An afternoon in Denizli…

Berkay’s family are from Denizli, most live in a small village but his uncle, aunt & their kids live in the city centre, so we’ve visited a few times over the past few years. Three weeks ago we visited again, just for the day. Usually whenever we go to Turkey we have at least one BBQ, it used to be our favourite thing to do when we lived there, so it seemed only fitting that we spend the first day of our holiday doing exactly that!

We went to this park just outside of the city centre, and surprisingly had it pretty much all to ourselves! We had visited before on a Sunday and it was really busy, but this time it was a Saturday and during Ramadan, so I guess not many people were out having BBQ’s during the day! We didn’t have any trouble finding a nice spot to park in, or an empty bench.
img_3655 img_3662
The thing about Turkish family BBQ picnics is they make a whole day of it, and they take EVERYTHING, including the kitchen sink! Berkay’s family came prepared with some simit, nuts, sunflower seeds, biscuits etc to tide us over while the food was cooking, and a few of us went for a little walk and came across a plum tree where we picked some fresh sour Eriks, eaten dipped in a bit of salt. The women prepared the salad and the men got to work on cooking the meat – both of which were delicious, we even shared some with a passing by stray dog!
img_3657 img_3664
After lunch we went for a walk through the pine trees, where there were really nice views of the surrounding mountains. We wandered to a little playground area within the park, where they had a huge metal tunnel slide, swings etc…it was really funny to see all the adults embracing their inner-child and playing. When we got back from our walk, we sat with a cup of Turkish tea, which had been brewing for hours (literally..) on a special device on the hot coals.
img_3659
img_3666 img_3665
Mid afternoon, we packed up the cars and headed into the city centre, to a park next to the huge Pamukkale University campus. The park is called Çamlık Parkı and is a forest recreation area. Berkay’s uncle works for the forestry team as a firefighter so he knows the park well. It had picnic area’s, a small lake, ice cream stands, seating areas, water features, a cafe, playgrounds and the most beautiful flowers and trees – it was really stunning and clearly very well looked after. While we were there we saw a lot of graduation students taking photos in their caps and gowns, what a beautiful backdrop for their photos!
img_3674
The park also had a mini zoo with peacocks, ducks, rabbits, emus, camels, fluffy chickens, goats, donkeys etc!
img_3673 img_3672img_3671 img_3670
It was a nice day just being sat under the pine trees in the shade, Berkay enjoyed catching up with his uncle and we got to spend the day outside surrounded by beautiful nature…
I do like the city of Denizli, it is a good mix of modern and traditional Turkey.

Cin Bal restaurant, Kayakoy.

img_1060
Everybody knows our favourite thing to eat in Turkey is a BBQ. But sometimes after a long day you don’t want to pack up everything, head to a BBQ spot, set it all up and then do the washing up afterwards, which is where this restaurant in Kayakoy, called Cin Bal, comes in.

It’s a lovely restaurant, well known and well sign-posted in Kayakoy village. It’s not your usual restaurant though as there is no menu as such.

You go in, chose your seat, either a standard table with chairs or a traditional köşk (a wooden seating area with lots of cushions and a low table) and then walk into the restaurant and chose your food. As there isn’t a menu the options vary. There are usually lots of cold meze’s to choose from which you can view behind the glass fridges, and then you chose your meat. They have all sorts of meat, including lamb, chicken and beef. You buy the meat by the kg, which means you can easily overeat…We had peppers, onion and tomato, aubergine salad, steak, lamb skewers, chicken wings, meatballs and sucuk between the two us which was way too much, but we still finished all of it! Once you’ve chosen the meat, you either get them to grill it on their BBQ for you, or they bring the ready-lit BBQ to your table, along with some tongs and the plates of meat and you can cook it all yourself.
img_1062 img_1061
A lot of people aren’t keen on the concept – why would you want to cook your own food? Maybe, if you’re on holiday it’s a bit weird, but for locals, weekly family BBQ’s are a great way of socialising and getting together, especially on Sunday’s – this restaurant gets very busy at weekends. I love the whole atmosphere of BBQ’s with everyone sitting around chatting while grilling and enjoying the food as and when it comes fresh off the grill, and Cin Bal definitely has the perfect atmosphere. You can see from my photos the smoke coming from the BBQ’s under the lights and the smell of it all is just amazing!

We’ve never been in the height of summer, so I expect that is a whole different experience, but we have been twice in October when things are a little chillier. It was late evening at the start of October when we went and as Kayakoy is higher up than Fethiye and Calis it does get quite a lot cooler, but luckily they have thought of everything and have blankets and shawls you can use to keep warm if needed! I was sat all snuggled under the blanket while Berkay slaved away cooking… Oops.
img_1064 img_1063
It’s definitely worth a visit whether you chose to have the food cooked for you or like to cook it to perfection yourself. All the great atmosphere and taste of a BBQ without any of the washing up and mess afterwards! Perfect.
img_1065    img_1059

A little adventure – Hisarönü, Ölüdeniz, Kayaköy & Fethiye!

On Wednesday Berkay rented a car and we went on a little adventure – visiting Hisarönü, Ölüdeniz, Kayaköy and a little bay in Fethiye for a BBQ picnic!

Berkay managed to rent a car from a friend from one of the hotels along the seafront in Çaliş for a good price – 60tl – but as we only wanted the car from 9am til 9pm, we got an even better deal and got it for 40tl. Bargain! I know nothing about cars, but Berkay tells me it was running on gas – which is apparently a lot cheaper than diesel/petrol so it didn’t cost us much to keep it going even though he did a lot of driving!
IMG_1271 IMG_1284
Berkay had a long nap while working the night before so he wouldn’t be too tired – and picked up the car on his way home. By 10 o clock we were on our way – first stop Hisarönü!
IMG_1749 IMG_1236
I’d only been to Hisarönü twice before – not a fan at all – way too cheesy for me  – quiet little cafe’s and restaurants by day and loud, obnoxious bars by night – but each to their own. It was good to walk around though and no matter how cheesy I thought it was,  it got my attention, I just had to stop and take photos of these shops… you’ve got to love their sense of humor – brillant! Driving past it looked like there were some lovely hotels in the area – I guess it’d be a good base, easy access to the beach on the dolmus and plenty of entertainment at night time with an easy walk home 😉 I also loved how much cooler it was up there. I found myself getting cold shivers! We stopped at “The Turkish Ivy” restaurant for breakfast – we walked through the whole main street and this was the busiest one of them all. The waiter came over to ask what we wanted and Berkay answered for me “ingiliz kahvaltisi” (English breakfast) the waiter  then looked at me like I had two heads “ingiliz kahvaltisinda domuz eti var” (there’s pig meat in that) Berkay then informed him that I’m English so it didn’t matter. The waiter was shocked and insisted on telling me how I look Turkish and how he can’t believe I’m a ‘yabanci’ (foreigner). I hear this ALL the time. I should just permanently walk around in an England shirt or something. Regardless, breakfast was lovely – It’ll probably be the last time I have pork while I’m here so I was enjoying it! It was only 9tl and they even had real HP sauce. HP sauce is the one thing that is always well stocked in my house, whether in England or here! After breakfast and a brief walk around we headed to our next stop – Ölüdeniz.
IMG_1238 IMG_1239
I’ve only been to Ölüdeniz a handful of times too and only ever via buses packed full of people so I never noticed how amazing the view on the drive down the mountain side is – the water looked so beautiful. We parked the car, got out and headed straight to the beach which was suprisingly really empty. We didn’t pay to go to the lagoon part – just the normal beach which is still really pretty – the sea is so turquoise. The only issue with the beaches around the Fethiye area is how stoney they are – I need to invest in some good rubber sea shoes as it’s impossible to enter or climb out of the sea elegantly with all those stones and rocks under your bare feet!
IMG_1246 IMG_1251IMG_1247IMG_1750
We only stayed for around 45 minutes as we could see the clouds rolling in over the mountains and wanted to get home and have our BBQ before the forecast rain and thunderstorms started, but we had a nice little swim, it’s a much better beach than the one in Calis as the sea is so much clearer. As you can see, I took my camera in the sea and we had some fun with that, it’s not that I trust myself not to drop the thing in the water , because that is something that my clumsy self would definitely do – but I do have a waterproof little case for my iPod, which is what I was using. It’s brilliant, really secure and it means we can take photos in the sea without forking out for an expensive waterproof camera, it’s definitely a great invention.
10389042_10152888501098776_7154231232242882976_n IMG_1753IMG_1264 IMG_1253
We made the 40 ish minute drive back to Calis and stopped off at home to get changed and get our BBQ supplies. On the way we stopped at our old house to borrow a portable BBQ from our old landlord. Him and his wife both gave me a big hug and told me to go back for dinner, tea and biscuits some time. It was weird seeing our old house – it was the first time I’d actually seen it since I’d been back. It’s occupied now and apparently they’ve made lots of changes like knocking walls down and making the tiny cupboard toilet we had into a bigger one! We got the BBQ, packed up the car and headed off to a little bay on the other side of Fethiye town centre.
IMG_1272 IMG_1283
We picked a table, parked up and unpacked. I noticed there was a cute bear sat next to the table – I thought it had been left there and was planning on taking it with us if it was still there when we left – I couldn’t bear the thought of it being stuck out in the rain and alone! (I know, I’m weird) Later on though, a little Turkish girl from a family sitting on a nearby table came and got it – I’m not sure if it was hers or she just spotted it and grabbed it like I planned to…  but either way I missed my chance and I’m glad the little orange bear now has a home.
IMG_1275 IMG_1277
The view from the the bench we chose was lovely – because it was a bay the sea was almost still and we could just hear the tiny waves lapping on the water’s edge. Berkay got the BBQ started and I prepared the salad… before I came here I never liked aubergine, actually I’d never tried it but assumed I wouldn’t like it anyway!  Since experiencing these Turkish BBQ’s I’ve learned to always try new things –  it’s so good when it’s put whole into the coals of the BBQ, cooked, peeled and chopped up into a salad with olive oil and lemon juice. Yummy. Along with the salad we had beef skewers, chicken and jacket potatoes. Somehow we actually managed to eat it all!
IMG_1276 IMG_1278
It was nice to just be able to go somewhere alone, just me and Berkay, and have a BBQ. It was the first time we’d ever had one alone as we normally only go with friends as we can’t get to these places without a car. We used to be able to have BBQ’s on our balcony but now we can’t as there’s not enough room – so we’re definitely going to have to go out to these bays more often. You can’t beat a good BBQ , they’re cheap, they save on the gas bottle at home and they’re so tasty and filling in beautiful surroundings! As it happens, the day after this we went on another BBQ trip, this time with friends, but a blog post about that will be coming later!
IMG_1280 IMG_1281
While we were eating we heard thunder rumbling over Fethiye and huge grey clouds sweeping across Calis – heavy thunderstorms were forecast but luckily we only felt a few drops of rain.

Our next stop of the day was the hill over-looking Fethiye . It’s known as ‘hill of the lovers’. It was really cloudy by this point, so the view wasn’t as spectacular as normal, but it was still impressive. I’ve written about this place in a blog post before, click HERE to see an unedited panoramic view from the top on a sunnier day!
IMG_1286 IMG_1287IMG_1288 IMG_1290
At this point it was around 5pm and we decided to carry on our little adventure and drive to Kayaköy. We got a bit lost – but found it eventually and ended up parked up in a little farm place with a restaurant and gift shops surrounding it – I have no idea what it was called or if we were supposed to just park up and look at the animals, but that’s what we did. They had chickens, donkeys, a camel, horses, ponies and even a peacock, which I have never seen here in Turkey before. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an animal lover so I couldn’t resist taking a ‘selfie’ with the donkey – he was really friendly and seemed to quite enjoy it haha!
IMG_1308 IMG_1292IMG_1309 IMG_1293
We didn’t pay the fee to enter and walk around the old buildings – we have done before and would again if we had more time, but we just took photos from the outside. It’s quite eerie being there – it’s sad seeing all the empty, abandoned ruined homes, it’s a really interesting place to look around.
IMG_1294 IMG_1296IMG_1305 IMG_1311
After all that driving around poor Berkay was really tired and had to go back to work at 8pm, so it was time to head home. We made one final stop on the way as we carried on driving along Calis beach into Koca Çalış. It was really quiet at that end of the beach – I’d never been that far along before.
IMG_1299 IMG_1312
After making it home, Berkay had a shower and got changed ready for work, then we both got back in the car to return it and walked back along the promenade just as the sun was setting through the clouds. You can’t beat a sunset on a cloudy day!
IMG_1300
We had a really busy day and it was just great to be free to go anywhere we wanted in the car, a luxury we don’t normally have. We’re planning to rent a car once a month and do this more often so that we can do something different and see new places – Berkay is wanting to drive to Pamukkale one day but I’m not sure I trust him to get us all the way there in one piece without getting lost! We’re really determined to make the most of the few months we have together and do as much as possible rather than just sleep the days away like before.

How to make köfte

Berkay is the cook of the house, and today he made Turkish meatballs/ köfte from scratch to put on the BBQ. I thought I’d share his ‘recipe’ although he just judges everything by eye, so I don’t have exact amounts of specific ingredients.

meatballs2
Ingredients 
Beef Mince (we used 400g and made 8 good sized meatballs)
2 Garlic cloves
One medium onion
Fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
Black pepper
Salt
Dried chili flakes
Cumin powder

Olive oil

First, grate the onion and garlic into a bowl.

Next, make some breadcrumbs from crustless stale/dry bread. Berkay left half a loaf out this morning so it was hard by the time we needed it, he then put it into the oven for 5 or so minutes to make it even more crusty, but that’s not always necessary. He literally picked crumbs off the bread (but you could whizz the bread in a blender if you have one) and added them to the bowl with the onion and garlic, there is no exact amount here but less is best, you can always add more later if the mixture is too wet.

Then he added one whisked egg into the bowl, along with the minced meat. He also added the salt, black pepper, cumin and chili flakes at this point. Again, there are no exact measurements for this, to be safe you could add 1/2 teaspoon of each, but it’s entirely up to you and it depends on how spicy you like them. Berkay is a big fan of spicy foods so he added a good amount of chili flakes and salt. He added 2 teaspoons of olive oil too.

Now for the fun part, stick your hands in and give everything a good mix. You need to knead it all together for at least 5 minutes until everything is sticking together nicely, if the mixture is too wet you can add more breadcrumbs.

Take chunks of the mixture and roll into balls, then pat them down with your hands until they are around 1/2 inch thick. We made 8, but you could make more if you wanted them to be smaller. Put them in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to let them set a little.

Berkay cooked ours on the BBQ grill for around 15 minutes, make sure to cut them in half to check they are cooked through. You could also grill or fry them but you really just can’t beat barbequed köfte! Yummy.

meatballs  meatballs3
Here’s an amusing photo of Berkay lighting the BBQ.. yes, that is my hairdryer.
crazy

Turkish picnic time.

All of the picnics I’ve been on in England consisted of little more than a cool bag, a picnic blanket, a few bags of crisps, hard boiled egg and hp sauce sandwiches wrapped in tin foil and bottle of lemonade. Here in Turkey though, when someone invites you to a picnic, it’s a whole different ball game, you pack up everything but (and sometimes including..) the kitchen sink.

It’s Sunday today, the ‘holiday’ day in Turkey, the large majority of people have the day off and take their families and head to the nearest beach to have a picnic. Berkay doesn’t get a day off, as most people in tourism do not, but working nights means we can still enjoy the day together sometimes. We joined his friend during his break and headed to Boncuklu koyu, a little bay the other side of Fethiye town.
969006_10152147795258776_1477892198_n 1185377_10152147795048776_1595377565_n
When we pulled up, it was clear everyone had had the same idea. Cars everywhere, all blocking each other in, barely an inch spare on the ‘beach’ to sit down. We did eventually find a spot, and begun unpacking our friends car. Sun umbrellas, 5 litres of water, blankets, rugs, towels, glass plates, cups, cutlery, a barbeque grill, a bag of meat, a bag of fizzy drinks, a bag of tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes, onion, peppers and bread, 3 adults, a baby and a carseat came out of that car. I have no idea how it all fitted in, if you saw the car, you’d understand.  Compared to what other families had brought with them, it was nothing. Next to us was a family who had a tent..filled with things and people. Outside, they had a gas bottle with a double Turkish teapot brewing cay on top, a BBQ and a huge rug with a lady sitting down hacking away at very fresh sheep meat, and a lot of it.

While Berkay & Serkan set to work on lighting the barbeque (it took several attempts, watching them move that BBQ around to various places was like watching a game of musical chairs) Serkan’s wife, their baby and I were left setting up the blankets, rugs and everything else. I was put on baby watching duty while she prepared the vegetables, salad and laid the plates out on the rug. Wise move – I’m much better at looking after babies than I am preparing food!
1239411_10152147097933776_155245834_n 1150268_10152147408883776_1138681973_n
I took the opportunity to have a little paddle with the baby, little Çınar is adorable.
1184920_10152147057583776_828345787_n 1184809_10152147425128776_1115964872_n
After 45minutes or so, dinner was ready. Doesn’t it look good?
1230009_10152147413403776_389630681_n
While we were eating, a little kalamar (squid) caused chaos in the sea, grown women, men and kids alike were darting around screaming ‘Kalamar, Kalamar’ and trying to catch it in their hats, it was fairly amusing, made all the better by the fact we had front row seats. The little fella must have gotten away eventually.
After tidying up a bit, but somehow still managing to spread out across 3 rugs, we all went for a little swim in the sea. Since it was a bay it was very calm, no waves whatsoever. It was lovely and warm too, although it did start to get a bit windy and I was chilly then, I think I must be accustomed to the Turkish heat, anything under 30 oC and I notice it!
1236564_10152147424018776_1066533601_n 1185712_10152148088458776_1998652022_n
We all headed home at 7pm, time for the boys to go back to work. I had a lovely day, even managed to join in a little Turkish conversation, I understand more than I can speak, always good to eavesdrop without people realising you can understand.. sneaky!

I really love these Turkish picnics. (: 

Photos posted with permission of those in them.

Stuffed Mushrooms..

I can’t cook to save my life, but even I can manage these (:
Perfect on the barbeque, yum yum.
1001403_10152137796663776_845196260_n

Ingredients used:
3 mushrooms
3 garlic cloves chopped/crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
handful of grated cheese

>> Rinse the mushrooms and remove the stems.
1017445_10152137798223776_1487251690_n1174761_10152137797928776_2006156721_n

>>Peel, crush and chop the garlic cloves. Berkay is the expert at cutting things ridiculously small!
1094811_10152137797743776_349266337_n17512_10152137797523776_584732073_n1150867_10152137797413776_1575624272_n

>>Mix in the garlic with the olive oil, add salt if you wish!
Put to one side while the mushrooms are on the BBQ grill.
1185329_10152137797293776_1206918635_n

>>After 5-8 minutes and once the mushrooms are soft, spoon the olive oil/garlic mixture in.
Leave to cook for another 5 minutes.
549017_10152137797108776_1238726273_n 561925_10152137796868776_508728894_n

>>Once they’re almost ready, spoon granted cheese on top and leave til it’s melted.
1003201_10152137797843776_761522276_n 1001403_10152137796663776_845196260_n

It couldn’t be simpler!  (:
Here’s ours with the rest of our BBQ dinner, köfte (meatballs), Turkish rice, grilled tomato, pepper & onion. We also had the customary loaf of bread on the table of course. (:
Afiyet olsun!

556832_10152137798433776_1221342702_n