On a recent visit to Turkey,
Darina Allen fell in love.
Here, she offers us a taste
of her trip to Cappadocia
in Central Anatolia
Photography Darina Allen
Fairy chimney in Cappadocia
This page, main: early morning balloon ride over Cappadocia;
Below: an antique shop in Ortahisar.
Facing page, clockwise from top: The stunning Cappadocian
landscape in central Anatolia; Yunak Evleri Hotel in Ürgüp;
Darina enjoying pomegranate juice in a restaurant;
Manti Turkish ravioli from the cooking school in Ayvali;
Fairy chimney in Cappadocia.
Ih’veeeflaslilnenlohveeawdiothveTrurkey. Cappadocia for those who are as yet unfamiliar THE INSIDE TRACK
After several days in Istanbul tasting street with this unique region. This enchanting
food and researching the burgeoning food landscape in Central Anatolia was originally Shopping and antiques…
scene, my recent trip took me on to Central formed thousands of years ago by frequent
Anatolia to explore what seemed like another volcanic eruptions, which covered the area with \ Ortahisar, several shops with beautiful
planet. I took in one of the best views of the thick layers of lava and volcanic ash, forming a antique pottery, pewter plates, spice grinders and
region on an amazing early morning balloon ride soft rock called tuff, on top of harder basalt. Over kitchen utensils: prices are much more reasonable
over Cappadocia. I was scared to bits at the the centuries, wind and rain and now tourists than in the Grand Bazzar in Istanbul.
thought of it but decided to have a go rather have gradually eroded the huge cones, pinnacles,
than live with “what if...” A 5.45am pick up, pillars, mushrooms and fairy chimneys, some Where to stay…
with the temperature at -14°C, I met my fellow which reach heights of 130 feet (40 metres) into
adventurers – a young Mexican couple who the sky. Yunak Evleri Hotel in Ürgüp, a cave
couldn’t stop taking selfies, a young Korean hotel carved into a cliff dating back to the fifth
banker from Hong Kong who was bringing his This area has been inhabited since 1,800BC and sixth century with comfortable, simple but
parents on their annual holiday treat, and a with a unique network of ancient underground sophisticated rooms with iron and brass
Chinese chap celebrating Chinese New Year – cities, caves, churches with beautiful frescoed bedsteads, old lace curtains and antique furniture,
and we headed for a field close to Rose Valley. walls, a labyrinth of living quarters, tombs, Turkish rugs and kilims. See www.yunak.com
The sky was already dotted with balloons. Ours breweries, food and wine stores, stables,
was being inflated, intriguing to watch, and we dovecots carved out of the soft rock, entire Argos Hotel in Cappadocia, a restored
eventually all climbed into the basket. We had towns with as many as eight storeys hidden ancient monastery in the Old Uçhisar Village with
a young ‘jokey’ pilot called Ali who terrified us underground; it’s simply awe-inspiring. By the underground tunnels and caves and a linseed
all by telling us that it was his first flight but fourth century during early days of Christianity, press, which has been converted into a concert
apparently he’s been flying for over five years. the site became a religious refuge for Christians hall. The two domes, eight and ten metres
It tuned out not to be scary at all – all very gentle fleeing from their Roman persecutors. high, provide incredible natural acoustics.
and quiet, apart from the occasional whoosh of See www.argosincappadocia.com
flame. The whole amazing Cappadocian lunar Kitchens with smoke-covered ceilings, long
landscape was covered in snow with crystal clear stone refectory and dining tables are well
visibility, breathtakingly beautiful as we glided preserved with numerous hollows in the stone
over the moonscape of extraordinary rock for the pottery jars which stored food and refuse.
formations referred to as fairy chimneys.
It’s difficult to find the words to describe Cappadocia is spread over a wide area: the
principle villages are Ürgüp, Uçhisar, Gülşehir,
Avanos and Ortahisar (with boasts the biggest
fairy chimneys in Cappadocia). Don’t miss the
Göreme Open Air Museum, and Karanlik Kilise
IMAGE: DAVID LOFTUS
TRAVEL Left: Goat stew with pilaf
and natural yoghurt.
¯ Bulgur pilaf
The bulgur that Mehmet used was home-grown
and ground in a water powered mill
Serves 4 – 6
450g bulgur wheat
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Melt the butter in a saucepan, add bulgur
and stir to coat. Then add salt and enough
cold water to barely cover the top. Cover the
saucepan and cook for five minutes or until all
the liquid is absorbed. Transfer into a hot
2 Melt some butter in a separate pan, allow
to brown. Pour over the bulgur and serve with
˚ Mehmet’s Cappadocian Above: Mehmet’s goat stew.
goat stew Left: Mehmet with the welcoming tea in the cookery school.
The goat meat from Mehmet’s village was (dark church). The changing light transforms the THE INSIDE TRACK
butchered by himself – the flavour was intense landscape throughout the seasons; I’ve seen it in
and delicious the snow, now I long to return in early summer Where to eat…
Serves 4 – 6 Seki Restaurant in the Argos Hotel fresh
Our guide in Cappadocia for four days, Mehmet local ingredients with contemporary
560g goat meat, with lots of fat Kirindi, was the grandson of a nomadic family of interpretation
1 red pepper, diced transhumant camel herders who moved their
2 onions, finely chopped flocks of sheep and goats from pasture to pasture. Ziggys, just around the corner from the Yunak
5-7 whole cloves of garlic, peeled He regaled us with stories of what the nomads Evleri Hotel, a cute little restaurant, lots of bling
1 pinch chilli powder ate and cooked and shared his family traditions. furniture, lovely open fire, very welcome in
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into segments February. Delicious mezze and kebabs and super
Salt and freshly ground black pepper We were longing to taste local food so he tasty potato wedges with garlic butter and chilli.
1 teaspoon kekik – a Cappadocian brought us to a little meyhane called Dibek in See www.ziggycafe.com.
mountain herb that could be replaced Göreme. Three generations of the Sişman family
by thyme leaves welcomed us. Grandma Ayşe was sitting in the Muti in Ürgüp, Delicious regional Turkish and
open kitchen at the back of the restaurant Ottoman food. See www.mutirestaurant.com.
To serve chopping goat meat; daughter-in-law Fatma
Bulgar pilaf (see recipe) was in the kitchen stirring pots on the old stove; What to read...
A bowl of natural yoghurt and her son, Mehmet, looked after us in the
dining area. We sat on cushions on the floor Istanbul: Memories of a City, by Nobel
1 Cut the goat meat into 2cm cubes. – quite a feat for us to fold our legs under the
low tables – and there were lots of little mezze Prize winner Orhan Pamuk
2 Heat a frying pan or shallow wok (satita) and pickles spread out in front of us. We ordered
over a medium heat. First cook a few pieces of a selection of dishes including testi kebab, saç Raki and Fish, by Tan Morgül
fat until it starts to render. Add the meat and tava, mercimek corbası, a red lentil soup,
cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or so. Eat Istanbul, A Journey To The Heart
Season with salt and freshly ground black of Turkish Cuisine, by Andy Harris and
pepper. Add the diced pepper, cook for a further
five minutes. David Loftus
3 Add the chopped onions and garlic cloves. Istanbul, by Rebecca Seal, another cookbook
Cook for another four to five minutes. Reduce
the heat, add the tomatoes and a little chilli with mouth-watering recipes and evocative photos
powder. Add a little kekik or maybe substitute
4 Add hot water, to about half way up,
cover the pan or wok and continue to cook for
20 to 30 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.
5 Serve with bulgur pilaf and a bowl of
Above: round pide in a bakery opposite the bazaar Neveshir;
Below: Darina with potter Mustafa Yaziki in Avanos.
Above: a Testi kebab. Right: cat-napping
outside an antique shop in Ortahisar.
Dolaz from the cooking Above: Mother making dolaz favourites, dolaz, a simple Cappadocian dessert
school in Ayvali. in cookery school in Ayvali. served with honeycomb from their own hives.
Right: spices in the bazaar Neveshir. After the class we sat on cushions at traditional
˚ Dolaz with honey from low tables and enjoyed the Cappadocian feast.
Cappadocia gözleme, bulgur çorbası, pickles and shepherd’s We also had wonderful thick unctuous yoghurt
salad with lot of help and advice from our guide. with homemade pekmez, (grape molasses)
A traditional Cappadocian dessert, easy to make drizzled over the top and a spannakopita.
and delish with a piece of honeycomb on the top The testi kebab (a goat stew) came to the
Serves 4 – 6 table in the unglazed clay pot it is traditionally Mehmet also brought us to see the local bazaar
1 egg cooked in. The top of the pot is sealed with dough in the little town of Nevşehir – an exciting
225ml whole milk and the neck knocked off in one swift movement, covered market with stalls piled high with local
110ml sunflower oil the contents poured onto a bed of rice on our produce, fresh vegetables, fruit molasses, dried
110g sieved whole-meal flour, sieve and plates. It was so good, rich and delicious with an fruit, nuts and seeds, fresh herbs, bunches of
then weigh earthy flavour. sorrel, purslane and turnip greens, wild honey
250g honeycomb and a huge variety of local butter, cheese,
Later we went to Avanos to visit the potter, yoghurt, ayran, and other dairy products. Some
1 Whisk the egg and milk together in a bowl. Mustafa Yaziki, who spends his day making of the cheeses were matured in the traditional
2 Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. these and a whole series of utilitarian pots, way in unglazed pottery jars or inside a goat skin.
Gradually, add the flour, stirring all the time with including beautifully shaped pots for yoghurt,
a wooden spoon. When it begins to bubble, which I lovingly carried home. Overall, Turkey is quite a secular country but,
reduce the heat and stir in the milk and egg in this more rural area, most of the women wore
mixture. Continue to cook for five or six minutes In Ayvali, just 10km from Ürgüp where we lace edged head scarves and many men wore
until the consistency is like polenta. Divide the were staying, in a cave hotel called Yunak Evleri little caps. Everyone was so welcoming and
mixture between the plates, top with a thick Hotel in Ürgüp, I’d arranged to have a cookery everywhere we went we were offered little
piece of honeycomb – enjoy. class with the Duran family in their home. The tastes of the produce and often presents as well.
traditional Cappadocian stone village house
with arched ceilings and traditional furniture Just across the road from the market, people
was surrounded by a little garden where they were queuing at a wonderful local bakery, Özsa
grow fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs in season Pide Salonu. Bakers were working flat out
and keep a few hens for their own fresh eggs. making pide, long narrow boat shaped breads,
They also had several beehives for honey. filled with a spicy minced meat. Many of the
We were welcomed with glasses of hot cay customers brought their own little packages of
(Turkish black tea) and homemade baklava. meat and a couple of eggs, which the bakers
The combination of mother and son works very broke and spread over the mince before the
well – Tolga translates as his mother cooks. pide was slid into the wood fired oven. In a
Havva had a totally brilliant way of chopping matter of minutes they were cooked, cut in half
onions and demonstrated how to make two and wrapped to be taken home to the family
traditional soups – Turkish red lentil and a for lunch.
bulgur soup, both super-fast because she used a
pressure cooker. The main courses were manti
– Turkish ravoli and meat stuffed aubergines.
This was followed by another of Mehmet’s