Tuesday, 29 July 2014

It's Ramzan Bayramı - Here Are 8 Turkish Foods For The Sweet Tooth

It's not often we write about desserts or sweetie goodness on this blog because neither of us has a particularly sweet tooth. However, as Ramazan Bayramı is once more upon us and, as this is the time when people tend to indulge in foods of the sugary variety, now seems like the perfect time to just celebrate a few desserts you might come across when in Turkey...because even if we don't eat them, we still take photos of them.

Some desserts (or just downright sugary indulgent snacks) have appeared on the blog before, but others are photos that have never seen the light of day here. Well, for those of us that much prefer a steak to a cake, we often resort to taking photos of other people's - friends' - forays into the world of high sugar intensity. And Turkish cuisine is not shy when it comes to sugar! Let's lose ourselves in a heavenly cloud of gooey, chocolaty, syrupy delectability...if you like that kind of thing.

1. Baklava

Turkish Food - Baklava
We had to kick off with baklava. There can't be many people in the world who have ventured forth for a visit to Turkey and not tried at least one little pastried, syrupy section of this world famous treat. Gaziantep, in the southeast of Turkey, is the baklava capital and it was awarded protected status by the EU commission in December 2013. Think pistacchio, walnuts, cinnamon, sometimes cardamom, sometimes butter, yufka...syrup. Seriously, why it's served as a dessert in restaurants is a mystery to us. One piece will keep you going for a while all on its own! Lovely with a blob of ice cream on the side though, it has to be said.

2. Tulumba & Lokma
Hugely popular in Turkey, tulumba and lokma are perhaps the sweetie treats me and Barry have consumed the most of over the years we've lived here.
Turkish Sweets - Lokma
This is because it's easy to buy this one as a street food from portable stands and it's often made in huge quantities at special occasions. Lokma is the ball-shaped dough, deep-fried and dunked in syrup. Tulumba is a more elongated shape - again, deep fried and dunked in syrup. Both are crunchy on the outside, soft and syrupy through their centre; they'll make your teeth buzz and, if you're not careful, as you bite into them and hear the satisfying 'pop' of the crunchy coating, the syrup will also 'pop' out and go all over your top. Just a warning for you, there - not good when you're walking along a public street.

Collectively, these little doughnut-type sweets are sold as tatlı. Look out for the guys with glass karts wondering the streets shouting 'Tatlıcı' and you can soon be feasting on it. Read our post about our experiences of eating tatlı.

3. Bici Bici
Turkish Desserts - Bici Bici
If it's all getting a bit heavy and syrupy for you, let us refresh your palate for a moment. This is bici bici. It's a southeastern dish again, and apparently, these days, is made more as a street food rather than in the home. People who know Fethiye will know the good people at Mozaik Bahçe are serving up bici bici. A firm, milk-based corn starch base with crushed ice and rosewater. Not my thing - I guess you either love rose-flavoured food or you don't - but if we have friends out to visit and they insist we have a dessert, Barry prefers this one. And the (fun) warning for this dessert - it tends to stain the lips pink for a short while. But very refreshing on summer evenings.

4. Şam Tatlısı & Kalburabastı
Turkish Sweets - Kalburabastı
Oh look, we're back to syrup-soaked sweetieness. We told you sometime ago about our Turkish friend deciding we needed more education in the world of Turkish desserts. He just knocked on our door one day, we put the kettle on, made tea and he provided a cake box - one half was filled with kalburabastı and the other half contained rectangular wedges of şam tatlısı. Maybe these two desserts shouldn't be grouped together but we ate them together on that day so they will be forever associated with each other, for us. They're both a syrup-soaked sponge - the şam tatlısı was more lemony and therefore tasted lighter - şam tatlısı is from the southeast and therefore pistacchio-based and kalburabastı has the walnut. 

And we actually made a similar (but nut-free) cake ourselves a while back. This is the only dessert recipe on our blog but we're still proud of our minor achievement. Here's our easy Süzme Yoğurt Tatlısı recipe.

5. Künefe
Famous to Antakya, we've written about sharing künefe in the past. It was actually at Ramazan Bayramı two years ago - see, we must have had desserts on the mind back then, too. This is a hearty dessert centred around syrup (again), cheese and shreds of kadayıf dough. You can see photos of künefe by clicking the link above. 

In the meantime, though, this is a very short video we filmed earlier this year, showing how the kadayıf dough is produced. More of a batter mix than a 'dough,' and always fascinating to watch.

6. Cevizli Taş Kadayıf
Turkish Food - Kadayıf
So we have the same type of batter mix again for the kadayıf. Cevizli taş kadayıf suits my palate more because it's not super sweet. Inside these two little pancake parcels are small walnut pieces and cinnamon flavours. And of course, as this is another dish from the Hatay region, we have the almost obligatory crushed pistachio topping. No complaints from us. Served warm, again with a blob or two of ice cream...yummy!

7. Just downright gooey cream cakes
Yes, by now, some of you must be thinking, "Can't you just get a cream cake or a chocolate cake in Turkey? Is it all pastry nuts and syrup?" Those of you who love a gateaux or other creamy cakes will be very pleased to know there is no shortage of pastane outlets in Turkey. In the pastane, you will find all manner of gooey goodness.
Turkish Food - Cake From The Pastane
Just like this gooey goodness, for example. This is a close up of two big fat wedges of chocolate profiterole cake that we had the pleasure to delve into recently. It was a birthday cake gift for Barry - and the few of us who were present made short work of it, we can tell you...with the excuse we didn't want it to melt in the heat of the sun, you understand.

8. Kahramanmaraş Ice Cream
And if you are like us and desserts are never really on your eating agenda but you really feel you ought to try a Turkish sweet treat...
Turkish Food - Kahramanmaraş Ice Cream
Well, you can always brave a performance from the guys who sell Turkey's famous Kahramanmaraş ice cream. Eventually, you'll be presented with your ice cream, and yes, of course, you can have it topped with crushed pistachio nuts if you like. Well, a Turkish dessert just wouldn't be the same without them.

Of course, there are oodles of other Turkish desserts and sweet snacks to be enjoyed throughout the country. These are just a few we've photographed over the years...more than enough sugar and calories to be going at for now, though, don't you agree... 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

What? Food? At Deep Blue Bar? Well, Why Not?

Well, wonders will never cease! If there was one blog post we thought we would never be writing, it's got to be this one. This new phenomenon in Fethiye has been going on for a few weeks now but it's taken us until now to write about it. Ramazan, friends over to visit...it all just runs away with you. Well, Fethiye is now packed with holidaying Turks enjoying the Bayram break that begins after Ramazan ends today. And Fethiye is also busy with summer visitors from all over the world too of course - so now seems as good a time as any to tell you about this aforementioned phenomenon...

Because, since 1998, we've been 'watering' ourselves at our favourite Paspatur bar, Deep Blue Bar. Yeah, yeah, you know all this already. Where's the phenomenon in that? Well, it's always just been a bar; a place of liquid refreshment and (the vast majority of the time) great music. You got hungry, you either nipped around the corner to Yengen for a kebab or you called one in. But now all that has changed...Because now, Deep Blue Snack Bar is fully operational!

Deep Blue Snack Bar

Yes...you can now eat food at Deep Blue Bar. Mind boggling. And what's more, it's edible, too! Well, we couldn't leave it too long before we ate something there - and we've done it twice now. Yes! More than one occasion.
Potato Wedges, Deep Blue Bar, Fethiye
Potato wedges to share at Deep Blue Bar, Fethiye
Now let's not all get over-excited here. This is a bar. They're serving snacks of the hot and cold variety. Nobody is expecting anyone to trundle along to Deep Blue Bar, expecting a gourmet meal. But the food thing that's going on here is ideal for those moments when you do get a bit stuck comfortable and so you decide to snack rather than move on to a restaurant for some food. If you're anything like us, you'll know what we're talking about with that one. Best intentions through the window! 
Burger, Deep Blue Bar, Fethiye
Burger served with wedges at Deep Blue, Fethiye
And it's probably all looking a bit burgers and potato wedges at the moment...but, isn't that what the classic bar snack is? The menu says the burgers are homemade so Barry had to do the litmus test on them. Didn't even go for the cheeseburger. Just a burger so he could decide if it was a decent burger or not. 

I was a bit 'breaded out' that day so I'm responsible for the portion of potato wedges in the top photo. They were mine and there were a lot, so other friends who were with us delved into them, too. They'd ordered a burger and didn't realise wedges would be on the side. But I didn't just get a plateful of wedges. I also ordered this...
Stuffed Mushrooms, Deep Blue Bar, Fethiye
Stuffed mushrooms at Deep Blue Bar
Mushrooms stuffed with cheese and garlic. See, it's not all burgers and chips. We've got to say...you know, Deep Blue is our bar, our second home, they're our friends, some of our best friends in Turkey...we didn't expect a rather attractive looking presentation of mushrooms on a bed of crispy lettuce and cherry tomatoes! Chips, yeah. This, no. And it was really good, too! 

On this night, our friends who ordered the burgers loved them and Barry loved his, too. Definitely homemade. I loved my potato wedges and mushrooms. (Well, we make our own stuffed mushrooms at home so I knew they'd be nice.) The next time we ate there, I had a cheeseburger - and yes, very edible! Some friends who were with us ordered toasties and they came as small triangular ones - that's just to let you know if, like them, you would expect a half-bread toastie like the ones at İksirci Tezcan, for example. 

It's a snack menu so there are half-bread-style sandwiches (big and chunky), salads, cheesecake, and then there's the beer plate to share. This is just one of those we're-drinking-so-let's-get-fried-nibbles plates. You can see some more of the foodie goodies on the Deep Blue Bar Facebook page. And, as you might have guessed, we've still not quite got our heads around the fact that Deep Blue now does solids as well as liquids. We've only just come to terms with their speciality coffees! We'll just keep working our way through the menu until we're used to this whole new world...

If you are looking for other ideas about where to eat and drink in the Fethiye area, click this link to have a look at some of our tips on our dedicated Fethiye Eating & Drinking Page.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

To Kabak: What Goes Up Must Come Down - And Back Up Again

So there we were, enjoying a birthday break with friends by way of a peaceful, chilled out overnight stay at the Olive Garden. We'd pencilled in a hike down to the beach this time so that we could visit the brand new camp of someone we know - we're nosey, like that - and even though we'd hiked down to the beach previously and knew it was very steep and rough underfoot, sturdy footwear was not taken with us. Maybe we didn't really think we'd go...but we did go.

The Kabak Reality Check

Because this is something to bear in mind when it comes to Kabak. To get those high up, breathtaking views over the Mediterranean, well, you need to be high up. We're all things positive on this blog, as you know, and, don't get us wrong, we're not trying to put people off going. We're just saying, just be aware - it's a love hate thing.
Butterfly Valley From Faralya
View of Butterfly Valley from the Ölüdeniz to Kabak road
We love the scenes on the road from Ölüdeniz to Kabak and, for us, it's an amazing drive. But those 8 years ago when we last hiked down to the beach, we'd gone up that road in a car driven by our Turkish friend. As we got higher, he pulled over. "You'll have to drive Julia, I can't go any further." 
"Oh, okay. No problem. We didn't realise you didn't like heights. You should have said."
"I would have...except I didn't know I didn't like heights until just now." 

This is a guy who loves to go trekking in the mountains, who's taken us fishing from the most precarious of cliff faces, so we figure it was a driving and motion thing. And just a couple of weeks back, two friends set off along this very road in the hope of getting to the Olive Garden. They turned back half way up. But such was their determination, they tried again a few days later, and this time they took the dolmuş and closed their eyes. They then did an overnight stay at the Olive Garden and loved it. No regrets!

View of Kabak Koyu from Olive Garden
View of Kabak Koyu from Olive Garden
Well, with views like this from the Olive Garden, what's not to love? And there's the beach, down there on the bottom left. That's where we wanted to get to. How do you get there? Well, there's a service bus or there's a couple of paths you can take down the hillside, through the forest. With surroundings like this, it would be criminal not to hike down, we thought, so a member of staff pointed out the path to us (there's one that leads directly from the Olive Garden) and off we went...in our flip flops.

Scree, rock and steep, pine-needle-covered forest paths are NOT what flip flops are designed for. Please don't follow our lead on this one. Sturdy footwear with decent treads all the way! If you've done the trek from Kayaköy to Ölüdeniz, the terrain is very similar. We're all trekking fans and have decent footwear for the job but we didn't take said footwear with us - we all came through our little trek unscathed but we know it is far from ideal.
Hiking To Kabak Beach
En route to Kabak beach
The path down the mountainside is cool and shaded - and then occasionally, you come to a clearing where you get a clue as to how much progress you've made and how much further you've got to go. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the beach but it's one of those paths where you keep spotting the beach and thinking, "I'm sure we were closer than that last time we looked." Not a bad view to keep spotting (and photographing) though, is it?
Approaching Kabak Beach, Turkey
Nearly there
And, all of a sudden, the tiny white dots bobbing in the sea in the distance reveal themselves to be boats as you catch glimpses via the vistas created by the pine trees. We're nearly at Kabak beach. It's a while since we've been on such a steep climb downhill. We're all sweating from the heat of the day and knees are dithering. The two ladies in this little group of four have exercised some different leg muscles that have obviously sat idle for a while because, the day after, both of us have that rewarding feel of aches and pains that say you've achieved something.
Kabak Beach, Turkey
Kabak Beach
On this occasion, our achievement is reaching sea level at Kabak bay. We've already got swimming gear on - so dusty, damp clothes are being peeled off en route to the bamboo shaded area. We dump our things and run straight into the sea - it's cool! But it's a welcome cool.

After drying off in the sun, we go to hunt out the camp we've come to visit. That takes us all of two minutes. We're given a much-appreciated drink and then we're shown around - and you can read our blog post, here, about why we fell for Chakra Beach, Kabak. We need to stay here soon...

Now, of course, what comes down to the beach must get back up from the beach. We ask Can - the guy we've gone to visit - about the quickest route back to the top. It's hot and I'm not much fancying another flip flop trek, especially one of the uphill variety. "Straight up the path past Sultan Camp or take the service bus." I make (lots of) noises in support of the service bus. 7 TL each and we're on our way up the winding, narrow, dusty track to the top of the hill. 

We remember the trek back to the top of the hill from 8 years ago. We remember stopping off at Sultan Camp en route for a pit stop and refreshment. It was tiring but rewarding. We took our time, we enjoyed our surroundings...and we'll be trekking back to the top again next time. While three of our group didn't mind the trip back up, it seems I'm a better driver than I am a passenger...

Getting to Kabak - Useful Information
  • In the summer season the dolmuş to Kabak runs hourly (via Ölüdeniz) to Kabak.
  • Times and regularity change throughout the year, with only a few dolmuşes per day in winter, so always make sure you check with the driver if you need to get back to Fethiye for a particular time.
  • The dolmuş takes you to the end of the road from where you'll see the signposts pointing down the track to the camps and beach. 
  • If you are driving up there and want to go down to the beach, you'll need to leave your car at the top and either hike down or take the shuttle service.
  • Although there is no charge as such to enter the beach, there is a 'tip box' pinned to the bamboo shelter. Your donations go towards keeping the beach clean and maintained.
  • The road from Ölüdeniz to Kabak is tarmacked and in decent condition (2014).
  • The track to the beach used by the shuttle service (7 TL per person 2014) is a dust track. Amazing views but we preferred the walk. Well, being on the Lycian Way, Kabak is perfect, natural trekking country, after all.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Chakra Beach In Kabak - Oops, Think We May Have Just Fallen For You

It happens a lot on Facebook: "______ invited you to like their page." Oh, go on then. Some you like out of politeness because it's your friend, even though you're not remotely interested in the subject matter - and then there are pages that really get your interest. Pages you actually want to like and want to visit, if just to see the photos and see what's going on.

That's what happened a couple of weeks or so ago. "Can invited you to like his Facebook page, Chakra Beach Kabak." (Obviously, it came up with Can's full name, here). Ohhh, Kabak. A new camp. Is it his camp or is he just asking us to like the page? Well, you know us; always up for a nosey around a new venture of any description (we had a good old nosey around Hotel Unique in Fethiye, recently) and, even better, we knew we would be in Kabak soon to stay at the Olive Garden. We could visit from there...

Chakra Beach, Kabak

So we messaged Can. "Yeah, it's my place with my partner, Çağrı. Come down whenever you like. We're close to the beach." We'd seen the photos of the circular bungalows and were really curious, and, despite numerous trips to Kabak of late, it was at least 8 years since we'd ventured down to sea level. A perfect excuse to put that right, again. 
Chakra Beach, Kabak
Entrance to Chakra Beach
So we set off down the hill - in July heat - in flip flops (flip flops not recommended) and arrived in the valley 30 minutes or so later. That little trek is a blog post in itself - but let's get back to Chakra Beach. Because, not only is it a camp of circular bungalows; it's a camp of circular bungalows with thatched roofs! Not seen a thatched roof since we were back in the UK. How lovely! You can already see we fell for this place, can't you?
Dining Area, Chakra Beach, Kabak Koyu
Shaded dining area
We sat and chatted for a while in the bar/dining area. We're suckers for chunky wooden tabletops and these are proper chunky. Made from cedar wood by Can and his uncle. So now we've got chunky wood for the tabletops, the bar and kitchen counters, and thatched roofs. We've even got a thatched roof on the kitchen, too. 

Opposite us is the bar area, seating areas and terraces that are going to be made into seating areas. Chakra Beach was only started in April - they've come a long way since then! 
Chakra Beach Kitchen, Kabak
The very pretty Chakra Beach kitchen
Every business needs a USP...there are quite a few camps now in Kabak, so what do you do to attract those that venture down the mountainside into your camp? Well, what they've done at Chakra Beach certainly had me and Barry gushing interested. We've never seen thatched roofs in Turkey and, apparently, these were done by a family who came from Konya to do the job; one of the only families in Turkey doing this.

"Shall we have a look at the bungalows?" 
Well isn't that just the question we wanted to hear? Yeah, let's go and look at these bungalows. We were itching to see them!
Chakra Beach Bungalows, Kabak
Chakra Beach bungalow
If you're even remotely interested in architecture, you can't not love these bungalows. Apparently, the bamboo walls insulate the structure so they're cool in summer. Apparently, after clever designs by the architect, it was hard to find carpenters who could actually do the job...but they did eventually find the carpenters - and this is the result. A circular room with large double bed, skylight so you can watch the stars at night (Kabak is fab star spotting zone), lattice wood work around the interior walls...
Chakra Beach Bungalow Accommodation, Kabak, Turkey
Inside the Chakra Beach circular bungalows
And then, behind the wood panelling, walk to the left of the bed and you'll come to the shower. Walk to the right of the bed and you've got the toilet and washbasin. The toilet and shower are separated by a brick partition. It's all just the sort of stuff that does make me and Barry gush - hence the unapologetic gushing!

And if you come to Chakra Beach and there's a few of you, and you're on a bit more of a budget, then you could always bunk down in these rooms, below:
Budget Bungalows, Chakra Beach, Kabak
Accommodation for those on a budget
These 2-storey wooden bungalows have one room on the ground floor and one above. It's a simple, bright and airy room with two single beds and small side table. That's it. Should you feel the need to shower or use the loo, there's a communal block just opposite. 

Because let's just be straight, here. This is Kabak. You're not coming here to open your massive suitcase and hang up all your clothes and spread your make-up and toiletries all over the place. You come to Kabak to chill out with minimal baggage - the smaller your rucksack, the better; especially if you're hiking down the hillside to get to sea level. Kabak is about camping (albeit with beds), relaxing, hiking, swimming, reading, just enjoying 'being.' For some, that's gonna be your worse boring nightmare...but for others, well Chakra Beach is just going to be your paradise.

As usual, I took loads of photos so we made a short slideshow to include more images of the bungalows and around the camp. Don't worry, it's only 1 min 45 seconds. You can make it full screen if you want to see bigger photos.

Chakra Beach, Kabak - Useful Information
  • Chakra Beach is in the valley at Kabak, just a couple of minutes walk from the beach.
  • You can either hike down to the beach (around 25-30 mins) like we did, or take the service bus. Please see our next blog post for more details about this.
  • If you are travelling in Turkey or you are in Kabak as part of a longer hiking trip, there are facilities to wash your clothes. 
  • In high season (2014), the circular bungalows are 260 TL per bungalow per night and this includes breakfast and evening meal. The wooden bungalows are 200 TL per room per night, again with breakfast and dinner included.
  • If you fancy staying here, we recommend you book in advance (they're already fully booked for Bayram next week). They'll be listed on the Kabak Valley pages of booking.com soon - but for now, you can message their Facebook page or phone them - they speak really good English.
  • And let's finish off where we started. Can invited us to like his Facebook page, Chakra Beach, Kabak. We're now inviting you to like it, as well. Click this link to like Chakra Beach, Kabak on Facebook.
  • Very best wishes to all involved in the Chakra Beach venture! 

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