Friday, 27 March 2015

Turkish Breakfast With Tam Tahıllı Simit...That's The Healthy Bit

One of the great things about writing this blog over the last few years is we can see how we've changed over time. It's a stream of thought so if we change our mind about something, that's okay. And, for part of today's post, we are once again returning to that staple of Turkish foods, the simit. We've gone from really not seeing what all the fuss is about with simit in this post (written in 2010) to apologising to the sesame seed-covered ring of breaded loveliness in 2012 where we conceded and admitted we were actually big simit converts.

A late, leisurely Turkish breakfast these days is just not the same without a simit...and a few other goodies besides, too, of course. A couple of weeks ago, we saw this photo on the Baba Fırın Facebook page showing their new simits, tam tahıllı simit - not a ring of white bread covered in sesame seeds but a ring of brown wholegrain bread covered in various seeds and grains. See, these days, we actually get excited about simit - and this tam tahıllı simit looked like something a bit different to add to the breakfast table. This week, we've had a friend staying with us so it was the perfect excuse to make a little trip to Baba Fırın bakehouse to get some breakfast goodies, including the tahıllı simit...

Tam Tahıllı (Wholegrain) Simit From Baba Fırın
Tam tahıllı simit (wholegrain simit)
So, in order not to feel too guilty about indulgence in lots of Turkish breakfast treats, I had a bit of a brainwave. Barry was going out for a run and I was going power walking. Baba Fırın isn't particularly local to us, so it was a case of kill-two-birds-with-one-stone. On with the trainers and I power walked to Baba Fırın. Burning off the calories we were about to consume makes perfect sense, right?

And it's just as well I power walked really, because while our wholegrain (tam tahıllı) simit is perfectly healthy, walking into Baba Fırın in breakfast hours holds temptation...and I gave in to temptation.
Su Börek, Baba Fırın Bakery, Fethiye
Cubes of su böreği adorning our breakfast table
We do love our börek and su böreği is a particular favourite. There, on the tray behind the glass counter, were two squares of su böreği. Still warm...and the final two pieces. Layers of yufka (the large thin circles of pastry used to make Turkish börek dishes) with white cheese nestled between the folds of pastry and a crisp topping. Well, they couldn't just be left there, could they?

Oh, and then there were the other treats, too. Pain au chocolat was looking at me, as were croissants; chocolate-filled and plain. These are the types of foods we never consider buying, usually, but when you've got friends staying... a little croissant or two would be a nice addition wouldn't it? But, well, let's not go too overboard. I plumped for plain croissants over chocolate and, breakfast goods purchased, I power walked my way back home.
Croissants, Börek & Tam Tahıllı Simit
Croissants and börek to compliment the tam tahıllı simit
We cut the börek up into small squares and sliced the croissants so that we could all enjoy little bits at our leisure. As for the tahıllı simit, they got the same treatment as our usual simit purchases; cut into quarters and sliced through the middle. Bite-sized pieces waiting for their various toppings.
Turkish Breakfast Table
Breakfast of tahıllı simit, börek and croissant
Olives, three different cheeses, süzme yoghurt, jam, honey, nutella and chocolivia (an interesting mix of olives, orange and chocolate all blended together to make a low-calorie spread). Our breakfast table was looking abundant and, indeed it was abundant...for a short while, until we'd eaten our way through most of it. The börek and croissants were completely polished off whilst the tam tahıllı simit, lovely as it was, defeated us, eventually. These simits are big and they're filling! Not to worry, though. It made a reappearance on the breakfast table the following day and soon disappeared.

"Great idea. You can do the breakfast shopping every time you go power walking now," said Barry.

Think I might just take the exact money for the simits in future so that temptation doesn't get the better of me...unless we've got the perfect excuse of friends for breakfast, that is...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Antalya Restaurants & Bars - A Few Places We Liked...

It's fair to say that it's taken us a few visits to really click with Antalya...but we don't like to be defeated - and, thanks to Barry running in Runatolia for the last couple of years, along with a quick overnight trip to watch our favourite Turkish band, Duman, at the Jolly Joker, it's meant we've been back in the city three times in the past couple of years. With each visit, we've dipped our toes in, wandered, got on buses, got lost and, more importantly, got a bit more of a feel for the city.

If you're a regular reader, you'll know we're bar people. If we find a good bar where we're comfortable, we're happy. If we can find somewhere to get good food at a good price - we travel on a budget - we're happy. Whether Antalya is changing with time and that is matching us more, or whether we're just becoming more familiar with the city and finding what was always there, we really couldn't say. Whatever the case, each time we visit Antalya, we love it more and more - and this time, we left the city feeling really happy and looking forward to the next time we're there.

Antalya Bars
Filika and Benzin
This post is a just a little mention of the places we've found over the last couple of years where we're happy to wander in, plonk ourselves down after a long day's exploration (or running) and enjoy a chill out with a beer - and maybe some food...

Filika - Kaleiçi
The photo above shows two places - one we've loved for a while and one that was a 'find' last year. The bottom centre photo is Filika. We wrote about Filika back in 2011 in a post about finding a haven wherever we are in Turkey. Filika was our Antalya haven in 2011 and we still visit now. An out and out bar with live music on at nights and rock hard chairs...just how a bar should be! Filika is also where we were introduced to the music of Kazım Koyuncu. So, as long as Filika is around, we'll be bobbing in for a beer or two and some live music.

Benzin Cafe - Işıklar 
The multi-coloured seats and walls you can see in the other photos are last year's find, Benzin Cafe. There's a Benzin in Lara, too, just across the road from the Jolly Joker Concert Hall, actually.

Both are great places just for sitting and chilling. Loads of staff and loads of customers, Cadillac car seating areas - we always opt for a table - and lots of chatter. A good atmosphere. On this year's visit, we ate at the Işıklar Benzin on the day before the run. Pizza and pasta dishes can be recommended - Barry wanted pasta as a pre-run energy boost and I wanted pizza because it was my birthday. Pizza is allowed on birthdays...and other times too...
Chef Fish House, Kaleiçi, Antalya
Chef Fish House on the edge of Kaleiçi
Chef Fish House - Kaleiçi
We noticed an influx of balık ekmek places this year around Kaleiçi. We love our balık ekmek (fish in a half bread) at Popeye's in Fethiye - but the balık ekmek places around Kaleiçi had a choice of various seafoods.

The place in the photo above, Chef Fish House, also did full plate meals, and, despite the pouring rain on the night we were there, there were groups of people having a full meyhane-style seafood meal, complete with rakı.

Me and Barry did what we do best - balık ekmek and a beer. But not just any normal 'balık.' There was a choice of prawns, mussels, whiting, kokoreç (fish offal), calamari...and on and on...

Very cheap, and, as we'd had köfte and Antalya piyaz at Topçu Kebap the day before, seafood was a good change.

Gizli Bahçe, Kaleiçi, Antalya
Gizli Bahçe, Kaleiçi, Antalya
Gizli Bahçe - Kaleiçi
And then there was this year's accidental find. Actually, most of our finds in Kaleiçi are accidental because we're always lost - but we like to think we can be forgiven on this one, given that 'Gizli Bahçe' means 'Secret Garden.'

We wondered if it was a new place...until we got home and saw the date on the entrance sign we'd taken a photo of. Since 1997, apparently. Like we said, maybe we're only just starting to discover places in Antalya that have been there all along. 

We stumbled into Gizli Bahçe as soon as we arrived in Antalya. After a bit of a trauma (of the exaggerated type) trying to drive through the city centre and trying to find a parking spot, as driver, I needed a beer...

As passenger, Barry needed a beer...

Tetchiness hadn't infiltrated the day just yet - and Gizli Bahçe - the first bar we saw and so automatically walked into - was our emergency mood rescue and also just so happened to be our ideal sort of place. Great music, open fire, rock hard chairs (again), a constant chatter and comings and goings day and night. An old Kaleiçi building with a tarpaulin-covered rear garden that leaked just a tad in the rain. So cosy and welcoming, though...

We returned here a few times while we were in the city and Gizli Bahçe is probably going to be the first place we head for next time we're back in Antalya. 

We all want different things from travel: Luxury hotels, pensions, hostels, Blue Flag beaches, mountains, ancient ruins, amusement parks, swimming pools, whatever...

Us...if we find our comfortable chill places where we can sit, relax and chat, then the rest falls into place. Slowly, slowly, we've found those places in Antalya - and, in the future, we know we'll find more besides.

(These) Bars & Restaurants in Antalya - Useful Info
  • Filika Bar is on Paşa Camii Sokak in Kaleiçi.
  • Gizli Bahçe is on a narrow side street between Karadayı Sokak and Izmirli Ali Efendi Sokak in Kaleiçi.
  • Chef Fish House is on the corner of Mescit Sokak (Kaleiçi) and Atatürk Caddesi.
  • Benzin (Işıklar) is on the corner of Fevzi Çakmak Caddesi and Atatürk Caddesi. Close to the park area and the sea.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Turkish Coffee - Served The Dibek Kahvesi Way

How do you take your Turkish coffee? 

Traditionally, should you feel the urge to get involved in the drinking of Turkish coffee, you can order your Türk kahvesi 'sade' (without sugar), 'orta,' (with a bit of sugar) or 'şekerli' (sugary) - and if your tooth isn't that sweet, you go for the orta. 'Sugary' in the world that is Turkey is going to be a teeth-tingler.

The female half of our little partnership (that's me) took an absolute age to get into Turkish coffee. I don't like to be defeated when it comes to food and drink, so I persevered. Life became a bit easier when Barry started to make Turkish coffee at home and I could practise drinking it, pulling whatever faces were necessary, in privacy and comfort. I'm a tea girl. Give me a çay any day...but I can now, happily, also go out and enjoy a Turkish coffee, too.

Dibek Türk Kahvesi

Of course, once you delve into a whole new world of drinks - in this case, Turkish coffee - you start to learn that not all Turkish coffee is the same. In Izmir's Kemeraltı area, we drank fincanda pişen Türk kavesi (Turkish coffee heated in the cup, usually over coals). In Van, we drank Turkish coffee the Van way (interestingly, with milk) and, in Fethiye, in summer, we've even had soğuk Türk kahvesi (posh iced coffee). And then there's dibek Türk kahvesi...
Dibek Kahve, Izmir
Coffee stalls in Kemeraltı, Izmir
We first came across dibek kahve when we were completely lost, wandering around Kemeraltı in Izmir. We were looking for Kızlarağası Hanı, and, at that particular moment in time, were failing miserably in finding it. But we did keep passing small coffee stalls advertising their dibek kahve. There was always a metal pole with a flat round stone going up and down, landing on another stone. This was all just for demonstration purposes but we soon worked out that these stalls were selling stone-ground Turkish coffee.
Gaffe, Fethiye - Dibek Kahve
Gaffe, Fethiye - Stone ground Turkish coffee
And then we forgot all about dibek Türk kahvesi when we returned to Fethiye...until a couple of weeks ago. A few months back, we were walking through Fethiye's side streets and spotted a small place serving Turkish coffe. This place is called Gaffe and their tagline is 'Meşhur Dibek Kahvesi - Kahvenizi Fincanda Pişiriyoruz.'

It was the 'fincanda pişiriyoruz' part that caught our eye. Making your Turkish coffee in the cup, just like we'd had in Izmir. It's lovey that way. A hot cup and a thicker coffee. Well, at least we think so. While we were passing recently, we decided to stop and treat ourselves to a little Turkish coffee experience just to see if it tasted as good as we remembered. 
Dibek Türk Kavesi, Gaffe, Fethiye
Dibek Türk Kavesi at Gaffe in Fethiye
The lady explained to us that the coffee was prepared in the cup so it would take a few minutes. No problem - we weren't in a rush. We looked at the menu and spotted the 'dibek,' part.

"What's dibek kahvesi?"
"Not sure. Definitely seen that word somewhere before, though. Can't remember where."

Our coffee was delivered to us on an ornate tray with four pieces of fresh, nutty lokum (Turkish Delight) and water to refresh the palate. 

"Be careful," said the girl. "Your cup will be hot."
"Thanks. What's dibek?"

This was all done in our best Turkish and our host set about telling us all about her mother tongue, fluent Turkish. We got most of it (we do surprise ourselves, occasionally) and soon realised that it was Kemeralti where we'd seen the word 'dibek' before. 'Dibek' means 'mortar.' Dibek kahvesi is stone-ground and the stones in Kemeraltı were demonstrating that process.

"Of course," said the girl, "it's not all done by hand anymore. Machines do it, these days."

Well, they would, wouldn't they? Joys - or not - of the 21st century. But anyway, there's a cup of dibek Türk kahvesi there waiting to be drunk. And we can tell you, if you're in Fethiye and fancy a good strong cup of thick, almost creamy-textured, Turkish coffee, this hit the mark. Stone ground Turkish coffee is a winner for us!

Gaffe Dibek Kahvesi, Fethiye - Useful Info
  • Gaffe is on 501 Sokak in the centre of Fethiye.
  • 501 Sokak is a pedestrianised street just off the main road (Atatürk Caddesi) in the Dispanser area.
  • You can also get tea and soft drinks at Gaffe.
Friday, 20 March 2015

Antalya Harbour & The Lift - Practical Beauty

Such a simple idea, yet so practical, so useful...and also so beautiful. But then aren't the simplest ideas supposed to be the best ideas? And, inevitably, this much needed practical solution is also going to be a great tourist attraction for Antalya. We're talking about the lift down to the old Antalya Harbour.
Antalya Harbour Lift
Entrance to the lift from city centre level
There's a heck of a lot of work going on around Antalya's harbour district at the moment - and this lift had been started last year when we were there, so we were curious to see if it was ready when we visited again earlier this month. It was! Full working order, sleek glass walls so you can see all around you as the lift takes you down to harbour level (or brings you back up, as the case may be).

And you can't really see from the photo above but it's not just a lift. It's a viewing platform, too. You can stride out along the walkway, pass the left hand side of the lift and walk slightly beyond it to take in the views. That's what we did on our last day in the city while we were there for Runatolia.
Antalya Views From The Harbour Lift Platform
View of the mountains and Konyaaltı in the distance from the viewing platform  
That morning, we had been blessed with clear weather and had been able to take photos of the mountains from the window of Hotel Twenty where we stayed. By the time we were out and about, the clouds had begun to gather to hide the mountains and keep them all to themselves. We still managed to catch them from the viewing platform of the lift, however, along with a short stretch of the far end of Konyaaltı Beach.
Looking Down On Antalya Harbour
Looking down on Antalya harbour from the lift's viewing platform
And it is pretty high, up here. You can see why a lift is so useful. An area that was inaccessible to so many can now be easily reached - and, from our little vantage point, we could see that landscaping has taken place and restaurants have been spruced up. It's pretty smart down here now, and lively.

In years gone by, we'd walk around here and feel a bit sad as we looked into empty restaurants; waiters sat around waiting for any stray passerby to enter. Granted, it was out of season when we were there, but, up above, daily city life was taking place. Along the harbour, apart from the lonely waiters, the odd smattering of tourists hopping on a boat, or those who had ventured down the steps from Kaleiçi, not much was happening. From our own point of view, it felt a bit neglected.
Antalya Harbour, Turkey
Antalya harbour and a boat returning in the distance
But all that's changed, now. People were not only queueing up to use the lift; they were taking photos of the lift and were doing what we did - taking photos of Antalya harbour from the viewing platform. Now this Roman harbour is linked to the rest of the city - and it shows. Lots of people were milling about down below us, strolling along newer sections of the harbour wall and out towards the lighthouse. Not all of them will have used the lift - but at least now, if you do follow the steep road and steps down to the harbour from Kaleiçi, you don't have to psyche yourself up for that haul back up to civilisation.

And the old harbour is where many of the Antalya boat trips leave from, too. Streams of boats were toing and froing, all the time we were in the city, taking sightseers out to Düden Waterfalls. Me not being too brave on choppy waters (and to me, the sea always looks a bit 'open' and choppy in Antalya), we are yet to do this particular boat trip. Maybe one day...

But, for those who do make the trip, if they've not got the luxury of a tour bus waiting for them in the car park, at least now they can jump in the lift to take them back up to the centre of the city...or even hang around in the harbour for a while and enjoy its new lease of life.

Restoration work, repairs and landscaping is taking place all around the Antalya harbour district and beyond, towards Antalya Archaeological Museum, so no doubt the city will look different again next time we visit. We look forward to it!

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