awards from the James Beard Foundation. She also owns a few of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area, Sofra Bakery, Oleana, and Sarma. Her food celebrates Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, and aims to bring it into mainstream culture. 
Click here for Oldways Culinary Travel Programs


Our trip kicked off in Antalya, a resort city on Turkey's turquoise coast, with a wine tasting and meze dinner. We spent the evening getting to know the group and discussing our plan for the coming days.
The first full day of our trip began with a tour of the old city, followed by a cooking demonstration and lunch by Chef Ana and her team. We learned how to make traditional Anatolian recipes like bean salad, tomato soup with caramelized onion, bulgur ad halloumi, and manti (a Turkish dumpling). We ended the day with Turkish coffee readings and dinner at one of Turkey's finest restaurants, 7 Mehmet
Day two was one of my favorites. We had an early morning borek tasting and cooking demo at Fitir Börek. Borek is a 7-layared Turkish pastry dough that is filled with cheese, vegetables, and meat. We also got to try a tahini borek (pictured right) that was out of this world. 

After borek tasting, we headed to the Altinbelen Tahini Factory to learn how tahini is made. The tahini factory arranged an exquisite outdoor lunch for us. After a long day of eating, we had a free evening.
On our final day in Antalya, we visited ancient ruins of Perge, an ancient Greek city known for the worship of Artemis, and Aspendos, where there is an ancient Roman theatre. After lunch we continued to learn about the history of Antalya at the Archaeological Museum, which boasts sculptures from both of the cities we visited. We met for an early dinner before our morning flight to Istanbul.
Visitng the ruins at Perge
A statue of Artemis from Perge
Click here for Oldways Culinary Travel Programs


When we arrived in Istanbul, we headed straight to the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia (pictured above). Since we had an early flight, we had the afternoon free to rest before dinner at Yeni Lokanta where Chef Civan Er served an 11 course dinner paired with 5 different Turkish wines. Dinner was exquisite to say the least. See below for my favorite dishes. 
Yeni Lokanta Manti Dumpling
Cured Bonito, Smoked Butter, Yoghurt, and Crunchy Beetroot
Grilled Eggplant, Figs, Smoked Almonds, and Erzincan Tulum Cheese
Grapefruit, Fennel, Chili, and Sour Cherry Sorbet
On Friday, we took a cruise from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side for a cooking demonstration by Chef Musa Dagdeviren at his world renowned restaurant, Çiya. We watched along as Chef Musa and his team prepared dishes like Lamb Pide with Yogurt and Roasted Eggplant with Butter, Olive Oil & Celery Leaves. After the demonstration, the team at Çiya prepared a delicious meze lunch. 
Chef Musa preparing Roast Eggplant
Meze bites at Çiya
The dessert (pictured right) was unlike anything I've tried before. Chef Musa and his team prepared a plate of candied tomato, butter orange, eggplant, walnut, and baklava with clotted cream. My favorite? The candied tomato. The flavor was reminscent of apricot, but sweeter. 
After lunch, we had time to explore the local markets before setting off on a cruise of the Bosphorous. We had the evening free for dinner on our own after a big lunch. 
Our final day began with a spice talk. Chef Ana and her team prepared dishes of local breads, spices, and olives. We discussed how to use the various spices and learned about the nuances between the herbs harvested in Turkey and the herbs harvested in the US. Afterwards, we headed to the local Spice Bazaar for the opportunity to purchase the spices we had just learned about. Our guide Banu, who is an expert on Turkish cuisine, showed us the best places to buy spices.
That night, we got together for one final group dinner at the Murver Restaurant in our hotel, followed by a champagne toast. We loved the Gambia Fava, Smoked Sea Bream, Octopus in Ash, and Baked Spicy Pumpkin! It was the perfect dinner to close out a wonderful week.
Gambia Fava with Hot Olives, Pickled Pepper, and Pomegranate
Smoked Sea Bream, Fermented Soka, Red Onion and Capers
Octopus in Ash with Warm Egean Salad
Baked Spicy Pumpkin with Fresh Herbs and Goat-Buffalo Yogurt
This trip was spectacular for so many reasons. Since Oldways plans the itinerary and books the accomodations, you don't need to do any planning yourself. Furthermore, each of the meals and activities were so thoughtfully planned. It was a once in a lifetime kind of trip with incredible food, wine, experiences and people. If you're interested in a culinary trip, Oldways culinary trips are the way to go. 
Click here for Oldways Culinary Travel Programs
Special thanks to the team at Oldways for including me on this trip, to Ana and her team, and to our wonderful guide Banu (pictured) for teaching us about Turkish culture and cuisine. 

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