I know it’s taken a while, but here is my first in a series of posts about my food exploration in Turkey. I thought the best place to start would be the best meal of the trip.
This was Day 10 of the trip, and we had spent the morning exploring Cappadocia: amazing rock formations (camels, fairy chimneys in Paşabaği); surreal landscapes; carpet factories and much more. Hot, tired, and in need of refueling, we stopped for lunch at Natureland, a little restaurant attached to a cave house.
Yes, I said cave house.
In Cappadocia, caves have been used as homes for centuries. They were used by early Christians who were hiding from persecution (we even saw some of their early chapels). Today, many cave homes are still inhabited. This particular one is used as a family summer house and restaurant. The family was incredibly gracious, and invited us to take a tour of their home. I didn’t feel right taking photos inside their home, so I don’t have any pictures of the inside.
My very favourite part of the meal was the mantı dish. Mantı is kind of like the Turkish version of tortellini – it’s a pasta filled with minced lamb. They are tender, and just a little bit chewy and soo delicious.
The sauce was mostly garlic yogurt, topped off with a drizzle of a nice sumac and mint sauce.
The mantı, as well as the gözleme (see below), are made from a freshly made dough that is traditionally rolled out using a thin rolling pin. Different cooking methods have different results – boiling, like the mantı, give you a noodle consistency, whereas you get a nice crispy flatbread in the gözleme when it’s baked. Layered dishes, like börek, can have a combination of the two where the outer layers get crispy and the inner ones stay noodly.
The mantı was definitely the highlight of the meal for me, but we had some other great dishes as well. We had a nice cheese gözleme and a chicken kebab with delicious bulgur pilaf. I’m going to save these dishes for a future post, since there is more to say about both.
Last, but definitely not least, I should mention the wine. Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s best known wine regions, so I couldn’t go without a glass of wine! Usually a red wine drinker, I opted for the refreshing white wine after the hot morning we had had. Of course, I forgot to write down what kind of white wine it was… d’oh!
We finished our meal with some Turkish coffee, and some entertainment! The owner and his daughter decided to entertain us by playing a traditional Turkish stringed instrument and spoons. Some of our group decided to get up and dance a little, but I just sat back in my chair and enjoyed my surroundings. If you look closely at the left side of the photo above, you can even see some of the volcanic formations in the background.
A lovely garden lunch in the shade, with some delicious Turkish food, drinks and entertainment. Yup, that’s vacation.