DELIGHTS OF ASIA MINOR TOUR
Unlike classical food tours in Istanbul or Cappadocia in Turkey; this is a private designed culinary touch for gourmets and cooking enthusiasts who have a zest for quality wining & dining and for the ones who like to explore local food and goodies as they travel the world. An unforgettable adventure blessed with fantastic nature and memorable archaeological and historical experiences. Privileged opportunities like exploring the secrets of award-winning wines of Anatolia and internationally loved baklava are gladly arranged by our team for your gusto and pleasure.
Turkish cuisine is one of the major cuisines in the world, has a long history that has started in Central Asia mainly with meat, dairy products, and dough-based food, enriched and diversified over the centuries embedding countless culinary influences as Turks moved through a broad geography and interacted with different tribes and cultures. Turkish culinary skills reached its peak during the Ottoman era when the kitchen of Topkapi Palace developed a sophisticated cuisine merging traditional Central Asian nomadic tastes with new ingredients and cooking methods from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan cuisines.
Turkey is blessed with vast fertile farmlands, land and underground waters, forests and friendly climate in the great portion of the country. Almost all of the ingredients in the recipes and the wines presented will be local products which will make this tour all the more worthy and special. In the recent years, organic agriculture is on the rise and also Turkey is playing to be the 2nd largest olive-oil producer in the world. An olive tree can live from 700 to 2000 years and grows a new sapling at the end of its life. Perhaps this is why it is called the “Immortal Tree.”
Speaking of which; let us give you some ideas of what might be on the table:
- Light and healthy olive oil cold dishes like string beans, artichokes, leek and okra in olive oil, all of which are enriched with tasty tomatoes
- Unforgettable dolma variety (vine and cabbage leaves, peppers, eggplant, tomato, squash or mussels stuffed with rice or meat)
- Best quality of types of cheese and olives will be served in palatable tables; a recent research has recorded 193 variety of cheese and nearly 30 varieties of olives in Turkey, both can be consumed plain or flavored with herbs, spices, and olive oil
- Endless varieties of mezes like world-famous “acili ezme” (spicy mashed tomato with hot pepper, onion, and green herbs) and a large selection prepared with vegetables such as eggplant, peppers and tomatoes and garlic, yogurt, seafood, spices and herbs
- Special tastes like Cerkez Tavugu (Circassian Chicken and walnut paste), fava (mashed broad beans) and muhammara (red pepper with walnut dip), cacik (cucumber with yogurt, olive oil and dried mint)
- Immense variety of kebabs like, now world-famous Doner Kebab (meat cooked on a vertical skewer), Hunkar Kebab (Sultan's Kebab, sliced lamb meat mixed with eggplant puree, thyme, basil and bay leaf), Kagit Kebab (lamb cooked in a paper wrapping), Testi Kebabi (Jug Kebab, meat casserole with eggplant, carrots, beans, green pepper, tomatoes and shallots)
- Tempting desserts like present-day worldwide relish baklava, unimaginable varieties of baklava are at the top of the long list of dough-based desserts; types of halva and lokum (Turkish Delight) are in abundance to allure you too.
More variety of sweet courses; Ashura (Noah's pudding, a mixture of grains, fruits, and nuts), delicious milk-based desserts, after cooked with fruits like the quince and pear desserts, ice cream assortments, pastes and dry fruits like apricots, figs and mulberries should also be added.
These distinguished tastes best accompanied by a fine wine to make it a feast for gourmets and kitchen devotees. History of grapevine goes back to Neolithic Age, 6000 BC to Transcaucasia (Northeast of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia) from where it was carried to the Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Nile Delta. In 3000 BC Hittites introduced it to Western Anatolia, Thrace and Crete and later Greeks and Phoenicians extended grapevine culture to Carthage, Italy, France and Spain.
Turkey today, is the 4th largest producer of grapes in the world with 60 varieties of commercially grown grapevine out of 800 indigenous types in Anatolia.
History of wine equivalently goes back to 6000 BC by archaeological evidence in Georgia. The wine has been considered sacred since the beginning of its existence, perhaps due to its consciousness-altering characteristics. Dionysus/ Bacchus cult in the Greeks was closely associated with wine and Romans adopted and carried on the cult in the same way. Later, wine became the ritual spirit of the Jewish practice and Christian Church.
Turkey has 140 registered wine producers, 45 are well-known large ones. Among them are Doluca, Kavaklidere, Kayra, Kocabag and Pamukkale wines. Some large or local wineries have won international acclaim and prizes in the competitions. In 2011, Turkish wines had 150 awards in International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine Awards, and International Wine & Spirit Competition combined. In 2014, 76 different types hit the list in Decanter World Wine Awards only. Some examples are;
- Gold: Turasan Argos Syrah 2010
- Pamukkale Meridies Kalecik Karasi & Shiraz 2010
- Silver: Turasan Argos Kalecik Karasi 2010
- Kavaklidere Selection Okuzgozu
- Kayra Versus Cabernet Franc 2011
- Bronze: Arcadia Sauvignon Blanc & Narince 2012
- 7 Bilgeler Anaxagoras 2013
- Chateau Kalpak 2010
We would like to remind you that a visit and wine tasting at the award winner Turasan Winery in Cappadocia is included in our tour.
Needless to say that every delightful meal is complemented with a delectable Turkish Coffee & Tea will be there at every corner and each stop during the day, heartily offered free by friendly folks.
Please keep in mind dear guests that this is a short sample list of the delights waiting for you. We will be pleased to design the perfect culinary tour for your palate following your wishes.
GASTRONOMIC TOUR DETAILS
Day 1 (Friday): Arrive in Istanbul and private transfer to your accommodation in old town. Our expert guide meets guests for a briefing of the tour and meeting other tour participants if any. Afternoon and evening are at leisure and recommendations will be provided for the dinner where you can experience a traditional dinner with or without music.
Day 2 (Saturday): Private tour of Topkapi Palace, the official royal residence and administration center of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. Harem which had inspired numerous novels, the throne room and the treasury of the sultan are also included. Private Bosphorus Cruise in an extremely captivating scenery where the shoreline on both sides are adorned with well-kept groves, Ottoman imperial palaces, traditional Yalis (waterside villas) and shore villages before a background of ultra-modern skyscrapers. Visiting a vibrant local market, lunch at a specialty restaurant, confectionery visit to learn about delicious sweets, Turkish Coffee making, and drinking, hands-on cooking on best examples of Turkish Cuisine & private dinner.
Day 3 (Sunday): Private tour of Ottoman and Byzantine heritage of the historic city. The Hippodrome area; see the remarkable Hagia Sophia, Obelisk of Thutmose III (also known as the Egyptian Obelisk), the Walled Obelisk, the Serpent Column and continue with the amazing Underground Cistern. Visit the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) renowned for its magnificent handmade blue tiles. You will continue the day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world where you find any items that are produced on the planet. Spice Market is an unforgettable experience for cooking fans with dazzling varieties of Turkish delight, fantastic colors and exotic fragrances of spices and herbs, varieties of dried fruits and nuts. Gourmet Dinner with degustation menu and wine pairing.
Day 4 (Monday): Off the beaten path bazaars, degustation lunch with Ottoman imperial cuisine recipes. Visiting the Chora Church (The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora) with magnificent examples of Byzantine Era mosaics and frescoes. Take a domestic flight to Cappadocia. Upon arrival, we will be transferred to our deluxe cave accommodation. After we check-in and freshened, we will enjoy dinner at a historical mansion which was converted into a restaurant.
Day 5 (Tuesday): Visit the Goreme and Zelve Open Air Museums with oldest Christian monasteries in the world, beautiful rock-cut churches with invaluable frescoes of the Christian art and impressive rock-cut dwellings. Colorful terrain and extraordinary formations in the Pasabag and Devrent Valleys will give you excellent photo chances. You will see the age-old art of pottery making in Avanos and sampling great local delicacies will be the rich experiences of today.
Day 6 (Wednesday): An optional hot air balloon ride takes us to the skies this morning to see the lunar landscape of Cappadocia from the air. An unforgettable breathtaking experience of a lifetime. Visit Kaymakli Underground City where you descend to the center of the earth, an astonishing subterranean structure entirely carved out of volcanic rock. Then scrumptious home cooked lunch. You will learn secrets of baklava making; private family home visit and the winery visit will be the perfect end of the day.
Day 7 (Thursday): Red Valley hike will be among your most precious experiences in Cappadocia. Tranquility, as well as natural beauties and the rock-cut churches, will give you peace of mind and soul. At an off the beaten path village, the ladies of the house will demonstrate baking bread in a tandoori type of oven; you will gain further insight on the traditional local cuisine and ingredients and enjoy traditional dishes prepared for us by the ladies. Getting a lecture on textiles. Private wine tasting & wine lecture by the expert, degustation dinner with food & wine pairing.
Day 8 (Friday): We transfer back to Cappadocia airport for the homebound or extension flight, hoping to explore Turkey further in your future visits for more culinary adventures.