Why Turkey

Why would you not choose Turkey if you were going around the world in 80 cuisines? Its food, culture and history are all awe-inspiring. Who’d want to miss out on all that?

My experience of Turkey

When I was living in the UK, we had a weekend in Istanbul, which is my only live experience of Turkey. I didn’t explore as much of Istanbul as I would normally have done. I had slipped on an icy footpath in the UK and broken my right wrist about four weeks before we went to Istanbul. It was January, and the streets of Istanbul were also icy, so I was very wary of slipping over again.

The main reason for going to Istanbul was to make the traditional Aussie pilgrimage to Gallipoli, which was great except that, being winter, the night drew in very early and we could not do the whole tour. I was amazed at how small Anzac Cove is – such a short stretch of beach where so many good young lives were sacrificed. Those young men and boys could not have known that their sacrifice gave rise to a such a huge sense of national identity, and that the place of their death would be so meaningful to so many Aussies for so many generations.

There is a big plaque at Anzac Cove with a most compassionate message from Ataturk that brings tears to your eyes.

Unfortunately, timing was not on our side. We flew over from the UK on Friday night because the trip to Gallipoli and back was to take the full Saturday (if I recall correctly it ended up a 16-hour day because of the icy road conditions). But the Grand Bazaar was closed on Sundays so we didn’t get to see it, but spent Sunday wandering around very icy streets.


Cannot wait for lunch in Turkey!

The only difficult-to-get ingredient is tarhana soup, but a visit to Sonsa Market in Smith Street Collingwood solved that. The lady who served me was fabulous and extremely helpful. Thank you, fabulous and extremely helpful lady at Sonsa Market!

I was going to make Turkish Delight but then wondered if it might be easier to just buy it so, while I was in Collingwood, I thought I might as well go to Prahran Market to visit a Turkish store that Jess has told me about. I had planned to just buy a little bit of Turkish delight but ended up spending $50. $50!! The range was huge and the people were amazingly helpful and friendly. If you want any Turkish Delight, do yourself a favour and go to Naheda’s Choice at Prahran Market – you’ll be blown away, I promise. Here’s a link to their website – https://www.nahedaschoice.com.au/shop

The menu

This is what the menu is looking like:

  • Potato and broccoli soup
  • Red lentil soup
  • Tarhana soup
  • Baba ganoush
  • White bean dip
  • Hommous
  • Cacik
  • Spinach and feta gozleme
  • Sultan’s delight
  • Kofta
  • Slow-roast lamb
  • Carrot salad with garlic yoghurt
  • Baked vegetables
  • Turkish delight
  • Turkish delight cocktail

It’s a huge menu. I’m going to have to keep an eye on the quantities.

Will will make the slow-roasted lamb, the Turkish bread, the hommous and the cacik. He did a sample run last week. It was all indescribably delicious. He makes the best bread. And the best slow-roasted lamb. The hommous and cacik were right up there with the best of the best as well. How lucky are we to have all this delicious food in our lives?

Elysia can’t come to lunch in Turkey, but Helen and Russell will be there.

The food

Turkey totally lived up to expectations. The food, yet again, was delicious. And there was so much of it! While doing the prep I thought that I wouldn’t be sorry if there was lots of food left over.

Again, there was no clear standout dish of the day. The roasted lamb, as expected, was beyond delicious, and the bread and dips were amazing. Will was very happy with his bread, and deservedly so. It was perfect.

I think I would perhaps vote for the Sultan’s delight (Hűnkar Beğendi) as the dish of the day. It was a simple lamb stew served with a white sauce that had mashed roasted eggplant mixed through it.

The gozleme scored very well on the dish of the day scale as well. It was yummy.

I didn’t love the tarhana soup, but I am not a big soup fan anyway. Everyone else thought it was quite nice.

And what a master stroke to buy a box of small pieces of Turkish delight from Naheda’s Choice. The pieces were about 1.5 cm square and all sorts of colours and flavours. It was just yumminess upon yumminess.

Here’s our Turkish best recipes – Turkey best recipes

The drinks

Lauren’s Turkish delight cocktail was a delight. Jan, Russell and I had the alcoholic version, while Lauren and Will (doing dry July), Helen (who doesn’t drink alcohol) and the kids (who aren’t allowed to drink alcohol) had Turkish delight mocktails. They were really, really nice!

The ambience

We missed you Elysia!!!

We had a Spotify Turkish folk song play list, which made me glad I’m not Turkish. But maybe if I was Turkish, I’d be used to the music by now.

The weather was predicted to be 13° so we ate inside. One day we’ll get back outside!

The quiz

Liam write the quiz and did a great job of it. Well done, Liam. Lani made first, second and third place ribbons, which was a lovely touch.

Will won the quiz. Again! I came second, Lauren and Jan came equal third and Russell and Helen came equal fourth.

We had a little, OK a major, gremlin on the factsheet. One of the quiz questions was when was Mary Magdalene born?  We were all amazed when Liam told us that the answer was 2 October 1869. WTF? How can that be? As it turned out, when I wrote the Turkey factsheet, I used the India factsheet as the base document, and left Mahatma Ghandi’s birthday in there. Mary Magdalene being born in 1869 is taking miracles a bit too far.

Here’s the factsheet – Factsheet_Turkey

Here’s the place-mat – Place-mat_Turkey

And here’s the quiz – Quiz_Turkey

The highlight of lunch in Turkey

The highlight of lunch in Turkey was the Turkish food. Was it the roasted lamb, the sultan’s delight, the gozleme, the bread, the dips, the cocktails, the Turkish delight, the quiz? It was all good, upon better, upon better.

Where to next?

It’s Hallo to the Netherlands in August. I don’t know much about Dutch food but this is the perfect opportunity to find out. See you in the Netherlands on 25 August!

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